On the Same Page: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Title: Midwinterblood

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Publishing Information:  October 6, 2011

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Romance

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 272 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of books that make you think, and love that moves beyond time.

Related Reviews: Amy’s post on the many moons of Midwinterblood, and Brittany’s review

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you’ve never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens. In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumor has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they’ve lost. In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon – the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter’s moon, the blood moon – this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.

“It’s not even as if she is beautiful, not in the way people usually mean. She’s more than pretty, that’s what he can say, but it’s not that that has caught him. It is simply her face, her eyes. The moment he saw them something clicked. He suddenly realized what it was. He recognized her face. As if seeing an old friend, long forgotten…”

Okay, so you read the blurb right? You get the gist? Two people are slain and it echoes multiple lives they have lived together, moments where they keep finding and losing one another as time passes…deep stuff. This was a hard book for me to read for many reasons, almost all of them personal, but I read it and honestly am not sure that I can put into words how deeply it affected me. As you know we Gals on the Same Page write non-traditional reviews for this feature, but what I am going to do is try and put into words why this book affected me on such a personal level. We are about to get a little personal!

First, it is imperative to let you know that a few years ago someone close to me was murdered. As you can imagine this sort of thing affects you for the rest of your life, it is something that absolutely changes the way you view the world and there isn’t a day that goes by that it doesn’t affect me in some way. Second, I should explain to you that I am not a religious person. This is an understatement, believe me, but I believe “to each their own,” and therefore won’t get into my reasons or debates. Well it is no question that when my friend was killed I quickly spiraled down into a very dark place, I obsessed over the trial and hate and pain consumed me and I found it hard to even be around other people. One day I was at work making a cup of coffee and I just couldn’t stop thinking about the trial and about my friend. I hadn’t told anyone what had happened at work but my co-worker came into the break room, looked up at me and said, “Alyssa, Matt wants you to stop reading the articles, you are going to be stuck in the dark.” I felt like the world came crashing down in the at moment all over again. I just started sobbing and somehow managed to ask her “how” and “why” she was doing this to me. To make a long story short, this woman was a Psychic Medium who specialized in past life experiences. I know some of you are probably going to stop reading here due to disbelief and bias, and that is totally fine, this is a no judgment zone. I am not going to get into details about what this woman told me, except that I will tell you that she said we have traveled many lifetimes together, each time missing the mark where we can be together, each time he was lost to tragedy in order to move us forward toward an unknown goal. I am not going to explain to you how she helped me bridge a gap that I so desperately needed and how she gave me something to believe in again. I am just going to tell you that it forever changed me, and though I may not believe 100% in anything, I believe that anything is possible and I believe that everything happens for a reason. Continue reading

On the Same Page: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Title: Sunshine

Author: Robin McKinley

Publishing Information:  November 30, 2004 by Jove

Genre: Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Horror

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 389 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: 

Related Reviews: Brittany’s Post and Amy’s Post

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. Sunshine knew that. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and she needed a place to be alone for a while. Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone. She never heard them coming. Of course you don’t, when they’re vampires.
They took her clothes and sneakers. They dressed her in a long red gown. And they shackled her to the wall of an abandoned mansion – within easy reach of a figure stirring in the moonlight. She knows that he is a vampire. She knows that she’s to be his dinner, and that when he is finished with her, she will be dead. Yet, as dawn breaks, she finds that he has not attempted to harm her. And now it is he who needs her to help him survive the day…

Okay so this month the gals and I set out to read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski…it did not go well. That is to say, we didn’t last long before choosing to go down a different path by reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I had actually read this book a few years ago and all I could remember was CON ❤ and well, upon finishing I can sum it up in the same one word! I loved Sunshine and her feisty behavior and the fact that she felt so real, the reader can understand her fears and hesitations throughout the story. I thought for this month’s post I would share some pictures and quotes that I enjoyed while reading Sunshine!

sunskull

“The train is roaring toward you and the villain is twirling his mustache and you’re fussing that he’s tied you to the tracks with the wrong kind of rope.” Continue reading

Fortnight of Fright: Review The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblocki

FoF2014

Hi friends! Welcome to week two of Fortnight of Fright! This week we will be sharing a few reviews of creeptastic books with you, and a guest post by Cat Winters!! Make sure you check out what we had last week, A guest post by Dan Poblocki, Eldritch Black, some awesome bloggers AND a giveaway! Also don’t forgot to check out what Amy and Brittany have for you on their blogs!

