Book Tags

25 Bookish Facts… About Me!

CaptureI was watching some older BookTube videos and came across this 25 Bookish Facts tag. I really wanted to do this so… here we are! The generally consensus is that no one really knows who started the tag, so props to you if it was you!

1. When I started hanging around the book community, it was strictly on tumblr… which probably was not the best initiation into the book community. But I thought the word “bookish” was super cute until someone commented on one of my posts with “Ugh, I hate that word!” They were pretty big in the community and I was SUPER humiliated because people were agreeing with them… on my post… so I got to see all of their responses. It took me a while to be like “Psch, I love the word bookish!” (That person is STILL a killjoy)

2. I rarely mark my page. I just have a really good memory for what page I was on.

3. I don’t care different covers. When everyone else has a heart attack about cover changes, I’m just like “Yeah, ok.”

4. I also don’t care if I own a series in paperback/hardback mix. A lot of times I end up with a paperback first book and hardback sequel… and that’s no big deal to me.

5. I took a reading class in sixth grade, not understanding it was supposed to be for kids who had problems reading. Somehow the school missed that and when the teacher realized I really, really loved reading and had great comprehension, she just let me read books and write book reports for class grades. That was probably the happiest school year of my life.

6. In 9th grade, my English teacher held a competition to see who could read the most books in the school year. I won with 112 books and she gave me a $100 gift card to the book store.

7. I don’t understand the obsession with bookish candles. Y’all could find the same thing at the store, I’m just saying.

8. I am super terrible at remembering characters in series. If I have any gap between the first book and the next, I’m like “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE??”

9. I almost dread the Q&A portion of book panels because someone ALWAYS asks a question with a spoiler attached. Y’all. Not everyone has read the book in question. Please don’t do that ish!

10. I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series 7 times. Magical numbers, y’all.

11. When I was in elementary school, I always entered those young author conferences and my first year doing it, I got to meet Bill Martin, Jr., the author of CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM. A few “young authors” were invited to his friend’s house who lived very close to where we lived at the time. I went with my teacher and… it was mostly adults there because the other kids had backed out. When he was signing my book, I started crying because I was really overwhelmed by all the adults (I had anxiety even as a kid) and I just remember he was so kind to me and asked me to sit behind the desk with him and have snacks.

12. I was also published in an elementary school poetry anthology. I had written a poem about my dad and it was selected… and that sounds really good until the anthology was published and a parent complained because they said my poem couldn’t have been written by a kid. (It wasn’t JUST me. She picked 4 or 5 other poems out, too, because no one could write poetry better than her child, apparently) It became a “thing” and we actually had like this meeting where my Mom was like “We hate poetry… it’s pretentious, why would we write it for her?” I think that convinced them.

13. I never look at the maps in a book. Whoops.

14. I don’t ever plan to have a clear TBR shelf.

15. HOWEVER, I would like to get that TBR shelf down to a manageable level.

16. I am super bad about requesting books on NG before seeing what the rating is on Goodreads. Probably would save me a headache…

17. I try to take notes on individual stories in anthologies… but I generally get tired of that about half-way through and just stop.

18. When I fancast a male lead in any book… I just imagine Matthew Daddario. I don’t care if the author says he’s skinny, blonde, and short- he’s Matthew Daddario.

19. All female leads in a book are Devery Jacobs. I don’t make the rules. She’s beautiful.

20. I used to never read more than 1 book at a time but lately I’ve been reading 2-3 at a time. It helps me balance books I really want to read, review books, and projects.

21. I can’t do audiobooks. I’ve tried. I don’t know if it’s because I’m HoH, but I feel like I don’t retain anything from the book.

22. I don’t lend my favorite books to anyone. It’s silly because if something terrible was to happen, I could just buy another copy but my brain tells me it wouldn’t be the same.

