On the Same Page: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Author: Lish McBride

Publishing Information:  October 12th 2010 by Henry Holt and Company

Genre: Fantasy, paranormal, humor, horror, supernatural, magic

Series Information: First in the Necromancer series

Format: Hardcover, 343 pages

Source: Was gifted a copy

Recommended For: Fans of the humorous side of horror and those who value friendships over loveships.

Related Posts: Check out Amy’s post on readalikes and Brittany’s review!

I loved Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Love it. It was full of heart, humor, and well, necromancy. What more could a gal ask for? I loved this book so much that I immediately started to read it’s sequel and friends, I just cannot get enough of Sam and his crew. The friendships in this novel were excellent, the loyalties among these friends is definitely something to be envious of. My favorite part of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was definitely the way in which it made me laugh. Sam’s personality is extremely lovable in his perfect use of wit and sarcasm. He is definitely a guy that I would was as my best friend. To better understand what I am talking about, I thought I would showcase some of the hilarious quotes found throughout the novel. Check them out, and check out Amy and Britt’s post and let us know what you think! Have you read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer? If not, have we convinced you that you should give it a go? 

jedi of hot chocolate

“Despite her obvious stress, my mom still managed to pour the hot chocolate into mugs, cover them with whipped cream and a pinch of cayenne, and add a cinnamon stick to them. She was like the Jedi master of hot chocolate.”

in peace

“Can you just tell them we don’t need Jesus, Girl Scout cookies, or whatever the Mormons worship, and let me lie here in peace?”

mustang

“Mrs. Winalski owned a candy-apple-red 1965 Mustang GT convertible, and she drove it like she could die at any minute and needed to get five things done before that happened.”

no no cha cha

“So you’re the guy who did the no-no cha-cha with my baby sister.”
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Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Title: Blood and Salt

Author: Kim Liggett

Publishing Information:  September 22, 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Genre: Horror, fantasy, mystery, romance

Series Information: First in a duology

Format: Hardcover, 352 pages

Source: Was gifted a copy by Cassi of My Thoughts Literally

Recommended For: Fans of atmospheric novels that make you feel as if you are caught outside on an October evening. For fans of Kendare Blake, The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle and Gothic novels filled with beautiful writing and unforgettable characters. 

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own. As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

It is hard to say what I loved most about Blood and Salt. This might be silly to say, but the whole scary corn aspect really added to the atmosphere for me. You see, I grew up in a house right across from a farm, and they had a GIANT cornfield. A cornfield where we would often play hide and seek, or dare each other to go into at night. Honestly, very few things are scarier than being in the middle of a cornfield on a chilly, windy evening. That being said, the atmosphere of Blood and Salt was stellar. I loved the creepy cult vibe of the whole settlement, and I kept waiting for the veil to drop. Let me tell you, did that veil ever drop. I was equal parts sad for the inhabitants of the settlement, and horrified at their mentality. As little tidbits came to light I was shocked by some of the revelations and absolutely couldn’t put the book down.

Now, what about the romance, eh? The first thing that I am going to say is that there is no love triangle in this novel. To be quite honest, I am unsure what book other people were reading when they noted that there is a love triangle. It isn’t even like there were blurred lines here, there is no love triangle to speak of. At all. Second little thing to note about the romance is that the Romeo and Juliet aspect comes (not at all from a love triangle) but from the aspect that Ash & her beau come from different family lines who are forbidden to be together. You know, like Romeo and Juliet. Okay, so the thing that there is, however, is some serious instalove happening. As we read on the we come to understand that there are REASONS for this sort of thing, but there was a certain burning desire between these two characters upon seeing one another and at first glance it totally set me off. As I said, things become more clear throughout and things got a little achy and there were yearns and I enjoyed it, but in the beginning the romance wasn’t my favorite part of Blood and Salt. However, and I can’t say too much here, Ash’s reaction to the relationship near the end of the novel was stellar. It felt real, and it felt strong.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

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Fortnight of Fright: “Beyond the Wall” by Danielle E. Shipley

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As of October 10th my latest project with Xchyler Publishing has launched: “Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss”. My short story, “Date Due”, has the honored grand finale spot at book’s end. In brief summary:

For an eccentric bibliophile, any and every book is magic. Even more so when the book’s home is a hidden library with an impossible secret: Every story on its shelves has yet to be written. And the library’s self-appointed guardian means to ensure they never are, no matter whether the future authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

You read that aright – a library full of books unwritten! Say… I’ll bet that means even “Beyond the Wail” will have sat upon one of its shelves, once upon a time. What would its librarian have made of the anthology, I wonder?…

BEYOND-THE-WAIL-front-web

All right, my lovelies. Which new friend should I meet today? Someone from right here in the Red Fireplace Room, I think. I’m feeling a bit tired to go roaming through our Library’s unexplored spaces; I just want a nice new read today.

Hmm, what have we on this shelf? Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss. A paranormal anthology? Perfect! Let’s see what chills and thrills are in store.

