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September Wrap Up

Look at all those chickens, er, books!

September was a damn good reading month considering the slump I’ve been in since June. 16 books, 5420 pages… is this how Weezie got her groove back?

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. My average rating this month was 3.25, and while that doesn’t seem low, I’m quite free with my four star rating. So… it was a little low.

Books I read this month:

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. A nice enough graphic novel that… didn’t make any sense. ⭐️⭐️

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. This could just be a personal preference thing but I prefer King on his own. This was good, it just didn’t have that King ‘oomph’ I’m used to. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monsters in Appalachia by Sheryl Monks. The real monsters are people. Good enough, but not what was advertised. At least it has a pretty cover. TWs for creepy older men taking advantage of poor, teenage girls. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang. I wasn’t expecting to like this. Twin souls, government conspiracies… not my cup of tea. Zhang made it work, though. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas. We don’t get good descriptions of the characters but he took the time to describe her breasts and she writes naked. Gag me. ⭐️⭐️

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh. This wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It was just… forgettable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck. This one tried to be a lot of things and missed the mark on everything. ⭐️⭐️

Thornhill by Pam Smy. The art in this one is really striking but the story is cliched. I guessed the ending within the first 20 or so pages which puts a damper on the rest of the book. Still, a good read for those who like stories told in half graphic novel, half written word. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Renegades by Marissa Meyer. I hate myself for putting this one off, but at least I don’t have long to wait for the sequel. I’m not a fan of superheroes but I loved this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. Another book falsely advertised. This isn’t a scary book. It’s a book about grief… and it’s poorly done. ⭐️⭐️

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee. At this point, I would read her grocery list. Full of monsters and monstrous humans, I really enjoyed the fact that she showed what a little shit Mary Shelley was. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. This was a reread but the Magic is still like the first time I read it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Creepypasta Vol. 1 by Various. Whew, boy. This was just… not good. Poorly written internet stories, I should have known better. ⭐️⭐️

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. This wasn’t a bad book, it was just… lacking. I feel like Arden could have done a better job setting the scene and giving backstory as the story progressed instead of giving us little word vomit backstories. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe. I only bought this for Anna-Marie McLemore. However, there were a few other stories I really ended up loving… and a few I quit after a couple of paragraphs. This is a solid anthology. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. *insert I’m Not Mad, I’m Just Disappointed gif* This was a really slow book with a fairly disappointing end. The action was good (when it happened) but 30 pages don’t make up for 250 pages of disappointment. ⭐️⭐️.5

And that’s September! Here’s to October, Halloween, and all the witches and ghouls reading their hearts out!

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Reading What I Don’t Like

ttI buy… a lot… a lot of books. Like… a lot. I’m a book hoarder. I admit it. This year, however, I was determined to thin out my TBR stacks because I’m genuinely running out of room and it seemed a tad pointless to have so many books that I wasn’t going to read.

See, sometimes I buy books that have pretty covers because they’re cheap. I buy them and tell myself “Oh, I might read it some day or give it to my girlfriend or my best friend or one of my godkids…” knowing I’m not. I’ve ended up with a lot of books that are genres I don’t even like.

Or do I like them? Sometimes I think I have this brain block that tells me I don’t like fantasy (for years I truly didn’t) but then I read Six of Crows and INHALED the rest of Leigh Bardugo’s books… so I can’t actually not like fantasy, right? But then maybe it was just her style that I enjoyed. But that can’t be true because I also adored The Lunar Chronicles (which heavily involves sci-fi and… I claim to hate sci-fi)…so what’s the deal, brain?

As I was packing up books to take to the used bookstore, I told myself that I would read a chapter of each book I was planning to get rid of to see if they piqued my interest, including those pretty books from genres my brain claims to hate. Shockingly, or really not shockingly, I ended up saving several fantasy books… and went on to read them and give them fairly high ratings.

Here are a few books that I thought I wouldn’t like… and I ended up liking them a lot.

theglassspareTHE GLASS SPARE by Lauren DeStefano.

Rating: 4/5.

Why I thought I wouldn’t like it: Not only am I not a fan of fantasy, I’m not a fan of historical settings because all my brain can think of is outhouses and no anesthesia. I also wasn’t sold on the whole “cursed girl” plot because, to be frank, it’s overused and generally not well done. However, this ended up being a delightful tale of a heartbroken girl who had accidentally murdered someone close to her and her fight to save herself, her kingdom, and a terrible want to break her curse before she hurts anyone else.

the forest queenTHE FOREST QUEEN by Betsy Cornwell.

