Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Favorite Book Covers

I have no idea how I managed to narrow this list down to five….

I’ve never bought a book strictly for the cover. It might draw me to a book if I see it in a store, but only after I have read the synopsis do I buy it. For this post, looking through my bookshelves, there were a lot of covers I found that I loved. It proved to be harder than I anticipated. Even more interesting, as I narrowed it down to five, I realized some of these books were, in the end, cover buys.

 

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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I had heard of Blood Rose Rebellion through Goodreads. For some reason, it reminded me of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, a popular young adult novel I am only mildly interested in. Then, I saw the physical book in Target. Entranced by the silver-and-pink roses against a white backdrop, I finally read the synopsis.

Blood Rose Rebellion follows Anna Arden, a girl born into a powerful magical family with no magical abilities of her own. She goes to Hungary to stay with relatives after she accidentally breaks a spell, leading her into a dangerous rebellion. The story is also heavily influenced by Romani culture, which I am interested in.

 

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

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The Book Jumper follows Amy Lennox, who moves from Germany to Scotland to live in her mother’s childhood home. Her grandmother insists she read, but in a different way: Amy comes from book jumpers, which means she can transport herself into the stories she reads. When she uncovers thefts inside the books, she teams up with another book jumper to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I already planned on buying The Book Jumper when I first heard about it. Then, the package from Amazon came in and the cover was even more stunning in person. It gives off a whimsical vibe with the girl’s dress made out of book pages, the knight by her side, and the stars scattered across the dust jacket. It almost feels like a movie poster, in a sense, for a children’s fantasy movie.

 

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crawley

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I had seen Words in Deep Blue on various BookTube videos, yet my interest was mild. It’s about a girl named Rachel, who had a crush on a boy named Henry, and when her family moved away, she left a note for him in his favorite book inside his parents’ bookstore. Only he never responded and Rachel was heartbroken. Many years later, she returns to that same bookstore after her brother drowns and she is forced to work alongside Henry.

I didn’t even add it to my TBR on Goodreads until I went to a bookstore and I saw the cover in person. All over the cover are books, either opened or closed, in various shades of blue. Without thinking about it too much, I bought it.

 

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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Wintersong is a retelling of the tale of Labyrinth, which I am not familiar with, other than it inspired a movie starring David Bowie. The story of this novel I was interested in anyway—a musically gifted teenaged girl offers herself as a bride to the Goblin King to save her younger sister, only to be enthralled with a world she thought was made of nightmares.

The cover of Wintersong, in my opinion, is simple yet beautiful. I love the muted color scheme and the white flower inside what looked like a snow globe. It already sets the mood for the story that I hope I will enjoy once I read it.

 

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

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The only book on this entire list I have actually read, Jane Steele is an adult historical fiction novel inspired by Jane Eyre. Except Jane Steele is a morally conflicted but ultimately good-natured serial killer. In person, the cover is stunning—black with shots of bright pink and white silhouettes of objects with meaning to the story. The insides are beautiful, too. The story is compelling, the writing is lyrical, and the Mr. Rochester of the story, Charles Thornfield, is one of the sexiest men I’ve ever read about in literature.

 

In case you were wondering, here are other covers I considered….

 

What book covers are your favorite?

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Review of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Spoiler Free)

October is a great time to read mysteries and thrillers, with the weather being dark, dreary, and cold. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie was the perfect.

In case you were unaware, And Then There Were None is set in a mansion on Solider Island, off the coast of Devon in England, where a mysterious man named Mr. Owen has invited ten strangers to a dinner party. During the dinner, the guests listen to a recording revealing they were brought to the island to face judgment for the alleged murders they individually committed. One by one, the guests are killed in according to a nursery rhyme the murderer is fond of.

My favorite part about And Then There Were None was the atmosphere. Upon their arrival to the island, a violent storm hits. The way Agatha Christie wrote it made me feel as claustrophobic as the characters did. As it is revealed that the killer can only be one of them, the atmosphere is filled with fear. They are divided, not knowing whom they can trust among the group.

Agatha Christie does a good job at making each individual look guilty. All of them are morally gray, and not all of them likeable either. Some of the deaths they were involved in were accidents, not wholly their fault. Some you weren’t sure if they were killers or not. And others clearly were motivated to commit the crimes they are accused of. The reader is left to decide who is innocent and who is not. There was some I knew within a few chapters couldn’t have done it.

Another element I enjoyed about And Then There Were None was how fast-paced and suspenseful it was. You truly had no idea who was the killer or who was going to die next. The killer/mastermind was someone I suspected by the middle of the novel. But how they enacted their plan was absolute genius. I didn’t see it coming at all. The end of the story answered each question presented clearly. That is something I found recently a lot of mystery novels nowadays tend to practice.

Overall, I give And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 5 stars. I literally could not find any fault in it. If you are looking for a good mystery or suspense novel to read in the Halloween, or on your next rainy day, or you just love mystery novels in general, I highly recommend this one.

Hocus Pocus Book Tag

What is Halloween without Hocus Pocus?

Personally, I don’t love the movie Hocus Pocus. My staple Halloween movie is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Only when I saw Coffeeloving Bookoholic do the Hocus Pocus Book Tag, I knew this was the perfect kind of tag to do for Halloween. I was not tagged by anyone that I know of, but Katie at Never Not Reading created this.

 

The Sanderson Sisters: a great trilogy.