Title: The Book of Bad Things

Author: Dan Poblocki

Publishing Information:  August 26, 2014 by Scholastic Press

Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 256 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Readers looking for a horror novel that is just the right amount of horrific, fans of Anna Dressed in Blood and Cat Winters

Related Posts: The Ghost of Graylock Review and The Bad Place Guest Post by Dan Poblocki

One kid’s trash is another kid’s terror in this spooky supernatural mystery.

When Cassidy Bean leaves New York to spend the summer upstate, she’s disappointed to find that Whitechapel is not the quiet, pleasant suburb she remembers. Ursula Chambers, the strange old hermit at the end of the cul-de-sac, has passed away under mysterious circumstances. And the townspeople are shocked to discover that Ursula was a hoarder: Her farmhouse is teeming with stacks of newspapers, piles of furniture, mounds of antique dolls and taxidermy animals.

Cassidy watches as the people of Whitechapel descend upon Ursula’s farmhouse, claiming her abandoned treasures for their own. She listens as rumors spread that Ursula’s vengeful ghost is stalking the town with a warning from beyond the grave. And when Cassidy resolves to uncover the truth behind the strangeness, she learns there are more bad things in the world than she ever suspected. . . .

Cassidy was a wonderful main character, it was easy to love her and I can’t tell you how much I adore how real Dan Poblocki’s characters feel. Cassidy certainly doesn’t have it easy in New York, and I really felt for her and the way that she needs this escape to Joey’s house and family. Joey is dealing with some issues of his own, most importantly the loss of his dog, and the belief that his neighbor Ursula Chambers isn’t all that she seems. Joey’s next door neighbor, Ping, was incredibly refreshing and fun, I loved the way these three interacted with one another and stood together to face down the “bad things” in the neighborhood. Probably my favorite part of the novel was the addition of Hal and his antics, I enjoyed his character thoroughly. Continue reading

Fortnight of Fright: The Bad Place by Dan Poblocki

FoF2014

You guys may remember me reviewing The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki last year – you guys might not know that after finishing it I pretty much bought every title written by Dan and fangirled at him at the Children’s Author Carnival in May this year. To be frank, Dan Poblocki is fantastic. He is an impeccable writer, and an all around nice guy. Therefore, when I asked him to join us for Fortnight of Fright I had high hopes, and basically squealed in delight when he agreed. Read on to hear about some of Dan’s inspirations for The Book of Bad Things – which I will be reviewing during Fornight of Fright, and let us all simultaneously pray to the horror gods that he decides to write us some creepy adult novels very soon!

The Bad Place

Dan Poblocki

I once heard film-director Guillermo Del Toro say in an interview that there are three horror-story tropes that are continuously retold: stories in which our homes are being attacked, stories in which our bodies are being invaded, and stories about bad places. When I think of horror classics, they pretty much all fit. Some work in more than one category. Dracula is a perfect example – the castle in Transylvania is a bad place, and later, the vampire invades characters’ homes and infect their bodies. More typically, certain subsets within the horror genre fill the tropes in more specific ways. Slasher or serial killer tales are about home invasion. Alien, zombie, and monster myths often explore body horror. Finally, haunted house and ghost stories are perfect examples of bad places.

When I consider my own work, I find that of these ideas, the one I’ve explored the most is this last one.

What exactly is a bad place? I believe it can be anywhere that fills you with an unexplainable feeling of dread. A house, an apartment, a hotel, a forest trail, a field, a park, a room, a closet! It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a typically scary spot; maybe it’s a landscape drenched in sunshine or a room filled with toys. The thing about the archetypal bad place is that it leaves you with a feeling that you’re trespassing, that something doesn’t want you there, or maybe it does want you there but for a terrible reason. Continue reading

The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black

Title: The Book of Kindly Deaths

Author: Eldritch Black

Publishing Information:  September 16th, 2014 by Spencer Hill Press

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal

Series Information: The first in a planned series* (*I believe)

Format: Paperback, 304 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher for review

Recommended For: Fans of the darker side of middle grade, fans of Neil Gaiman, and Claire Legrand.