23. Twilight is the book that got me into YA.

24. I always take the dust jacket off of my book before I read it. I hate the way they slide around and basically try to undress themselves. Like, just let me do it for you. (That came out weird)

25. My parents have NO IDEA how I learned how to read. Apparently when I was 3, I just picked up the newspaper and asked my Dad what a freedom reward was. When he took the paper, he realized I was actually reading the paper. We sort of believe it’s because my parents read to me with the book turned towards me so I just… learned how to read that way? I don’t know but I haven’t stopped reading since!

 

Those are my 25 Bookish Facts! I always feel weird about tagging people, so if you want to talk about your bookish stuff, please feel free to do so!

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Reviews

Review: THE FORGETTING

28691932facebookTitle: THE FORGETTING
Author: Sharon Cameron
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 405
Release Date: 9/13/16
Format: eBook
TW/CW: Abuse, death, blood
Rating: 4/5

What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

I’ll be honest.

When this book came out last year, I definitely thought this was the dumbest premise for a book I’d ever seen. I was also super burned out with dystopian novels and wary of all books promoted by big YouTubers because… ya’ll convinced me Miss Peregrine’s was SPECTACULAR… and that was a lie.

However, around Christmas last year, the ebook went on sale for $1.99 and I, thinking only of filling my Kindle, was like “Yeah, maybe I’ll read that… one day…” When I saw that Sharon Cameron is going to be attending SeYa Fest in March 2018, I decided to go ahead and read THE FORGETTING. I mean, the worst that could happen was I decided not to finish it and quietly move on with my life.

But I liked it. A lot.

The start was slow, I will agree with half the reviews on that. Generally, I’m turned off by books that try to set up an entire world within the first chapter but Cameron did a great job of both info dumping and keeping the reader interested… not an easy feat. I was worried that the romance element of the story would overpower things I thought were most important, like Nadia’s family and how the Forgetting would (and had) effected their bonds.

There were a few things that puzzled me (and were the reasons this lost a star). Why was everyone not reduced to learning how to talk, walk, feed themselves, etc., after the forgetting? If it wipes our memories, then shouldn’t they have also forgotten their language? I’m probably reading way too deep into, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

I also didn’t quite like how neatly the ending wrapped up. While I vaguely understood Nadia’s dad’s intentions, the forgiving aspect was way too fast. Also, it was hard to believe that Nadia didn’t have any hard feelings towards her older sister after everything that had happened.

However, this was a fast paced read and I’m glad I finally took the plunge and read it! If you’re into dystopian novels, a little romance, and a great mystery, this might be the one for you!

190578Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages.

You can find her on facebook, twitter, or check out her website!

Reviews

Review: SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

22080193Title: SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES & OTHER  LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORY
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Company
Pages: 256
Format: eBook
Rating: 4/5

A young mortician goes behind the scenes, unafraid of the gruesome (and fascinating) details of her curious profession.

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. With an original voice that combines fearless curiosity and mordant wit, Caitlin tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters, gallows humor, and vivid characters (both living and very dead). Describing how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes), and cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes, Caitlin becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the deceased. Her eye-opening memoir shows how our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead). In the spirit of her popular Web series, “Ask a Mortician,” Caitlin’s engaging narrative style makes this otherwise scary topic both approachable and profound.

Here’s my big reveal for the month: I’m #DeathPositive and a (wannabe) member of the Order of the Good Death.

I grew up split between the two worlds of funerals. On my Dad’s side, there were muted whispers in a funeral home, embalmed corpses that were waxy looking and overwhelming, and that funeral home smell that instantly makes me think of death whenever I go into a florist. On my mom’s side, wakes were at home, it wasn’t so much a somber affair as it was just another part of living, and taking care of our dead so that their body didn’t have to face the indignity of having a stranger see their nakedness (my aunt Ruth would have come back from the dead just so she could die of embarrassment).

In this memoir, Caitlin Doughty gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of a crematory, something I found pretty… fascinating. While we talk a lot about burial, cremation seems to be a taboo topic which seems ridiculous when you think about the fact that cremation is probably the most widely used method of body disposal. I loved the stories of how different families react to death, how they honor their dead, and how the death industry works when grieving families aren’t around.

