Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

CatherineHouse

Trust us, you belong here.

A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

Read the full description on Amazon, or visit Goodreads to learn more.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley; this in no way has influenced my opinion.

So this book. I read it all in a single sitting, and I’m really still trying to gather my thoughts and opinions about it. As soon as I finished, I thought “5 stars”, no doubt. As you can see, I’ve lowered that to 3.5 stars, albeit reluctantly.

This is a story about a girl in a house. She and her peers cannot leave; they can have no connection to the outside world. They have chosen, and been chosen by, Catherine House for one reason or another. They are there to learn, and work hard, and excel in a rigorous interdisplinary education. This is dark academia at its most oblique; it is moody and mean and introspective.

I will warn that this book put me in a funk. The main character is pretty severely depressed. Her environment is completely toxic and her thoughts tend to pull her deeper into her surreal and nightmarelike state of mind. It felt extremely real, which was both the highest achievement of the novel and the biggest trigger warning. It felt especially relevant in this strange time in the world right now, where the days are bleeding together and the passage of time is marked only by when our bodies need to eat.

I’d like to talk more about the introspective tone I mentioned in the previous paragraph. In the book, one of the characters describes the main protagonist, Ines, as having a “sideways” perspective of the world, although she wasn’t particularly academically intelligent. I think that applies to the book itself, in a strange way. Ines takes us through the story in a haze of depression and drunken glee; she overlooks important things and focuses intently on insignificant details. We learn about the setting, the all-powerful Catherine House, in small bits and pieces as Ines pores over details about wallpaper or bouncy houses. No writing in this book is what you will expect it to be. There is nothing typical about the dialogue or the tone or the plot or the characters. It is strange because it seems like everything we learned felt so trivial, but when added together, the details form a more complete whole than most other books can hope to achieve. We know the characters by their quirks and mannerisms instead of the color of their eyes or where they are from.

This book feels like the strange nostalgia of dusk near the end of summer, or the unsettling emptiness of an airport early in the morning. It’s driving down a deserted road in the night or returning to a temporary home when traveling abroad. It’s not that the book described these feelings, exactly, but the emotions it made me feel were similar. It was rich and all-encompassing, a beautiful sort of sadness.

Where the book is, I’d say, nearly flawless in terms of atmosphere, it falls a bit short when it comes to the plot itself. It is a bit mysterious and strange, but quite predictable, even as someone who doesn’t read a lot of thriller-type novels. This is why the star-rating has been reduced. Honestly, I don’t mind books that are all moodiness and little plot (see also: my complete devotion to Murakami), but for the sake of this being advertised around a “dark truth”, I think it won’t quite meet some readers’ expectations.

This review ended up being several paragraphs longer than I intended, so if you made it all the way here, thank you for sticking with me. This book made me feel icky and sad, and I really loved it for that. It’s been a while since a book has made me feel so deeply, and as a reader, I don’t care how dark those feelings are.

I would highly recommend this to fans of Murakami. A few other points of comparison I can offer are The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin and (strangely enough) Fallen by Lauren Kate, with a dash of Roshani Chokshi’s beautiful prose.

Sad Happy reading 🙂

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Getting That 80% Ratio (A Stuck-Inside Challenge)

Hello, long time no see!

I hope you, your family, and friends are all staying safe. To any of those who are providing essential services right now, whether it be in the medical field or service sector, thank you. I know you’ve heard it many times but you deserve to hear it many, many more. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And to the rest of you… you better be staying inside. Six feet apart, people!

Anyway, the title of this post might make you think that these are tips on achieving the golden ratio of requested books to reviewed books on NetGalley… I’m sorry, but it’s not. I myself am sitting at a pitiful 60%.

Instead, I’m writing this as a challenge for myself. I haven’t been reading much at all lately, and even less so from my little (ha!) list of NetGalley titles. So, a challenge to myself, and all other reviewers out there, is to reach that 80%!

The bookworm’s ultimate point of sadness, and also a common excuse for reading slumps, is the “I don’t have time to read” conundrum. Whether or not this was true before, it’s definitely probably not true now.

So go log into NetGalley. Look at your shelf. You requested those books for a reason. They intrigued you for a reason!

I myself have 35 books received and 21 reviewed, which means I have to read 7 to reach that 80% mark. Easy peasy. I’m going to be tagging a few people who I will invite to participate in this little quest as well. But if any of you are sitting below 80% (or somehow, you’ve reached it), I’m sure NetGalley authors would love your participation as well!

Thank you all for reading, and good luck!