When twelve-year-old Eliza Winter finds a secret room in her missing grandfather’s sprawling, Gothic house, her safe, sheltered life is blown apart. Inside, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the time of day, sits The Book of Kindly Deaths.

When the strange, crooked man from the book arrives on the doorstep claiming to be a rare-book collector and demanding entry into the house, Eliza’s world is turned upside down. To escape him, she must dive all the way into the spine-tingling world of The Book of Kindly Deaths to save her grandfather–and write an end to the nightmare she’s caught inside.

When my friend and fellow blogger Estelle reached out to ask me if I wanted to read and review The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black I was a bit hesitant due to time and responsibilities and ya know, life. But when she told me that it was being geared toward fans of Neil Gaiman, my interest was immediately piqued. Then I read the synopsis and realized that the gal was right, the book was right up my alley. Many thanks to Estelle, Eldritch Black, and Spencer Hill Press for giving me a chance to read and review what turned out to be a rather perfect book for my tastes.

As you can see, this is a story about Eliza Winter and her adventures in a world unlike our own in order to save her grandfather, and others who have been affected by the monsters who frequent the streets of this parallel land. While reading, I was at first somewhat wary because The Book of Kindly Deaths read a bit like a compilation of short stories. In fact, it was very reminiscent of On The Day I Died: Stories From the Grave by Candace Fleming, which was entertaining, but not what I was looking for. Thankfully once I delved further into the story things started to come together and I really enjoyed the different tie ins from the stories within the Book of Kindly Deaths. There was one particularly interesting story filled with characters called “the wrong people.” That is, they were all together wrong. They were a group of “people” with greasy wiry hair, yellowed skin, and crooked teeth who eat mud pie filled with rotten vegetables. They lock up humans, and bring them out for show so that other residents of Grimwytch can see their abnormalities – that is, pale skin, white teeth and normal hands and toes. I loved Katherine’s story, and her escape from Grimwytch and the bittersweet ending to her story. Continue reading

Review: The Unwritten Series by Mike Carey

Title: The Unwritten Series

Author: Mike Carey

Publishing Information: Volume 1 published January 12th 2010 by Vertigo

Genre: Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror

Series Information: 10 Volumes

Format: Paperback, 144 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers who enjoy the Fables series by Bill Willingham, or those of you looking to foray into reading graphic novels without being overwhelmed by back issues and superheroes.

Related Reviews: Fables by Bill Willingham

Tom Taylor’s life was screwed from go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. The problem is Dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom’s real life that fans are constantly comparing him to his counterpart, turning him into the lamest variety of Z-level celebrity. In the final novel, it’s even implied that the fictional Tommy will crossover into the real world, giving delusional fans more excuses to harass Tom.

When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that’s secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, eventually finding himself at locations all featured on a very special map — one kept by the deadly group that charts places throughout world history where fictions have impacted and tangibly shaped reality, those stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture. And in the process of figuring out what it all means, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.

The series starts off great, upon finishing volume one I immediately wanted to continue on in order to find out where the story was going. I loved Tommy as a character, he is incredibly flawed but perseveres through the continuous trials he is put through. Richie and Lizzie are secondary characters in the series but they are both given thorough story arcs that I loved. Lizzie is given a great backstory and Richie is provided an excellent story arc that really makes his character change and grow. Basically, no one is safe, which I love!

The best part about this series is that while telling a new story (that maybe has underlying aspects found in Harry Potter, just a little), Carey also brings in fantastic aspects from “classic” literature such as Moby Dick, Aesop’s Fables, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Obviously, as an English major, this was right up my alley!

If I am being completely honest, it was volume 9, The Unwritten: Fables showing up on Netgalley that originally got me to start the entire Unwritten series. I had never heard of The Unwritten, but I am a lover of the Fables universe by Bill Willingham, so naturally when I saw that they were doing a crossover I had to jump on the chance to read it. I quickly ran to my library and checked out The Unwritten volumes 1-8 and read them in very short time. I am happy to say that I am now a lover of the series and I anticipate when volume 10 will be available.