Of Mice and Monsters by Tirzah Duncan. “There is a man who twists the necks of caged mice…” Oh, Benjamin, what a beastly creature you are. A fine conversationalist, though, I must give you that. But that phantom wind will do for you if Tina comes to harm – any harm that she’s not already inflicting on herself, the poor, sick thing. Some lovely writing, here. Passionate. Unflinching. Continue reading

Review: The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Title: The Uninvited

Author: Cat Winters

Publishing Information:  August 11, 2015 by William Morrow

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Horror

Series Information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 343 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC for review via the publisher

Recommended For: Fans of historical fiction with paranormal elements, strong heroines, and those of you looking for some swoony feels

Related Reviews: Review of In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

We follow Ivy as she leaves her childhood home behind. She does her best to move on from the violence and guilt that her family brings. As Ivy leaves home, she walks by the store in which her father and brother committed a horrible act of violence and finds Daniel Schendel down on the floor, doing his best to remove the blood from his floorboards. Ivy does her best to push into Daniel’s life and provide him with some sort of solace to replace the guilt that she feels from her family’s crime. Over time, the two are able to build something beautiful despite the horror that is right outside their door.

“I know he’s in mourning and a tragic figure, which I’m sure melts your poetry-loving heart.”

This novel broke my heart in the very best way. Like other novels by Cat Winters, Ivy is living in a rather difficult time for women. Therefore the growth of her character was truly amazing to watch. Her strength shone through the terror and ugliness of the time in which she is living, I especially liked her role in driving an ambulance for the Red Cross. Daniel grows in his own way as well, and learns to trust that not everyone is as hateful and close-minded as those he had come in contact with prior to meeting Ivy. The secondary characters have their own layered and interesting personalities and I found that I really cared about each one.
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Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publishing Information:  May 12, 2015 by Putnam Juvenile

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings

Series Information: The first in The Wrath and the Dawn duet

Format: Hardcover, 388 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss *review and quotes based on an unfinished copy

Recommended For: Readers looking for something that feels familiar but is wholly different, and anyone needing a multitude of swoons

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

There is so much to say, and yet I don’t think that I have enough words to convey how much I absolutely adored The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I honestly don’t know where to start…

Let’s start with all of the things that The Wrath and the Dawn could have done. It could have given the readers a love triangle to frustrate the most easy going reader. It could have provided us with a strong heroine who suddenly shifts in character and falls apart due to a man. We could have been given women who hate each other due to their beauty, or jealousy. Honestly, this novel could have fallen into every trope imaginable, and somehow the author managed to move past these boundaries and therefore succeed in writing one of the best debuts that I have ever read.

Instead, Renee Ahdieh wrote a novel that encompasses love after it has grown and become something real, between two characters who grow and learn with one another. Characters who only lose themselves in the moment, still maintaining their sense of self and strength while learning to allow another past the walls around their hearts. The slow burn love story in The Wrath and the Dawn is admittedly the best part of the novel. It is the core of the novel, weaving through every page, yet it doesn’t take away from the underlying plot, the question of why Shazi is there in the first place and the struggle that Khalid has every waking moment.

“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.

“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.

“No.” His hands dropped to her waist, “Destroy me.”

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Review: The Bridei Chronicles by Juliet Marillier

Hi friends! Whew it feels like it has been forever since I have brought you reviews but if I am being honest, I have barely even had time to read! I have, however, had time to listen to ALL THE AUDIOBOOKS!! Well, “all” really covers too wide of a range as in actuality I started some pretty awesome but LONG series on audiobook and have been devouring them for months. Let’s take a looksie..!

Oh these books. These books were just wonderful. I can’t lie, I was a little wary to branch out into another Marillier series seeing as my love for her Sevenwaters series knows no bounds. I took the plunge, and did so in the form of the audiobook read by Michael Page and in doing so, found myself a new favorite narrator! Don’t you just love it when that happens?! I would highly recommend this series for fans of Marillier, strong female leads, brooding heroes, slow burn romances between the two and hints of political intrigue…

Title: The Dark Mirror

Author: Juliet Marillier

Narrator: Michael Page

Publishing Information:  March 6, 2004 by Tor

Genre: Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance

Series Information: Book one in The Bridei Chronicles (was a planned 5 book series that turned into a trilogy)

Format: Hardcover, 512 pages

Source: Bought for my personal library (in hardcover AND audiobooks!)

Recommended For: Fans of epic fantasies, slow burn romances, and historical fiction

The Dark Mirror was one of those books that broke my heart a little bit, the relationship between Bridei and Tuala is very sweet and I loved the strength shown from both of them. Each has to deal with their own struggles, but it was the struggle that Tuala faced that really felt heart wrenching to me. I liked how The Dark Mirror set the tone for the rest of the series, though the next two books branch off, they always come back to the backbone that is Bridei’s kingdom, and the relationship between he and Tuala. If I am being honest, though I did enjoy book one in this trilogy, I did not LOVE it and it was the promise of better things to come that had me continuing on with the series. The relationship between Bridei and Tuala was very sweet, but it was the secondary characters that really piqued my interest. Had I not known that the next two books would be focusing on Faolan (hubba, hubba) I am not sure that I would have been as excited to continue on.