Rating: 4/5

Why I thought I wouldn’t like it: A female Robin Hood retelling just… didn’t sound that great to me, honestly. How many more Robin Hood retellings do we need? This one, apparently. Between the reluctant heroine, the slow-burn (real slow) romance, and empowering female friendships, I loved this one beginning to end.

renegadesRENEGADES by Marissa Meyer.

Rating: 5/5.

Why I thought I wouldn’t like it: Here’s a secret- I’ve never seen a superhero movie or read a superhero comic. No Captain America, Spiderman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc. Just not my cup of tea. When Meyer announced this book, I knew it would be one of hers that I skipped even though I had loved The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless. I was gifted this book, though, and it’s been sitting on my shelves for an obscenely long time. Finally picked it up this past weekend and fell in love. Action packed and with a ridiculously diverse cast, Renegades is damn near the perfect book.

houseoffuriesHOUSE OF FURIES by Madeleine Roux.

Rating: 4/5.

Why I thought I wouldn’t like it: Roux’s books have always been a hit or miss for me, and I wasn’t sold on the historical setting. I picked this one up during a Kindle ebook sale and was goaded into reading it by my girlfriend. I was instantly drawn in by the atmospheric setting of the house and it’s strange inhabitants and I can’t wait to pick up the next book in this series.

asrudyA STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro

Rating: 5/5

Why I didn’t think I would like this: 1) I don’t care about Sherlock Holmes. At all. Not the show, not the novels, not the spinoffs. Just… no thank you. 2) Charlotte has a drug problem which I really, really hate reading about. However, Jamie is an endearing character and while the book does lean heavily on Sherlock Holmes references, the references are explained for those of us who have no idea what they are. I read the whole series in a week. March and the fourth book can’t come fast enough.

ashadowbbA SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jessica Cluess

Rating: 5/5

Why I thought I wouldn’t like it: After Harry Potter, I just kind of gave up on witches and wizards and sorcerers and abracadabra. This one was heavily hyped amongst the big youtubers (an instant turn-off, if I’m honest) so I put this one off until I found it at BAM for $3. Besides having a pretty cover, this one had me gasping at every turn. I loved the characters and the use of mythology. I bought the second book before I was finished with this one and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the third book ever since.

acotarA COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sara J. Maas

Rating: 3/5

Why I didn’t think I would like it: High fantasy. Dudes with wings. Not my cup of tea. Plus, I totally get the criticism of it being A Court of Salt and Mayo. The whole series is hella white. But there’s also a guilty pleasure in reading this series… sort of like Twilight but with wings instead of sparkles and way more sex. The third book was kind of a flop, but I still enjoyed the adventure.

As I continue to weed through my TBR stacks, I have a feeling this list will grow.

And maybe my brain will stop telling me that I hate fantasy.

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Autumn TBR (September/October)

CaptureIt’s the most wonderful time of the year… almost. Autumn/Fall doesn’t officially begin until September 23, but when my favorite farm stand (Isom’s in Athens, Alabama if you’re ever in the area) starts picking apples and pressing them into my much beloved apple slushies and cider, it’s fall for me. And that happened last week, along with B&B releasing their Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin scent, so I’m dying for a chance to slip into my favorite cozy sweater, enjoy a hot cider, and read something a little spooky.

I decided to make a big reading list in honor of my favorite season and stretch it out over two months since I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump since June (the REAL horror, tbh) and because September and October are such busy months for me. Between football and theater, there are a ton of hometown festivals (Depot Days, Riverfest, Oktoberfest in Huntsville and Cullman), birthdays galore (seriously… was everyone in my family born in September/October??), my birthday (Halloween!), the Athens Storytelling Festival (another MUST is you’re in the area), Fiddler’s Convention (yes, I am THAT southern person), and… Halloween itself. Throw in a train ride through the Cumberland Plateau, visiting real haunted houses, and spending time with my godkids and work- it’s just a busy time, pals.

I picked out 23 books. Some of them are ones I’ve already read. Some of them I already owned but haven’t read. Some of them are from my preorders of this season’s most anticipated releases. I hope I get to them all… but I’m also not sweating it if I don’t. I’m in a Halloween mood all year long!

1. HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL NEW SEQUEL by A.W. Jantha. Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on Earth to torment Salem for all eternity. Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don’t quite go as planned, it’s a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches’ latest death-defying scheme.

2. DARK HARVEST by Norman Partridge (my favorite Halloween book!!). 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.

3. CREEPYPASTA VOL 1 by Mr. Creepypasta. There are stories that scare you. And then there are the dark and disturbing creepypasta stories that will leave you seriously freaked out. The Creepypasta Collection is an unsettling anthology of terror, full of nightmares and dangerous creatures–from unearthly supernatural beings to the murderously disturbed. So, lock the doors, check under the bed, turn up the lights, and get ready for an unforgettable, up-all-night journey into the heart of darkness.

4. CREEPYPASTA VOL 2 by Mr. CreepyPasta. The Creepypasta Collection, Volume 2 delves into the depths of the absolute best short stories from the darkest corners of the Internet. You won’t be able to sleep with the light off after experiencing the misadventures of our heroes and heroines, who encounter everything from the highly suspicious to the incredibly disturbed. With stories that range from the unforgettable “Jeff the Killer” to the fear-inducing “Smiling Dog,” this collection is the perfect gift for Creepypasta fans and horror enthusiasts alike.

5. BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage. Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied. But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s willful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told. Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger

6. UNIVERSAL HARVESTER by John Darnielle. Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town in the center of the state—the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: it’s a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck. But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store—she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it’s not defective, exactly, but altered: “There’s another movie on this tape.” Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation—the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing— but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town. In Universal Harvester, the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The novel will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.

7. KILL CREEK by Scott Thomas. At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests… When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.

8. SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN by R.L. Stine, et al. R.L. Stine—the godfather of Goosebumps—and some of the most popular authors today bring an unrivaled mastery of all things fearsome, frightening, and fantabulous to this terrifying anthology of all-new scary short stories. Scream and Scream Again! is full of twists and turns, dark corners, and devilish revenge. Collected in conjunction with the Mystery Writers of America, this set includes works from New York Times bestselling authors telling tales of wicked ice-cream trucks, time-travelling heroes, witches and warlocks, and of course, haunted houses. Read it if you dare! With twenty never-before-published scary stories from some of the most popular authors today—including Chris Grabenstein, Wendy Corsi Staub, Heather Graham, Peter Lerangis, R.L. Stine, Bruce Hale, Emmy Laybourne, Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Morton, Ray Daniel, Beth Fantaskey, Phil Mathews, Carter Wilson, Doug Levin, Jeff Soloway, Joseph S. Walker, Alison McMahan, Daniel Palmer, Tonya Hurley, and Stephen Ross—it’s sure to leave readers screaming for more.

9. THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING by Alexandra Bracken (this gives me major Hocus Pocus feels). Prosperity Redding is the only unexceptional member of his very successful family, that is, until he discovers a demon living inside him. Turns out, Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made, and then broke – a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. Now Alastor, the malefactor, has reawakened and is intent on destroying the Redding fortune, unless they can kill him in the body he inhabits, which, oh, wait, that’s Prosper, and why is his grandmother coming at him with a silver blade? In danger from both the demon trying to take over his soul and the family that would rather protect their fortune than their own kin, Prosper narrowly escapes with the help of his long lost Uncle Barnabas and Barnabas’s daughter, Nell, a witch in training. According to Barnabas and Nell, they have only days to break the family curse and find a way to banish Alastor back to the demon realm. Until then, Prosper has to deal with Alastor’s vengeful mutterings inside his head (not to mention his nasty habit of snacking on spiders). And, every night, Alastor’s control over his body grows stronger. . . As the deadline to the curse draws nearer, Prosper and Nell realize there’s more at stake than just the Redding family fortune. . . that there might be something else out there, something worse than Alastor, that could destroy the balance between the human and demon realms and change the world as they know it forever.

10. TOIL & TROUBLE by Tess Sharpe, et al. Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.
 History is filled with stories of women accused of witchcraft, of fearsome girls with arcane knowledge. Toil & Trouble features fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure—and to kill.
 A young witch uses social media to connect with her astrology clients—and with a NASA-loving girl as cute as she is skeptical. A priestess of death investigates a ritualized murder. A bruja who cures lovesickness might need the remedy herself when she falls in love with an altar boy. A theater production is turned upside down by a visiting churel. In Reconstruction-era Texas, a water witch uses her magic to survive the soldiers who have invaded her desert oasis. And in the near future, a group of girls accused of witchcraft must find their collective power in order to destroy their captors.