For those of you who are debating trying out graphic novels, or for those of you looking for a unique and creative twist on some classic literature, you should definitely pick these up as soon as possible! Although they didn’t take the cake for my favorite graphic novel series, they’re certainly coming in at a close second.

untitled-1-1359580067

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publishing Information: June 18, 2013 by William Morrow Books

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Horror

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 181 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of dark fantasies and mythologies of all kinds.

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

I always have a hard time reviewing a book that I love, I think it is because I have become so immersed in the world and have a hard time coming out of it and looking at it with a critical eye. Perhaps, or perhaps I just want to keep it all for me, in a secret chamber in my soul. Whatever the reason, I will do my best to put my feelings into words and I will try not to be too biased as everyone knows I think Neil Gaiman is the best writer alive. It is also no mystery that I love his narration, so when I was able to meet him earlier last year and have him sign my copy of Ocean at the End of the Lane, I also bought the audio to enjoy!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane leaves the reader reminiscing about their childhood, trying to bring up memories long forgotten. It is a book that makes you think back at the way you looked at the world before it became so ugly, when your parents were your superheroes and everything was safe within your own little world. It is hard to look back on those times, to see how vastly different your life is and realize that things are never what they seem. It is almost frightening to realize that your perception on the world at that young an age puts you at a high risk for many things, from disappointment to real harm.

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.” 

The novel is narrated by a seven year old, and it is haunting to see the story progress through his eyes as he is so innocent and naïve but made stronger and older by the happenings around him. The fact that it can be considered slightly autobiographical (as some of the events that happen at the beginning of the book do in fact happen to Gaiman’s family) makes it even more real and emotional. The Hempstock women are strong, witty and all together marvelous; I love their relationship with one another and their relationship with our unnamed protagonist. Ursula Munkton (I love her name – and the way in which Neil Gaiman says it) was really quite terrifying.

This novel is not like other novels by Neil Gaiman, instead of coming on bold and strong as most of his novels, it creeps up on your and you are made raw by the different emotions playing through your mind as you read (or listen) to Gaiman’s words. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is like nothing I have ever read before. It spreads over many genres and bridges the gaps between ages. It is a story of friendship, coming of age, and battling monsters both real and imaginary. It is horrific, and lighthearted, ugly and so beautiful. In short, it is a glorious blend of all things.

Book Hoarders Anonymous: Best of 2013

I haven’t done a Book Hoarders post in a while so I thought to close out the year I would do a little survey like I did last year and focus on some of my favorite personal literary moments of the year! Sorry in advance..it’s link and picture heavy 🙂

Book that reminded me that I love to read: The Sandman series did this for me. The graphic novels are so different from anything that I have ever read and I found myself enamored at the inclusions of different character from history popping up into stories. It really made me think and remember what knowledge I had of these historical figures, or superheroes, etc. and that made me love it even more.

Favorite BAMF: I think Daenerys takes the cake for this one. She is so incredibly young but so fierce. I love her so much. Especially when she says things like “Dracarys!”

Favorite companion: Ravens! Though not technically “fantastical” by nature but some of the ones I read of this year were pretty amazing. Matthew, from The Sandman series and Fiacha from my (ahem 4th? 5th? re-read) of Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite companions, EVER.

Favorite debut author: For sure Cat Winters, the author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The book was absolutely fantastic and heartwrenching. Ms. Winters was so gracious and lovely after I reached out to her upon finishing the novel, and she moved quickly to the top of my auto-buy authors.

BFF: Hands down Sybella from Dark Triumph. She was so dark and brave throughout the novel, I couldn’t help but love her. Truly, some of my closest friends describe her as my “spirit animal,” and I can’t wait to see what she and the other ladies get in to in Mortal Heart.

Most swoon-worthy lad: Okay, I am doing it, I’m cheating. I tried to look elsewhere but the title of most swoon-worthy lad goes to Captain Carswell Thorne, hands down. I can not tell you how many pictures I took of his lines and how many flailing texts were sent to my friends while reading Cress. He has made my top 5 of best swoons EVER, and that is saying A LOT.

Favorite pick found while perusing: Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde. I was handed this by a bookseller at The Book Barn because she noticed that I like Patricia C. Wrede and assured me that this title was a readalike. I was pleasantly surprised over the nostalgia, I obviously also loved the strength in the main lady and the swoons in the main dragon!

Fantastical creatures: Not sure if he counts but, Death personified! He was breathtaking in Keturah and Lord Death and I look forward to reading more novels with him in the center!

