Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic this week was “Extraordinary Book Titles.” This topic is broad and undefined, so I went through my TBR and Read lists on Goodreads and picked 10 books with titles that stood out to me in some way. Whether they were comical, unique, or just perfect for the story, here is my list, in no particular order:

1. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
This title is ominous, and I have a feeling the actual book won’t quite live up to that. But it is initially what led me to check into the book request it on Netgalley. I’ll be reading it soon.

2. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
It’s easy to explain why this title stuck out to me–I am an escape room enthusiast and worked at an escape room company for over 3 years. I know the actual escape room content in the book will be light, based on reviews, but I’ve still decided to give it a try at some point.

3. I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn
I love this book title, and I love the person who wrote it! The title kept her from being able to get it published traditionally, but it’s about dealing with PMS with humor, from a Christian perspective, so the title is perfect. I am looking forward to reading this when I have a chance to locate a copy.

4. How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates
The title caught my interest quickly; otherwise, I likely wouldn’t have put much thought into this one. I am not really a zombie person in any medium, but I read the first few pages of this, and I’m planning to give it a go.

5. His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac
So again, I’m really not a fan of zombie fiction (books, movies, TV or games). So the fact that I have 3 zombie apocalypse books on my TBR, and 2 just on this list, probably makes no sense. Still, I’m going to give this one a try, hopefully by the end of the year, in support of a fellow new author. The name isn’t what initially drew me to this book, but I do think it has a nice ring to it.

6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I read this for the first time in high school, and remember how interesting it was to learn that the title was a reference to the temperature at which paper burns. It’s perfect for the book, of course, and I’ve always really appreciated the title.

7. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
This is another book I read in high school. My English class had read Hamlet that year, and then later read this play. Everyone knows the sacrificial heroes are going to die, whether because they know Hamlet, or because of the title…but they do make it entertaining along the way.

8. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The title of this book is a clear indication of the mystery found within. It’s a little strange, though, that the question of whose murder the narrator is supposed to solve seems like a mystery, for at least the first quarter of the book, and then it’s a big reveal when it’s discovered…but the name is right there in the title. Other than that though, good title. (Note: the original title is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, but had to be changed in the US.)

9. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Considering the subject matter of this book, and the extreme 80s & video game references, the title of this book is perfect. I don’t actually have more to say about this one.

10. Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen
This book for those who struggle with feeling like an outcast in the American church culture is perfect for introverts and socially awkward people like myself. And the title, borrowing from a section of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is clever.

Have you read any of these? What would you add to the list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Titles with Numbers

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic this week was “Book Titles with Numbers in Them.” While of course, it would be easy to just randomly find 10 books with numbers, it makes more sense to me to choose books I’ve read or that I’m planning to read. And for a little added challenge, I tried to find titles with the numbers 1-10.

So without further ado:

1. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I have not read this YA thriller that has been on my TBR list for about a month and a half, but I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

2. Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

This sci-fi book is also on my TBR list, and is one of the first I added based on the recommendation of another book blogger.

 

 

3. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

I first read this book in high school, for my English class. It was on a list of books that were deemed “new classics,” and could be read in place of an older classic. I was especially fascinated by the Holocaust in high school, and hadn’t cared for most of the classics I’d read so far, so I jumped on it. Later, I read the first book as well. They contain not only a true account of the author’s father surviving Hitler’s Europe, but also show how he and his family cope in the aftermath, years later. It is depressing, but also enlightening and encouraging.

4. Thr3e by Ted Dekker

This Christian thriller has long been one of my favorite books, even after a recent re-read. Click here to see my review.

 

 

 

5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


This is one classic I read in high school that I did enjoy. I plan to read it again someday. (This book has both a 4 and a 5 in it, which is why I put 2 books related to the number 2 on the list.)

 


6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I don’t actually have this book on my TBR list, but it’s on a back-up list of books I want to revisit in the future. I’m not quite sold enough to start this fantasy series soon, but may choose to add it to my list in the future.

 

 

7. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This was the second book I read when I started making reading a regular hobby again back in July. I enjoyed it, and recommend it to fans of mystery and thriller books. Click here to see my review.

