October Haul and Wrap-up

I was waiting anxiously for October to hit, as I’d stashed up so many spooky and fall reads! When it finally got here, it flew by so fast I can hardly believe it. This month was so crazy: so many new releases, FridayFrightAThon, and so many ARCs on the docket. I loved every second of it.

HAUL

I hauled 12 books this month, and I’m actually still waiting on 2-3 to get here that may arrive before this post goes up. I think I’m about due for another book ban… here are the books I purchased this month.

  1. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (US edition)
  2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Book of the Month)
  3. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (Book of the Month)
  4. Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame (ARC sent by Sourcebooks Fire)
  5. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
  6. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  7. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
  8. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (UK edition – Illumicrate special edition)
  9. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (UK edition – Illumicrate special edition)
  10. Pride by Ibi Zaboi (Owlcrate)
  11. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kugawa (Owlcrate)
  12. Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

I bought some highly anticipated reads this month, and a couple editions I’d had my eye on for a while. I have no regrets about how long this list is.

WRAP-UP

As many books as I bought, I actually read a ton as well. I knew October would be bananas, but I actually didn’t even get to one book I had planned – hopefully I can squeeze it in next month.

IMG_2336

  1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (ARC): ★★★★.5
  2. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: ★★★★
  3. The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra (ARC): ★★★.5
  4. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (FridayFrightAThon): ★★★★
  5. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas (audiobook, reread): ★★★★
  6. The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware (FridayFrightAThon): ★★★★
  7. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas (audiobook, reread): ★★★★
  8. Vengeful by VE Schwab: ★★★★
  9. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (FridayFrightAThon): ★★★★★
  10. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw: ★★★★★
  11. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (audiobook, reread): ★★★★
  12. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (FridayFrightAThon): TBD

Audiobooks are a fairly new thing to me, but I am definitely loving how they let me get through books! I’ve mainly been using them to do my TOG reread, and I’m flying through them. I think this is the most books I’ve read in one month so far this year, and they were all SUCH great spooky fall reads!

Have you read any of these books? What’d you think?

I hope you all had great and spooky October reading months!

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween freebie!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Today’s topic is a Halloween/creepy freebie! So today, I’m listing my top 10 recommendations for a spooky, Halloween-themed read. These are in no particular order, and if you’ve been following me this month I’m sure you’ve heard about quite a few of them, but I recommend all of these books with my whole heart.

IMG_1933

ONE: Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Are you guys getting sick of me talking about this book yet? No? Ok good because I probably never will. A devil, a creepy wood, and witches? What more could you ask for in a halloween read?

IMG_2265.JPG

TWO: Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Another creepy, magical wood, plus a generations-long curse, combined with hauntingly beautiful writing, and you couldn’t find a more perfect Halloween read than Blanca y Roja.

IMG_9757

THREE: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

I just finished this book, and absolutely loved it. Think Hocus Pocus meets the Salem Witch Trials, except for so much better. A book about three sisters condemned as witches who come back every summer for centuries to take their revenge on the town? Sign me up.

FOUR: Sadie by Courtney Summers

If you liked the podcast Serial, this book is for you. Told in both podcast form as well as flashbacks to Sadie’s own experiences, this mystery is one that will stay with me for a long time.

FIVE: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

This book kept me up days after I finished it. Dark, creepy, and with so many twists and turns you can’t possibly guess them all, Dark Places makes the perfect Halloween read – if you don’t mind being scared.

IMG_9405

SIX: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I know this is a polarizing read, but I really enjoyed it! And I’m also a sucker for spooky, magical woods. I almost wish I had saved this one to read in October.

I feel like it goes without saying that I have to include the four books we used for #FridayFrightAThon. All four of these books were so different, but all so perfect for Halloween in their own way.

SEVEN: I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This is probably the only book I’ve ever read that has truly, honestly terrified me. A true-crime book about the Golden State Killer, this one will make it hard to sleep for weeks.

EIGHT: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

I’ve been kind of luke-warm on Ruth Ware’s writing overall, but I enjoyed this one. The family dynamics were insane, and the mansion was way darker than I had anticipated.