I’ve seen several reviews that said they felt like Caitlyn was poking fun at different burial practices, especially the ones in poorer countries. I didn’t feel that way at all. Doughty has a very dry sense of morbid humor and while I definitely perceived she was poking fun at how squeamish Westerners are about bodies (I mean, we do have them whisked away as soon as possible), I think her sarcasm is directed at our “hush hush” death industry. Several people have pointed out that when she talks about how poor people in India will put the body straight into the river to decompose, it sounded like she was calling them gross or barbaric. This is a woman who has talked openly about letting her body decompose in the open… I don’t think that’s the case. Maybe it’s because I watch her YouTube channel, but her sarcastic voice comes through beautifully in her writing. When she says “unsavory sights”, she’s making fun of those of us who believe decomp is unnatural (in the same paragraph, she talks about the lengths we go to hide our dead).

The only reason I knocked off a star was Doughty got a little off track and started talking about some guy she had fallen in love with. Sorry, I’m just here for the death.

This is a great read for anyone who has a fascination with the death industry or just wants to know a little more about what happens to our physical selves when we die.

7802044Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, activist, and funeral industry rabble-rouser. In 2011 she founded the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death, which has spawned the death positive movement. Her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, was a New York Times best-seller. She lives in Los Angeles, where she runs her nonprofit funeral home, Undertaking LA. 

Born on a balmy August evening on the decidedly un-morbid shores of O’ahu, Hawai’i, Caitlin was an even-tempered, bookish child. Her parents had little reason to believe that she would ultimately seek a life tiptoeing the line between the living and the dead. It was only when she began to ask the pertinent questions that her parents suspected a proclivity toward the macabre.

(Example: “Mommy, if I was on the edge of that cliff and I fell off and on the way down screamed, ‘Mommy, Mommy, I need you Mommy why won’t you help me,’ and then smashed my body on the rocks, would you be sad? Yes or no, Mommy?”)

After high school, she fled east to the University of Chicago, where she graduated in medieval history. Her thesis, entitled “In Our Image: The Suppression of Demonic Births in Late Medieval Witchcraft Theory,” is the summer must-read for all lovers of demon sex and the late medieval church.

After graduation, Caitlin moved to California, where she has worked as a crematory operator, funeral director, a body-van transport driver, and returned to Cypress College for her second degree, in mortuary science. Unhappy with the state and offerings of the American funeral industry, in 2015 she opened her own alternative funeral home, Undertaking LA, to help people help themselves (handle a corpse).

Caitlin’s webseries “Ask a Mortician” and her work to change the death industry have led to features on National Public Radio, BBC, The New Yorker, Vice, The Atlantic, the New York Times, and Forbes.

She frequently gives talks on the history of death culture, rituals, and the funeral industry, presenting for groups as diverse as the TED, SXSW, The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and universities and libraries all over the world.

You can find out more on her website or follow her on twitter, facebook, and instagram. Also, check out her AMAZING YouTube channel!

Reviews

Review: LIGHTER THAN MY SHADOW

17456953Title: LIGHTER THAN MY SHADOW
Author: Katie Green
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Pages: 509
Format: eBook (graphic novel)
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
TW/CW: Eating disorder, sexual abuse, mental abuse, suicide ideation.
Rating: 5/5

A graphic memoir of eating disorders, abuse and recovery. Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast. But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly. One day you can find yourself being told you have two weeks to live. Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the weak, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.

I went in to this thinking it was going to be a quick read (as graphic novels usually are) but this one packs a wallop at 500 pages.

LIGHTER THAN MY SHADOW tells the story of Katie Green’s experience with disordered eating that started when she was very young. As she ages and becomes more aware of her body, what was once seen as “picky eating” quickly morphs into a full blown eating disorder. After collapsing at school, her parents put her in a treatment program… with limited results. Desperate for their daughter to get better, Katie’s dad takes her to a “spiritual worker”. The man, Jake, claims he can unblock bad energies in the body. What seems like the beginning of Katie’s healing quickly spirals out of control as Katie realizes that Jake has been molesting her when she’s in a meditative state. After Jake tries to assault her during a festival (where he and his wife have given Katie shrooms), Katie’s recovery regresses.