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I could talk about the Infernal Devices trilogy like I have in almost every other blog post these last few weeks. Only I’m not going to, because it is not the only great trilogy. I’m going to say the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.

I know there was a fourth book. I’ve read it, but another writer published it after Larsson’s death and I don’t know how I feel about The Girl in the Spider’s Web. So, for this question, I’m going to answer with the three written by Stieg Larsson himself: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

            The story is an action-packed mystery and filled with political intrigue. You might think you know what is happening, only you are likely totally wrong. Lizbeth Salander is one of the best female protagonists I’ve read in literature—she could whip the ass of any Sarah J. Maas lady any day of the week with her hacking skills and her ability to put anyone in their place. She is open in her sexuality and not afraid to be who she is. While others might consider her behavior questionable, her heart is always in the right place. Anyone who hurts her better watch out, because she will give it back to them ten times worse. A survivor of rape and child abuse, she has sympathy for others and helps those that can’t help themselves. Lizbeth is what made the books for me.

 

 

Winifred Sanderson: a book with a truly evil female villain.

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It’s a tie between Queen Helewise from The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Sailsbury and Amarantha from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Both of these women were evil for the sake of being evil. They got off on the power they had, making everyone afraid of them. They manipulated people around them and reacted violently if they did not get what they wanted. Queen Helewise tried to have a woman executed for being pregnant when she herself was struggling to conceive. Amarantha cursed a guy to live forever with a mask on his face, then tried to kill the girl who saved him because she couldn’t handle rejection.

 

Sarah Sanderson: a book that uncannily attracts children.

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Anything by Rick Riordan, at least by what I’ve noticed. So far, I personally have only read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series but I own the Heroes of Olympus. That is one of the series I aim to read in 2017.

 

 

Mary Sanderson: a book that is just plain silly.

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Almost anything by Meg Cabot, particularly her women’s fiction and young adult contemporary novels. Her Queen of Babble trilogy follows a young woman whose big mouth gets her into some awkward situations. The Boy Next Door is about a female reporter than falls in love with her neighbor’s nephew after said neighbor is attacked in her apartment, only the nephew is not who he says he is: he is a reporter from a rival newspaper. Teen Idol, one of her young adult novels, is about a teenaged girl who must escort a disguised movie star around her high school and keep it a secret from her classmates. Those are just a few of them I can think of off the top of my head.

 

Max: a book that is trying really hard to be cool, but doesn’t always succeed.

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The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, which I compare to the M&M cookies I like. They are really fun to read, but they don’t have a lot of nutritional value. They tried to be original, but they contained a lot of tropes that were popular in the young adult genre back in the early 2000s.

 

Dani: a book that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

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I would have to say Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is one that comes to mind. An openly gay seventeen-year-old girl must go back in the closet when her preacher father remarries and they move to a small town in Georgia. Naturally, she meets a girl, falls in love, and her secret takes its toll. The book discusses sexuality and religion, as well as coming out to a community that is not entirely accepting of LGBTQ people in an honest way.

 

Binx: a book series that just won’t die.

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I hate to say it, but the Harry Potter books. I appreciate future generations reading the original seven books; I just have a problem with the books not part of the seven. Namely, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was clearly a ploy to get money out of fans. The franchise is being milked for all its worth, to a point I worry people will get tired of Harry Potter. And the Boy Who Lived deserves better than that.

 

Ice: a book with a character that’s dumb as a rock.

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I would have to say Isabel, Lily’s best friend in P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. She was not a bad friend to Lily, in theory. But a lot of her decisions throughout the novel had selfish motive. She thought she was helping Lily find a boyfriend, when in reality, she was trying to keep Lily away from the guy that really liked her, whom Isabel had previously dated in middle school but he dumped her.

 

The Black Flame Candle: a book or series you wish you could resurrect.

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The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz or the House of Night series by PC Cast. Both of these series had interesting concepts, but were poorly executed and loaded with tropes like “the chosen one” and insta-love. I didn’t finish either of these series because I outgrew them. But if these books were resurrected by different authors or given new stories, I might go for it.

 

Headless Billy Butcherson: a book that’s not so bad as people make it out to be.

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth, the final book in her Divergent trilogy—I know, a very unpopular opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I was bored for a good 75% of it. I knew the ending even before I read it. But once I took a moment to think about it, I realized Veronica’s decision to end the trilogy the way she did was realistic. In war, you would expect something like that to happen. No matter how badly you don’t want it to.

 

Winifred Sanderson’s spell book: a book with a mind of its own.

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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, which is a character study of a woman convicted of murder in 1840s Canada. The whole story centers around nineteenth century psychology and feels like a textbook sometimes, too.

 

Gary Marshall: a book with a cameo.

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Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman, which features John Milton, the poet mastermind behind the epic poem Paradise Lost. He is seen mostly in the beginning of the book, when he is arrested and his daughter Elizabeth sets out to clear his name.

 

I tag anyone that wants to do the Hocus Pocus Book Tag!

Top 10 Weirdest Books I’ve Ever Read

I saw Regan over at Peruse Project on YouTube do a video on the weirdest books she’s ever read. Given Halloween is all about weirdness, I figured this would be fitting blog post for this week. Surprisingly, I had to do some thinking about what books to put on this list, but all of them have some level of weirdness to them. Plus, I didn’t like every one of them, either.

