Top Ten Tuesday: Creepy Books on Our TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're sharing some creepy books that are sitting on our TBRs

Bekka's Picks

 1. The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy. I love books about missing persons, especially missing under strange circumstances. This involves two girls who went missing when they were younger and only one of them coming back. Color me intrigued.

2. The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones. So this is about a girl who makes a pact with the devil, and I think possibly, she goes back on it. I've literally never read anything like this before so obviously I'm quite excited about it.

3. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. I have no idea why I haven't read this yet considering it's told in epistolary formatting with pictures and clippings and the works. That's my favorite thing ever in books, so add it to a haunted house style setting and I need this!

4. Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin. I had an arc of this last year and somehow totally forgot about it! But it sounds sooo creepy. This girl starts taking over the main character's life? But also she has some kind of mark or tattoo or something? I believe there is also an evil cult. Sign me up!

5. Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I don't know too much about this except that it's supposed to be horrifying. In this book you can't go outside, or maybe you can't look at the sky, or you'll die or go crazy or something. That's so scary to me. I've been putting it off because honestly I think I'm too much of a baby to handle it.

 Alexia's Picks
1. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics. I am a big horror fan, so I cannot believe that I haven't read this book yet. Pretty much all the YA horror fans I know, have read this one. Plus, I love this author's work, so I have no real excuses why I haven't read this one yet.

2. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. I really enjoyed her second release, And the Trees Crept in, but for some reason, I haven't made her first book a priority. Hopefully, I'll get to it soon.

3. There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. I've tried reading her other other series, but it's just too fluffy for me. When I heard she was coming out with a horror book, I made a promise to myself that I would at least TRY it. All this time later, I still haven't read it. It looks creepy & I'm in love with that cover.

4. The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman. I've heard good & bad things about this one, yet it is still on my TBR. It does look creepy and even though I tried reading it once, I want to eventually give it another shot because it really didn't grab me the first time.

5. Blood and Salt by Kim Ligget. I just went back and reread the synopsis for this book, and holy crap, it looks AWESOME. I really need to get a copy of this super creepy sounding book and read it.


Have you read any of the books on our lists?

What I've Been Watching

Oh man, it's been a really long time since I did this feature. I think I've only done one of these since Bekka and I switched platforms. In these last few months, I've been in and out of the hospital, with very little energy to invest in something new. I was hoping to have a Halloween show/movie to talk about in this post, but not yet. Definitely in the next post. I'll also be seeing The Hate U Give today, so look for a movie review for it in the next week or so.

New to Me Shows
The Office. I only recently started watching this show despite it being off the air for awhile. My mom suggested I start it and since we have similar tastes in TV shows, I started it. Steve Carrell really makes the show, and although there are a few questionable things in it, I am able to look past them. I am in season 3 now and totally loving the show. Jim & Pam are my FAVES though and even early on, I knew they were gonna be endgame.


Have you started any new shows lately?

October Beat the Backlist Wrap-Up


Hi guys! It's the end of the month and that means it's time for me to share my progress on the Beat the Backlist Challenge, hosted by Novel Knight. I didn't do as well as I was hoping to, but I can at least take 2 more books off my TBR, so I'll count that a success. Maybe November will be better, although I'll be doing NaNoWriMo, so I might be doing even less reading than I did this month.


Read: 
Drowning Instinct (Reviewed October 26th, 2018)
Anna Dressed in Blood (Review to be published November 2nd, 2018)

DNF: 0

Currently Reading: 
Warcross
Stalking Jack the Ripper
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

If you are participating in this challenge, how did October go for you?

Alexia's October Book Haul

Hi guys! I can hardly believe it's the end of October already. Seems like just yesterday I was in & out of the hospital. And I also cannot believe it's been almost a year since my cardiac arrest in my grandma's car. Really this year has FLOWN by and I think it's because so much has happened to me and to my family.

Onward to the important part of this post, the books! I am really looking forward to the three review books I picked up. I am trying to read more Adult fiction, and psychological thrillers are still my faves, so I'm hoping the one adult title in this pile, fits that category.

Books for Review
When the Truth Unravels by RuthAnne Snow
Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

What books have you added to your shelves this month?

Book Review: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

Book Title & Author: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Published by: Lerner Publishing Group on February 1st, 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟

Synopsis: There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire. 

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism. 

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Review:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book and to be honest, I was a bit hesitant to read it because I've DNFed another book by this author. I am a big supporter of giving authors more chances to wow me, plus Bekka had gifted me this book several years ago, so I put it on my desk and planned to read it this month.

I wasn't expecting to gobble it down like it was my last meal though. I wasn't expecting to be so captivated by the storytelling and by the characters themselves. Before you go into a book, you probably have some preconceived ideas about the book and about the characters. I know I did, and this book challenged my preconceived ideas from the very beginning. There isn't black & white actions going on here, it's a whole lotta grey actions.