This is not a light story. Yes, the end of the book does give us the recovery that Katie deserved but this whole graphic novel is filled with heavy, heavy illustrations and confessions. While I enjoyed reading this, I would not suggest it for anyone who is supremely sensitive to stories about eating disorders, sexual assault, or body image.

Reviews

Review: TAPROOT

35833506Title: TAPROOT
Author: Keezy Young
Publisher: Lion Forge
Pages: 127
ARC: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Format: eBook (graphic novel)
TW/CW: Death, spirits
Rating: 4/5

Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him.

I’m generally not a big fan of graphic novels. They fall into the same complaint zone as short stories… I usually end up feeling like I didn’t get enough story to really like it.

TAPROOT was fantastic, though. I knew I would enjoy it because I love plants and ghosts, something this ridiculously cute graphic novel is full of. Hamal and Blue are best friends who have slowly fallen in love with each other despite the fact that Hamal is alive and Blue is, well, not alive. When Blue starts fading into a dead forest and meets a demonic like creature, he realizes Hamal is in trouble… the living shouldn’t be seeing the dead, not without a permit.

The story wraps up rather neatly and beautifully, and I sincerely hope there’s going to be more to this story!

If you’re interested in Queer comics, this one is for you! You can also support Keezy on her patreon!

 

 

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Curious Cat Q&A

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Last week I decided that I wanted to do one of those “Get To Know Me” Q&As since I had never done one. The problem was… the questions all seemed kind of boring and basic. Instead of just making up my own questions, I opened up a Curious Cat for your questions! I ended up getting a lot. A LOT. My friend who was fielding the questions for me (and deleting any negative bs) picked a few for me to answer!

1. Do you think Adam will get Albetalli’d in the Becky/Adam book? Or will Becky be Silvera’d?

This is an excellent question and one I have genuinely been worried about since Becky mentioned the Silbertalli book. I honestly think Becky’s Hufflepuff powers will overcome Adam’s need to make everyone around him cry. At least… I hope that’s how it works out.

2. Who is your favorite minor character in the Grishaverse books?

Baghra! She’s a tough lady who had a rough life and can admit her mistakes. What’s not to love?

3. If you could cosplay as a character, who would it be?

Anne Shirley! I’ve been trying for years to find the exactly right outfit (my sewing skills are not up to par). I will cosplay her one day.

4. How is Gansey doing?

My sunshine baby is doing well! He had a rough go of it when I was staying at the hospital with my dad because he doesn’t like sleeping with the other puppers. I gave him a bath last night so he’s very fluffy at the moment.

5. Who’s your favorite side character in your current WIP? Why?

I’m going to use my #QueerAlaska WIP since I’m starting #WitchyGirlsBook over in November.

I think my favorite side character is Donnie, Faye’s second oldest brother. He’s a little goofy and silly, but he’s also Faye’s main support system throughout the book. Donnie just loves people. It’s been a lot of fun writing him because… I can’t love that way? Donnie has no problems making friends and it’s been interesting writing a character who is so very opposite of me.

6. What are some of your favorite books with Native characters?

THE ROUND HOUSE by Louise Erdrich
IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE by Eric Gansworth
LOVE BEYOND BODY, SPACE, AND TIME anthology
#NOTYOURPRINCESS anthology
THE LESSER BLESSED by Richard Van Camp

7. What’s your favorite book you’ve read this year? What are you most anticipated books?

It’s so hard to narrow down a favorite… but I think it might be WILD BEAUTY by Anna-Marie McLemore. I literally have not went one day without thinking about that book since I read it. It’s just magical and beautiful and I want more.