11. THROUGH THE WOODS by Emily Woods. Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page.

12. SPIRIT HUNTERS by Ellen Oh. Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

13. THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE by Stephanie Perkins (another favorite!). It’s been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she’s still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii.
Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

14. SMALL SPACES by Katherine Arden (one of my most anticipated reads!). After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

15. MONSTERS IN APPALACHIA by Sheryl Monks. The characters within these fifteen stories are in one way or another staring into the abyss. While some are awaiting redemption, others are fully complicit in their own undoing. We come upon them in the mountains of West Virginia, in the backyards of rural North Carolina, and at tourist traps along Route 66, where they smolder with hidden desires and struggle to resist the temptations that plague them. A Melungeon woman has killed her abusive husband and drives by the home of her son’s new foster family, hoping to lure the boy back. An elderly couple witnesses the end-times and is forced to hunt monsters if they hope to survive. A young girl “tanning and manning” with her mother and aunt resists being indoctrinated by their ideas about men. A preacher’s daughter follows in the footsteps of her backsliding mother as she seduces a man who looks a lot like the devil. A master of Appalachian dialect and colloquial speech, Monks writes prose that is dark, taut, and muscular, but also beguiling and playful. Monsters in Appalachia is a powerful work of fiction.

16. YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE by Stefan Kiesbye. A village on the Devil‘s Moor: a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition. There is the grand manor house whose occupants despise the villagers, the small pub whose regulars talk of revenants, the old mill no one dares to mention. This is where four young friends come of age—in an atmosphere thick with fear and suspicion. Their innocent games soon bring them face-to-face with the village‘s darkest secrets in this eerily dispassionate, astonishingly assured novel, infused with the spirit of the Brothers Grimm and evocative of Stephen King‘s classic short story “Children of the Corn” and the films The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke and Village of the Damned by Wolf Rilla.

17. THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN by Kiersten White. Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend. Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.  But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness

18. A TREE OR A PERSON OR A WALL by Matt Bell. A nineteenth-century minister builds an elaborate motor that will bring about the Second Coming. A man with rough hands locks a boy in a room with an albino ape. An apocalyptic army falls under a veil of forgetfulness. The story of Red Riding Hood is run through a potentially endless series of iterations. A father invents an elaborate, consuming game for his hospitalized son. Indexes, maps, a checkered shirt buried beneath a blanket of snow: they are scattered through these pages as clues to mysteries that may never be solved, lingering evidence of the violence and unknowability of the world.

19. HORROSTOR by Grady Hendrix. Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking. To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

20. HOW TO HANG A WITCH by Adriana Mather. Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

21. THE WORLD OF LORE: MONSTROUS CREATURES by Aaron Mahnke.  They live in shadows—deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our minds. They’re spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives’ tales, passed down through generations. Yet no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them: werewolves and wendigos, poltergeists and vampires, angry elves and vengeful spirits. 

22. HEART SHAPED BOX by Joe Hill. Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman’s noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can’t help but reach for his wallet. I will “sell” my stepfather’s ghost to the highest bidder. . . . For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man’s suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn’t afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What’s one more? But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It’s the real thing. And suddenly the suit’s previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude’s restored vintage Mustang . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand.

23. THE DEVIL CREPT IN by Ania Ahlborn. Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend. That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

And that’s the list! I bought a super cute glass pumpkin to put the titles in and I’ll pick them at random. I’m not 100% sure yet, but I’m thinking of doing a weekly reading review on my IGTV! You can check me out there @ WeeziesBooks.

Happy Spooky reading, y’all!

Uncategorized

July Was a Bust

If you follow me on my other bookish social media (instagram and litsy: @ weeziesbooks), you know that I have been in a pretty awful book slump for the last two months. I didn’t keep up with what I read in June (but it was abysmal, trust) and July stalled out really fast. I only read three books in July. Three. 3. I’m reeling, y’all.

