Recently Read Books #11 | catching up on series, spooky books, and more

It’s time to talk about six of the books I’ve read recently! I’ve managed to finish/catch up on two series and read some spooky books for the Halloween season. Let’s get into my reviews!

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The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth #3)

“But for a society build on exploitation, there is no greater threat than having no one left to oppress.”

Content warnings: violence, references to abuse, child death

goodreads | indiebound

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In the third and final book of the Broken Earth Trilogy, questions are finally answered, characters are reunited, quests are completed, and hearts (namely, mine) are broken.

My thoughts on this book are pretty similar to my thoughts on the other two, since they essentially form one complete story all together. I was constantly blown away by the intricacy with which N.K. Jemisin crafts worlds and stories, blending the two together and pull in tiny details that you never would expect to be important. Just when you think you know where the story is heading, she throws in a curveball and forces you to reevaluate everything. Not only that, but despite the darkness and desperation built into the foundations of this series, it ends up feeling incredibly hopeful. Watching a character who wants to give up over and over refuse to do so, partly because the people around her won’t let her and partly because she can’t admit defeat, is just beautiful.

Still, I did feel lost for large portions of this book, and I get the feeling it would take me many, many read-throughs to feel like I fully have a grasp on this world. Maybe that’s just what I’ll have to do.

4

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Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (The Diviners #2)

“We are made by what we are asked to bear.”

Content warnings: racism, homophobia, alcohol abuse

goodreads | indiebound

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The second book in the Diviners series picks up a few months after the first, when people across New York City start succumbing to a “sleeping sickness” from which they can’t wake. Even though this book follows quite a few characters, it’s mainly about Henry and Ling, two Diviners with the ability to walk in dreams.

In summary: I would die for Henry DuBois III. That’s it, that’s the review.

Just kidding – I have lots more to say about this book. As with the first book, the biggest strength of this is its setting. Libba Bray is able to bring 1927 New York vividly to life, through descriptions, dialect, and every tiny detail. Plus, she includes the incredible diversity of the time period without shying away from the systemic discrimination that marginalized groups faced every day.

This book involves the storylines of several characters, some of which I was much more invested in than others. As previously mentioned, Henry’s was at the top, along with Ling (they are such friendship goals). The rest of the characters were interesting, but I never felt as invested and there were times that their chapters felt unnecessary. And I’m really not a fan of the way the POV constantly shifts in the middle of scenes. This book could have used some trimming, as it comes in at over 600 pages and I found myself practically skimming some parts.

3

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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

“Writing a book, just like building a library, is an act of sheer defiance. It is a declaration that you believe in the persistence of memory.”

goodreads | indiebound

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This nonfiction book is about the Los Angeles Public Library and the fire that raged through it in 1986. More broadly, though, it’s about all libraries: their history, cultural impact, and current place in society. Part memoir, part history, and part true crime, this book covers a wide array of library-related topics, all framed around the LAPL fire and the search for the arsonist.

I listened to this as an audiobook, which was narrated by the author, and it was fascinating! I’ve always been a lover of libraries and this made me appreciate them even more. I learned tons that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. It’s easy to tell how much research went into each tiny detail, and a love of libraries comes across in every word. It managed to make me emotional about the community-building power of stories and library spaces, and I was even invested in the arson mystery. I highly recommend this for anyone who loves books, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you do.

4

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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

“I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”

Content warnings: abuse, sexual assault, body-shaming

goodreads | indiebound

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Growing up in Harlem with a religious mother, Xiomara feels like her voice isn’t heard. She has questions about the world and her place in it that she doesn’t know how to ask. When she discovers slam poetry, though, she finally has a way to express herself.

This book has been getting ALL of the praise (including a National Book Award!) and I FINALLY understand why! I don’t usually read books in verse, which is why it took me so long to pick this up, but I got the audiobook and ended up listening to it in two days and crying through the ending. Not only is the language itself breathtaking – each word carefully chosen to create the perfect sound and rhythm that is beautiful to listen to – but I can tell that this book is going to mean so much to a lot of young people. This book deals with many important topics, from complex family situations to the misogyny built into religion to body- and slut-shaming. Xiomara’s journey of finding her voice is just stunning. I did feel like the ending wrapped up a little too easily, but other than that, this book was basically perfection.

4.5

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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

“Being different – being simply you instead of what other people wanted you to be – was it’s own kind of bravery.”

Content warnings: spiders

goodreads | indiebound

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This spooky middle grade book follows Prosper Redding, whose old New England family is full of secrets. One of those secrets is that there is a demon living inside Prosper, passed down from an ancestor who broke a contract. Alastor, the demon, is intent on destroying Prosper’s family, which means Prosper has to figure out how to get rid of him before it’s too late.

I love Alexandra Bracken’s writing, and this book was no exception. I’m so glad that I read this around Halloween, because the spooky vibes were spot on! Prosper himself is a hilarious narrator – constantly snarky and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time – and I couldn’t help but love Alastor’s confusion and exasperation with the modern world. This book wasn’t perfect – the pacing felt wonky at times and there was more info dumping than I would have liked – but it was still fun and spooky, and I look forward to reading the sequel!

