On My Wish List

Usually I’m not a fan of dystopian. I think we all know this by now. But Jen at The Bookavid (which is a fantastic book blog you should totally check out), told me I had to read 27 Hours by Tristina Wright. Not only is it filled with representation of PoC and all sorts of sexualities, there is a Deaf person in the book.

As a Deaf/HoH person let me tell you how easy it is to find Deaf or HoH characters outside of contemporaries. It’s not. When I do find one, usually it’s done horribly.  Deafness is magically cured or the Deaf/HoH person is just the sidekick that makes the hearing people look good (“Hey, look at me, I’m cool and hip cause I have a friend who can’t hear and I let them tag along with me!”). Contemporaries have this problem too.

So when Jen told me that 27 Hours had gargoyles and awesome representation including a Deaf character that can hold their own, I was totally down for reading this! Sadly I have to wait until October 8th, 2017. Below is the cover, pre-order links and a link to the author’s twitter. Trust me, you’ll want to follow her twitter.

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Goodreads Description: Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

You can definitely expect me to read and review 27 Hours as soon as I get my hands on it. I wish that I had these sorts of books when I was growing up and I’m really happy that the upcoming generation gets to have this sort of representation. while you’re at it, be sure to check out Tristina Wright’s twitter. She has some really cool stuff there and it’s a great way to show support.

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Book Review: The Turning

|+| Warnings: Unreliable narrator, emotionally abusive relationships |+|

“The big, dark house was their world and they were letting me in. But only so far.” ~Jack (The Turning)

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Author: Francine Prose

Genre: YA Horror

Synopsis:  Jack is spending the summer on a private island far from modern conveniences. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, no one else on the island but a housekeeper and the two very peculiar children in his care. The first time Jack sees the huge black mansion atop a windswept hill, he senses something cold, something more sinister than even the dark house itself.

Soon, he feels terribly isolated and alone. Yet he is not alone. The house has visitors—peering in the windows, staring from across the shore. But why doesn’t anyone else see them . . . and what do they want? As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn’t crazy. . . . Or is he?

My Opinion: The Turning has all my favorite horror tropes in it and uses them beautifully. Did it scare me? No, but there’s only been one horror book that’s done that, so I won’t hold that against this book. Although it took me a bit to get into the writing style and I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending, I was in love with the concept, characters, and setting. Overall I gave this book 3 stars.

This book is based off of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, a book I’ve had on my TBR list for a while, but have yet to read. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed The Turning more or less if I had read Henry James’ book. Regardless, this book relies a lot on classic horror tropes and uses them flawlessly. The book doesn’t feel bogged down with tropes because from the start, we know exactly what we’re getting. We expect to get a creepy house with creepy kids and paranormal activity and we do.

I love books that are told through letter style, and to see a horror book that does that was super fun. I think the only problem with this narration style was that we ultimately had three letter writers (Jack, Sophie, and Jack’s father) that all sounded the same. I found myself double checking the “Dear ____” part because I was getting confused. This took me out of the story somewhat.

I also had an issue with the predictability and pacing of the story. There’s odd and interesting things that happen at the start, but it’s easy enough to make (accurate) assumptions about them. This changes 100+ pages into the story. Because this is a short book (just over 200 pages), that meant a lot of waiting.

Despite the slow pace and the predictability I think what sold me on this book was the fact that once it picks up, it picks up. Not only that, while we’re seeing tried and true horror tropes we also are seeing some genuinely interesting things. This is done mostly through the setting and how the characters react to it. The way that the characters and supernatural events behave within the setting was extremely well done. This element was what really kept me going.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for something to scare you stiff and a more serious horror book, this might not be your cup of tea. But if you’re looking for a more fun horror read and are a fan of horror tropes, this is the book for you! Although this book is predictable and has a slow start, it’s still a quick and fun read.

 

On My Wish List

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows has it all. Beautiful cover? Check. A heroine who struggles with OCD and crippling anxiety? Check! Dragons? Oh yeah, they’ve got dragons.

Some books are insta-pre-orders for me and this book is at the top of the list!

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Check out the Goodreads description (and add it to your TBR list!):

Before
Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.
But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
After
Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
Jodi Meadows’s new Fallen Isles series blazes with endangered magic, slow-burn romance, and inner fire.