 

The Satanic Verses by Salmon Rushdie

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The first book I think of whenever someone says “weird book” and one of the few that I genuinely hated. I read The Satanic Verses in my junior year of college for my Banned Books class. It is famous for its criticism for the religion of Islam and Salmon Rushdie had a fatwa put on him.

But once the class got around to it, I felt like The Satanic Verses was the closest thing to an acid trip I was ever going to get in my life. The whole story was very disjointed. It bounced from one character to the next with virtually no introduction or leeway. I had no idea what was happening most of the time. Overall, not a pleasant reading experience for me.

 

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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A favorite of my creative writing professor, Slaughterhouse-Five follows Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who thinks he can time travel and was abducted by aliens.

The story bounces back and forward in time, during Billy’s service in the war and going to the future, when he is kidnapped by aliens to live in their human zoo. I remember being sometimes confused while reading Slaughterhouse-Five but I was having too much fun reading it to really care.

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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Ava Lavender was born with bird wings but no one could explain why. So, she looks back into her family history for answers, starting with her grandmother, Emilienne, and her mother, Viviane, both of which have led tragic yet magical lives that made you wonder what was real and what was not.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is heavy with magical realism. Each of the Lavender women encounters sorrow and magic throughout their lives, persevering through it all. The writing is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever read. While it is weird, it is a pretty kind of weird, if that makes sense.

 

Horns by Joe Hill

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Aside from being one of the scariest books I’ve ever read, Horns by Joe Hill is one of the weirdest. Ignatius Parish’s life falls apart after his girlfriend Merrin is raped and murdered and everyone in town thinks he did it. On the one-year anniversary of the murder, he gets drunk and urinates on a statue of the Virgin Mary. The next morning, Ig wakes up with horns growing out of his head and suddenly everyone around him is revealing their deepest, darkest, most disturbing secrets.

What is weird about Horns is that everyone starts acting strangely. Once they encounter Ig with his horns, they throw their better nature to the wind. They give in to their impulses. And, as you would expect, a lot of those desires are plain weird.

 

1984 by George Orwell

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The father of all dystopian literature, 1984 was another book I read in the Banned Books class. It is George Orwell’s version of Nazi Germany in America, where the government controls everyone’s entire life and Big Brother is always watching. Most of you probably read this book in school, so you know how weird it gets. The main character, Winston, gets involved in a rebellion and slowly starts to mentally break down. Nothing is ever what it seems and you realize just how deep Big Brother’s mind control goes.

 

Your Heart Belongs to Me by Dean Koontz

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Your Heart Belongs to Me is a book I’m not quite sure how to explain. It is a thriller novel, about Ryan, a wealthy young man with everything going for him when he is suddenly diagnosed with a rare heart condition. However, he starts to notice other things that make him wonder if he was poisoned and ends up accusing his girlfriend, Samantha. Later, he gets a heart transplant and starts fresh, hoping to reconnect with the girl he claims attempted to kill him. That’s when he starts receiving strange messages from a stalker bearing an uncanny resemblance to the woman who originally owned his new heart….

Your Heart Belongs to Me was so weird, I can’t remember if I enjoyed it or not. I had known about this book for years when I initially bought it and was so excited when I found it at Half Price Books. Then, I read it and…I don’t know. It was just so out there.

 

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

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And the Trees Crept In was the second book I had read by Dawn Kurtagich after reading her debut novel The Dead House, which I loved. And the Trees Crept In is written in prose that is haunting and unique. It follows two sisters, Silla and Nori, who flee their abusive home in London to live with their aunt Catherine in her country manor. At first, everything is fine, until Cathy’s mental state unravels and the girls are left to fend for themselves.

The weird thing about this novel is the wood the story is set in. Throughout the book, Silla fears the trees are getting closer to the house. The way it is written, you don’t know if the trees are creeping in or if it is only Silla’s imagination. The house the girls live in doesn’t even seem real sometimes, either. And the twist at the climax reveals how weird And the Trees Crept In really is.

 

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

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Audrina Adele Adare is an eight-year-old girl living with her parents, aunt, and cousin Vera in a beautiful old Victorian mansion where time has stopped and no one ages.

The story itself is filled with classic weird elements: unreliable narrator, dysfunctional family, and a Gothic mansion with secrets. But the weirdest thing about My Sweet Audrina is that Audrina’s father periodically makes her sit in a rocking chair in her dead older sister’s bedroom, hoping she will absorb her sister’s memories and become like “the first and best Audrina” that was raped and murdered in the woods surrounding the family’s estate. And the book gets even weirder when you find out why….

 

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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A novel that is borders between fantasy and magical realism, Wink Poppy Midnight follows two girls and a boy whose lives get twisted together when what was supposed to be an innocent prank to put a bully in her place goes haywire.

Wink is the strange redhead neighbor girl that loves to make up fairy tales. Poppy is the beautiful but cruel high school queen bee. Midnight is the kindhearted boy caught between them. I remember reading this thinking it was something like a fairy tale, written in a way that made me if the characters were creating their own folklore. Wink Poppy Midnight was weird, but like The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, it was a lovely kind of weird.

 

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

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Sex Criminals is a graphic novel following Sue and John, two lovers that have a unique gift: they freeze time when they have sex. When the library Sue works at goes bankrupt and at risk of closing, she and John use their gift to rob banks to save the library.

