January 2, 2013

Best Book Bar None

Road Trip Wednesday is a 'Blog Carnival' where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC:
What's the best book you read in December?

This was an easy one for me, because one book pos-i-tute-ly stood out. It was the bee's knees, and quite possibly one of the most swell books I've read this year. And how! Okay, I'm done with the 1920s jargon, BUT I'm not done raving.


Dames and gents, I give you The Diviners by Libba Bray.

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer—if he doesn't catch her first. (from Goodreads)


There is so much I could say about this book, but the most important point is that the author really did her research on 1920s New York. And how! (Okay, I lied. There may be more jargon than you bargained for.) The beauty of it is that she wove it all in so seamlessly that you almost don't realize that this book was written in a completely different millennium. It's just that well done. I've always loved the Roaring Twenties and stories set in NYC, so this pairing was perfection. And the story is just so compelling. It's nearly 600 pages long, and I read the bulk of it in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down!

Good time gal, Evie, is a truly dynamic character. Throughout her evolution as a character, she still knows how to have fun, but she deepens and becomes less selfish and more responsible. I kind of loved that about her. Jericho was fantasticly swoonworthy, Will was such a cool uncle, Mabel was the most loyal of friends, Sam was sometimes annoying but often endearing, Theta and Henry were fabulous, Memphis was all-around great... Such a superlative cast of characters. And then there's Naughty John. I'm not sure I've encountered a villain who was so pos-i-tute-ly eerie as this serial creeper.

Which brings me to a teensy word of caution: This book was seriously creepy. I'm fairly certain the twisted snippets from the book of Revelation (read: altered by a cult), the rhymey ditty Naughty John kept whistling and singing, and the murders themselves were what totally wigged me out. In many ways, it read like an adult crime thriller only much better.

Things I could have done without which might be dealbreakers for you:
  • There were three instances where animals were killed. In each and every case it was entirely unnecessary and added nothing to the plot. If the rest of the book hadn't been so darn good, I might have been tempted to put it down. I'm that bothered by cruelty to animals. Fortunately, they were all very brief mentions.
  • One of Naughty John's victims was a tween kid. Enough said.
(Added 03/01/13: I read through a bunch of reviews on Goodreads, and I only found one other person who commented on the cruelty to animals thing. I suppose it's possible that I'm just overly sensitive to this, so bear that in mind.)

Things that were the "elephant's eyebrows":
  • 1920s NYC—seriously well done. Though I've never been to New York (yet!), I felt like I was actually there. The Ziegfeld girls, the fashion, the jargon, the landmarks, the historical references... It all comes alive.
  • The writing is fantastic. This one falls under the category: Books That Make Me Feel Unworthy as a Writer.
  • The cast of characters and their unique abilities. Favourites: Evie, Jericho, and Memphis.

Let me put it this way: I liked this book so much, I'm going to give a copy away! (Truthfully, I received duplicates this Christmas, so I figured why not share the love?) And the best part? You can ALL enter no matter where you live.


The Pos-i-tute-ly Bee's Knees Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Honourable mention for Best December Read: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

66 comments:

  1. What a great review, and how amazing that you're giving a copy away. I also love the 1920s-- my grandmother used to tell me stories about the things she did then (living in NYC no less) and it sounded like a blast. I love the era of the 1920s right on through both world wars. There's such a mix there: of excess and want, peace and war, madness of all kinds... and the ways the rules changed for women along the way. LOVE it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a slight mix-up and my husband bought the same book for me twice. Whoops! But definitely an opportunity for a giveaway, so that's good. I have to agree with you: That period of time from the 1920s right through both wars is my favourite period in history. You've also captured all of the reasons why it's so compelling in your comment. :)

      Delete
  2. Hello Jaime, and Happy New Year to you! :D

    Since you loved this book so much, it's going on my TBR. And, once I'm not at work where Rafflecopter is blocked (they're very tight on all kinds of widgety things here), I will enter your giveaway for SURE! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was very good, though the twisting around of Revelation and some of the occult stuff made me cringe a little (like pentacles, for instance). If you can look past all of that, it was well worth the read. The writing was fantastic, the characters were compelling, and the setting positively shone. :)

      Delete
  3. Argh! Both of the books you mentioned have been sitting on my shelf just begging to be read...but THE DIVINERS is so long, and I was trying to get to a nice round number by the end of 2012! And now I have craft books and Cybils finalists (a great list--I'll probably post about that tomorrow!) and books for my maybe-new-job to read...Sigh. I'll get to them both soon, I hope!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd been wanting to read THE DIVINERS for some time, but it did seem rather large. My husband ended up ordering it for me twice by accident, so it seemed like a great opportunity for a giveaway. :) Trust me when I say that it will not take you long to read. I flew right through it in barely more than a day, which is saying something considering how humongous it is.

      You'll be happy to know that I also got a copy of CODE NAME VERITY for Christmas. I'll be digging into that one soon too!