3.5

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Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (The Diviners #3)

“The colonizer writes the history, winning twice: A theft of land. A theft of witness.”

Content warnings: racism, homophobia, rape, assault, nonconsensual medical procedures

goodreads | indiebound

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The third Diviners book continues with the mystery of the man in the stovepipe hat, as ghosts appear across the country and the gang of Diviners attempt to figure out what’s going on.

Much like with the second book, I absolutely adore the way Libba Bray is able to create a vivid setting with her language. And I’m still invested in most of the characters (Henry and Ling continue to be highlights, though sadly they weren’t as prominent in this book). I’m also curious with the mystery threading through this entire series, and definitely eager to see how it turns out in the final book. And I appreciate how Libba Bray doesn’t shy away from the less-than-pretty aspects of American history, such as eugenics and racism and religious extremism.

Still, I’m not a fan of the writing style – it often feels too removed and rushed to get fully immersed in a character. And the POV head hopping drives me crazy! Even though this book felt a little more cohesive plot-wise than the second one, there were still parts that felt unnecessary, which I mostly ended up skimming. The large cast of characters means that there are inevitably the ones that I don’t care about. I went from being somewhat annoyed with Jericho to actively disliking him. I’m still going to read the fourth book when it comes out next year, though, because I’m invested now.

3

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Have you read any of these books? What spooky books have you read for Halloween?

x Margaret 

goodreads | twitter | indiebound

14 thoughts on “Recently Read Books #11 | catching up on series, spooky books, and more

  1. Don’t mind me just immediately adding all of these spooky books to my TBR…I didn’t realize quite how much I’ve been lacking in finding spooky reads until this month when I was on the hunt for them, so I’m for sure looking forward to adding these reads.

    AH! SO happy to hear that you enjoyed Prosper Redding!! I absolutely love Prosper’s voice and humor, and the same goes for Alastor. I’m super pumped for you to read the sequel!

    Like I said, I haven’t read nearly as many spooky books as I should have, but I’ve been trying to remedy that this month. I’ve read The Institute and The Shining, both by Stephen King; Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn; and Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell. I’m currently reading Ninth House which is FOR SURE serving more spooky vibes. I will say though, I’m sad to see the spooky season over so soon!

    Great post, Margaret!!

    P.S. I feel like I’ve said the word “spooky” too much. But is there a limit?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YESSS I hope you love ALL of these when you get around to them!! Sounds like you found some great spooky reads for October too – I’m kinda too scared to pick up anything by Stephen King, but I loved Gone Girl and should probably read more Gillian Flynn! And I can’t WAIT to read Ninth House for the ~spooky vibes.~

      Also, yes, Prosper was a delight. I need to read the second book ASAP because that cliffhanger was intense!!

      Omg I felt like I was using the word spooky way too often in this post too. Oh well. Lucky for us…the limit does not exist. 😉

      Thanks, Lauren!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I honestly have no idea how I’ve picked up Stephen King books and loved a good majority of them, making him one of my favorite authors. I’m an actual wimp, but I haven’t found any of the one’s I’ve read so far truly frightening to the point where I couldn’t handle them. If you ever are in the mood to pick one of his up, I could offer some recommendations whenever you’re in the market for them 😊

        I really would love to pick up Gone Girl! Sharp Objects wasn’t my absolute favorite book, but I loved Gillian Flynn’s writing style and would love to read more.

        AH! I remember that cliffhanger – it was horrible and the wait for the second book was even worse. I hope you enjoy the second!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You summed up a lot of how I felt with the two books of The Diviners. The first one was amazing, for me, but the rest of them struggled a bit and there was just too much. I love Henry and Ling, though. They are AMAZING, and for sure, ultimate friendship goals. And The Poet X was stunning, and the audiobook was incredible. Wonderful reviews, Margaret! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OH MY GODDD!! I havent even picked up Diviners yet and THE NEXT ONE IS OUT ALREADY?!?! 😱😱😱😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 God, I really do need to pick this one up ASAP! And Henry DuBois? He the main character?! BECAUSE YOUR LOVE FOR HIM MAKES ME WANNA KNOW MORE!!! 😍😍😍

    AND A BOOK ABOUT LIBRARIESSS?!? 😍😍😍😍👻👻👻 WHY THE HELL DIDNT I KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFOREEEE?!?? 😱😱 Because it sounds AWESOMEEE!! 😍😍

    Wait…I am commenting as I go through this post AND WHAT THE HELLL?!? THE THIRD BOOK OF Diviners IS OUT TOOOOO?!?! 😱😱😱😱😱 This post is hitting meee HARDDDD!! 🤣🤣🤣😱😱😱😭😭😭

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: October Wrap-Up | reading spooky books + meeting favorite authors – Weird Zeal

  5. My one regret with The Poet X is that I read it instead of listening to it. If I had known Acevedo was narrating, I would waited for the audiobook. Regardless of how I “read” it, the story was really powerful and moving, and I am really happy you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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