NINE: If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

I absolutely loved this book, and it was so different from anything I’d ever read before. If you love Shakespeare or theater, this thriller is for you. Come prepared, though: it rips your heart out.

TEN: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I’m still currently reading this one, but I’m loving it. It’s kind of like Pretty Little Liars goes to summer camp, except for darker. I can’t wait to see what happens.

 

Have you read any of these? Do you have any other spooky recommendations? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

Review: If We Were Villains

IMG_2244

Title: If We Were Villains

Author: M.L. Rio

Pages: 368

Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Review:

Actors are by nature volatile – alchemic creatures composed of incendiary elements, emotion and ego and envy. Heat them up, stir them together, and sometimes you get gold. Sometimes disaster.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book, but I was not disappointed. I’ve never read anything like this before, and I don’t know if I ever will again, but this book was utter perfection. I loved everything about it: the story, the way it was told, the flashbacks, and the writing. But most of all, I loved the characters.

In If We Were Villains, we follow Oliver as he’s being released after 10 years in prison. The story is told in two different ways: the present, as Oliver is relating the story to Detective Colborne, and in flashbacks, where we see how it unfolded for Oliver and his five classmates. These characters were my favorite part of this book: they were all so well-developed, and I fell in love with all of them. Mostly I wanted to wrap them up in a blanket and put them in my pocket for safe keeping.

Oliver: our narrator, and if I had to pick one I’d say he’s the “main” character. He is described as good and kind and nice by his peers, but by himself he’s described as average, both in looks and in acting skills.

James: Oliver’s best friend, and liked by pretty much everyone. He always gets to play the hero, and is handsome and talented.

Meredith: Meredith is the class’s “hot girl”, and also Richard’s girlfriend.

Richard: Richard plays big, powerful, impressive characters. He’s mean and aggressive and argumentative. He is the character I most wanted to punch in the face.

Fillipa: Pip is more difficult to categorize, and we don’t learn much about her past or her home life, as she’s pretty mysterious. She seems like the one I would most make friends with.

Wren: Wren is described in the book as the “girl next door.” I pictured her as fragile and wanted to keep her in my pocket. She’s also Richard’s cousin.

Alexander: The class’s resident stoner, and also only openly gay character. Alexander is the character I connected least with, mainly because he was the only one who I felt could have used a little bit more development. I wanted more about him, and felt like I never really got it.

We had, like seven siblings, spent so much time together that we had seen the best and worst of one another and were unimpressed by either.

The formatting of this book was especially cool, even beyond the flashbacks: it was broken up into five Acts, and then further broken up into scenes. Each Act ended with an especially cruel cliff hanger, and kept me coming back for more. I wasn’t in theater in school, so this world was so different from anything I’d ever experienced myself. I loved getting to see that, and the writing was so amazing that I felt completely transported into it. Also, if you love Shakespeare, do not wait any longer to pick up this book. This book made me want to read ALL of Shakespeare’s work, and reread everything I’ve already read.

I need language to live, like food – lexemes and morphemes and morsels of meaning nourish me with the knowledge that, yes, there is a word for this. Someone else has felt it before.

Not only did this book manage to be a creepy thriller that had me sitting on the edge of my seat, it also managed to rip my heart out and tear it to shreds. Beyond being a murder mystery, this book is ultimately an ode to found families, emotions so deep that you feel them in your bones, and how far we’ll go to protect the ones we love. I was reading so fast my eyes were blurring in the last Act, and the last line will stay with me forever.

This is how a tragedy like ours or King Lear breaks your heart – by making you believe that the ending might still be happy, until the very last minute.

This book was book 3 of #FridayFrightAThon: a buddy read/readathon we hosted in October 2018! Every Friday, we start a new spooky read. Use the hashtag to follow along on twitter or instagram. In the meantime, check out my amazing cohosts:

Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

Chelsea @ Chelsea Palmer

Melanie @ Meltotheany

xoxo

Jen

Down the TBR #11

Web

Down the TBR Hole was created by Lost in a Story. Its purpose is to help narrow down your TBR list on Goodreads by selecting 5 titles each week and deciding if you want to keep it on your TBR or get rid of it! I was inspired by Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills to start this series. If you haven’t checked out any of these lovely blogs, do it NOW!