Well if the description isn’t enough to get you hooked that cover is. The cover holds so much, and I really do recommend that you read the author’s blog post for the cover reveal. Reading that made me even more excited for this book. I was thrilled to find out the story behind the model. I’ve seen book covers with Black or other PoC models on the cover and yet the character description pretty much had them coded as white. It’s a bait and switch I cannot imagine how hurtful that must be for a reader, to think they’re getting representation and to not get it at all. So even though the model clearly looked like a heroine I could get behind, I was worried. After reading the blog post, my fears were laid to rest. The post also dropped some hints about the world building which once again, got me super excited.

The bar is set high for this one, but I’m sure it will live up to my excitement. This will be my first Jodi Meadows book but I’m really looking forward to it.

10 Books You Shouldn’t Read if You Hate NaNoWriMo

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Aaah yes. It is finally November. Personally this is one of my favorite months, not only because I get to spend time with family during Thanksgiving, but because of NaNoWriMo.

For those of you not familiar, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November people from around the world try to crank out 50k words during the month of November. The first Harry Potter book is a bit longer than that (at 70k)  to give you a size comparison. Another thing that makes NaNoWriMo so cool is that it’s a non-profit organization that helps promote literacy world wide. To be a part of that is a pretty cool thing!

Throughout this month I’ll be doing weekly posts on writing and NaNoWriMo in general. Fret not, the usual book reviews will still be around (posted on Fridays).

There is one damper on this excitement though. Every year without fail, there’s a group of very vocal people insisting NaNoWriMo is horrid, no one should try it, and no, they’ve never tried it themselves they are proud to say. Why would they? After all, they want to write real stories.  Not only are their posts just plain wrong and lacking in facts, the authors of the posts, knowingly or not, are insulting those who dare to try it.  Usually these insults are covered up with a quick complement, but it goes right back to the insulting soon enough. I’ve even seen a post where someone said it made them sad and dissapointed to see how many authors wasted their time each year trying to draft a novel in one month.

I understand that NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone. I’ve met quite a few people who have tried it and it just didn’t work for them. I’ve met others who have heard of it but know that trying something like that just isn’t for them. That’s fine and completely understandable. But these people gave it a go, or looked into the idea of it, and while they realize a month of writing frenzy isn’t for them, they still manage to respect those who do it (or try to).

Despite all the awesome people out there, both participating and encouraging from the sidelines, sometimes it’s hard to ignore the nay-sayers. That’s why it’s always inspiring to look at the list of authors who published their NaNoNovels.

Here’s 10 popular books that started off as NaNoWriMo novels:

To see the list of every author that’s published their NaNoNovel check it out on the NaNoWriMo site. Warning, the list is long. The list I drew from was the traditionally published list. But there’s also a list of self-published authors, many of which wound up winning awards for their NaNoNovels. If you have time and are looking for a new read, I recommend checking out both lists and seeing what you find.

Book Review: Cuckoo Song

|+| Warnings: Unreliable narrator |+|

“Everything on one side or the other, and nothing in between.” ~Shrike (Cuckoo Song)

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Author: Frances Hardinge

Genre: YA Horror, Historical fiction, Paranormal

Summary: When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry, her sister seems scared of her, and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest to find the truth she must travel into the terrifying underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family—before it’s too late . . .

My Opinion: I live for atmospheric books. The stranger the better. Cuckoo Song delivered. I picked it up ages ago, almost finished it, then had to return it to the library (ah, the curse of exams). It was great to finish it this time. Everything I loved was still there and it’s a satisfying story. A historical fiction that couldn’t quite seem to get across to the reader when it was taking place, Cuckoo Song was wonderfully atmospheric, interesting, and creepy. Due to a few lacking things, but plenty of strong elements, I gave the book four stars.

What stood out to me from the start was the atmosphere of the story. It comes in many forms, from the language used to describe things, pacing, and the increasingly strange happenings. In parts it’s so bizarre it’s disturbing. Dolls were terrifying, birds were unusual and not to be trusted, and I will never look at scissors the same way again. And that’s why I think this book really does stand on its own as a horror book, especially in the YA field. While none of the scares lasted off the page, there’s a few household objects I’m still giving the side-eye to.