As of right now, I have only read Volume 1 of Sex Criminals. While it was not absolutely amazing, it was hilarious and sex positive. The premise was totally weird, but in a fun, quirky kind of way that made me want to pick up the other volumes.

 

What is the weirdest book you have ever read?

Review of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Spoiler Free)

I picked up Alias Grace from my local library because I saw on Netflix that, in November, yet another of Margaret Atwood’s books is being adapted for the TV screen. It is a historical fiction novel recounting the life of Grace Marks, a young Irish woman convicted of murdering her employer and his mistress in 1840s Canada. However, as psychiatrist Simon Jordan attempts to unravel the events of the day of the murders, which Grace claims she has no memory, the alleged vindictive murderess is seen in a whole new light.

Alias Grace is entirely a character study of a historical person others know little about. Grace narrates her chapters while Simon’s is told in a third-person narrative, which proved to be quite jarring sometimes as the story went on. Grace’s sections also shifted in second-person when she was telling Simon her life story, starting with her family’s emigration from Ireland to Canada when she was thirteen, leading up to the murders when she is sixteen.

She recalls everything in such vivid detail, even though the novel takes place roughly fifteen years after her trial, that I soon dubbed Grace as an unreliable narrator. Even Simon quickly picked up on she was telling him only what she wanted to.

As always, Margaret Atwood has a great writing style. I found myself rereading passages. She creates an accurate portrait of nineteenth century Canada and what was going on in Grace’s time period. There was a lot of political unrest within the country at that time, as the working class warred with the upper class over rights and radicals were raising hell everywhere. In fact, politics affected the outcome of Grace’s trials as most of the people who testified on her behalf supported the radical party.

Class and gender roles were common themes throughout the story. Girls from wealthy families were viewed as boring by men, but they ended up marrying them anyway after the men impregnated maids. Sexuality plays a big part in the story, too, more so than political disputes between the servants and their masters.

Also, the early development of psychology was heavy in this book. Reading Simon’s POV and his analysis of Grace’s mental state, I became aware of how little they knew back then. Most of what they had was speculation or misdiagnosis, especially in women. For them, everything was simply “nerves.” And everyone was so scared of being sick, they made themselves sick.

However, as far as plots go, not much happened. The majority of the book was spent Grace telling her life story to Simon as he tries to build a psychological defense her supporters need to clear her name, with breaks in between for Simon’s POV. While I liked both Simon and Grace as people, I did not connect with either of them. There was also a lot of focus on side characters, and not the interesting ones, either.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood was a fascinating read about a complex woman that history was unfair to. But in my eyes, it did not compare to The Handmaid’s Tale. Overall, I gave it 4 stars and I will definitely watch the miniseries when it comes out in November on Netflix.

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Spooky Reads for Halloween

I think I did a post similar to this last year, but I love Halloween and I generally read scary books all year round. So, I have more books to talk about than I did back then.

 

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

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The Dead House is perfect for this time of year, especially if you are looking for something to unsettle yourself.

The Dead House is told in different formats, such as diary entries, police transcripts, and video files. The story focuses on a mysterious fire at a high school, where three students died and another, Carly, vanished. In the remains of the attic, a diary belonging to a girl named Kaitlyn is found, but there isn’t a student at the school with that name. What people don’t know is that Kaitlyn is the alter ego of Carly.

The diary entries are written entirely by Kaitlyn, who only comes out at night. Surprisingly, Carly is aware of her alter ego and they act like sisters. Kaitlyn is determined to protect Carly, whom she feels is slipping away and being targeted by an evil force. The diary shows Kaitlyn’s descent into madness, though her mission to protect Carly never wavers. But as the plot goes forward, the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred. You wonder if everyone is losing it, or there really is something supernatural going on.

 

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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The Women in the Walls is another thoroughly unsettling book. Lucy’s beloved aunt Penelope goes missing in the woods surrounding their family’s estate and then her cousin Margaret, Penelope’s daughter, claims to hear her mother’s voice inside the walls. With her own sanity on the line, Lucy has to get to the bottom of the mystery before she’s next.

I would define The Women in the Walls as more of a psychological horror than straight-up horror. For most of the book, there is an underlying tension running through, like you are expecting something to jump out at you any moment. It doesn’t get truly gory until the last 50 pages or so, which I like.

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

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If you read any of the books I recommend to on this list, let it be Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. It is a graphic novel collection of short stories, all various levels of creepiness. The artwork is stunning and the individual color schemes add something to the story. Some are scarier than others, depending on how much of a scaredy-cat you are. I’m also not going to give you too much detail on the synopsis of each story, because this is the kind of story collection you should go into knowing nothing.

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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Some of my favorite books to read in the fall/Halloween are mysteries and thrillers. I like to read historical fiction in the colder months too, which is why Stalking Jack the Ripper is my next recommendation.

I wouldn’t necessarily define this book as “spooky,” but if you like books a little more on the gory side, you might like this book. Audrey Rose Wadsworth, a lady of Victorian London high society, is defying the social rules of girls of her status by learning forensic science under her uncle, medical examiner Dr. John Wadsworth. When Jack the Ripper terrorizes the city, Audrey teams up with her uncle and his arrogant but handsome protégée Thomas Cresswell to catch the murderer.