December 2019 Wrap-up

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Ok so clearly I’m one day late on this (happy 2020, everyone!), but I still wanted to take the time to share what I was up to in this last month. I don’t think I’ll be posting a “best of 2019” or “best of the decade” because I CANNOT CHOOSE, OKAY? There are just too many books in too many genres that are great in different, incomparable, ways. I’m not going to compare Katherine Arden’s excellent fantasy to my newfound love of Murakami. They’re just too different.

Moving on, here’s what I read this month!

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Wow. Just wow!! I absolutely adored this book. Ng writes with precise craft and heavy emotion, making even a book about peoples’ everyday lives incredibly gripping.

5 @300x-100

 

 

 

 

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

I received a review copy of this and unfortunately, it was a bust. Read my full review here.

2@300x-100

 

 

 

 

 

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This woman is just,, amazing? Another wow.

5 @300x-100

 

 

 

 

 

 

Days of Sugar and Spice - Europe Comics

 

Days of Sugar and Spice written by Loic Clement and illustrated by Anne Montel

A super-cute, feel-good graphic novel. Read my full review here.

3.5@300x-100

 

 

 

 

 

Haruki Murakami – South of the Border, West of the Sun ...

 

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

Yet another amazing book by this man. This one is one of his more “mundane” novels, but it is strange and magical nonetheless.

4@300x-100

 

 

 

 

 

10 sapphic YA fantasy books coming out in 2020 to add to ...

 

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

A spooky Halloween-time read about witches and serial killers.

Intrigued? Read my full review here.

4@300x-100

 

 

 

 

 

A Reader of Fictions

 

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Perfect for fans of Penumbra. This is a quirky, eccentric, way-out-there read. You will gobble it up.

4.5@300x-100

 

 

 

 

 

So I read some pretty fantastic books this month. Overall, a lot more good than bad. For anyone looking for something to read, I think there is a pretty diverse set of genres here, so I would recommend (most of) these!

What did your last month of 2019 look like?

Happy reading,

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under My Tree

Books I Hope to Find Under My Tree

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly list originally created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

The theme for this week is Books I Hope to Find Under My Tree. Unfortunately, with my university being on the other side of the country from my hometown (where I celebrate Christmas with my family), it is very hard to ask for physical books for these reasons: 1) I can’t bring heavy books in my suitcase, which wouldn’t be a problem except that 2) I couldn’t possibly finish the books before I have to go back to school. For that reason, these books will probably be purchased on my Kindle, as a gift from myself to myself (you are welcome, self).

Pumpkinheads: Rainbow Rowell unveils cover for graphic ...

  1. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

I still have yet to read this graphic novel, and I’ve heard great things about it.

 

 

 

 

Revealing The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ...

 

2. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Look how pretty this is! I couldn’t really get into The Bone Season, also by Shannon, but this one looks like its up my ally. Also, it is THICK.

 

 

 

 

Circle of Shadows | Evelyn Skye3. Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

I absolutely adored Evelyn Skye’s first series, and this one also sounds really good!

 

 

 

 

 

Crescent City: 'House Of Earth And Blood' By Sarah J. Maas ...

4. Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas

Okay, so this one hasn’t been released yet. But! The prompt only calls for what I want to find under the tree… not what will really be there.

Also, I know people absolutely loathe Maas. Had I started reading her at a later date, maybe I would be one of those people too. But, growing up with Aelin since I was 11 years old has created a special place for her in my heart. I will read whatever this lady writes.

 

 

5. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This book sounds really wacky. Magical realism, fantasy, and sci-fi wrapped up in some absurd feminist short stories? Yes please.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday (Or Should I Say “Top Twenty Tuesday ...

6. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

This one is actually waiting under my tree! For my sister though, because I bought it for her (Not that I bought it with any intention of stealing it for myself…).

 

 

 

 

 

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami | Waterstones7. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

I’m slowly making my way through all of Murakami’s work. So far my favorites are still Sputnik Sweetheart and After Dark. We’ll see where this one ends up!

 

 

 

 

'The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack ...8. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

How did I not know about this?????? I am fascinated by Jack the Ripper, but this story actually returns the focus to his victims. Also, it won a Goodreads choice award. What’s not to like?

 

 

 

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag – rimpysreads9. The Name of the Wind (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition ) by Patrick Rothfuss

I’m really due for a reread of this and LOOK HOW PRETTY IT IS!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathan Van ...10. Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Johnathan Van Ness

Preferably signed.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading! Link your TTTs below! Do we have any in common?

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