      Delete
  4. 1920s and a museum of creepy crawlies??? Oh yes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 1920s New York setting was my absolute favourite part of this book. I think if you stripped all of that away, I wouldn't have loved it nearly as much. So, so good! :)

      Delete
  5. This has been on my TBR list since it came out. It sounds fantastic and I'm a huge fan of Libba Bray's writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really got a kick out of BEAUTY QUEENS, but wasn't a fan of another book of hers that I read. This one just sounded way too good, so I had to read it. I was not disappointed! She is a phenomenal writer, and this book just proves it. :)

      Delete
  6. 1920s and the supernatural? I think I'm in love with this book already! As for your question on the rafflecopter thingymabob I usually read books set in the modern day althought I enjoyed The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler for its 90s references. Took me back. :)

    I'd actually love to read something set in the 70s or 80s. Punks and awesome music? Oh yeah! =D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is YA historical done right. :) The 1920s are just so appealing in many ways. The supernatural aspect doesn't feel 'been done' either, in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      A book set in the 70s or 80s would be totally fun. Someone should get on that!

      Delete
  7. Happy New Year Jamie!

    I've heard such great things about this book! I really don't know why I haven't picked it up yet. I don't know if I really have a favourite era. Typically I like to read things that are more modern day or semi-futuristic. That being said, I'm willing to give anything a shot. I recently read a book set in the 60s that I enjoyed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy New Year to you too! :)

      This book is really good. She does such a great job of bringing the 1920s, her characters, and the story itself to life. Well worth the read. :)

      Delete
  8. I keep checking all the due dates for the copies my library has, because I'm first in line to get it and have been forever. Glad to see you loved it so much, because I have a huge thing for the 1920s :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well maybe you'll win and then you won't have to wait for the library anymore! :)

      Delete
  9. Hi and visiting you back along the YA Highway... I love reading about the 20s (although I confess my favorite time period is currently more futuristic, although I did go for a long Arthurian phase... okay I like 'em all)

    Great review - would love to win this book in your giveaway ;-)

    And Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katie! I'm kind of all over the map with eras that I love. I love anything historical, but I'm currently querying a science fiction set in the future. :)

      Delete
  10. This book sounds great! I didn't participate in today's RTW, but I'm super interested in this book now and am unashamedly entering the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But of course I left off my favorite era--I like anything in the 1800s. I know it's a long spread, but I'm taking it anyway. Like Something Strange and Deadly? Love it.

      Delete
    2. I haven't done a RTW post in quite some time, so it was kind of perfect today. I already knew I wanted to do a giveaway of this book so the timing was good. I kind of love just about anything historical, I'm not going to lie. The 1800s were especially good for interesting events, that's for sure! :)

      Delete
  11. Thanks for sharing. It sounds creepy, which is what I've been indulging in lately! Thanks for the giveaway too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very creepy, so you won't be disappointed! :)

      Delete
  12. Nice review and thanks for the giveaway! Libba Bray is such a fantastic writer, so I have no doubts that this book is mind-bogglingly awesome :)

    The 1920's is one of my favorite eras to read about, along with Regency, Edwardian, and Victorian England.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought BEAUTY QUEENS was hilarious, and this one was great too. Very different from the former, but awesome! The 1920s aspect of this book really shone through her descriptions, the way her characters spoke, the fashion... All fantastic. :)

      Delete
  13. I'm excited to read this one. I love Libba Bray. Thanks for hosting a giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, and as for my favorite era...hmm...not sure! But the 1920's are pretty fun.

      Delete
    2. It's so, so good. :) Aside from THE GREAT GATSBY, I'm not sure if I've really read much set in the 1920s, but now I want more! Such a great era in so many ways. :)

      Delete
  14. Great review! The book sounds awesome! I read BEAUTY QUEENS this summer and decided that Libba Bray has the most amazing sense of humor. I just love her.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jeanmarie. :) BEAUTY QUEENS was pretty hilarious. This is nothing like that one, but so good!

      Delete
  15. Fantastic review, Jaime! I've been looking forward to reading this one, too - but have to say, a bit disappointed to hear about the unnecessary animal killings. Like you, I have zero tolerance for this - but based on how much you raved about the writing, I'm willing to give it a chance.
    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's! Happy 2013 to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoops, forgot to mention my favorite era. Hmmm...not sure I have one particular era, as I'm willing to read just about anything. But I do love the Roaring 20's and I think the 50's could be fun, too!

      Delete
    2. I suppose maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the animal thing, but I didn't want to give a book away without a couple disclaimers, you know? I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm okay with that kind of thing. I just wish I knew why she felt the need to include it, because like I said it was unnecessary to the story. It's definitely worth the read aside from that, and the instances were brief.

      I hope you also had a great Christmas, Erin! Happy 2013 to you! :)

      Delete
  16. Well, you know how I feel about disturbing violence that involves kids (and animals) in books, so I'm glad you posted a warning in your review about that aspect. Definitely something potential readers should have fair warning about. Other than that it sounds like a really intriguing book, although Naughty John is probably creepy enough to give me nightmares :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naughty John sounds like a male stripper name or something, like Magic Mike only nastier. But he's just plain old creepy. Thankfully, there were no nightmares. I think both the animal thing and the kid thing could have been left out or altered without impacting the story in any way, which makes me wonder why they were included. Regardless, it was a really good book and I loved the 1920s aspect of it. I can't wait for the next book. :)

      Delete
  17. 'The Diviners' sounds very cool. I don't pick up a lot of thrillers, and when I do I always wonder why I don't read more in that genre.