In my defense, not that anyone ever has to defend their reading… or lack thereof, this summer has been hectic. My two oldest godkids both played travel ball this summer (which is thankfully OVER), Dad and I have traveled and done some sightseeing, and I’ve been adjusting to new medication. Not exactly the right combination for reading.

I’m hoping with Autumn fast approaching that I’ll be able to amp up my reading again and get back to what I love.

This month I read:

THE FOREST QUEEN by Betsy Cornwell. I received an ARC of this from HMH in exchange for an honest review. This book was a showstopper for me. I picked it up early one morning and didn’t put it down until it was finished. There’s just something about the plot and the characters that hooked me in really early, and the pacing of the story was so on-point that it never lagged enough to break my immersion in the story. There were a lot of things in this story that I deeply appreciated- the romance that didn’t overwhelm the story, the female friendships, the talk of how having a baby/not having a baby was a woman’s choice, and the element of the “found/created family”. I think without these things, this could have been another bland retelling but Cornwell did a fantastic job of writing a feminist novel that stayed true to a time period when women were little more than property and were often pitted against each other. If you are a reader with delicate sensibilities, I think it’s fair to warn you that there are some really troubling scenes in this book that include: descriptive animal abuse/animal death, descriptive suicide attempt, themes of incest, rape, descriptive childbirth, and descriptive scenes of death/decay/decomposition of humans. 4/5

BEFORE I LET GO by Marieke Nijkamp. I received an ARC of this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love thrillers, mystery, suspense, and books that use a little magic to move the plot along. I thought BEFORE I LET GO would smash all of those things. Unfortunately, it just seemed to sort of nudge and run away, leaving me feeling a little disappointed. While the premise of the book was interesting and had a lot of promise, the execution fell flat. As a reader, I’m used to suspending disbelief in order to appreciate a story but this one had glaring plot holes and characters that just behaved the way no actual human would. Without giving too much away, I couldn’t believe that Corey never once wondered to herself or asked anyone why they suddenly believed what they believed about Kyra. In the 7 months she was gone, what changed? How did everything begin? It felt like the author was trying to do too much for her writing ability. She tried to create a creepy town, a mysterious death, friendships, and then threw in “I’m asexual, she’s pansexual, and those two boys are gay”. I love Queer literature when it’s done right, but the quick “I’m asexual because I don’t like to kiss” almost made me quit reading this book. This just wasn’t a satisfying read. I’m generally ok with being left with questions but when the questions are “Why wouldn’t she tell her mom that someone tried to murder her??”, I have to shake my head. 2/5

THE MERCILESS by Danielle Vega. I’m pretty sure I reviewed this book at the beginning of the year and it’s just as fantastic as the first time I read it. Filled with petty girls, murderous girls, religion, and demons, this hit a deep craving for a frightening read. I’m in love with Vega and how she sets the atmosphere for her novels (I also loved SURVIVE THE NIGHT) and I can’t wait to finish the rest of this series.

And that’s it for July! Here’s to hoping August treats me a little better.

Reviews

Review: THE UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING AND SO AM I

34743888Title: THE UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING AND SO AM I
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 304
ARC?: Yes, provided from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Publish Date: 05/29/18
TW/CW: Fatphobia, homophobia, parental neglect/mental abuse, rape (not described in detail), alcohol abuse (mentioned briefly, twice).
Rating: 5/5

From Goodreads: Virginia Shreves’ world implodes again in this long-awaited follow-up to Printz Honoree The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

Sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves’ life is finally back on course: she’s accepted who she is inside and out and is rebuilding her relationship with brother Byron, whose date-rape charge shattered everything.

But just as she adjusts to her new normal, her world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy fade, her best friend bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron. As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Nate, an artist with his own baggage. The pair vow not to share personal drama. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs could ruin everything.

Weezie’s Thoughts: I read the predecessor to this book, THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS, nearly 10 year ago. While the writing was simplistic, the story and its characters stuck with me, and when I found out Mackler was writing a sequel, I knew I had to read it.

My five star rating is probably a little generous (those nostalgia feels had me messed up), but it is at least a four star book, even with the little things I didn’t enjoy. Which was mostly that while this book seamlessly transitions us into a sequel for a book written 15 years ago… it kinda feels like a book that was written 15 years ago. Seriously, if something reminds me of being a teenager… it probably doesn’t apply to this new generation of teenagers. Still, it was good.

