Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What I Read: May 2015

"In the Shadow of Blackbirds" - Cat Winters

This novel was recommended to me by fellow blogger (and geeky internet buddy) Ann of the Nerdy Gimp back in March.  And I have to say "THANK YOU" to her, because I ended up liking this book a lot!  I love a good ghost story, and this book by Cat Winters was a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable page-turner. After the disappointment that was the ghost story "Ruined" (that I read in February), I was eager to find another spooky story with better writing and flow. Thankfully, Miss Winters' writing and setting and character building was incredibly engrossing, and I'm really looking forward to checking out more of her novels!

But anyways, back to the actual story! It had been a while since I read anything with a 'historical' setting, so the fact that "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" takes place in the early 1900's made for an especially nice escape.  It centers around a teenage girl named Mary Shelley who makes her way to San Diego, California during the time when Spanish Influenza was sweeping the nation. (Keep in mind, this was back when there were no vaccines/cures/treatments for germy diseases like the flu!). It was truly a bleak time, with people dying everywhere. And those who managed to avoid the sickness didn't leave their houses without covering half their face with a white 'flu mask'. To make matters worse, a little something called WWI was also going on at this time: Mary Shelley's only parent was arrested for being suspected of secretly conspiring with the enemy, and her childhood friend/recent boyfriend Stephen enlists in the army and is killed shortly after he gets shipped off to fight in France.

So where does the 'ghost story' part come in? Well, not long after her sweetheart dies, Mary starts seeing him again.. or rather, his ghost. And here is where I (for some reason) *thought* it was going to start to become the typical yawn-inducing "lovey dovey pining away for lost love" YA story, (because nothing says romance like being haunted by your dead boyfriend, right?). Boy, was I sadly HAPPILY mistaken! The 'visits' Mary gets from Stephen are downright scary, suspenseful, and honestly kind of disturbing. He is an angry, 100% not at-peace spirit. And Mary Shelley needs to find out why.. and what the heck are these blackbirds he keeps screaming about?! 

 I made the mistake of reading this book before sleeping, in my bed with the lights off. Most of the scenes in which Stephen appears to Mary are at night, while she's in her bedroom with the lights off. I had to keep looking around the room just to be SURE that no pissed off ghost-boys were lurking in the shadows. (I guess I'm one of those people who gets easily creeped out, but yet I can't stay away from stories like this, haha). Cat Winters' writing is just that good!

The deeper Mary delves into the mysterious circumstances of Stephen's death, the darker the story gets. I highly recommend this novel to those who like solving mysteries and spooky occurrences, but with a taste of science! (Mary is a full on science-nerd who tries to find true answers to what is going on, and uses her brain to figure it all out. I love her!) Some other things I didn't mention were the sprinkling of old/historical photographs throughout the pages. At first I thought it would be like Ransom Riggs' "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" series, where he specifically wrote the story around the photos he used to portray characters and settings, but that wasn't the exact case with this book. Cat Winters just put them in for extra effect. And also, one of the huge plot points deals with the concept of 'spiritualism' and 'spiritualism photography' that was a big thing in this time period. People believed that their dead loved ones would appear in photographs and they held seances to try to talk with them. Very interesting information, indeed!

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed it that much.

"Waistcoats and Weaponry" - Gail Carriger

I admit, I'm still not 100% through with this one, but I read the bulk of it in May, so here it is. (It was a busy month!)  This is the third/final installment in Gail Carriger's spectacularly Steampunk "Finishing School" series. I've blogged about the previous two books here and here.  I'm absolutely crazy about this series. Sophronia and her friends are a bit older in this book, and their 'intelligencer' skills are much more developed and it's awesome! One thing I've mentioned about this series before is my love for the covers/artwork. The fan that the girl is holding in this one is described as a 'bladed fan' made of metal and leather and the tips are super sharp! What a fabulous weapon! Gail Carriger's writing and imagined Victorian-era world truly makes you want to experience it.

As usual, Sophronia and her gang, (which now fully includes her buddy Soap, and the dashing Lord Mersey), defy the rules in order to help out one of their own. They've gotten themselves in yet another sticky situation, (or situations - plural), and the entire fate of the werewolf world hangs in the balance! Meanwhile, Sophronia has to figure out her feelings for both the boys in her life, and what the heck is she going to do after school is done with?

Oh, the joys of being a teenager in the robot and supernatural-monster-filled Victorian era.

I may not be completely finished with this novel, but I know it won't disappoint in the least. I've enjoyed this series immensely and am sad to see it end! Check out Gail Carriger's books, already! All of you!

Stay tuned for June's selections!

In case you missed previous months:

What I Read: January 2015
What I Read: February 2015
What I Read: March 2015
What I Read: April 2015


  1. I need to read more Gail Carriger. I've only read the first one in the Parasol series. This must be fixed. Right now I took a break from Vanity Fair to read one of the Vampire Academy books.

    1. I've only read the first in the Parasol series too! I need the rest!


Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...