Anticipated as in 2018? LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT by Becky Albertalli, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL by Maggie Ann Martin, BLANCA AND ROJA by Anna-Marie McLemore, FROM TWINKLE WITH LOVE by Sandhya Menon, THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY by Mackenzi Lee, LOVE HATE AND OTHER FILTERS by Samira Ahmed, PUDDIN’ by Julie Murphy, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME by Roshani Chokshi, TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE by Jay Coles, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi.

8. If you could write the book you wanted/needed as a young child (maybe 10), how would it look/what would it be about?

I think at 10, I was definitely more aware of my body and was coming to terms with being “different” (in terms of being biracial and not having crushes on boys… but having crushes on my friends). I would probably write a fat, Native kid who wasn’t so sure about this “being a girl” thing and trying to navigate living in a body that made other people uncomfortable.

9. Worst and best parts of the bookish online community.

I’ll start with the worst so I can end on a good note. The worst part for me is how people want to pick and choose what they want more rep for. Most times, it’s not for people who get the least amount of rep in books. This has come about more lately, but I hate the way people act like we’re not allowed to talk about poor rep in books if the book is written by a marginalized person or someone who has previously been an ally in the community. We all know how the 27 Hours thing has gone for me and I guess I’m just astonished that people genuinely think we’re supposed to ignore (in this case) race and colonization issues because some people really like the Queer rep (and some people did not, especially the ace and aro rep).

The good does outweigh the bad for me, though. I’ve made some amazing friends through the bookish community. I’ve been able to be more involved in events and reviews. Getting to talk to my favorite authors is also a huge perk. It’s also nice to see how many people are out there fighting for publishing to do and be better.

10. What part of your WIP is most fun for you to work on? E.g. setting, characters, plot, etc.?

Definitely characters! I love figuring out everyone’s personality and quirks!

11. Do you have a favorite vegan dessert?

Banana nicecream with strawberry jam.

12. What is your favorite guilty pleasure book?

I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure book, per se… but I really enjoy books about serial killers and death in general, which is something I don’t ever talk about because it seems kind of strange? I’m trying to break out of that habit, especially now that I’ve been watching Ask A Mortician on Youtube. Death isn’t some big shameful thing and it doesn’t have to be hidden away. So I will definitely be sharing more of my more “strange” reading habits.

13. What’s your TBR look like?

It’s, uh, *starts crying* it’s fine. It’s fine.

No, honestly, it is out of control. I have books everywhere. A stack fell on Gansey. I stack fell on me. Send help.

14. Do you have any reading goals for 2018?

I want to get my physical TBR down to a more manageable size. I need some closet space back. And floor space. And attic space.

15. Why do you read middle grade books?

Lots of reasons! It’s a bonding experience with my older godkids. I get to read great stories without having to deal with overly romantic plots or sex. Sometimes middle grade books are more impactful than YA, NA, or adult. Because they’re awesome??

 

Thanks to everyone who sent questions! I had a lot of fun answering these!

Reviews

Review: THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141ST STREET

2Title: THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141ST STREET
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
TW/CW: Death of characters (non-main, briefly mentioned)
Rating: 5/5

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

 

I am always on the lookout for good middle grade Christmas books and this one proved to be an excellent one.

The Vanderbeekers are a family of 7 (Dad, Mom, 4 sisters, and 1 lone brother… bless his heart) who live in a brownstone in Harlem with their various pets. Right before Christmas, their landlord decides not to renew their lease with no explanation. The kids are baffled- they’ve been trying so hard to be as quiet as possible! The kids decide that they can’t possible leave their home, especially after their parents say they might have to leave Harlem altogether. Banding together, the Vanderbeeker children decide to make Beiderman understand just why they can’t move… and why he doesn’t want them to.

I was very impressed with the family and friend dynamics in this book. While the kids do come together to convince Beiderman to renew their lease, the kids still do what kids do! They fight, they argue, they have fun with their friends. In a lot of books, the central conflict becomes all the characters think about and that’s not wholly realistic especially when it comes to children. People still have lives to lead even in crisis and I loved that in between scheming, the Vanderbeeker children were doing normal things.