 

 

8. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

I have Little Women on my TBR list, and if I enjoy that (which I suspect I will), I will likely end up adding this to read as well.

 

 


9. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

This fantasy novel first came onto my radar last Tuesday, when it was on the Top Ten Tuesday list of many people. I eventually decided to check it out, and then added it to my TBR list.

 

 

10. Ten by Gretchen McNeil

This YA mystery is on my TBR list only because of this week’s TTT. In figuring out what books I wanted to use, I searched for books with the word “ten” in the title, and found this one. Though some of the negative reviews give me pause, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

 

Have you read any of these? What would you add to the list?

Book Review: July Review

At the beginning of this month, I decided to devote more time to reading. Of course, in my case, based on how much I’ve read over the last 10 years, more time meant…any time. Over the course of the month, I read 6 books, which surprised me. But even more importantly (and more excitingly), I quickly rediscovered how much I loved reading. Two days ago, my husband saw where the bookmark was in my 6th book for the month and said, “You really are getting back into reading, aren’t you?” My response: “Yes! This is what I used to do, and I’m loving it!”

So while in my first post announcing this new feature (and hobby re-kindling), I suggested that posting about what books I’m reading would be a way to hold myself accountable, I know that’s not necessary. Now I’m just posting what I’ve read to share it with others and make my recommendations. But while I planned for this feature to be weekly, and thought it might even sometimes have to be filled in with something besides a review of what I recently read because I wouldn’t read fast enough, my reading pace has made me realize I’m quickly going to get behind in posting reviews.

My plan going forward will be to post on a Tuesday now and then to catch back up, because I can’t guarantee this pace will be consistent. For example, The Novice (a YA book that I enjoyed), I read in 3 days. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (an adult murder-mystery with a complicated premise) took 7 days. I’ve also been lucky to have had a quiet month, but I know that at times I will be too busy to finish books this quickly. So I’m not ready to completely move to a twice a week schedule, but I’ll stick in some extra posts to stay caught up.

Here are the books I read in July, only half of which have been posted about:
Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Oath by Frank Peretti
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Novice by Taran Matharu (review pending)
The Trials of Lance Eliot by M.L. Brown, a.k.a. Adam Stück

The rest of these posts will go up in the next few weeks. My ever-changing list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that. (Note: The list of books I have read overall is not remotely complete there. When I created my Goodreads page 4 years ago, I added some of my favorite books over the years, but to add everything I’ve ever read would be very time-consuming, not to mention impossible to remember it all.)

Despite my almost too-long list of TBRs, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Finished Reading: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Mystery Thriller

(Recommended by amusing2write)
7.5 Deaths

Imagine coming to consciousness in the middle of a dark forest, mid-sentence, with no memories of who you are, where you are, or why you’re in the middle of a dark forest yelling someone’s name. That is how this book begins, and it only gets more interesting from there. The main character & narrator eventually finds out that he is going to relive the same day 8 times, and that each time, someone will die (the same someone). Only if he can solve the murder will he be released from doing all of this over again, wiped of memories at the start of doing it again.

I had my ups and downs with this book, but in the end, the ups did outweigh the downs. I’ll start with what I enjoyed.

The murder-mystery itself was intricate and well-planned. It kept me guessing throughout the book, especially in the later half, when answers were finally starting to come, yet kept being not what they appeared to be. No one is ever quite who they seem to be, even the people that you are certain couldn’t possibly be hiding something. And I really appreciated the way that the narrator’s different hosts contributed their own abilities toward solving the murder.

As the same day is being relived by the narrator, it reads a lot like a time travel story, as the narrator sees the same events happen over and over. The author did a good job with the continuity in this respect. There were a few things that confused me in this area, but they were intentional (not intentionally confusing, but intentional as in not a continuity issue). I can’t say more without giving some spoilers.