I was expecting to feel sympathy for Jenna and the fact that she is being raised by an alcoholic mother and a psychotic father, and while I did feel a lot of sympathy for her, that wasn't the overwhelming emotion I felt when it came to Jenna. 

There was a lot of innuendo in this book. Things that were hinted out, but never outright stated. Most of that circled around Jenna's grandfather who had suffered 2 strokes shortly after a fire burned his house down around him. There was a lot there that wasn't outright stated, but I could read between the lines and figure out why the fire started and who started it. Not to mention the fact that grandpa was a lecherous old man.

Jenna's relationship with her teacher started out innocently enough, but then it unraveled into a passionate, forbidden romance that definitely seemed toxic at times. It seemed like Mitch Anderson used Jenna as an escape from his own hell. Instead of being a grown ass adult and handling his problems like one, he pulled Jenna into his world and made her the center of his world. Yeah, this relationship was not the healthiest one, the teacher/student thing notwithstanding.

It was true that Jenna needed an adult in her corner, but I do think Mitch Anderson got overly involved with her problems. It was clear to me that he liked "the broken ones" and that thought was echoed by another student who saw things shift between Jenna & Mitch. Jenna's parents weren't really fit to be parents and her older brother was gone, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked that she ended up in the arms of a much older man.

This book was nothing like I was expecting and I'm still not sure what exactly I read, but it was really good. Like dark chocolate good.

Final thoughts: If you want a book with complicated characters & complicated relationships, then you need to pick this book up.

Book Review: The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra

The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra
Published by Mira on October 30th, 2018
Genre: Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟
Everyone does bad things when no one is watching

Mercilessly bullied in high school, Ava knows she needs to put the past behind her and move on, but she can’t—not until she’s exacted precise, catastrophic revenge on the people who hurt her the most.

First, she watches Saanvi. Flawlessly chic and working hard at a top architectural firm, Saanvi has it all together on the surface. But everyone does bad things when they think no one is watching and Ava only wants what’s fair—to destroy Saanvi’s life the way her own was destroyed.

Next, she watches Cass. She’s there as Cass tries on wedding dresses, she’s there when Cass picks out a cake, she’s there when Cass betrays her fiancΓ©. She’s the reason Cass’s entire future comes crashing down.

Finally, Ava watches Mel. Mel was always the ringleader and if anyone has to pay, it’s her. But one tiny slipup and Ava realizes the truth: Mel knows she’s being watched, and she’s ready to play Ava’s games to the bitter end.
I love a good revenge story, and The Spite Game delivers. It wasn't without its flaws but if you're looking for a compelling voice in adult thrillers, this is your book.

I think the biggest obstacle an author has when writing about revenge is to make the reader hate the person the MC is getting even with. If you make them too soft or sympathetic, you'll fail; but if you make them into too much of a caricature, a cartoon villain, it all seems silly. Snoekstra struck the perfect balance in this book. I hated these girls from the get-go. Ava was not particularly sympathetic as an adult, but that doesn't even matter when you look at how horrible Mel, Saanvi, and Cass could be. I wanted them to pay for what they did.

I didn't find the plot itself to be particularly twisted and surprising. We know from the beginning that Ava is in a police station preparing to confess to something, we just don't know what she's confessing to. From there she gives us her story with the three mean girls, how they became "friends" in high school and how everything went terribly, terrifyingly downhill. This is definitely a story about bullying and it's pretty upsetting if you've ever been on the receiving end yourself. What I didn't understand, though, was why Ava was going to confess. By the time we reach the end, Ava has basically declared herself a psychopath, says she's incapable of feeling things like love, guilt, or remorse. So I don't understand her motive for turning herself in. It doesn't make any sense to me.

My favorite parts of the book were when Ava was exacting her revenge. The author knows how to ramp up the tension to the perfect degree; my heart was pounding. The ways Ava got back at her bullies were so clever, particularly Saanvi's demise. I was on the edge of my seat each time Ava was almost seen, almost caught, almost called out. Another surprising aspect that I liked a lot was Ava's incredibly slow burning relationship with Evan. When the time finally came for them to be together, I was actually swept up in Evan's moment and I don't know how it happened. You certainly don't expect that in a thriller, even less so when the main character is so detached from humanity.

All in all, while I wish this had more surprises and more twists, and I wish I had a better answer for why Ava was going to confess to everything, I still found this compulsively readable. In a time when the reading slump is really getting to me, I practically flew through The Spite Game. I thought Ava's voice was compelling and sharp, and her revenge plan, while obviously evil, was enough to have me on her side against some really terrible, awful people.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Villains

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're talking about our favorite villains

Bekka's Picks
I decided that I was going to narrow this list down to the best villains I've read about in 2018. I read a lot of fantasy, so villains are pretty abundant, and I didn't want to risk repeating answers that I've said before. 