There’s a wide variety of characters in the book and while I don’t feel that they were necessarily very well fleshed out, they served their purpose of lending support to the children when it was necessary. I love a good fleshed out side character, but I also love characters that have maybe just a steering purpose.

Beiderman is a classic curmudgeonly man with a past. I pretty much figured what his tragic story would be but younger readers probably would not. If you do buy this one for younger readers, I would definitely impress upon them that they probably should not keep pestering a reclusive neighbor. It works in fiction but probably isn’t a good idea in real life.

All in all, I enjoyed this book so much and I can’t wait to share this with my godkids in December!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

1476114314520

Originally from California, Karina came to New York City for college and has stuck around for nearly twenty years. She has had a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under resourced areas around the world. Now as a mother, one of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can’t go anywhere without a book. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, and an assortment of rescued animals.

Karina is a contributing editor at Book Riot, the largest independent book media company in North America,  where she writes the weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter as well as children’s book recommendation posts.

You can find more about Karina and her books on her website, facebook, and twitter.

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OCTOBER TBR

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October is my favorite month. What’s not to love? I don’t exactly know what it is about October that makes the air feel alive, but since I was a kid, I’ve looked forward to chilly mornings, pumpkins, and Halloween all year long. Speaking of Halloween, it’s my birthday! If I wasn’t already truly spooky to you, that should seal the deal, right?

The whole month feels like there’s something exciting around the corner. Growing up in a rural area, it felt like the dead leaves and the corn fields were part of some great spooky adventure and I spent many hours riding my bike, imagining I was one of the kids in THE HALLOWEEN TREE. Even as an adult, October feels like magic.

Every year I try to come up with the perfect spooky TBR- a mix of October books I already know I love and a few that I hope to love. Without further ado, here is this October’s TBR.

Books I read every year:

1. THE OCTOBER COUNTRY by Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury’s second short story collection is back in print, its chilling encounters with funhouse mirrors, parasitic accident-watchers, and strange poker chips intact. Both sides of Bradbury’s vaunted childhood nostalgia are also on display, in the celebratory “Uncle Einar,” and haunting “The Lake,” the latter a fine elegy to childhood loss. This edition features a new introduction by Bradbury, an invaluable essay on writing, wherein the author tells of his “Theater of Morning Voices,” and, by inference, encourages you to listen to the same murmurings in yourself. And has any writer anywhere ever made such good use of exclamation marks!?

2. THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury. I also love the movie! I remember watching this as a kid at my Grandma’s house and falling in love with it… while also being pretty terrified of the jack’o’lantern tree. Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween. After witnessing a funeral procession in ancient Egypt, cavemen discovering fire, Druid rites, the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages, and the gargoyles of Notre Dame, they catch up with the elusive Pipkin in the catacombs of Mexico, where each boy gives one year from the end of his life to save Pipkin’s.

3. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury. My folklore teacher in high school let us watch this movie over the course of a week long Halloween celebration. I loved the movie and then fell in love with the book. A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

4. JOHNNY HALLOWEEN by Norman Partridge. After reading DARK HARVEST, I knew I needed to read everything Partridge wrote. Unfortunately, his stuff is largely out of print and finding it can sometimes be tricky (if you want a nice copy) and pricey. Now Partridge revisits Halloween with a collection featuring a half-dozen stories celebrating frights both past and present. In “The Jack o’ Lantern,” a brand new Dark Harvest novelette, the October Boy races against a remorseless döppelganger bent on carving a deadly path through the town’s annual ritual of death and rebirth. “Johnny Halloween” features a sheriff battling both a walking ghost and his own haunted conscience. In “Three Doors,” a scarred war hero hunts his past with the help of a magic prosthetic hand, while “Satan’s Army” is a real Partridge rarity previously available only in a long sold-out lettered edition from another press. But there’s more to this holiday celebration besides fiction. “The Man Who Killed Halloween” is an extensive essay about growing up during the late sixties in the town where the Zodiac Killer began his murderous spree. In an introduction that explores monsters both fictional and real, Partridge recalls what it was like to live in a community menaced by a serial killer and examines how the Zodiac’s reign of terror shaped him as a writer.