That bad boy you shouldn’t love, but…: UMM hello? THE DARKLING 4EVA. I love, love, LOVE him so very much…from his quartz like eyes to his brooding demeanor. I just picture him controlling darkness and I get all “humina humina” to MAH BONES. *swoons* Honorable mention goes to Morpheus from Splintered by A.G. Howard

Favorite male lead: KVOTHE. Ohhhh Kvothe…I spent so much time with him this year (umm..over 50 hours of audio – which reminds me, OH HAI, Nick Podehl <3) and my heart sang and broke for him at times. He is so interesting and witty and hello, he’s a ginger, how can I not love him so?!

Favorite female lead: Eleanor, from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. For the good and the bad, she reminded me of me when I was in high school.

Best summary in less than ten words: Scary vampires in an Amish setting. (Thanks, Ame!)

A return to an old favorite (title, genre, etc.): WOO! ROBIN HOOD, BABY!! I chose Robin Hood as my focus for our Classics Retold event and I am so glad that I was able to go back to the story that I love in Hood by Stephen Lawhead. I am excited to read book 2 and 3 in the series as soon as possible!

So glad I judged by it’s cover: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. The piercing gaze of the girl on the front and the ethereal being behind her, I had to have this book. I am so glad that I jumped to request this from Netgalley upon seeing it because it was one of my favorite reads of the year.

Broke my Heart: The Fables installments from this year really got to me. I have become WAY too invested in the characters and have fallen in love with the story, I love these graphic novels so much but boy did they crack my heart a little. Let’s not even get started on A Song of Ice and Fire…

Heightened by the narrator: For sure A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket narrated by Tim Curry is first in my mind when thinking of narrators who make the series for me. I started reading this series years and years ago and never finished because as I grew older I had a hard time making it through these novels in print. However, the audiobooks are absolutely stellar. The parts that I tended to read over because of annoyance or lack of interest, sprouted from my speakers and made me smile and laugh out loud.

Gave me the creeps (which I love): The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki, I sincerely hope that this author starts writing adult horror because he is FANTASTIC.

It’s in the words..: The Woodcutter by Kate Danley was so lyrical and beautiful that I found myself bookmarking every few pages. It was a simple, yet gorgeous read.

Biggest disappointment: Hmm probably Towering by Alex Flinn. I have heard a lot of good things about this author and it might have just been a wrong book, wrong time sort of thing but I did not enjoy this novel AT ALL.

Worth the hype: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. First, I was lucky enough to meet Rainbow at BEA this year and she was so fantastic, she also has great hair. Second, I am not a contemporary reader, and the sickly sweet romances are not usually my thing…HOWEVER Eleanor and Park was recommended to me by so many people that I trust and I fell so deeply in love with it, I immediately added all of Rowell’s books to my TBR. Never has hand holding been so romantic.

Newest addiction: Audiobooks!! As some of you may know, I am incredibly picky when it comes to audiobook narrators. Jim Dale is an obvious love and I fell into loving Neil Gaiman as soon as I heard his free audiobook Click, Clack, the Rattlebag but I had a hard time finding someone else to enjoy. I seem to have a problem with the jarring tone of a female narrator and and I felt sort of lost for a while until Heidi and Amy convinced me to try Nick Podehl, the narrator of The Kingkiller Chronicles. Well WOO BOY am I happy that I gave him a listen! over 50 hours of audiobook later and I am IN LOVE! I was also lucky enough to find some audiobooks narrated by Tim Curry, The Series of Unfortunate Events and a lovely version of Dracula, while perusing!

Favorite villain: Krampus wins this one, I think, though I don’t know for sure that he is considered a villain despite his “evil” ways. This novel by Brom is absolutely enthralling, I read it almost a year ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Favorite laugh out loud moment: Like last year, I have to go with a Duncan moment from the second installment of The League of Princes: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. “Oh, I disagree,” Duncan added. “It makes me think of cow-owls. And those are horrifying. MOO-WHO! MOO-WHO!” This series is honestly fantastic and I can’t wait for book three!! Honorable mention goes to the final installment of A Tale Dark and Grimm: The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz, this one had me laughing out loud as well!