 1. The villain from The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. So telling you much about this villain would be a pretty big spoiler. But I have to say, they were very scary and it was a lot of fun watching it all go down. I wish the motive could have been a little better but that's fine.
2. AIDAN from the Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Aidan, the AI, is the perfect... antihero I guess. He does particularly awful things, villainous things, in the name of saving our main characters. His voice is absolutely CHILLING, all the way to the bone. "Am I not merciful?" will never stop being terrifying to me.
3. The Swans from Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. First of all, birds terrify me, so let's get that out in the open lol. But I think the way they were so cold and unfeeling and knew they were going to win in the end really made them scary to me, even though I don't think they were supposed to be haha.
4. Legend from the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber. He's not scary or anything, but he's a great villain. He's a master of disguise, a master manipulator, and always has something up his sleeve.
5. Nurse Joya and all the medical staff from Nightingale by Amy Lukavics. Usually in asylum horror, the patients are supposed to be the scary ones. But in this, it was the medical staff. They were abusive and terrifying and there was that horrible feeling of knowing there was no escape. So, so scary.
 

Most Anticipated: November 2018


Most Anticipated is a monthly feature here where I talk about all the books coming out in the next month that I'm excited to read. It's by no means an exhaustive list of the month's new releases, just the ones that I plan to check out. November is a slower release month for sure, but it has a handful of really exciting titles!

Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean [Goodreads]
This is by far my most anticipated November release. It sounds amazing! I don't usually love competition books, but this one includes surviving seasonal obstacles and marrying princes and girls who shift into monsters. Doesn't that sound incredible?

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan [Goodreads]
Initially I was unsure of this one. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of harems and concubines and things like that. But then the reviews started and I finally read the full blurb, and yes please. I am here for gorgeous fantasies with f/f ships and beautiful covers. 

Toxic by Lydia Kang [Goodreads]
So this sounds a little off the walls and bonkers but also really cool. Something about being isolated on a spaceship just intrigues me, I guess, because every time I see that plot device, I swoop in like an owl on a bunny. Plus, it looks like there's a bit of a murder mystery at play as well. Sign me up.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Turnsten [Goodreads]
This sounds hilarious! All about, you guessed it, an elderly lady getting up to some hijinks. I mean, the cover speaks directly to me as well. I can't wait for this; it seems like the perfect book to get cozy on the couch with during a snowstorm.

 Splendor and Spark by Mary Taranta [Goodreads]
If you haven't yet read Shimmer & Burn, you need to go do that right now. It has such a rich, interesting magic system, a fantastic ship, a murder princess, and an kickass heroine. It really is the fantasy of my dreams. I CANNOT wait for the sequel.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri [Goodreads]
I don't really know too much about this one, and to be honest, the blurb is pretty vague. But I do know that it's more diverse fantasy and a good friend of mine really, really loved it. There's magic, and enslaved gods, and revenge. 

What books are you looking forward to in the month of November?

YA Horror and Thriller Recommendations


It's officially mid-October, which means it's the most wonderful time of the year--especially for reading! At least where I live, the air is starting to cool off, leaves are falling, fog is rolling in every morning, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier. It's the perfect environment to settle down with something spooky and atmospheric and maybe a bit mysterious. If you're like me and you love to read along with the autumn season, I have a list for you! I love YA horror and thrillers, so I thought I'd recommend some to keep you up at night.



Horror


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. This, like a few others on this list, is an oldie but a goodie. For fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, this follows Cas, a teenage ghost hunter. He forms a squad, meets a dead girl, and all hell breaks loose. I don't think it's TOO scary but it's definitely got its moments.

Frost by Marianna Baer. This is very much your classic haunted house style of story. Things falling off the walls, strange sounds at night. I really, really liked this one and I can still picture the imagery perfectly in my head. Maybe it's time for a reread.

Tighter by Adele Griffin. I wish more people knew about this! Tighter is a retelling of The Turn of the Screw, in which our semi-unreliable heroine takes a job as a live-in nanny for the summer. From there are spooky shenanigans alongside summer fun, like parties and flirting. The ending is a shocker, too.

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics. By far the scariest book I've ever read, this is one I highly recommend if you're looking to be terrified. This is a historical book, about a family who is moving from the mountains to a new cabin on the prairie and something sinister awaits them. It is so scary, I am not even kidding. There IS a trigger warning for pregnancy and infant loss, though.