5. DARK HARVEST by Norman Partridge. On a whim last year, I typed in ‘Halloween books’  in the thriftbooks search bar. This was one of the ones I ended up ordering and it quickly became my favorite Halloween story. Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol’ Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death. Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He’s willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror–and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . . .

Books I hope I love:

1. PECULIAR COUNTY by Stuart R. West. Growing up in Peculiar County, Kansas, is a mighty…well, peculiar experience. In 1965, things get even stranger for Dibby Caldwell, the mortician’s fifteen year old daughter. A young boy’s ghost haunts Dibby into unearthing the circumstances of his death. Nobody—living or dead—wants her to succeed. James, the new mop-topped, bad boy at school doesn’t help. Dibby can’t get him out of her head, even though she doesn’t trust him. No, sir, there’s nothing much more peculiar than life in Peculiar County…except maybe death in Peculiar County.  

2. THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL by Paige McKenzie. Something freaky’s going on with Sunshine’s new house . . . there’s the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mom believes her. Sunshine’s always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort . . . If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them? As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

3. UNDER MY HAT by Jonathan Strahan. Broomsticks. Black Cats. Pointy Hats. They can mean only one thing – somewhere nearby, there must be a witch. From fairy tales to fims to fiction, witches cast their spells and capture our imaginations. Now the biggest names in fantasy and young adult literature have come together to make a little magic of their own. Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Diana Peterfreund, Margo Lanagan, Peter S. Beagle, and Garth Nix are just a few of the authors who have toiled over their cauldrons and conjured up bewitching new creations inspired by and celebrating the might and mystery of the witch. Assembled by one of the most well-regarded anthologists in the science fiction/fantasy world, this rich, intelligent collection will enchant readers of all ages.

4. NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King. From the depths of darkness, where hideous rats defend their empire, to dizzying heights, where a beautiful girl hangs by a hair above a hellish fate, this chilling collection of twenty short stories will plunge readers into the subterranean labyrinth of the most spine-tingling, eerie imagination of our time.

5. SALEM’S LOT by Stephen King. Something strange is going on in Jerusalem’s Lot … but no one dares to talk about it. By day, ‘Salem’s Lot is a typical modest New England town; but when the sun goes down, evil roams the earth. The devilishly sweet insistent laughter of a child can be heard echoing through the fields, and the presence of silent looming spirits can be felt lurking right outside your window.

6. THIRTEEN TALES OF HORROR by T. Pines. You don’t really want to read this …do you? The masters of horror are waiting to take you on a terrifying ride, and there are 13 stops. Meet the new guy in town, very handsome, very sexy, and very deadly. Dine on sweet and wonderfully inviting confections – they’re good to the last breath. Learn that some spells can never be broken…

 

And that’s my October TBR! What spooky reads are you diving into this month? Let me know in the comments… and Happy Halloween!

 

 

Reviews

Review: LILY’S MOUNTAIN

2Title: LILY’S MOUNTAIN
Author: Hannah Moderow
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Pages: 192
ARC?: Yes, provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Format: eBook
TW/CW: Death of a parent (non-descriptive)
Rating: 4/5

Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He’s an expert climber. There’s no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.

In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting—and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places.

I actually requested this book without knowing anything about it. Put a mountain on the cover of a book and I am probably going to want to read it. I went in thinking this was going to be just another hiking adventure novel but was pleasantly surprised at how much this book made me feel.