 

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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Set in a terrifying dystopian world where monsters are born from the violent acts of humans, This Savage Song is great to read around Halloween. August and Kate are flawed characters that have to make tough choices. The setting is dark and frightening. Victoria Schwab’s writing is simply haunting. Victoria Schwab is just a great author in general to read around Halloween, or so I’ve been told. Unfortunately, I’ve only read This Savage Song by her at this point.

 

What is the best book to read around Halloween?

My Top 10 Books Featuring Mental Illness: Mental Illness Awareness Week

Thanks to Emma from emmmabooks on YouTube, I became aware last year that the first week of October is always Mental Illness Awareness Week. While I personally do not have a mental illness, there are people I love that do. I watch them struggle with it daily and admire their strength for persevering. I am so glad authors are starting to write books that actually talk about mental illness, rather than dramatize it.

 

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Made You Up is without a doubt my favorite book about mental illness. Seventeen-year-old Alex is schizophrenic and walks around with a camera and Magic 8 ball to help her distinguish reality from her delusions. The whole book was informative without being info-dumpy or depressive. There was also a mystery element thrown in, adding to the fun of wondering if our protagonist is not as crazy as she thinks.

While other teenagers would be depressed, Alex is witty and smart, and brings to mind something my psychology teacher in high school said: “What is the point of being crazy if you can’t have a little fun?”

 

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Everyone and their mother has loved and praised A List of Cages but it is well earned. Both of the main boys deal with a learning disability: Adam has ADHD and Julien has dyslexia. The author did a good job of accurately portraying kids with these respective learning disabilities. There is also a mention of Adam using alternative medicines to help him deal with his ADHD, as the usual prescriptions had terrible side effects and didn’t really help him at all. And did I mention that A List of Cages is only book I have read so far that had me SOBBING as I was reading it?

 

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

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Though it is never specifically stated protagonist Cassie’s mother has a mental illness, it is obvious if you read between the lines. She is a narcissist and emotionally manipulates her husband and children. She is mentally unstable. She goes as far as to make everyone, including Cassie herself, believe Cassie is mentally ill. If anything, Cassie is traumatized from being raised by such a horrible woman.

 

A World Without You by Beth Revis

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I can’t remember if in A World Without You it is specifically what exactly kind of mental illness protagonist Bo has. He believes he can time travel and tries to use his ability to find his girlfriend, Sofia, after she is lost in time. In fact, Beth Revis wrote the novel in a way that made me believe he really could time travel but everyone else thinks he’s sick, which has been used before.

Actually, what really happened is Sofia committed suicide yet Bo can’t accept it. The whole story is Bo coming to terms with his reality, Sofia’s death, and his relationships with the other people in his life, mainly his younger sister Phoebe.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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While the main character Molly’s anxiety disorder is not the forefront of the novel, it does play a factor in the story. In social situations, her anxiety flares up and she struggles interacting with people, particularly those she is romantically interested in. When dealing with her attraction to Will and her budding feelings for Reid, her anxiety overwhelms her in her fears of rejection. Most people fear rejection anyway, but when you throw in an anxiety disorder, it just makes it worse.

 

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

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I have read Pretty Girl-13 only once and when I did, I was blown away by it. However, looking back on it now, I wonder if this is one of those books that dramatizes mental illness or trauma. Still, I mention it because it covers dissociative identity disorder, a mental illness you don’t often see in books.

The main character Angie was abducted from a Girl Scout camping trip when she was thirteen. Then, she shows up on her parents’ doorstep when she is sixteen, with no memory of her captivity. Aided by her psychiatrist, she unlocks the memories of those three years in the woods with her captor, as well as her six alternate personalities created to protect her from the horror she experienced.

 

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Hayley and her dad Andy, an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD, have spent five years on the road. They move back to their hometown so Hayley can attend school, but Hayley is scared to let anyone in, as she feels she must hide her dad’s drug abuse and panic episodes from everyone. The book is so powerful. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, Laurie Halse Anderson honestly paints a difficult picture of life for a child whose parent has PTSD.

 

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

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Aysel is a physics nerd whose dad committed a cold-blooded crime and now everyone, including her family, treats her like a pariah. Obsessed with planning her own death but too scared to go through with it, she finds the perfect suicide partner in Roman, a boy her age dealing with his own grief. The whole book deals with depression, how life is still worth living even after painful events, and finding solace with kindred spirits.

 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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After watching the Netflix adaption, I fully understand why others consider Thirteen Reasons Why a “suicide revenge plot.” However, if you separate the book from the TV show, which is told entirely from Clay’s perspective, you will see the effects Hannah’s tapes has on Clay. He becomes depressed out of guilt and tries to deal with it. As for Hannah, she could also be suffering from depression, made worse by the bullying she experienced at the hands of her classmates.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Fourteen-year-old Melinda starts her high school career as an outcast after calling the cops at a party. Only what people don’t know is that Melinda was raped at that party by a popular upperclassman. Isolated at school and at home, she barely speaks. But when her former best friend starts dating her attacker, Melinda finds her voice again.

I read Speak in high school and unfortunately I do not own a copy. Of all the books on this list, it is probably the most powerful. Looking back on it, I wondered if Melinda was suffering from some form of PTSD, as she almost completely mute after the rape. But Speak is all about finding your inner strength in the face of adversity.

 

What is your favorite book featuring a mental illness?

My Top Ten Favorite Paranormal Novels

In honor of Halloween being this month, October will be all about the spooky stuff—horror, paranormal, and fantasy. Paranormal novels are what got me into reading. Let’s see if I can keep this down to ten.