The characters were unique and for the most part well developed although there was little diversity. Triss was interesting and I enjoyed being in her head. I have a thing for unreliable narrators and this one showed huge growth. Violet and Pen are close seconds in favorite characters. Watching the three of them grow was wonderful. Perhaps my biggest complaint with the book is that the secondary characters don’t get any character development until about 200 pages in. We’re consistently shown that there’s potential but it’s not set into motion until half way through the book. I felt there was way too much hint dropping about what characters could be instead of getting a move on with that development. But Triss’ parents and their characterization was phenomenal. I applaud Hardinge for tackling such an overlooked issue when it comes to bad parenting. Triss’ parents are despicable.  Yet the parents are loving. They want what’s best for their daughter, they’re older and wiser and know best. But the book makes clear that they are stifling not only Triss but the whole family. Their obsession with control is causing cracks in the family and possibly putting them in danger. Sometimes reading about the parents’ choices was more frightening than screaming dolls. Screaming dolls are not real, but parents like Triss’ are. And that’s terrifying.

I also was frustrated with the setting. No doubt of it, Hardinge has a wonderful writing style that reminds me of Stiefvater. Both writers are very whimsical and metaphorical. But with Hardinge, I had no idea when this story was taking place. I knew it was after a war, but which war? It never was clearly established. Turns out that the story takes place after World War I, but with such weak timeline establishment, the book felt like it was trying for something steampunk.

Flaws aside, I really did enjoy this book. It’s perfect for October, especially if you’re going to read under the covers with a flashlight or around a bonfire. Creepy, moody, and filled with uncertainties, Cuckoo Song is a top pick for those looking for something out of the ordinary.

TL;DR: Despite little diversity, sluggish character development, and sometimes veering into formulaic territory, Cuckoo Song has promise and delivers on it. A dark and unsettling atmosphere is established from the start. Mundane items become frightening and the book tackles one of the most challenging family issues. While I wouldn’t recommend this to those who are unsettled by dolls, for those of you looking for a creepy read that puts a new spin on old things, read Cuckoo Song. It’s seriously the perfect October read.

6 Books You Should Read This October

These books are books I can’t get enough of. They’re eerie, terrifying, unsettling or sometimes all three. Although not all of these books are horror, these are books I recommend to people looking for a perfect October read. Be careful when you pick your poison though, some books have possible triggers in them.

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Asylum (Madeleine Roux; warnings: unreality, torture) First in a haunting series, Asylum is the story of Dan who goes to a summer camp for high school students that actually want to learn. He and his friends quickly learn, but what they learn isn’t mathematical equations, history, or new art skills, it’s about their temporary summer home-a former asylum. And with that knowledge comes a nightmare that Dan and his friends weren’t expecting and might not ever be free of. You can check out my review here.

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Skulduggery Pleasant (Derek Landy) There’s a talking skeleton mage that can control fire. How much more Halloween do you want? Filled with dark humor, suspense and excellent world building, Skulduggery Pleasant is the story of Stephanie Edgley discovering quite a lot about her uncle when he passes away. She meets her uncle’s unusual friend Skulduggery Pleasant who takes her under his wing. Skulduggery does things on his own terms though, and magic isn’t an easy subject to  learn, even without people trying to kill you.

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Tamsin (Peter S. Beagle) Perhaps the most underrated book on the list, Tamsin is the story of Jenny Gluckstein and her encounters with the paranormal, love, and cats. Although furious with her mother and her new-stepfather for taking her from her home in New York City, Jenny can’t deny that the English countryside has a plethora of unsettling mysteries and dark dangers which are calling to her.  And the strongest call of all is the ghost Tamsin.

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Sabriel (Garth Nix) Necromancers have never been so cool. First in the Abhorsen series, Sabriel is our heroine that frequently walks in death to battle all sorts of undead things. Monsters, corpses, other necromancers, you name it, she can kick its butt and master walking through death. Hopefully. The magic system of this world is complicated (beautifully so), and even the most well trained of the Abhorsens need a bit of help now and again. Read it and thank me later.

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The Demonologist: (warnings: gore, violence, language, and torture) One of the few horror books that actually scared me, The Demonologist follows a professor who doesn’t believe in the demons he studies. But then they kidnap his daughter and send him on what feels like an impossible quest. Adjusting to the reality of demons is soon the least of his problems. But hey, a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do. The ending just about killed me. It’s a beautiful and haunting read that stuck with me. If you chose to read it, I’m sure it’ll stick with you too.

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The Raven Boys (Maggie Steifvater; warnings: abusive situations, language): Although the book starts in April it also starts off with psychics and ghosts. It’s a dead king that’s at the heart of this story. The very much alive Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys and their quest for magic and a dead king that can grant wishes. In their quest the group becomes involved with curses, ghosts, and a growing series of unsettling events. It’s filled with all the stuff people love to read about in October. You can check out my review here.