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here are the books on the chopping block this week:

ONE: Legend by Marie Lu

This is a no-brainer. WHY HAVEN’T I READ THIS YET? I’m a little ashamed.

VERDICT: DELETE

TWO: Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

I really hate to say it but I am just truly not interested in this book, I’m a little surprised I ever was. It is just not for me.

VERDICT: DELETE

THREE: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Reading the reviews on goodreads, this seems to be a pretty polarizing book, but the synopsis still grabs at me. Not to mention, I love reading polarizing books. Sign me up.

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I swear to God I will get to this someday. It’s going to happen. I promise.

VERDICT: KEEP

FIVE: Proposal by Meg Cabot

When I was younger, I was such a sucker for the Mediator series. YA ghost stories with paranormal romance? It was like a dream. But I’ll be honest – this is a novella, which already aren’t my fave, and I feel like I’ve outgrown this series just a touch. I probably won’t be picking this up.

VERDICT: DELETE

Have you read any of these? Did I make the wrong call on any? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten Tuesday: Villains

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

This week’s topic was villains. It suggested best, worst, most creepy, lovable, etc. I chose to do my top 5 favorite villains and my top 5 least favorite.

FAVORITE:

IMG_1939

ONE: Victor Vale [Vicious]

I don’t know if Victor Vale really counts as a villain, but he certainly is an anti-hero, and one of my favorites of all time. I love how morally grey Victor is; and yet, he still has codes, and a found family that he protects at all costs.

IMG_1139.JPG

TWO: The Darkling [The Grisha Trilogy]

Who doesn’t love this villain? I just read the Grisha trilogy this year, and I finally got everyone’s obsession with this character. My only complaint was there wasn’t more of him.

IMG_1827

THREE: Severus Snape [Harry Potter series]

I know a lot of lists will probably have Voldemort on this list, but I appreciated Snape so much more. Voldemort was so single-faceted. He wanted what all villains want: immortality, power, world domination. Snape (although he wasn’t technically a true villain, in the end) was surrounded by more mystery; you were never quite sure what he wanted. And that, to me, makes him more dangerous.

IMG_1933

FOUR: The Devil [Strange Grace]

Is anyone else picking up on the fact that I like morally grey, confusing villains? Because obviously I do. The devil in Strange Grace is so much more than he originally seems – and that only makes it so much better.

FIVE: The Wicked Witch [Wicked]

The Wicked Witch is like batman in this book: she knows she’s doing the right thing, but is willing to take the fall and become everyone else’s villain so she can further her cause.

LEAST FAVORITE:

ACS_0045

SIX: Valentine [The Mortal Instruments]

Voldemort – wait no, i mean Valentine… I think you see my issue here. Been there, done that.

IMG_1422

SEVEN: Maven [Red Queen series]

Maven never really sold me on his evil-ness. He seems a little too soft around the edges, although maybe that’s what made him more dangerous? Regardless, I didn’t like him one bit. Instead of a villain, I saw a spoiled, pampered child throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get exactly what he wanted, when he wanted it.

IMG_1527

EIGHT: Dolores Umbridge [Harry Potter series]

I don’t have a good reason here – I just wanted to punch her in the face the entire time. Her entire character is like nails on a chalkboard.

NINE: Humbert Humbert [Lolita]

Any pedophile that can be disgusting and simultaneously inspire sympathy from the reader is 1. a piece of phenomenal writing and 2. a wretched piece of trash who I hope I never meet in real life.

TEN: Nurse Ratchet [One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest]

Ugh don’t even get me started on this one.

And that’s it guys! What villains do you love, or love to hate? Happy Tuesday!

xoxo

Jen

Review: Vengeful

IMG_2102

TitleVengeful (Villains #2)

Author: V.E. Schwab

Pages: 480

Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Eli Ever and Victor Vale were only medical students when their mutual discovery that near-death experiences can, under the right conditions, manifest extraordinary abilities.

They were best friends, and rivals, and then enemies. They were dead, then alive, and then—Eli killed Victor, once and for all.