 

The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

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The books that started it all were the Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong, which follows teenaged necromancer Chloe Saunders and her supernatural friends that are on the run from the scientists that performed experiments on them. If you enjoyed The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken, there’s a good chance you will like this trilogy, too, because they are very similar. The paranormal world building is action-packed with unexpected twists. Chloe is an underrated female protagonist; she might not be a badass one hundred percent of the time, but she’s strong in her own way. Her friends are a tight-knit squad, each you grow to like for various reasons.

            It has been years since I have read The Darkest Powers trilogy. Writing this has made me want to read them again.

 

Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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The Women of the Otherworld series was not my introduction to paranormal or urban fantasy, but it was my first foray into adult novels. And when I say “adult,” I mean in-your-face sex scenes rather than behind closed doors. While I have yet to read the final book in the main series (SHAME!) or the additional anthologies that have been published in recent years, I still consider Women of the Otherworld one of my favorite paranormal series because of the modern-day supernatural world Kelley Armstrong created with the great plot twists and diverse characters.

 

The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

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A staple from my teenaged years that has stuck with me like The Darkest Powers has, The Mediator follows New York transplant Suze Simon, who has been seeing ghosts all her life, as she moves to Caramel-by-the-Sea, California, into an old house with her bedroom already occupied by an 180-year-old ghost named Jesse da Silva. Each novel in the series follows Suze as she deals with various troublesome ghosts in the area and tries (and fails) to not fall for Jesse.

Suze is another forgotten heroine. She knows how to fight, but she is independent and uses her head. Jesse is a sexy sweetheart. While the fantasy elements might be considered a little out there now, I would compare it to the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead: just good, campy fun!

 

Anna Dressed in Blood duology by Kendare Blake

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Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel Girl of Nightmares are some of my all-time favorite books. The duology follows Theseus Cassio Lowood, also known as Cas, a sarcastic ghost hunter that comes to a small Canada town to get rid of a violent local ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood. But there’s something about Anna that Cas can’t put his finger on—perhaps it has something to do with the fact that she let him live.

One thing I must say about the Anna Dressed in Blood books is that it has the kind of bittersweet ending young adult fantasy authors tend to avoid. Like, it is a happy ending, but not the kind of happy ending readers hope for. That, and its great characters that are friendship goals.

 

Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand

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Despite being filled with almost every kind of trope in young adult paranormal literature, the Unearthly trilogy was still a fun read. Clara is a half-angel destined to fulfill a purpose but dark angels and a messy love triangle gets in her way. This series was just a fun, fast-paced read with angels. If you like The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, you might like this. Plus, the covers are beautiful.

 

Half Bad trilogy by Sally Green

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A paranormal trilogy about witches and black magic, Half Bad is best described as dark. The magic system was a little confusing at first, but once I got used to it, it was fascinating. Such as, you can absorb another witch’s powers by eating their heart—isn’t that cool? Plus, the characters, especially the protagonist Nathan, are all morally gray and the finale of the whole story is beautifully messy. The ending of the final book Half Lost broke my heart, but given the situation the characters were in, it was realistic.

 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Likely the most polarizing book on this whole list, Cruel Beauty is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with demons and Greek mythology. Nyx is considered an unlikeable protagonist, but she was born and raised to marry a demon lord. I found her character to be true to certain aspects. Everyone that loves Rhysand from the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy by Sarah J. Maas would probably love the love interest in Cruel Beauty. I have not read this book in years, but I still consider it a favorite of mine because of the story and the romance.

 

The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

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Definitely my favorite Shadowhunters series so far, The Infernal Devices won me over with its historical paranormal/steampunk elements, particularly Tessa’s shape-shifting ability. Plus, the characters in the Infernal Devices trilogy are my favorites.

 

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

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The Space Between is a book I have reread at least three times over the years. I haven’t in a while, though. It follows Daphne, the daughter of Lilith and Lucifer who leaves Hell for Earth to look for her older brother, Obie, who she thinks has been abducted by a fallen angel. She enlists the help of her brother’s friend, a troubled human boy named Truman, in her search.

The Space Between is a really dark book, obviously dealing with demons, but the characters and the story made it for me. My only complaint about it is the ending, which still irks me to this day. I have only read one book by her, but Brenna Yovanoff is an underrated author.

 

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

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A beautifully written paranormal novel, Blood and Chocolate centers on Vivian, a teenaged female werewolf that falls in love with a human and struggles with her dual nature when her pack falls into disarray after her father’s death. One thing I vividly remember about this novel was its portrayal of werewolves: the pack acted like real wolves when they shifted. Plus, it was true to the werewolf mythology, i.e. shifting during the full moon. It’s been so long since I read Blood and Chocolate, but the romance of this novel went into an unplanned direction that I ultimately preferred to where it started.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Most Read Authors

When I looked up my top five most read authors on Goodreads, two of these came as a surprise. I had no idea I had read so many books by these authors.

 

Meg Cabot (39 books)

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This does not surprise me at all. Meg Cabot was the author that got me through middle school and the early years of high school. I even read some of her books as an adult. There are books she has written that I have not read yet but I still want to. Meg Cabot is also an author I can say I did not love every one of her books.