The kissy bits: WOO Shadow & Bone had some yummy moments, as did Dark Triumph by LaFevers, Splintered by Howard, and Eleanor and Park had some epic hand holding (also CRESS because seriously..*faints*) Seriously, you guys…*FANS SELF*

Biggest ugly cry moment: Ya know, I didn’t really have any ugly cry moments this year..I don’t usually read those kinds of books so I somehow missed out. I did, however, tear up a few times while reading Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. They were both lovely books, though I did not love them or get as attached as other readers.

Favorite new to me genre/book: Historical fiction! Between In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and The Caged Graves, I quickly jumped on the historical fiction bandwagon and asked Hannah and April for some suggestions. Needless to say, my TBR pile grew a lot and I am excited to move into some non Tudor England historical reads!

Mind. Blown.: Man, I feel sorry that I can’t explain myself better here but…that THING that happens in A Storm of Swords (and it’s not the thing you think)..yeah, I did NOT see that coming. I am so thrilled that I read this series, I can’t even begin to explain how worth it it is to take on the epicness that is A Song of Ice and Fire.

Thank you, Netgalley!: Splintered by A.G. Howard was a titled that I found on a whim while looking through Netgalley. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis sounded awesome – a twisted fairytale, Alice in Wonderland meets Tim Burton in novel form? Sign me up! The world was vivid and the swoons were aplenty.

Non-bookish THINGS that I loved in 2013:

LOKI: Now, you all know that I love the villains SO MUCH and Loki isn’t really NEW on my radar since I have read and LOVED Norse mythology for as long as I can remember, but I started working hardcore on my WIP this year and…well..there are some Loki like bits in there. That got me delving more into his character, which only made me love him more. Also look how cute my new shirt is…

Game of Thrones: Again, not so new, but some of you may know that I participated in a Song of Ice and Fire Read Along this year and though it was very time consuming…it was AWESOME. Honestly, it is totally worth it, the series is so epic and you just fall so into the world, I definitely recommend giving it a go.

Neil Gaiman: Okay, I may have mentioned him a time or…five..but I was lucky enough to see Neil Gaiman THREE TIMES this year, and I MET HIM FACE TO FACE a few months ago and it was just a once in a lifetime experience. He is so amazing and gracious, and genius. Also his wife, she is pretty fantastic as well. No words.

Literary Lushes: I started a second website with my best friend Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide) which focuses on ARC tours and Twitter chats. It has been such a great experience working with someone that I love and it has really opened me up to new bloggers and experiences which makes me incredibly happy!

Going forward I would like to introduce some new fun features on the blog – (including a new review feature!) and obviously share some wonderful reviews with you all! What about you guys, what can you tell me about your favorite literary moments of the year? I look forward to seeing you all in 2014!! As always, thanks for reading!

Review: Krampus by Brom

Title: Krampus

Author: Brom

Publishing Information: October 30, 2012 by Harper Voyager

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Mythology

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 357 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library

Recommended For: Fans of dark fantasies, mythologies of all kinds, and the other side of Christmas.

One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward, taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets back to earth, a magical sack that thrusts the down-on-his-luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse’s new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, including how half a millennium ago the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.

Now Santa’s time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself in his family’s eyes, to save his own broken dreams, and to help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished folk of Boone County.

You might remember that a while back, I read and LOVED The Child Thief, a retelling of Peter Pan, written by Brom. Despite my love of the author/artist, it somehow passed by me that he was writing a story about my favorite Christmas demon, Krampus. I was walking through Barnes & Noble last year and saw the cover and HAD to have it, I read it over two days while snowed in from a terrible storm, and it was an absolutely perfect experience.

One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is the way in which Brom blends the line between traditional fantasy elements, and contemporary issues. Small town problems such as drug addiction and trailer park romances meld together with Norse lore and Yuletide demons. In this sense, there is darkness in the character of Krampus, he is, after all, seeking to murder Santa Clause and take back his right as the reason for the season. Beyond that, Brom explores the darkness of humanity, there are many twisted characters who partake in abuse, addiction, and torture, but there is hope throughout as well.

One of my favorite thing in literature is when an author writes multilayered characters. Characters who are neither good nor evil, but fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and that was completely Krampus for me. Looking at the cover of the novel you expect this character of the “Christmas demon” to be a completely evil and harsh in the light of something as lovely as Christmas, but he wasn’t. Instead, I found Krampus to be understanding and just, I really do think that he believed he was right in his claims.