I was certain throughout the book that there would never be an explanation given for the greater mystery–who or what was behind the narrator being trapped inside the various guests at Blackheath, forced to solve a murder. A combination of some reviews that I read and my own assumption that this wouldn’t be explained, due to the why not being the focus of the story, led me to this certainty. I was pleasantly surprised to find that an explanation was given, and while I was still left with some questions when the book ended, a Q&A section at the back of the book clarified things. To be clear though–this wasn’t a cheat on the author’s part to leave out some information and fill in the blanks later. It didn’t bother me to be left with the questions I had–it was the kind of thing where the reader was left to infer their own answers, and it turned out I had inferred them correctly.

Here were the downsides to the book for me (as spoiler-free as I can be), which can be mostly chalked up to personal preference:

Early on, I struggled with how long it took to get into the mystery, and what was happening that seemed to be completely unrelated, or at least very different, from what the book was going to be about. Between the title of the book and the inside of the book jacket, I knew a lot more than I feel like I was meant to know, and grew impatient waiting for that information to be presented in the book. Even the name of the narrator is right there on the book jacket, but that information wasn’t given until at least 1/4 of the way into the book. I don’t think this is the fault of the book itself though, so much as the fault of the blurb and, to a lesser degree, the title.

The book is written in 1st person and present tense. It works well for the premise, but the downside to this is that certain events are a little too up-close and personal for my taste. This mainly relates to violence and death, but other situations as well. By the end of the book, I felt like I should take a shower, as the mustiness and decay of Blackheath and the alcohol- and smoke-covered guests is described so often, and in such intimate detail that at times it felt like I was swimming in it. I also didn’t care for the extreme way that the author portrayed one of the narrator’s guest’s overweight body, with such disdain, and not to mention as if the host could barely walk 10 feet without being out of breath. I was as thankful to be out of that host as the narrator was.

The last downside I want to mention is that I didn’t personally care for the author’s style. There was so much figurative language that, by the end of the book, I actually said to my husband, “I’ve read this sentence 5 times, but I can’t tell if something big just happened, or if it’s just a metaphor.” There is also quite a bit of description, so between that and the figurative language, the narration often bogged down the story for me. I came to appreciate the dialog, because it was much more straight-forward, but a lot of the story happens in the narration. By the last third of the book, though, I had started to skim the descriptions (how many different ways can you tell me that a new room we’ve entered is dirty, run-down, and dark?), hoping I wouldn’t miss anything important along the way.

To sum up, I did enjoy the book, and once I really got into the mystery, I found myself wanting to come back to it whenever I could. I would recommend it for people who enjoy mystery, especially those with intricate plots. I think many would struggle with the complexity of it though. I would not recommend it to my friends and family, however, as I think the violence and debauchery might bother them as much as, if not more than, it did me, so keep that in mind if you don’t care for that sort of thing.

Find out more about The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle*
*This is the US title. The book is elsewhere titled The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Up next: The Oath by Frank Peretti

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: Weave a Circle Round

Finished Reading: Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: YA Fantasy

WaCR

Freddy doesn’t have the most pleasant life–she doesn’t get along with her siblings very well, her parents are basically non-existent, and her friendships are fragile at best. When Cuerva Lachance and Josiah move in next door, and Josiah starts going to her school, I’d imagine she longs for the simpler days when those relationships were her only problems. The new neighbors just don’t seem to obey the laws of physics, and worse yet, they end up sucking Freddy into their bizarre lives, which just happen to involve time travel.

I enjoyed most of this book. Though I didn’t connect with the main character or her family in the first section of the book, the mystery presented in the second section had me coming back to it every chance I got. I also enjoyed the way the author looped the time traveling, especially when it related to “present time.” My sense of foreboding grew along with the main character, as the time travel played itself out. However, the ending of the book didn’t deliver quite the punch I was expecting. I didn’t follow some of it, and for the rest of it, I was a little out of my element regarding the fantasy elements. There was one moment that I really liked, that called back to the very beginning, but I can’t say more than that. I appreciate Kari’s mind toward continuity within a story.

Overall, I’d say this book is worth a read, especially if you enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, and mythology.

I also want to again mention Kari’s web comics, West of Bathurst and It Never Rains. The former has some fantasy/fairy tale elements, and the latter is more sci-fi. Both have long-running plots (as opposed to a gag-a-day type format).

Find out more about Kari Maaren and Weave a Circle Round

Up next: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!