 

The Mediator series: My favorite books by Meg Cabot and one of my all-time favorite series in general. The Mediator is what got me into the young adult paranormal genre. Jesse da Silva was my first book boyfriend. I have not read the unofficial seventh novel, Rememberance, yet—mainly because I’m not sure if I want to check it out of the library or bite the bullet and buy it because I love the series so much.

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The Queen of Babble trilogy: I love this trilogy so much! It’s about an aspiring wedding dress designer/planner whose big heart and bigger mouth gets her into awkward situations. I related so much to the main character, Lizzie, and they are the perfect kind of books to read when you need a pick-me-up.

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Boy trilogy: is a trilogy of adult chick-lit companion novels following three women working in different departments at the same fictional newspaper in New York City. They are told entirely through email form. All the stories are fun and comedic: a reporter falls in love with another journalist who is posing as her neighbor’s nephew after said neighbor is found dead in her apartment; an HR rep is sued by a lunch lady and falls for her lawyer; and a comic-strip artist has to deal with an arrogant travel journalist in order to make their best friends’ wedding in Italy a dream come true.

Plus, these books have three of the swooniest men in women’s fiction: John Trent, Mitch Hertzog, and Cal Langdon.

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Heather Wells Mysteries books 1-3: A former teen pop star takes a job as a resident assistant in a New York college dorm and rents an apartment from her ex-boyfriend’s PI older brother, whom she has a major crush on. I love this mystery series and I love Heather Wells as a main character. There are two more books in this series but I have no idea why I have not read them yet. And Cooper Cartwright…drool….

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She Went All the Way: All I remember of this book is that two Hollywood divas get in a helicopter crash and have to survive in the wilderness until help comes. I gave it four stars on Goodreads, but I can’t remember why I did.

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Teen Idol: This is the book that introduced me to Meg Cabot. It is about a teenaged girl enlisted by her school to show a former child star real-life high school as he does research for his latest movie but has to keep it a secret from her classmates. I identified so much with Jenny, the main character, and I loved her friendship with Luke, the movie star she has to escort around her high school. I have so much nostalgia with this book; there is no way I could give it away.

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Avalon High: A retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I have not seen anything like this since its publication. I could not part with this one either and I want to reread it, hopefully someday.

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Jinx: After The Mediator and Teen Idol, Jinx is my all-time favorite Meg Cabot books, as well as one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. It’s about a girl who reluctantly finds herself midst a battle with her jealous cousin to determine who is the family’s next witch. I can’t see myself parting with this one, either. I want to reread it…once my TBR pile is at a “reasonable” size.

 jinx

 

Meg Cabot Books I’ve Read but Gave Away

All-American Girl and its sequel, Ready or Not: All-American Girl was OK; it’s about a girl who saves the President of the United States from a gunman, becomes a national hero, and then falls in love with the President’s son. But I definitely did not like Ready or Not. I did not see the purpose of it. Well, maybe now I do—it discussed teenagers having sex and conflicting family values. Still, I remember being ridiculously bored.

Victoria and the Rogue: One of Meg Cabot’s historical romance novels. I gave it three stars on Goodreads, but I can’t remember if I actually liked it or not.

1-800-Where-R-You series: I didn’t like this series much, either. In theory, I should have: it’s about a girl who is given psychic abilities after being struck by lightning and uses her gift to find people.

How to be Popular: I HATED this book! I could not relate to the main character at all. Plus, the title is just wrong on so many levels.

Pants on Fire: Cheating is NOT OK! Enough said.

Airhead and Being Nikki, books 1 & 2 of the Airhead trilogy: the first book was OK and the second one was meh. That is why I never finished the series. And I do not plan to, either.

Ransom My Heart: an adult historical romance that was terribly boring. That is all I can say.

The Princess Diaries series: I am probably one of the few people on the planet that did not love The Princess Diaries series. This is mainly because of Mia Thermopolis, who was so overly dramatic about EVERYTHING it was annoying. I hated Michael after something he said to Mia in the eighth book Princess on the Brink (if you read the books, you likely know what I am referring to). Basically, I think what ruined this series for me was the characters.

 

 

Kelley Armstrong (28 books)

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Kelley Armstrong is an author I found in middle school, who helped me find my writing niche: paranormal and urban fantasy. Of all the authors on this list, she is the one I hold more sentimental value to specifically for that reason.

I have read books 1 through 12 of her Women of the Otherworld series; the only book I have not read is Thirteen, literally the final book in that series. I have also read two of the bind-ups connected to that series, Men of the Otherworld and Tales of the Otherworld, plus one novella she released online titled Framed. But there are still other bind-ups and graphic novels related to the Women of the Otherworld series that I have not read yet. I hope to, after my first reread of the series, hopefully next year.

 

 

Kelley Armstrong also has two young adult fantasy trilogies: The Darkest Powers trilogy and the Darkness Rising trilogy. They are interconnected; both follow supernatural teenagers that are experiments created by an evil organization now bent on killing the former subjects because they grew to be too powerful. I have also read the novellas and short stories from that world, too.

 

 

Francine Pascal (24 books)

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Because I was so obsessed with Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley franchise (many of the books ghostwritten FYI), there is no way I have read only 24 of them. But I only recorded that many books on Goodreads because those are the ones I remember reading. I’m sure if I took the time to browse, it would jog my memory. (Except I don’t care to do that.)