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook. Another fantastic haunted house story. Isobel moves with her mother to her new stepfather's massive home on some isolated island. The chills are real with this one. Cook employed some fantastic ghost and haunting scenes. I loved it.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. So begins our slightly unconventional but still scary list. This is a gorgeous graphic novel. It has multiple scary tales inside and the art is just gorgeous. There is a Bluebeard story in here I thought was incredible. The art really is absolutely beautiful, too. I have this one face-out on my shelves because it's irresistible.

Undead by Kirsty McKay. Zombies! And not only that, but the absolute perfect mix of horror and humor. Seriously, I was cracking up the entire time while reading this. If you like British humor, and a voice like Georgia Nicolson, I think you'll like this. A zombie outbreak in the middle of a school ski trip.

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker. Parker is one of my favorite writers ever, simply because of her sense of atmosphere. She brought this southern town and its mysterious swamp to life in this book. It's spooky without being scary, and just so well crafted. I was obsessed after reading and still am, frankly.

The Call by Peadar O'Guilin. Fae are kind of a big deal in YA right now, but you haven't seen them quite like this. The Sidhe are taking the children and teens of Ireland. At any moment you can be taken to their realm where you have to survive for 24 hours, but it's not as easy as it sounds. The Sidhe maim, disfigure, and torture the kids, and not many make it out alive. It's truly bone-chilling.

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland. This graphic novel is probably a bit more science fiction-leaning, but that's fine. It's still utterly spooky and a perfect read for this time of year. There's even a haunting hospital scene that's guaranteed to chill you to the bone.

Thrillers


The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. This one is also science fiction, about a girl living all alone on a spaceship headed for a new planet to colonize. Then, something changes and she's not alone anymore. There are so many twists and turns, and if you're like me at all, space is scary enough on its own. This is perfect for those who don't want to be too terrified, but like a good mystery. 

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. I can't let a thriller post go by without mention of the ultimate in YA thrillers. Dangerous Girls is set over the summer in Aruba, after the main character's best friend is found murdered. What follows is an incredible narrative that keeps you guessing, keeps your heart pounding to the very end. Also, not scary one bit, this one is for the babies who can't handle spooky (like me.)

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger. This is a story about an agoraphobic girl and a rising pop star falling in love over social media. But there are police reports scattered in between chapters that let you know something is not quite right. I thought this was so much fun and the ending was chilling! Just don't read the sequel lol.

A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho. When Fin's best friend Betty is killed, and her confessed killer is set free, Fin returns home to get to the bottom of things and find justice for Betty. The atmosphere is really gripping and there are wisps of ghostly happenings that keep you turning the pages. Bonus points for a sex positive message and a bisexual heroine who gets it on with guys and girls throughout the book.

Sadie by Courtney Summers. You've likely been hearing about this nonstop since it came out last month, but yes, it really is that good. I highly recommend the audio, since half the book is written in podcast format anyway. This is a murder mystery and a revenge story, absolutely perfect for true crime lovers out there.

Complicit by Stephanie Kueh. This one is on the list of all-time favorite thrillers. It's a master class in unreliability, honestly. The main character's older sister is spectacularly terrible throughout the book, but this whole story wants you to stop judging for a second and pay attention. The ending will rock you.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller. This one follows a girl who makes the monumentally stupid decision to go on a road trip/hike/canoe trip with two guys she just met, and one of them is, well, let's just say he's Not Nice. What I find particularly chilling about The Devil You Know is its plausibility in the real world. It can, and has happened.



What are some of your favorite scary stories? Do you go right for the horror of it all or are you more like me and you need something a bit more tame for those long, dark nights?

Book Review: Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 25th, 2018
Genres: Historical, horror, sci-fi
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟.5
At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…

June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.
Amy Lukavics' books are scary as shit. She has really set the bar for YA horror these days. There just simply isn't anyone like her in the field right now, able to capture character, voice, and chills all at the same time. While I didn't find Nightingale to be perfect by any means, I still highly recommend it for its originality, its representation (both for mental health and for wlw), and for its scare factor. I guarantee you've never read a book quite like this.

I had to admit I was a bit apprehensive about starting this. It's a horror novel set at an asylum. Usually such a setting is prime breeding ground for ableism. The patients themselves are the scary ones. I am so happy and relieved to report that this is not the case in Nightingale. The patients are treated horribly in this "hospital" but they are also the main characters. June finds a group of friends in Burrow Place and they are sympathetic, realistic people who are being victimized--and who fight back. The real villains are the doctors and the nurses. It was so refreshing. So if you're worried about the typical tropes that come with asylum-based horror, you don't have to worry about that here.