The Shattered Seam (Book Tour!)

The Shattered Seam (Book Tour!)

Fan of haunted houses? Looking for an authentic voice? The Shattered Seam is the book for you! Below you can find my review of the book as well as a bit about the author and a giveaway for Kindle Fire (US/CAN only). Be sure to check out the rest of the tour here!

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Giveaway (US/CAN)

Author: Kathleen Groger

Genre: YA Paranormal, Horror

Summary: Spending spring break on an isolated island rumored to be haunted is not sixteen-year-old Sam’s idea of fun. Spending spring break with her uncle and his ghost-hunting film crew on an isolated island is even worse.

Way worse.

Her family’s secrets—and a genetic ability she can no longer deny—surface, along with the ghost of a rich serial killer who left behind a trail of trapped souls.

And he’s not through yet.

With only one chance for escape, Sam must embrace her family’s curse and close the Seam between the living and the dead. Or be lost, forever.

My Opinion: The Shattered Seam is a cool concept with a unique narrator. I immediately fell in love with Sam’s voice and the other characters were fun to read about too. In many ways this book reminded me of an updated version of the horror classic Hell House. Overall I gave this book 3 stars due to a major issue that touched too close to home for me.

When I read the first page of The Shattered Seam I gasped. Sam’s voice was so authentic I had to pause to take it in. It was beautiful. I really enjoyed reading from her view point because it really did feel like I was reading a 16 year old’s thoughts. I also really liked that Sam started out a skeptic and was thrown in with a group of hardcore ghost hunters that fully believed in what they were doing. It added a fresh spin to the old “non-believer” trope. This book reminded me of Hell House, but in a good way. The violence, the mysteriousness, and the numerous creepy going-ons hailed back to that sort of thing. But the story behind the castle is unique and interesting, making The Shattered Seam stand on its own.

But despite the fresh take on a classic (and favorite) horror trope, I can’t overlook the schizophrenia issue this book has. Note, Sam does not have the illness, nor does anyone else in the book. But schizophrenia is a real mental illness that impacts real people and real families. Sam thinking that she had schizophrenia, her mother allowing her to think this, as well as her grandmother allowing this thought, came off almost as insulting to those who are impacted by it to me. From the get-go we know that Sam is going to see ghost at some point or another and her skepticism will turn into belief. We’re here for the fun stuff of seeing how that all pans out. It wasn’t fun reading over and over again, Sam trying to justify what she saw because she was “supposed to be” mentally ill. It didn’t feel like a quest for self discovery. It felt awkward and unrealistic. Mental illness is never something you want to make cool in any form because that mindset can prevent people from getting the help they need. As one of the most demonized of mental illnesses, I worry that people reading the book will misunderstand what schizophrenia is really like. Because it is nothing like what is described in the book. There were some other issues, but they were easily overlooked thanks to the wonderful writing style and characterization.

I think that Uncle Eric was my favorite character. At first he appears to be a ghost obsessed man, trying to get good ratings for his show, but as Sam discovers more about herself, she also discovers more about her uncle and his crew. Her bond with Eric became something I really enjoyed and looked forward to as the book went on (I was not dissapointed). Each of Eric’s crew members have distinct personalities. This mix of characters was so authentic that the book really did feel like a behind the scenes look at a paranormal investigation show.

While there was a stand out issue for me, The Shattered Seam was a fun read. Cool characters, creepy setting and situations, and a nice mystery to go along with it all makes it a good read for anyone who’s a fan of haunted houses or who’s into paranormal investigation shows.

TL;DR: Despite the poor use of mental illnesses, this is a good book. Sam’s voice is completely authentic. Sam is not the only interesting character though and she’s joined by many others who are just as fun and interesting to read about. It’s a solid read that has some great takes on haunted houses.

 

About the Author

kathleen

Author Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Kathleen wrote her first story in elementary school about a pegasus named Sir Lancelot. It had no plot or conflict, but it sparked a dream. After serving a fifteen-year sentence in retail management, the bulk in big box bookstores, she turned her love of reading into a full-time career writing dark and haunting characters and stories. She writes paranormal, fantasy, suspense, horror YA books. She is a contributing member of READerlicious, writers who love readers. Check out her blogs here.

She lives by the mantra that a day is not complete without tea. Lots of tea. Kathleen lives in Ohio with her husband, two boys, and two attention-demanding dogs. When not writing or editing or revising, you can find her reading, cooking, spending time with her family, or photographing abandoned buildings.