The Sweet Valley books—Kids, Twins, High, and University—were literally 90% of what I read throughout elementary school into middle school. Looking back on it now, I don’t know what made me so obsessed with these books. They were more of teenaged soap operas in paperback form.

 

 

 

V.C. Andrews (12 books)

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I came upon V.C. Andrews in the most random way: her book, My Sweet Audrina, was recommended to me to read for Halloween after I took a quiz on a website when I was fifteen. Like Sweet Valley, her books were hard to find because they were older—published in the late 1970s and early 1990s. My mom had even read them.

My high school library came to my rescue when it came to reading her books. I read Heaven, the first book in the Casteel series, and the Flowers in the Attic series, which follows four children locked in the attic of a mansion for five years by their selfish mother. Both of them thoroughly disturbing in their own ways, particularly since both involved incest. Then, I read her only stand-alone novel, My Sweet Audrina, and that was a total mind-f*k.

 

            heaven

 

audrina

 

Though there are many books published under V.C. Andrews, the real author died of breast cancer in 1986. The only books actually written by her are My Sweet Audrina, the Casteel series, and the Dollenganger series (otherwise known as the Flowers in the Attic series). A ghostwriter was hired by her family to complete all the manuscripts she left unfinished—and, frankly, he’s not as good as the original. That is probably why I have not read all her books.

Of all these authors on this list, V.C. Andrews is one I definitely want to reread.

 flowersintheattic

 

Cassandra Clare (11 books)

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Cassandra Clare will probably be on a lot of people’s most read authors lists. Like Kelley Armstrong, she has been an influence in my writing in the young adult urban fantasy genre, introducing me to angels, demons, and fairies when before I mainly focused on witches and vampires. Of her books, I have read all six of The Mortal Instruments, the entire Infernal Devices trilogy, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and Lady Midnight. I’m probably one of a few people who have not read Lord of Shadows yet, and I have no idea when I will get around to reading The Bane Chronicles.

 

 

 

Have you read any of these authors?

October 2017 TBR

Now that I have a set plan for my end-of-the-year reading, I am confident I will be able to stick with my TBR this month. Since I completed seven books in September, I want to challenge myself this month by reading nine—more than what I have read most months all year. I am certain I can complete this TBR, though, because these are books I not only need to read, but want to read.

In October, I aim to read:

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Continuing on with my reread of the Harry Potter books, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban are both books in the past that have competed for the title of my favorite book in the series. Last year, as I started the first reread, I made it through the first half of Prisoner of Azkaban before I gave up. Since I am doing individual reviews of the books as I read them, hopefully that will not happen again.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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One of my favorite things to read in October are mystery and thriller novels. And Then There Were None is said to be Agatha Christie’s best work. It is set on an island in a mansion, where ten strangers are stranded during a violent storm with a killer stalking them. They have to find out who the killer is before he or she gets them next. It sounds claustrophobic and terrifying and I’m already excited.

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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Moving on with the mystery books, My Cousin Rachel follows Philip Ashley, a wealthy young man that takes in his cousin’s widow, Rachel, after said cousin’s unexpected death. As affection blossoms into attraction, he begins to suspect there is more to Rachel than meets the eye. But the key to saving his own life lies in if he can determine whether Rachel is a killer or a victim. I love a good Gothic romance mystery.

 

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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I read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in high school and it was one of my favorites. I also read and enjoyed several of his short stories in college. I bought this beautiful edition in Salem, Massachusetts two years ago, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s own hometown. Fitting, don’t you think?

The story behind The House of Seven Gables is one of my favorite tropes in literature: cursed family sagas. A greedy family falls from grace and generations of their family are haunted by mysterious deaths. Then, one of the family members uncovers a secret that could save them from the curse, or it could destroy them altogether.

 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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Thanks to Wishbone the dog, I am already familiar with the story of The Phantom of the Opera. Although, all I know is that the Phantom is obsessed with Christine, a beautiful young singer with a mysterious past, to whom he gives secret music lessons. Only Christine is in love with her childhood friend, a French count.

For years, I was convinced it was a Gothic romance. However, reading the back cover of the edition I own, The Phantom of the Opera is told in police reports, newspaper clippings, and witness interviews. This has me both intrigued and apprehensive. Intrigued, because I like mystery stories told in that kind of format. Apprehensive, because Dracula by Bram Stoker, another classic Gothic novel, was written in a similar format and I felt it did not work with the story. I did enjoy Dracula, except not as much as I thought I would.

 

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

I read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut on a professor’s recommendation in college. It was weird as hell, but I enjoyed it anyway. Bluebeard is a novel by Vonnegut I have not heard much about. My parents owned this copy, only I have no idea if either of them actually read it (I get my reading skills from my aunt). Aside from that, all I know about Bluebeard is that it is a fictional autobiography of a seventy-two-year-old man hiding a big secret on his Long Island potato farm. Given that Kurt Vonnegut wrote it, I anticipate weirdness.

 

Love Story by Erich Segal

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I am totally read Love Story this month in honor of Dark Shadows, one of my favorite movies Freeform has played during their annual 13 Nights of Halloween TV event. It is a romance following two teenagers, Oliver and Jenny, who has very different backgrounds but are kindred spirits in every other way that matters. Love Story is a favorite book of Barnabas and Vicky. I’m aiming to read this around the same time Dark Shadows airs on Freeform, if it does this year. If not, I’ll still read it anyway.

 

What is everyone reading in October?