I really liked June. I thought she carried the story perfectly. She was always just so interesting and deeply flawed, and, at times, completely unreliable. She was a writer, of sci-fi! Of course, in the 1950s that wasn't exactly becoming of a teenage girl. Her parents had certain expectations of her, and writing about aliens and spaceships just didn't fit into those limits at all. I think it'd be great to say that June just bucked those expectations and forged out on her own; instead, though, she was much more realistic than that. Anyone who has been in a situation even similar to hers knows how hard it is to disappoint your family. You know how hard it is sometimes to be brave and individual. June struggled with her family's approval and reconciling that with her own dreams. As a reader, it's easy to get caught up in June's struggle here and immediately shift the blame to her parents when it comes to June's hospitalization. But June is just so unreliable, leaving so many key details out, that you just can't tell if she's being institutionalized for her "hysteria" or if something's really wrong here.

This book is not for those with a weak stomach, I have to say. There is a lot of grossness, a lot of gore. There are brains and bugs and lots of blood. Needles, gruesome deaths, lobotomies. There were also some truly terrifying, chilling moments, moments that have you feeling trapped and claustrophobic and hopeless. It was not an easy read.

One thing I really wish was that I had a closer connection to the side characters. There were quite a few of them. The girls in the Institution with June kind of blended together for me. There were only two that really stuck out to me, Simpson, the artist, and Eleanor, June's roommate and love interest. We got a pretty bleak first impression of Eleanor and I think for me it was hard to get past it. I wanted to ship the ship but there was so much else going on that I didn't think there was enough time to dedicate to the romance. It came on really quickly for me. And I hate that because I always want to root for the f/f ships.

Without giving too much away, Nightingale reminds me of a classic sci-fi/horror novel. It has a feeling of nostalgia that we don't see much these days, and I thought it was such a cutting, precise commentary and condemnation of American culture, especially with regards to women and women's rights. So timely, given our current political climate. If you're looking for a good scare, a compelling plot, and something that gets your brain going, this one is definitely for you.

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I've Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
Today we're talking about the longest books we've ever read
Bekka's Picks
 If you've been around here a while, you've seen me complain about never reading long books. I want to, but I just don't have the stamina for it, I think. And I get incredibly intimidated. And I also feel like I'm constantly racing the clock with my Goodreads challenge. So, I have a ton of excuses, basically. What I'm getting at is this: my numbers are super weak compared to some. What are you gonna do? 
Les Mis: 1200
The Autobiography of Henry VIII: 993
Order of the Phoenix: 870
Goblet of Fire: 734
Empire of Storms: 693

Witchy YA Books On My TBR



I love witches, of all kinds. Since I was a little girl, I've been obsessed with it. From the fantastical Harry Potter and Wizard of Oz, to the more grounded practices of Wicca, and more recently, reading about brujeria. Basically, any kind of woman practicing magic has a special lure for me.

I recently read Toile & Trouble, a YA anthology about all sorts of different witches practicing their craft. It was amazing, and it made me want to read all the witchy YA on my TBR. So I'm going to share them here today and maybe get some opinions about where I should start.


Undead Girl Gang by Lilly Anderson. This one I know for sure I want to read soon. It was one of my most anticipated releases this year but then I just... lost track of it. Oops. Anyway, if you don't know, this is about a girl who raises her friend back from the dead after that friend was murdered. 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. I don't actually know too much about this except this is obviously about brujas and everyone seems to love it. I don't know much about this side of witchcraft, but I do know that I want to learn more and fiction has always been my first introduction to anything I've been interested in.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle. I have no idea why I haven't read this yet. I absolutely loved her debut, The Accident Season; I thought she perfectly captured the mood and atmosphere I want in a Halloween-centric tale. This one, about a spellbook that brings back lost things, is likely to be just as good, if not better. 

Chime by Franny Billingsley. So many of my friends have given this the full five-stars. And I've had it on my physical tbr for years! This is a historical story about a girl who talks to spirits in the woods while living in a very anti-witch village. I've read the first few pages and it starts off with the main character trying to convince you not to read on, telling you that she ought to be hanged. I need it.

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill. This is another Salem Witch type story, except this one is written in verse. I don't actually know much more than that, and I don't think I need to.

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta. This isn't strictly about "witches" in the sense that the rest of these books are. But it IS about a girl who turns her enemies into music boxes. I don't know, but it seemed to fit this list perfectly. Women using magic ambitiously is my thing.

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. This is another one that's not about witches in a traditional sense. Instead, the main character is hunted as a heretic. I've never read anything like that before and I love Berry's other work. But it's long, so I've been putting it off lol.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. This is marketed as the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls. It's about descendents of the major players during the witch trials, a curse, and a ghost. I really, really hope it lives up to the hype of that discription.

Balefire by Cate Tiernan. I absolutely LOVE the Sweep series by this author. I've read all 15 books multiple times over the course of like 15 years. I love it so, so much. This is another witchy series by her, this time about New Orleans and a secret twin.