Or so he thought—but Sydney Clarke felt otherwise, and used her own superpower to tip the scales. Now, a trio hides in the shadows, while another takes advantages of post-death life to take over the city of Merit.

If there can be life after death—will there be calm after vengeance, or will chaos rule?

My Review:

Vicious (Villains #1): ★★★★★ [see review here]

“Maybe we are broken. But we put ourselves back together. We survived. That’s what makes us so powerful. And as for family – well, blood is always family, but family doesn’t always have to be blood.”

I was so looking forward to this book after just finishing Vicious right before it’s release. I gave Vicious 5 stars, and absolutely fell in love with Victor Vale, possibly my favorite anti-hero of all time. I grew to love Sydney and Mitch, and loathed Eli Ever with every fiber of my being. Luckily, these characters all return with a powerful punch in Vengeful, with some new favorites thrown in along the way. This sequel did not disappoint.

While Vicious was the ultimate revenge tale, Vengeful’s plot line is a little more subtle. It didn’t hook me quite as hard as the original, and I devoured it more slowly, but didn’t love it any less. In this book, Eli and Victor’s roles have somewhat reversed: Eli is locked up while Victor walks free. However, Victor is having his own troubles: something is wrong with his power, and he’s on the hunt for something – anything – that can save him. Sydney and Mitch, my favorite two teddy bears, are back as well. This bunch of misfits is one of my favorite found families of all time, and I was so happy Sydney got her own POV in this book.

We meet two more EO’s along the way, and I absolutely loved them. Both are powerhouse, independent women out with scores to settle; what’s not to love?

June: June’s power is that she can become someone else; so completely that if she dies, that person dies. June befriends Sydney, and tries to look out for her at all costs. I have to admit, while I loved June, I found these correspondences slightly odd. They meet once in a park, and then text and call back and forth for 3 years. I’m not sure what was in it for June, other than that possibly she was looking for a replacement family? It made me a tiny bit uncomfortable, and I felt like Sydney was being taken advantage of – again.

People had tried to bend June. Tried to break her. Tried to make her feel small. Perhaps it was time for them to understand how small they were.

Marcella: This is one badass chick. Snubbed by her husband, Marcella comes back with one thought on her mind: ruination. Once she gets him out of the way, she goes after the power she feels she rightfully deserves. She gathers other powerful EO’s along the way, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

She was done playing by other people’s rules. Doe hiding. If you lived in the dark, you died in the dark. But stand in the light, and it was that much harder to make you disappear.

I did have some minor complaints with this book as compared to the first one. I desperately wanted more June and Marcella – their storylines were definitely the most intriguing to me, and I feel like we only got little snippets for the first 2/3 of the book. Also, like I already mentioned, Victor’s and Eli’s storylines weren’t nearly as gripping as they were the first time around.

Ultimately though, this book was a solid follow-up to Vicious, and definitely left it open for a third installment. The first chapter and the last 100 pages had my stomach in knots and blind to the world around me. If you love morally grey characters, stories of revenge, and plot lines full of action, pick up this series. You will not be disappointed.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a human versus a human or a human versus an EO or an EO versus an EO. You do what you can. You fight, and you win, until you don’t.”

xoxo

Jen

October Pick: Book of the Month

Hello bookworms!

This post is coming a little late in the month – October seems to have just gotten away from me! I wasn’t super crazy about the choices this month, but I did make a selection AND I added an extra that I’ve been highly anticipating for a while now. I finally caved and added it to my box. Here are the books I picked:

IMG_2143.JPG

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Why I Picked It:

I actually don’t really have a great reason for this one. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t that crazy about the selections this month. I am not big on historical fiction, and I am completely buried in mysteries/thrillers that I have not yet touched (for some reason, BOTM has been obsessed with historical books and thrillers lately?). The final choice was a contemporary, and honestly I don’t even want to look at a contemporary after Contemporaryathon this year. They’re more of a summer read for me, anyway. Which left: this one.

