T5W: Paranormal Creatures

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

October 18th: Books Featuring [paranormal creature of your choice]
–Here is the previously mentioned paranormal creature topic. This topic will revolve around one type of paranormal creature of your choice. So books featuring vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, demons, fae, zombies, etc.

 

You guys, this almost turned into “Top 25 Wednesday” 😂 I was trying to narrow down what creature I wanted to feature, so I listed the ones I knew I’d read quite a few books about and it was 5 (lumping weres and shifters together because I’ve read some that had both, and most of the ones I’ve read with only one or the other were…disappointing). Then I ended up with at least 5 books from each of those.

Basically, it was really freaking hard to make this list and I’ve been working on it all month :/ I started to do vampires because it was just so easy (I came up with a dozen vampire books/series I’ve liked before stopping), but…I decided to do ghosts.

In no particular order, let’s get to the books/series…



The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling– I mean, come on! I couldn’t not include this series. Nearly Headless Nick, Moaning Myrtle, The Bloody Baron, The Grey Lady, Professor Binns… Plus Peeves, if you include poltergeists. (I’m still mad about him being cut from the movies, dang it.)



M.R. James’s ghost stories–
I didn’t specify a book here because there are a few, and most of them have most of the same stories…I think :/ (This is the one I read, though.) I do remember really, really liking them, though. I’m a big fan of classic ghost stories.

 


The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill– The movie was good, but the book is better (as usual). I loved this one because, again, I love classic ghost stories, and Susan Hill did a great job slowly but steadily building suspense and creating a great, super creepy atmosphere. I think I slept with a light on for a week after reading it. I think this was written in the 1980s, but it really has the feel of older ghost stories.

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman– I just read this one and…it wasn’t my favorite. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love with it. I did, however, really like the ghosts in it.

 


The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde– I. LOVE. Oscar Wilde ❤ I also just read (re-read?) this one and it’s just so good, guys, trust me. It’s so well written and funny and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t read it before. (It’s a short story, which might be cheating, but I had to include it.)

 

 


Do you have a favorite ghost story/book/book-featuring-ghosts?

What’s your favorite paranormal creature?

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T5W: Favorite Books with Witches

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

October 4th: Books Featuring Witches 
–So there is a topic later this month about paranormal creatures, but 1. witches aren’t creatures and 2. they deserve their own topic. These can be “witch books” or books that happen to feature witches as characters, whether they are main characters or side characters. 

 

You guys, narrowing this down to 5 was impossible. I decided right away to not use Harry Potter, mostly because it’s obvious and there are rarely topics I wouldn’t use HP for. These are in no order, as usual…


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The Sweep series by Cate Tiernan– I remember when these books came out, and I wanted to read them sooo bad. I didn’t get to until I was an adult, though. (Is it cheating to use a whole series? Oh well.)

 

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A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness–
loved this book. I’ve only read the first two, but I’m looking forward to re-reading them and then finally finishing the series, now that I have all the books.

 

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The Witches
by Roald Dahl– This. Book! ❤ I loved it so much as a kid, and I recently re-read it and still loved it. (The movie is also A+. Anjelica Huston is great.)

 

 

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Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen– I debated about using this one, because I’m not sure if they were ever explcitly called witches. Sarah Addison Allen’s books are great, guys. If you liked Practical Magic, give Sarah a try because (in my opinion) her books are better.

 

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The Stacey Justice series by Barbra Annino–
(Oops, I cheated with a series again.) I’ve only read half of this series (3/6 books), but I really liked them and can’t wait to finish the series. If you like those funny, cozy mysteries, like the ones set in B&Bs, and wish you could read one with witches and shenanigans, give this series a shot.

 


Ok, I can’t leave it at five, so here are a few other books with witches (or possibly witches/witchy people) in them I’ve enjoyed:

I am completely certain I’m forgetting at least a few more that I’ve really liked :/


See any of your favorite witchy books here?

Let me know what books with witches you love and recommend!

Spooky Book Recs & Discussion: Snack Sized Stories

Normally on Mondays I do Must Read Mondays, to recommend one book, but for this month, I’m carving out some time to make lists of recommendations. I’ve decided to do this in categories (that I’m coming up with as I go, because in life, as with NaNoWriMo, I am a pantser and not a planner).

This week, I’m recommending collections of stories in their various forms, and a few long short stories and novellas. I’ve read more of these than I’d originally thought, and some have been featured on my blog before. Not all of these are particularly scary, but I wanted to suggest things for people who like horror, as well as for people who just want a little bit of creepiness, things based on folklore, or stories that have a Halloween-vibe/theme.

Short Story Collections, etc.

 

  • Basically anything by Edgar Allan Poe (obvious, but for a reason)
  • M.R. James’s ghost stories (not for everyone, but I liked them)
  • H.P. Lovecraft (I’ve only read a couple of stories, I think)
  • Ray Bradbury (I remember reading a couple of his stories in high school that I think were creepy. I really need to read more of his work soon because it’s great.)
  • Algernon Blackwood (I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any of his stories in 10 years or more and he’s really not that well known these days, except among horror lovers)
  • Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories trilogy (another obvious one, for a reason)
  • The Horror Zine (I think I’ve only read one issue so far, but I keep meaning to get more)
  • Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror (I haven’t read everything in this, but it’s a great collection and has two full-length novels: Frankenstein–the original 1818 version!– and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
  • Halloween Carnival vol. 1 (I have a review of this one coming out tomorrow, which is also release day)
  • The Haunted Grove by Tim Jeffreys (I actually don’t remember much about this because I read it so long ago, but I rated it pretty high)
  • Horrors! 365 Scary Stories (I got this when I was in middle school, I think, so I haven’t read from it in a while, but I remember liking a lot of the stories)
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (so pretty and creepy in an old-school fairy tale kind of way. Review.)