The Graces by Laure Eve. I know absolutely nothing about this one except some minor mentions of witches in the blurb and that it's a hugely divisive title. Apparently you either love it or hate it. I don't know about you, but I love reading something like that, just to see where you fall amid all the "controversy."


So, have you read any of these? Which are your favorites, and where should I start when I finally tackle my witchy YA tbr?

Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie by Courtney Summers
Published by Wednesday Books on September 4th, 2018
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 311
Format: audiobook
Source: Scribd
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟
Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Sadie and I got off to a rocky start. I was obviously incredibly excited for this, having read All the Rage a while ago and hungering for another Courtney Summers novel. But something about it just wouldn't allow me to connect. I wanted to read this strangely-formatted book so badly, but it was like there was a wall between me and my eARC. So I eventually gave up and moved onto other books. A couple weeks went by and people started raving about the audiobook and how amazing it was. At the same time, I had just signed up for a trial of Scribd, and lo and behold, they had Sadie. From the moment I pressed Play, I was hooked.

You guys, I can't begin to tell you just how great the audiobook version of this is. It has a full cast; every single person in this has their own voice actor. And since it's written with some chapters as a podcast, it made for an incredible listening experience. There were interviews and recordings and phone calls, as well as the monologue from the radio host. Even the chapters narrated by Sadie had its own actors for the characters she encountered. Also, Sadie had a stutter and the narrator did an amazing job with it; he was all-around fantastic, truly grasping Sadie's range of emotions. I felt compelled by both narrations for wholly different reasons, and I never, ever wanted to turn it off.

So, before I get any deeper into this review, let's get this out in the open: this is not a pleasant book. Trigger warnings for Sadie include: drug abuse, child abuse, childhood sexual abuse, rape, and violence. The subject matter in this book is really, really dark and ugly. I read really dark and ugly fiction sometimes, but this definitely took me to the edge of my comfort zone, and it wasn't even graphic (except in the instance of violence, when Sadie is beaten.) It's the kind of book that is compelling and masterfully written, but you're not exactly sure you enjoyed it and you have to be very cautious when recommending.

I swear, the most positive reviews are the hardest to write. How do I explain how much I loved this? Sadie's quest for revenge was almost addictive. It's not quite clear from the start what's going on in her head, especially since the story starts with the outside perspective of the podcast, The Girls. All we know is Sadie's missing, her sister has been dead for a while, and that's pretty much it. As we move along, we uncover the horrible, dark truths of their lives. While Sadie as a character isn't the most likable (and really, what Courtney Summers character is?) you can't help but feel for her. Her mother was a drug addict and kept a revolving door of really shitty men coming in and out of Sadie's and Mattie's lives. Their mother, Claire, also favored Mattie over Sadie, and quite dramatically. Claire was just the worst kind of parent, and by the time she left, walking out on her 10 and 16 year old daughters, Sadie hated her. 

Sadie has to be one of the most interesting and capable heroines I've ever read about. She does exactly what she says she's going to do. She sets her mind to something and executes it. Maybe not always perfectly, but she never doubts herself, which I loved about her. She's armed with some cash, a car, a switchblade, and not much else, but she somehow travels hundreds of miles, infiltrates friend groups, and takes down a pedophile. She gets people to talk to her, to tell her the information she needs, even when it's clear they don't want to. And she never, ever accepts "no" for an answer.

The only reason I didn't rate this five stars was because of the ending. It's very clear and unambiguous. You, the reader, know what happens. But I wanted that closure for the characters. I wanted that closure for the podcast. I felt like we went from zero to one hundred fifty from the very first page, and never stopped that crazy, neck-breaking pace, until the end, where we hit a wall. It all led up to something not quite enough for the story that came before it. Don't let this deter you from reading though, because it was absolutely fantastic.

When you pick up a Courtney Summers novel, you don't expect warm, fuzzy feelings, you don't expect likeable characters, you don't expect sunshine. But you know you can expect something gripping, powerful, and just so incredibly well-written. You can expect to be blown away. And I was. Sadie is a masterpiece, honestly. If darkness, thrillers, revenge, and sometimes too-heavy topics are at all the things you like to read about, Sadie is for you.

Movies I Want to Watch this October



 I LOVE horror movies. Truthfully, we watch horror all year long in this house. But there's obviously something special about watching those movies in October. Every year when this month rolls around I get excited and start making lists. Some years I even do the 31 movies in 31 days challenge. Of course, I can't realy do that this year with the kind of schedule having a toddler entails. But the upside of having that toddler is sharing some of my Halloween favorites with her! Anyway, these are the movies I'm planning to watch this month!

The Family Staples

 Hocus Pocus. Now, I had never even seen Hocus Pocus until last year. The very first time I watched it was actually with Rosie when she was a wee bean. Needless to say I loved it and now it's added to the Halloween rotation. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas. A forever favorite. This is on TV from October to the end of December. Is it a Halloween or a Christmas movie? The answer: Yes.