“Your dreams are your spirit, your soul and without them your are dead. You must guard your dreams always. Always. Lest someone steal them away from you. I know what it is to have your dreams stolen. I know what it is to be dead. Guard your dreams. Always guard your dreams.”

It wasn’t just the story and illustrations that spoke to me, some small details of this novel were reminiscent of my childhood which made me really fall deeper into the novel. For example, Jesse tells Isabel that he is going “snipe hunting,” and the inclusion of the Shawnee characters, who are part of my ancestry really spoke to me. At one point, Krampus teaches some girls that they should honor him by leaving their shoes outside with a treat or trinket inside them as tribute. My family is from Germany, and my grandmother raised us to leave our shoes out with something such as a coin, or piece of fruit for Krampus, when he comes with Saint Nicholas. We did this every year and were always please to find that Krampus left us gifts of our own. In our household, we held Krampus as high as we held Santa, which was in the front of my mind as I read the novel and the stark differences between the two characters.

Brom writes a beautiful novel, he really has a way with words, and the illustrations are breathtaking and one of a kind. Upon finishing, I was positively giddy over the perfection that is Krampus. For personal reasons this book spoke to me on a different level, and as always, Brom succeeds in simultaneously breaking and melting my heat. For readers looking for a dark and harrowing story on the origins of Santa Clause, differences between Christmas and Yuletide, or a vivid novel steeped in Norse mythology, this novel is highly recommended.

Review: The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki

Title: The Ghost of Graylock

Author: Dan Poblocki

Publishing Information: August 1, 2012 by Scholastic Press

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 258 pages

Source: Gifted from Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide) for All Hallow’s Read

Recommended For: Fans of Anna Dressed in Blood, or atmospheric mysteries that make you look over your shoulder from time to time

Everyone’s heard the stories about Graylock Hall.

It was meant to be a place of healing – a hospital where children and teenagers with mental disorders would be cared for and perhaps even cured. But something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned and left to rot deep in the woods. As the new kid in town, Neil Cady wants to see Graylock for himself. Especially since rumor has it that the building is haunted. He’s got fresh batteries in his flashlight, a camera to document the adventure, and a new best friend watching his back. Neil might think he’s prepared for what he’ll find in the dark and decrepit asylum. But he’s certainly not prepared for what follows him home. . . .

I was lucky enough to be gifted this book by my very dear friend Brittany for our All Hallow’s Read book swap and I know she struggled in finding me a novel with the proper amount of horror. I have a very high threshold, you see, and she wanted to make sure that I was properly scared! I am happy to say that this book was just right for me, it has just the right amount of thrill that kept me glued to its pages.

The characters in The Ghost of Graylock were fun and relatable. Neil and Bree are the new kids in town, and their curiosity shows through their many adventures. What I liked about Wesley and his brother is that they weren’t those stock “weird” kids in town. In fact, Wesley’s older brother is kind of a “cool” kid who has some typical teenage male snarky behaviors, which I think made him more real! Parents were missing from this one, but Neil and Bree’s aunts are their and take care of them well enough, I would have liked  to see more from them.

One of the best things about The Ghost of Graylock was the way in which Dan Poblocki compliments the story with very vivid imagery. I found myself to be so engrossed while reading The Ghost of Graylock that though the book was not overly scary or horrific, I still jumped out of my skin a few times. The author provides the reader with such detail that I found myself hearing the drip of lake water falling from a ghostly girl. I felt terror as the characters ran and hid for their lives in the walls of the old asylum. The end of The Ghost of Graylock was incredibly twisty and though I suspected some aspects, I did not fully see it coming. I love it when that happens! I definitely had a look of surprise upon figuring out just who the real bad guy was and what terrible things crimes they had committed.

One of my sincerest wishes is that Dan Poblocki forays into adult horror, because he completely has the ability to scare even the most fearless reader. I have a very high tolerance for the scares, and this one felt a little bit juvenile to be classified as a proper horror novel. However it was still wildly entertaining and just the right amount of creepy, and comes highly recommended if you are looking for something to have you looking over your shoulder from time to time.