I particularly appreciated the honesty Mackler shows when writing about Byron, his arrest, and how his overbearing parents act. I liked the fact that Virginia knew her brother was in the wrong but still was unsure of her feelings towards him. Not just because of the rape and arrest, but also because of the way he treated her.

Personally I hope there is a third book where Virginia stands up to her entire insufferable family. We’ve dealt with weight issues. We’ve dealt with break-ups and new love. It’s time for Virginia to take a stand against the people who have tormented her more than anyone else. I’m also eager to get more of Annie Mills’ story and the punishment Byron deserves FINALLY handed down to him.

Carolyn Mackler, please don’t make me wait another 15 years.

Uncategorized

Hello From The Other Side

Hi friends. It’s been a while.

I feel like rehashing the majority of the events that conspired in me taking a long hiatus would be unproductive. In any situation there is my story, their story, and the truth in the middle. Just as I know things were misconstrued on their side, I’m sure things were on my side as well. I’m not trying to be back in that circle, not trying to remake any of those friendships: I can say that I’m sorry for any wrongdoing on my part. And I’ll leave it at that.

However, there’s also the matter of… I was so tired of blogging. I was tired of this competitive reading and competition for the latest and greatest ARCs. Why couldn’t I just be satisfied with reading what I like, ignoring what I don’t, and writing reviews when I felt like it? Having a schedule of “I need to read this many books and post these reviews and request this book and post these filler blogs to keep numbers up” was just… it was exhausting. And between dealing with the death of my godchild, my beloved uncle, and the friend fallout… I was in a bad place and decided I needed a break.

So I took one. Therapy, fishing, gardening, lazy reading, podcasts, days full of my family and godkids… those things have revitalized more than I ever imagined. I’m so happy now and so happy to be alive.

And ready to review again. I did miss it. I missed connecting with other reviewers and book lovers and having this little hobby when I get bored. I don’t care about numbers or ARCs or posting enough… I just want to have fun with this.

And I hope you’ll have fun with me, too.

Reviews

Review: YOU

23492630Title: YOU
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Publisher: Atria
Published: 2015
Pages: 422
Format: Paperback
TW/CW: Death, stalking, abuse (mental and physical), drug use, alcoholism, kidnapping, slurs against women
Rating: 3.5/5

FROM GOODREADS: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card. There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting. As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

I didn’t expect a thriller to make me take such a hard look at myself. But it did.

When I picked up YOU, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to stomach it. While a book written from the perspective of a stalker sounded like an interesting premise, I was pretty sure that having to read some sleazy guy’s thoughts was going to be too much for me. What I didn’t expect was to dislike Beck so much that I sort of… wished the worst for her. And all of her friends, if I’m honest. In fact, there weren’t any redeemable characters in this story save for Ethan, Joe’s coworker. It wasn’t until I got to the end that I realized I had actually been kind of gleefully cheering Joe on in slowly destroying Beck because she was one of “those girls”. Hypersexual (to the point that she exposed over people to her masturbating without their consent), manipulative, liar, seducer of married men, Beck was literally everything I hate in thrillers. She’s the girl I want to end up dead… even if I have to cheer for a stalker to do it. I’m kind of hoping that was Kepnes plan in writing the book the way she did. It almost feels like you have to be sympathetic with Joe as Beck jerks his chain… and then you remember that Joe has orchestrated nearly everything that has happened between him and Beck because he is a murderous stalker.

There were a few things that lost points from me. The story tended to drag, especially around the middle. This book could have been 100 pages shorter and still packed a powerful punch. The ending was also seriously abrupt and while I appreciate how it ended, I just felt like there should have been more. I was also seriously turned off by how much sex and references to sex there were in this book. Is that all straight people think about? Don’t stalkers usually think about things like life-long commitments and children? Since Joe was looking for “true love”, it didn’t make sense that he only thought about having sex with Beck.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys thrillers, stalkers, and a little murder.

Reviews

Review: THE IRON TRIAL

20578940Title: THE IRON TRIAL (Magisterium #1)
Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 2014
Pages: 295
Format: Paperback
TW/CW: Abuse, blood, death, underground
Rep: MC is disabled (problems with his leg), non-white supporting characters
Rating: 2.5/5

FROM GOODREADS: Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

I really wanted to love this one.