Longer Pieces 

These are longer than short stories, but under 150 pages (except the comic trades, but I included it in this part because they’re short, but not stand-alone stories).


There are definitely more that I read years ago, but they’re unfortunately lost to me now.

I wish I could remember some of the better true (or “true” if you’re not a believer) ghost story collections I read when I was growing up. I remember having quite a few, but the only ones I still have aren’t books I would recommend.

If true/”true” haunting stories are your jam, I would suggest you start by searching for books written about hauntings in your locality, or a place you’re interested in. Your local library might some collections from your area.


I have a few things I’m really looking forward to getting around to soon(ish), like Scottish Ghost Stories by Elliot O’Donnell, The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, more of Lovecraft’s stories, Arthur Machen’s stories, and I’d like to revisit some Algernon Blackwood now that I’m older and have forgotten if I liked his work or not. On my wishlist, I have The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (although I think it’s more horror/fantasy than just horror) in the highest position, but there are loads more I’d like to get eventually.


Ok, I think I’ve rambled on enough for one day, so I’ll wrap this up now.

Do you have any recommendations for shorter horror books, graphic novels or comics, or short story collections? I’d love to hear about them!

 

If you read any of these, let me know what you think!

Must Read Mondays: September 4th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Soulless cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: August 2013

Genres: fantasy; steampunk; paranormal; romance

Recommended for: If you haven’t read much in the steampunk genre, but you want to check it out, I recommend giving this series a shot. I would also recommend it for people who like PNR, especially if you feel like they’re all blurring together because the stories, characters, etc. are so similar.

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


I’ve only read the first two books in the Parasol Protectorate series (I think), but I really liked both of them. I read Soulless in about a day and a half (not super impressive, but it usually takes me a few days to read a book) and immediately bought the second one so I could keep reading. I’m not sure what kept me from continuing on with book 3, but it wasn’t because I’d lost interest in the series.

My experience with steampunk is limited, but I loved this as my intro to the genre and I recommend it a lot.


Have you read it? What did you think?

 

Must Read Mondays: August 14th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


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cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: July 2014 and June 2016

Genres: YA; contemporary; romance

Recommended for: This is probably  the only contemporary I’ve liked enough to recommend to lots of people. I’d suggest it for older high school/early college students, especially if you have anxiety and/or are into things like fan fiction.

Trigger warnings: alcoholism/alcohol abuse (I think); mental illness. Let me know if I should add to this, please!

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


What it’s about:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Eeeek, I’m so late posting this!

I’m not a great lover of contemporaries, so finding one that I actually adored was kind of a surprise for me. I got the Kindle edition of this back in ’14 because it was on sale and I’d never read any of Rainbow Rowell’s books before, and ended up loving it so much I bought the special edition hardcover.

Even though I don’t have a twin and I didn’t have the typical college experience, I related to this book (especially Cath) so much, and I wish this book had been out when I was younger.

Now, I recommend this a lot to people, even people who–like me–don’t really get into contemporary novels ever/very often.

Must Read Mondays: July 31st

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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cover; links to goodreads

 

When I read it: June 2017

Genres: fantasy

Recommended for: I’ve been recommending this to everyone I know who reads fantasy at all.

My review

 

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Guests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


This was one of those books I finished and then talked ad nauseam about for weeks. Actually, I’m still talking about it, every chance I get, and I might even gift it to a couple of people. I love that it’s a novella, I love how unique it was, I loved the characters, I loved the writing…I just loved it. I borrowed it from the library, but ASAP I’m getting a copy because I think this is one I’ll definitely be re-reading.

The second book in the series, Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out now, so I’ll be getting it, too. (I’m actually probably more excited about it than I was about this one because I think it focuses on my favorite character–Jack–and I need more!)

While it it part of a series, I think you could absolutely read Every Heart a Doorway as a stand-alone. It was complete by itself, and I think the other books are all going to be companion stories, not necessarily sequels.

Must Read Mondays: July 17th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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cover; links to goodreads

 

When I read it: November 2016

Genres: non-fiction; essays; feminism

Recommended for: Pretty much everyone.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.


This isn’t totally perfect, but it was still good. It’s a short, quick read, and I think it’s something important that more people should read, especially if you’re a baby-feminist or having a difficult time articulating ideas about feminism to non-feminists. I know it helped me be able to better explain some things after reading it, because I have a hard time putting a concept that I understand into words while talking sometimes, without babbling and losing people along the way.

However, as I said, it wasn’t perfect. I’m not going to try to go into the details about what was wrong or missing, because I don’t have a copy to reference and I don’t want to give false information. But, I think I remember this being far less intersectional than I expected it to be. It wasn’t groundbreaking for me, and I remember picking up on a few issues while reading (trans exclusion, like “genitalia=gender” ideas I think, and I’m pretty sure it was very hetero-normative). If you haven’t read it yet, and you’re considering reading it but want to know some of the ways it wasn’t great, I would recommend skimming over some lower than 5 star reviews or doing some googling first.

So, I recommend this, but I also know it could have been better and far more intersectional.