I really don’t read that much sci-fi, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, I try to use BOTM to step outside my reading comfort zone a bit. The deal is so good that if I don’t like the book, I didn’t really waste that much money. Hopefully I’ll enjoy this one!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Goodreads Synopsis:

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Why I Picked It:

I have been dying to get my hands on this book, especially after Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills rated it so highly. Everywhere I turn I hear good things about this book, so I resolved to add it to my next box – except it was sold out. When I was putting my October box together, I noticed they’d added more and I JUMPED on it. I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity again. I am dying to get to this book, but unfortunately I’m not sure if it’ll happen before the end of the year. I’m currently working on putting a list together of books I MUST get to next year, and you better believe this book is on it.

If you haven’t tried Book of the Month yet, I highly recommend it! You can use my referral link here and I think you get a free book out of it.

Happy reading!

xoxo

Jen

 

Down the TBR #10

Web

Down the TBR Hole was created by Lost in a Story. Its purpose is to help narrow down your TBR list on Goodreads by selecting 5 titles each week and deciding if you want to keep it on your TBR or get rid of it! I was inspired by Melanie @ Meltotheany and Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills to start this series. If you haven’t checked out any of these lovely blogs, do it NOW!

How it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Here are the books on the chopping block this week:

ONE: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith

I wasn’t a HUGE fan of the first one, mainly because I just felt like it was a little too slow-paced for me. I actually really liked the storyline and the writing but just needed a little bit more oomph. HOWEVER I haven’t read it in a long time and would be willing to give the series a second shot. Until that time, I’m going to delete this one – for now.

VERDICT: DELETE

TWO: Recurve by Shannon Mayer

This book just doesn’t sound that great. I’m going to pass.

VERDICT: DELETE

THREE: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

This is ironic, because I almost bought this at Barnes and Noble today. I watched the Netflix movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and I just read the book for ContemporaryAthon. I thought both were pretty cute – cute enough for me to eventually want to continue the series.

VERDICT: KEEP

FOUR: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Sounds unique and cute. Ok, I’ll bite. (How is it possible I don’t remember adding half of these books AT ALL?)

VERDICT: KEEP

FIVE: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Even though I’ll probably have to completely restart this series (it’s been so long since I read the first couple that I don’t remember what happens) I do still plan to return to it one day.

VERDICT: KEEP

Any of these I should rush to get to or add back on my list? Let me know what you think!

xoxo

Jen

Review: The Death of Mrs Westaway

IMG_2147

 

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

Author: Ruth Ware

Rating: ★★★★

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

Review:

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.

If this book, and this creepy house, is full of anything (besides ghosts), it’s secrets. And it was certainly a wild ride as I discovered each and every one, right along with Hal. I didn’t fully know what to expect going into this book, but this wasn’t it. I loved the twists and turns of the plot, and the family dynamics that were added in. Most of all, I loved the writing! I’d read two Ruth Ware books before: The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game. While I loved The Lying Game, I wasn’t crazy about The Woman in Cabin 10, so I was a little wary going into this one. But I had absolutely no reason to be worried. It had the elements I loved about Ware’s writing, with none of the unreliable narrator trope. PLUS it had letters interspersed throughout the story, giving us insight into the family life before Hal was born. I love mixed media reads: it just adds a whole new dimension to the book and the characters. This book was everything I wanted and more.

In this book, we follow Hal, or Harriet Westaway, as she struggles to adjust to life after her mother dies. Hal is a girl down on her luck, backed into a corner by circumstance, and who’s made some choices she probably otherwise wouldn’t have in order to survive. Those choices come back to haunt her, and when it seems there’s no way out, suddenly a letter arrives. This letter tells Hal she’s inherited some money from a long-lost grandmother, and she must come to claim it. While it can’t possibly be true, Hal decides to go make a run for the money anyway. As you can imagine, it all goes downhill from there.

Once there, she meets her supposed uncles: Harding, Ezra, and Abel. While I mostly just found Harding irritating and childish, I was immediately drawn to Ezra, and was constantly side-eying Abel. As the story goes on, I started side-eying ALL of them and trusted no one. I did love watching their family dynamics, both through their interactions with each other and with Hal, as well as through their memories of their mother and their long-lost sister: Hal’s supposed mother. No matter who we met along the way, they all had one thing in common: they were all hiding something.