THE IRON TRIAL had been pitched to me several times over the last few months as HARRY POTTER meets PERCY JACKSON, and that might have been true if the book wasn’t such a snooze fest. The beginning and end were pretty riveting but the entirety of the middle of the book was almost coma-inducing boring. A 300 page book usually takes me a few hours to read… this one stretched for 3 days because it couldn’t hold my interest.

While I liked the characters and I liked the premise of the story, you could definitely tell that two different people wrote this and there was no harmony in the joining of their writing. And when I say this is a Harry Potter rip off, I mean it. A magical school, dubious professors, snooty enemies, a villain who wants to live forever with minions who are willing to sacrifice everything to help him. I was, at first, impressed with the plot twist but after realizing how closely THE IRON TRIAL mimics Harry Potter, I should have seen it coming.

As much I hate not finishing series, I will not be picking up the rest of the books in this series.

Reviews

Review: DOLL BONES

15944406Title: DOLL BONES
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: 2013
Pages: 244
Format: Paperback
TW/CW: Death/murder (part of the doll story), light mention of blood that alludes to gore, child neglect, mentally ill character being “creepy” to kids.
Rating: 3/5

From Goodreads: Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.

But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

My first thought about this book is that it wasn’t spectacular.

Usually a middle grade involving a ghost will suck me in but this one just didn’t. It’s not that this is a bad story. I enjoyed the adventure and the premise. I enjoyed the characters struggling to cope with growing up and dealing with parent/peer pressure and expectations.

But the characters are flat. All of them are so one dimensional and not fleshed out that I really didn’t care about them. When the ghost doll is more intriguing than the three characters having an adventure, something is wrong. The pacing in the story was also really off. When I read the synopsis, it sounded like the friends drift apart and months later reunite to go on this grand adventure… when actually they didn’t really have a fight and it’s only a day or so later after Zach claims he doesn’t want to play the game anymore when they set out to bury the Queen.

The romance in this is so unnecessary and really kind of threw me out of the story (not that I was ever truly into it…). I wish authors, especially authors who switch between middle grade and young adult, would realize that romance doesn’t need to be included in middle grade. Sometimes it’s done well but this one just wasn’t. Black almost sets this up as a love triangle because there are hints that Poppy likes Zach, too. I would have been much more satisfied with the jealousy aspect if one was afraid the other two were closer in terms of best friends. But romance? No.

Again, it wasn’t terrible. The ghost story is reason enough to read this and I think I would have loved this if more attention had been given to the Queen and her story.

 

Monthly Wrap-Up

January Wrap Up!

Capture

January was a pretty fantastic reading month.

READING STATS FOR JANUARY

Books Read: 20

Pages Read: 6,208

New Authors: 11

Previously Read Authors: 7

Physical Books: 12

eBooks: 8

5 Stars: 6

4 Stars: 3

3 Stars: 6

2 Stars: 2

1 Star: 3

DNF: 0

BOOKS READ IN JANUARY

  1. SURVIVE THE NIGHT by Danielle Vega. (4/5)
  2. GERALD’S GAME by Stephen King (3/5)
  3. A DASH OF TROUBLE (LOVE SUGAR MAGIC) by Anne Meriano (5/5)
  4. WINTERHOUSE by Ben Guterson (3/5)
  5. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery (5/5)
  6. ANNE OF AVONLEA by L.M. Montgomery (5/5)
  7. ANNE OF THE ISLAND by L.M. Montgomery (5/5)
  8. LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott (3/5)
  9. TIME BOMB by Joelle Charbonneau (2/5)
  10. THE CELLAR by Natasha Preston (3/5)
  11. THE VINES by Christopher Rice (1/5)
  12. THE LIBRARY OF SOULS by Richard Denney (1/5)
  13. THE DEADLY SISTER by Eliot Schrefer (2/5)
  14. GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake (5/5)
  15. THE WITCH DOESN’T BURN IN THIS ONE by Amanda Lovelace (1/5)
  16. A PLAIN LEAVING by Leslie Gould (4/5)
  17. MORE THAN FRIENDSHIP by Amy Lillard (3/5)
  18. AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White (5/5)
  19. DOLL BONES by Holly Black (3/5)
  20. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (4/5)

 

Twenty books feels pretty stellar to me and I hope I’m able to keep the momentum going into February… with maybe a few less 1 & 2 star books.

What did you read this month?