    Hmm, favorite era to read about... I love me some sci-fi, so I'll say anything set in the future.

    I read 'Throne of Glass' a month or so ago, and I still need to write a review. I thought the book was sort of *meh*. I liked the magic/intrigue story line, but the assassin contest plot fell flat for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a pretty big sci-fi fan too, but I really do love a good historical. :) The best part about this one is that it's not just a historical. The 1920s are pretty darn cool, though. :)

      Delete
  18. Confession: I read the first 20 or so pages of this one and did not fall in love. Weird, right? Everyone else seems to LOVE it. I think I'll give it another go, seeing as how you're such a fan. Thanks for the great recommendation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first chapter wasn't horribly interesting, I didn't think. It wasn't until after Evie got to New York that I was really hooked in. It gets really good after that. :)

      Delete
  19. Happy New Year! DIVINERS has been on my TBR list since it came out. I'm looking forward to reading it. My favorite eras to read about are Victorian (Steampunk!) and Georgian (like in THE GLAMOURIST HISTORIES by Mary Robinette Kowal).

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy New Year to you too, Athena! I'd been wanting to read THE DIVINERS for some time, but I think the size of it kind of freaked me out a bit, especially since I still had books to finish for my Goodreads Reading Challenge. It was definitely worth it and took me no time at all to read. :)

      Delete
  20. I don't really have a specific time period that I prefer for historical fiction. Ancient civilizations, middle ages, 20th century--I've seen them all done so well. That animal death thing is a little offputting--that's normally a dealbreaker for me (although I have at times written it non-gratuitously myself) but some books transcend it (Scorpio Races).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I pretty much just like all historical fiction as long as it's written well. If there's something else thrown in with it, like a genre mashup, even better!

      Like I said, the animal thing bothered me, but it wasn't enough to make me put the book down. I just wish I knew what the purpose of it was.

      Delete
  21. AAAGH!!! I so want to read this book! I was in Barnes and Nobles drooling all over it today. :) Thanks for the giveaway, Jaime!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you definitely do! It's so good. :)

      Delete
  22. You had me at cults!

    I've seen this book reviewed on other blogs but for some reason, I never really thought to check it out. I love the title and the time period that it's set in. There aren't that many YA books that take place during the Jazz Age and as a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald...I'm sold. Thanks for the giveaway and for bringing this book to my attention.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cults definitely make everything creepier, don't they? I can't think of too many books set in that era, but I sure wish there were more. It's such a great time period! Libba Bray really makes it shine too. :)

      Delete
  23. Oh, hells yes, I haven't even read your post yet but I freaking LOVE your Best Book of December image! Be right back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really wanted to find something 1920s, so I was happy when I did (and tweaked it, of course). :)

      Delete
  24. Hi! I'm back. Definitely putting this one on the TBR. And maybe I'll win! :)

    Favorite era? Tough one. I'd say either antebellum and civil war or 1940s.

    Great question!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome back! Glad you're putting it on your TBR list. :) I really, really enjoyed it. As for favourite eras, I'm not sure if I can even pinpoint one specific era that I love. There are so many good ones! :)

      Delete
  25. Somehow I missed the fact that this is a crime thriller. Sign me up! Thanks for selling me on this one, Jaime!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I adore WW1 and WW2 historicals. ADORE, I tell you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I just got the audiobook of The Diviners from the library. It's pretty long, but hopefully it will be a good audio choice. I love reading about WWII era--so glad that's creeping over to YA (Code Name Verity, Between Shades of Gray). Hopefully the 1960s will catch on in YA ;) Maybe I can make that work!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ohhhh I really wanted to read that book before but now I´m totally excited about it. It sounds great! Thanks Jaime <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh and favorite area? Ancient Rome, Louis XIV, and World Wars (sounds weird to put those words and favorite together)

      Delete
  29. Weeell. I actually don't know. Since I haven't read any era books. But, I have read this one, and I loved the time it was set it :D Thank you for perfect giveaway. <3 would love to win a copy of this perfect book :)
    Love, Carina

    ReplyDelete
  30. Anything before guns and after cavemen.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I like all historicals, especially medieval ones. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm not sure when the timeset is, but around that time of Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.

    Thanks for the giveaway

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks for this amazing giveaway! :) My fave time time Victorian England, for some reason it seems like magical time, despite everything bad that happened.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for this giveaway!I really like to read about 1920s.

    ReplyDelete
  35. 19th Century, England! Thank you for making it international! :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love the 1920s. Those dresses, hairstyles and the whole culture just seems interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  37. The 19th century is My definite choice. That era is simply beautiful

    ReplyDelete
  38. I would definitely have to go with Victorian era (although, I thoroughly enjoy any other era as well).
    Heard great things about this book, really liked her Gemma Doyle trilogy, so really curious about this one.
    Thanks for a giveaway! :)

    ReplyDelete

I ♥ comments. They make me smile.☺