Frankenweenie. I am so, so excited to share this one with Rosie. Like every kid her age, she's obsessed with dogs. And like me, she's a little bit into the creepy and weird. So this will be a hit.

Hotel Transylvania. I think this was the first movie I ever let Rosie watch. And by watch, I mean it was just on while she flopped around on the floor around 6 months old. But she really likes it and she went nuts for it today when I put it on for the first time in over a year!

Monster House. This is another one Rosie really liked last year, so I'm excited to bring it back. Plus, it's just a striaght up GREAT Halloween movie. 

Grown-Up Favorites

 Halloween. I mean, obviously, right? It's right there in the name. We watch the new ones and the classics every year. Of course, these will have to wait for after bed time lol.

The Craft. I, like every other woman my age, grew up OBSESSED with The Craft. Like, obsessed. I really could watch it on repeat for centuries but I love to save it for this time of year; it makes it feel even more special.

Trick r Treat. Mike and I started the tradition of watching this on Halloween evening while handing out candy almost ten years ago. When we moved to the home we're in now, we lost the trick or treaters we were used to. So now, we go out and do our Halloween thing and watch this at night. It's truly my favorite Halloween movie of all-time. It's so well crafted and so unique.

New This Year

 Down a Dark Hall. A mysterious boarding/reform school situation is all I needed to know about this. 

The First Purge. This movie series may not be masterpieces, but they're terrifying to me. They show you how vulnerable you can be, especially as a woman viewer. They're not particularly Halloween-y but they're scary to me and I can't wait to see this one.

Hell Fest. When I saw the trailer for this in the theater I freaked the hell out. I've worked Haunts when I was younger, and Mike and I are obsessed with finding the scariest ones. So every time we see a movie coming out about Haunts, we neeeeeed to see it. I am SO EXCITED for this, you guys have no idea.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Who didn't love Sabrina the Teenage Witch? SHE'S BACK. And she's gonna be scary this time!! I watch basically no tv ever, but I'm making an exception for this one!



What are you watching to celebrate Halloween?

Bekka's September Book Haul


It has been quite some time since I've done a book haul. I've been so tired and so lazy all summer. If I did a haul of what I've gotten since last time I posted one, we'd be here for centuries. But I did get some amazing books in September that I really wanted to share with you all, so let's get started.


PurchasedThe Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken
I've been reading more middle grade lately. Not a ton, but more than usual, and I thought this would be a great spooky read perfect for this time of year.

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill
Gill is a favorite among my friends so I thought I'd try out this collection of reimagined fairy tales. It was not my favorite lol.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
New Schwab! And like I said earlier, more middle grade!

A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
I also got an arc of this but I figured I'd share my finished copy since it's so pretty. Not my favorite Suma ever but I still love her writing so much.

Toil & Trouble edited by Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood
This was amazing! I do not like reading anthologies but this was absolutely perfect, exactly what I wanted. Highly recommend. 

Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
Of course I had to buy myself a finished copy of this. I LOVE this series and you should all read it.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
I love White's books so obviously I was buying this historical horror story. I'm currently reading it right now, in fact.

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli 
I loved the first book and I am so excited to get back into this world. And the author's writing style is so uniqe and captivating, especially the folklore. I can't wait to get to this.

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
This is going to be incredible, I have no doubt. Russian Jewish magical fantasy and fairy tales? Yesssss.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
One of my best friends will not stop going on about this series so it's time for me to finally catch up. I started it and it's absolutely beautiful.

For ReviewBlanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
I read this already and it was amazing. A new all-time favorite. I can't wait to get a finished copy when it comes out.

Sisters of the Fire by Kim Wilkins
I read the first book earlier this year and loved it. There's so much to come and I can't wait to see where it goes next.

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
I haven't actually read This Mortal Coil yet but I plan to binge these back to back since I've been hearing nothing but amazing things.

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
I really don't know anything about this except maybe giant phoenixes? I know the cover's pretty.

The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
This is a Medusa retelling!!! I AM SO PUMPED.

Evermore by Sarah Holland
Another one I haven't read the first book for, but I plan to binge.


Have you read any of these? Get anything good this month?