Lily’s dad is an experienced hiker and mountain climber, so when he leaves to climb Denali again, Lily never imagines it will be the last time she sees him. When the news reaches the family that there has been an accident, one that her dad didn’t survive, Lily can’t believe that everyone is so quick to think that her dad is gone. Lily is convinced that her dad managed to survive a fall into a crevasse on the mountain and is just waiting for someone to come rescue him. She convinces her mom to let her and her older sister go to the base of Denali and camp, something the family regularly does, but Lily has more planned than just camping. The two sisters make the trek up the mountain to where the accident occurred.

When I first started reading this, I was convinced that this was going to be a book where Lily ended up being right and helps save her dad. It’s not very realistic but we’ve all read those books. Instead, LILY’S MOUNTAIN delivers a powerful punch and lesson on grieving and acceptance. It’s one of the first books I’ve ever read that has let a child character come to terms with loss in their own way. For Lily, she doesn’t believe her dad couldn’t survive until she sees the crevasse where he fell. Lily isn’t the only one who gets some closure in this book. Her older sister had a fight with their dad right before he left and the last thing she said to him was “I hate you.” Over the course of the book, Sophie gets to come to terms with her own grief and make peace with herself.

While this book handles a pretty heavy subject, I think it’s an amazing book for kids AND adults. Would definitely recommend this one to anyone who likes mountains, family ties, and a realistic ending.

Reviews

Review: TENTACLE & WING

1Title: TENTACLE & WING
Author: Sarah Porter
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 272
ARC: Yes and no. I was approved for an ARC but was also sent a finished copy.
Release date: 10/10/17
MG/YA/NA/Adult: Older MG.
TW/CW: Violence, death.
Rating: 4/5

Twelve-year-old Ada is a Chimera, born with human and animal DNA thanks to a genetic experiment gone wrong. Because being a “kime” is believed to be contagious, she has kept her condition—complete with infrared vision—hidden. But a surprise test outs her, and Ada is shipped off to a quarantined school for kimes.

There Ada meets kids of many different shapes, stripes, and appendages, such as a girl with dragonfly wings and a seal-boy. As she adjusts to her new life, Ada senses that the facility is keeping a secret that could upend everything the world knows about Chimeras. But will someone put a stop to her efforts to uncover the truth?

Clearly, I was meant to have this book. After seeing it on HMH’s Fall Release list, I requested and was approved for it on NetGalley. Imagine my surprise when I also received a finished copy in the mail. HMH, you are too good for me.

I’d like to start this review off by saying that while this is a middle grade book, it is definitely an older middle grade book. I probably would not let my younger godkids read this just due to some violence and the death of a character… which was oddly graphic for a middle grade novel.

When I first read the synopsis for this book, I thought it was going to be more of a mystery novel, and while there is a mystery element, this book is mostly about correcting internalized hatred. Ada, our main character, is a chimera. Her dad, a scientist, has coached her to hide the things that make her different. Her mom, however, does not know what her daughter is and runs a political campaign aimed at getting rid of chimeras. So Ada has lived her whole life thinking chimeras are bad even though she is one, and when her secret is discovered, she become very self-sacrificial. Even though she is sad and hurt that her father basically gives her away instead of fighting for her, because of her internalized hatred, she kind of agrees that she needs to be locked away for the safety of others.

When Ada arrives at the quarantine for kimes, her world view starts unraveling. During the entirety of the book, Ada learns that they- and she- are not what the world believes them to be. Past the differences in their opinions, Ada realizes that they are just children and they have every right to be loved and taken care of. At the end of the novel, Ada has come into so much self-acceptance that she makes the decision not to forgive someone for hurting her. I think that’s a pretty great thing to put in a middle grade novel. Children should be taught that they don’t have to forgive their oppressors or people who use them.

This novel also explored the fact that not everyone is on your side. We learn the truth about Ada’s dad in this book but there are also several kimes who are also pushing their own agenda.

I really loved this book! It was fast-paced and didn’t lag (definitely will keep anyone’s attention!). The characters are lovable and Ada is a wonderful heroine. If you’re into middle grade books with a little mystery and a lot of heart, pick this one up!