Book Reviews, Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews: January 2020 – Part 1

*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, West (East #2) by Edith Pattou, Nightbooks by J.A. White, & The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow


» The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» I would just like to give Shirley Jackson kudos for being a female pioneer in a male dominated genre in the mid 1900s.  I always feel inspired by women that broke traditional gender norms of their times.

» I would classify this book as more of a psychological horror story.  It is all about creating that atmosphere of foreboding, and less about monsters/ghosts.  I was deeply unsettled throughout the book.  To compare it to more modern books, I’d say it feels more like some of Stephen King’s books.

» I’m glad I listened to The Haunting of Hill House via audiobook, because I think it really enhanced the eerie elements.  At one point I had to shut it off because I was home-alone doing laundry in my basement on a gloomy rainy day and I was getting freaked out.

» The ending!  I did NOT see it coming.WhatIDidntLike» There were a few plot holes and definitely some loose ends that were not really tied up at the end.

»  The writing was a bit dense at times with all the formal language.  I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much in print format.OverallWhile horror is not a genre I typically read or enjoy, I am glad I read this one.  I can definitely appreciate what Shirley did here even if it isn’t really my standard type of read.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of psychological thrillers, fans of Gothic mysteries, Stephen King fans, and fans of classic horror

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

» West (East #2) by Edith Pattou



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Many of the same elements that I loved in the first book were also present in this sequel: fairytale feel, short chapters for quick paced reading, an epic journey, a strong female lead, subtle romance, etc.

» Rose is still on my list of favorite main characters.  Much like the first book, I appreciated her quiet determination, bravery, and selflessness.  WhatIDidntLike» While I did enjoy West, it did follow a very similar plot to the first book with similar themes & elements.  I would have liked to see a plot that differed more from the first.  For those that read these books back-to-back, I have a feeling this is going to be a bigger issue than those who first read East years ago.OverallWhile this was a solid sequel with similar elements that made me fall in love with the first installment, there was not enough of a new plot line to feel completely satisfied.

› Recommended to ⇒ fairytale fans

» Nightbooks by J.A. White


add-to-goodreads-button5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Nightbooks is a retelling mash up of the Middle Easter folk tale Arabian Nights with the classic German fairytale Hansel and Gretel.  I think White did a wonderful job of taking elements from both classic tales and creating his own unique story.

» This is a perfect middle grade book to pick up around the fall/Halloween season.  Actually, it gave me some Goosebumps vibes, which made my 90s kid heart happy.  Nightbooks is really a love letter to all things horror, but on a middle grade level.

» Another aspect I enjoyed was that one of the themes of Nightbooks was the power of storytelling.  Our main character, Alex, was an aspiring writer, so the author subtly added writing tips throughout the story.  I also loved the inclusion of Alex’s short scary stories woven throughout. These little snippets definitely added to the overall creepy tone of the book. WhatIDidntLike» I would have liked to see more development in the witch, Natacha.   When it comes to “scary” reads, fully developed villains are a must.  OverallNightbooks was a just the right mix of nostalgic 90s Goosebumps with classic Hansel and Gretel fairytale tones.  I am looking forward to seeing the Netflix adaptation in the future.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of “not-so-scary” horror books; reluctant middle school readers 

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ R.L. Stine or Neil Gaiman’s books

» The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» The Ten Thousand Doors of January may just have my favorite cover of 2019!  Would you just look at it!!!

» The synopsis for this book is very vague, and even a bit misleading, but this story is so much more than it appears.  At its core, The Ten Thousand Doors of January is actually a  beautiful love story.  I won’t spoil the book, but this was one of the most epic romances I’ve read!

» The writing was very lyrical & lush.  The lyrical writing paired with the fantastical elements made for a whimsical read.

» I appreciated the growth of the main character, January, throughout the course of the book.

» Themes: grief, hope, determination, father-daughter relationships, etc.

WhatIDidntLike» The Ten Thousand Doors of January is slow to get going.  There is a lot of initial build up to give context to the rest of the story, HOWEVER don’t let the slow start to this book deter you from continuing on, the pay off is worth it.

» I wanted more development in the secondary character Jane.  She was such an intriguing character, yet was not utilized.

› Recommended to ⇒ historical fantasy fans; portal fantasy fans; Erin Morgenstern fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ neglect & racism

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern & The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig



Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: January 2020 – Part 1”

  1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is stunning. I’d almost own it for that cover alone…but I’m glad it has a beautiful story to match…can’t wait to read it!!


  2. You had me at “Erin Morgenstern fan”s — though The Ten Thousand Doors of January was already on my TBR. Now it’s much higher on my list! Brilliant. I thought this would have been more fantasy, but I’ll take magical realism elements instead any day.

    I’m a little sad to hear about the plot for West. I am glad you had so much time between reading these two books, then! Did many of the characters from the first book return?

    I love your mini reviews. Keep up with the recommendations! I know this helps your librarian-ness, but I also am craving recs. I’m so bad at recommending books to people. Perhaps I can learn something from you doing this.


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