She had discovered that the most important truths often lay in what people didn’t say, and learned to read the secrets that they hid in plain sight, in their faces, and in their clothes, and in the expressions that flitted across their faces when they thought no one was watching.

Hal is also a Tarot card reader – and this was quite possibly my favorite element of this book. I absolutely loved when Hal would do readings, describing each of the cards and what they mean. I was so intrigued by this world, and found myself googling Tarot just so I could learn more. I honestly wish this had been more central to the plot, but did enjoy how the meanings weaved in and out of the discoveries we made.

We have free will. The answer the arcs give can turn us in our path. All I have to do is understand what they are saying.

My one complaint is that Hal was really indecisive. While I really felt for her, and was pulling for her to succeed, she seemed to bounce back and forth between decisions so many times. Make up your mind, girl! But aside from that, Hal is brave and loyal to her mother, and honestly I have to give her props for going back to that spooky house – wild horses couldn’t have dragged me.

Whatever Hal was, she was not a mouse. And she would be not be anybody’s prey.

If you are looking for a good, spooky, halloween read, look no further. This book has family drama, a mysterious mansion, and a creepy house keeper: the makings of a perfect thriller. It was definitely a page-turner, and I finished each section wanting to continue on.

This book was book 2 of #FridayFrightAThon: a buddy read/readathon we hosted in October 2018! Every Friday, we start a new spooky read. Use the hashtag to follow along on twitter or instagram. In the meantime, check out my amazing cohosts:

Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

Chelsea @ Chelsea Palmer

Melanie @ Meltotheany

Join us for our next read, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, which starts on Friday October 19!

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

This week’s prompt was supposed to be bookstores or libraries I’ve always wanted to visit, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Instead, I went back into the archives and pulled a topic I hadn’t done yet: bookish pet peeves. I’m actually going to do 5 pet peeves, and 5 things I wish authors did more in their books!

PET PEEVES

ONE: Love Triangles

Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? It’s rare that I find a love triangle done well well, and when it’s done poorly, nothing drives my crazy faster. For some reason I found the love triangle in Hunger Games tolerable, but in The Selection and Red Queen, I honestly just wanted to punch the MC in the face. Make a choice already!

IMG_1422

TWO: Stilted Dialogue

This is an easy one. If I’m reading a book, and the dialogue doesn’t flow smoothly or doesn’t sound remotely like anything anyone would say, EVER, it drives me nuts. Read your dialogue sections out loud, people. If it sounds unrealistic, it is.

THREE: The love interest going hot and cold

Jace, I’m looking at you. That is all.

ACS_0045

FOUR: Silent Conversations/reading something in someone’s eyes

THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE. While I adore Sarah J Maas, if I had a nickel for every time Aelin/Rowan had an elaborate, extended silent conversation or somebody saw something in somebody’s eyes that was not JUST emotion and was actually a vital piece of information, I’d be rich.

IMG_1880

FIVE: An annoying main character

I realize this one is super subjective. But if I absolutely hate the main character, there’s a good change I won’t like the book. Exhibit A: Mare from Red Queen.

GIMME MORE

ONE: REP. REP. REP.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s diversity in books. ANY kind of diversity. And I’d particularly love to see more polyamorous and pan rep. If you’re looking for some books with incredible representation, I highly recommend Blanca y Roja and Strange Grace, both 2018 releases. Follow the links for my reviews.

IMG_1933.JPG

TWO: Morally grey characters

If you guys are familiar with my reviews, you already know these are my favorite. And in my opinion, there will NEVER be enough grey. NEVER.

IMG_1939

THREE: Enemies to lovers trope

This is my favorite and nothing you say will convince me otherwise.

FOUR: Standalone fantasy books

WHY are there not more of these??? I honestly can’t even think of any? But if you know any I’m definitely in the market.

FIVE: Mermaids/Sirens

I will forever love books about sirens or mermaids. Forever and ever and ever.

IMG_9933-1

 

Are any of your pet peeves the same as mine? Do you have any book suggestions for the things I’d love to see more of? Let me know! Happy Tuesday, bookworms.

xoxo

Jen