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors We'd Love to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're talking about authors we'd like to meet

Bekka's Picks
I'm lucky enough to live near a city that has seen a ton of YA author tours. I also used to live right outside of Philadelphia, too. And a train ride from NYC. And I've been to a good number of BEAs. Which means I'm lucky enough to say I've met a ton of my favorite authors. Truth be told, though, I have social anxiety and meeting authors is always a very draining task for me; it always ends with my over-analyzing every word I said that night and then wanting to disappear into the floor forever and never, ever see them again. But anyway, here is a small list of authors I'd really, really like to meet.
1. Amy Lukavics. Not only do I love her books, but she seems like the coolest person? I follow her across social media and she's always posting about horror stuff, her kids, roller derby, and making creepy art. I want to meet her and do all these things lol.
2. JK Rowling. I know she's pretty much awful these days, but getting her to sign my books is baby Bekka's dream. Getting her to sign my first editions will pay for Rosie's education. 
3. Robin LaFevers. Her series, His Fair Assassin, is what inspired me to start writing. I mean, I always wrote fanfiction before, but reading Grave Mercy kind of cracked open my writing world and it was the book that made me think that maybe there was a place for the kinds of characters I like to write. Would I actually say all of this to her? Probably not because I'm the most awkward person on earth, but I'd think it!
4. Louise Rennison. I know that this is impossible now and I find it completely heartbreaking. I basically grew up with Georgia and Rennison's trademark style and sense of humor were seminal to the personality I have today. I talk the way I talk because of Louise Rennison, I am the way I am about a lot of things because of her.
5. Jay Kristoff. This one is silly, but I've met Amie Kaufman twice now when she was touring with Meagan Spooner. This means that my Illuminae series is half-signed. So please, Jay, come to NC and sign my books so I can stop feeling off-kilter about them lol.

Alexia's Picks
Unlike Bekka, I have not been lucky enough to meet any of my favorite authors. Usually I love living in Northern California, but I do fantasize about moving to Southern California mostly because of all the book events. Granted, the cost of living there would be INSANE and I'd be eating ramen noodles 24/7, but sometimes I think it would be worth it.

1. Robin Talley. I think by now, you all know I am such a ginormous fan of hers. I would absolutely love to meet her and talk/gush about all the books she's written and how much I adore all of them. In reality though, I'd probably get massively tongue-tied, and not say anything to her.

2. Suzanne Young. Yet another author whose books I'm obsessed with. Her Program series is still one of my all time favorite series. I would love to just sit with her and talk about it. Well let's be honest, I'd probably ramble on and on about it and then totally embarrass myself in front of her.

3. Stephanie Garber. Now, I've actually had the chance to meet her TWICE, but both times my heart health wasn't the greatest and I lacked any kind of energy to go see her. I would love to meet her and get copies of Caraval & Legendary signed. I'd probably have her sign my Caraval ARC that Bekka sent me as well.

4. Dahlia Adler. Now she is not only one of my favorite authors, but also one of my favorite people. I still really need to read her NA series and I cannot believe that I haven't yet. I read 3 of her books and one of them in particular really helped me. In fact I have a magnet version of that book cover on my refrigerator.

5. Jessica Verdi. I have paperbacks of all of her books, except one of them and that one is an ARC that she signed and sent me about 3 years ago. I've been a diehard fan of hers from the first time I read one of her books. Plus she just seems like the COOLEST person ever.

Do we have any authors in common?

September Wrap-Up and October TBR


Books of the Month

Bekka





Alexia

Books Read

 

Blanca & Roja 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
The Wolf Wilder 🌟🌟🌟🌟
A Room Away From the Wolves🌟🌟🌟
Toil & Trouble 🌟🌟🌟🌟


                       A Danger to Herself and Others🌟🌟🌟🌟
After the Fire 🌟🌟🌟🌟




October TBR 

Bekka



The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. I just started this one a couple days ago and though I haven't gotten very far in yet, it's already very unsettling. You can tell Elizabeth is hiding a lot and I'm excited to see the darkness inside her.

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke. The only not-so-scary book on this list, though I'm sure it will be terrifying in other ways. I loved the first one and I've been eagerly anticipating this companion. There's nothing like this series out there, it's so unique and so, so good.


Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd. I started this a while back but put it down because I knew it would be better suited for October. I love the world and the magic so far and I'm ready to delve into the mystery.

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics. It's almost Halloween and I'm ready for Amy Lukavics to scare the pants off me yet again.

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaffer. I know very little about this except that I expect it to be creepy and a bit gruesome. I'm ready.



Alexia


Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. So many bloggers have raved about this series and I am super stoked to start it and hopefully love it like so many others have. Hugely excited for it.

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics.
Super excited for this book and for this author to scare the living crap out of me again.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I started reading this book well over a year ago, and I have the itch to pick it back up again. I've heard great things about this book and although it's not typically my thing, I am willing to give it a try.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook. I just recently got Cook's upcoming release for review, so I figured it was probably time to read this one. I actually just reread the synopsis and now I remember why I requested it in the first place. Plus Cook is really good at the mystery stuff.


The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan. Again, I just reread the synopsis for this one and am seriously wondering WHY I haven't read it yet. It looks like an Alexia book in a really big way. Given that it's a horror book, I'd say it's PERFECT for October.
Are any of our books on your October TBR?