“Tales within tales. Dreams within dreams. Pattern on pattern and path beyond path. For such short-lived folks, the human kind seem determined to make things as complicated as possible for themselves.” Continue reading

Fortnight of Fright: Asylum Review by Sarah (Friends with Characters)

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Heyy friends!! Carrying on with the reviews of creepy books, we have Sarah from Friends With Characters reviewing Asylum by Madeline Roux, a book that sounds like it would be right up my alley! Take it away, Sarah!

Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday. It’s so much fun dressing up and I love scary stories. I read Asylum by Madeleine Roux and it definitely is a creepy story perfect for Halloween.

Asylum (Asylum #1)

by Madeleine Roux 

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

My Review:

Dan is an extremely awkward person. He goes to the New Hampshire College Prep program to meet people with interests similar to his. At the NHCP he meets Abby, an artistic girl, and Jordan, a math genius. Dan and his new friends find some creepy pictures at their dorm rooms. The dorm room used to be an asylum for the criminally insane. It looks like the criminally insane haven’t exactly left.

Asylum was a creepy book. The scenes describing the old asylum were very realistic. I think that Madeleine Roux did her research. I bet the second book will be even better. Continue reading

On the Same Page: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Title: The Goose Girl

Author: Shannon Hale

Publishing Information:  May 13th 2005 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling, Adventure

Series Information: First in The Books of Bayern series

Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Source: Gifted for my personal library from Amy

Recommended For: Fans of Jessica Day George, Patricia C. Wrede, strong heroines, and sweet romances

Related Reviews: Brittany’s Review and Amy’s Post on Quotes

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt’s guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

This was Amy’s choice for our On the Same Page feature, and a few years ago she even bought it for me (before we were best friends) when she had me for Secret Santa! So it is no question that she LOVES this book, and therefore I knew that I would love it as well. Well, friends, love it I did. I adored Ani and her strength, but I also loved that she was unsure about herself and her abilities. She was very real to me, and I love it when that happens. I could honestly go on and on about this book, but as we try and change it up for our On the Same Page posts I thought I would share a read alike guide with you instead of a traditional review!

So, if you liked The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, try…

 

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George – While it may sound that this is just another dragon inspired fairy tale employing all of the familiar themes, I promise that it is more involved than that, and though reminiscent of other tales it is uniquely sweet and promising. This novel comes highly recommended for those of you looking for a sweet story about a girl, her dragon, and their successful attempts to save a kingdom.

 

 

Entwined by Heather Dixon – This story follows Azalea and her sisters, they live with their mother and father and their favorite thing in the world is to dance. Unfortunately, their mother dies giving birth to their youngest sister and the palace goes under a period of mourning, in which no dancing is allowed. Azalea finds out some information regarding the secret passages in their castle and they discover a magical wood beyond their castle that contains a dancing glen, taken care of by a man who only goes by the name Keeper. Then, evil comes to the castle and there is an epic battle and all of these love pairings come about in a non-obvious way and it was so sweet and refreshing from the immediate I-have-to-have-you-now that comes in most YA romance novels. Also? I cried. This alone makes me like this book because it was so unexpected. The relationship between the girls and their father is even better than the romantic relationships in the book, which is rare and beautiful.

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Fortnight of Fright (3)

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Heyyyy friends!!

I’m sure you guys remember that for the past TWO (ahh two already?!) years Brittany from The Book Addicts Guide and I have hosted a two week event called Fortnight of Fright, where we shared different posts on all things Halloween! This year we have decided to host it under our collaborative name, Gals on the Same Page which means we get to host with Amy from Tripping Over Books as well!

This means MOAR space for you guys to share and read awesome content! We will be working together with you guys and some fabulous authors to showcase some creepy books, interviews, movies and anything else Halloween and Autumn related that you can think of! As always, the more the merrier so scroll on down to the Google Doc and sign on up to help us out, friends! There is honestly no limit on what you can post about! Have a signature Halloween or Autumn cocktail or recipe? Pinterest board we should be checking out? A book recommendation for those of us who love to be scared? Or even something to lighten up those spooky Halloween nights? We want it all! JOIN US!

For some reference, here are some awesome posts that we had here on Books Take You Places over the past few years: Continue reading

Review: The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson

Title: The Mirk and Midnight Hour

Author: Jane Nickerson

Publishing Information: March 11th 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction

Series Information: Standalone (though apparently the three books are companions in the “Strands” universe)

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Readers looking for a quick read with an enchanting setting and vibrant setting.

A Southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest. All collide at night’s darkest hour.

Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war—a war that has already claimed her twin brother.

When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy—one of the men who might have killed her own brother—and yet she’s drawn to him. But Violet isn’t Thomas’s only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds—keeping him alive—and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn’t been out of compassion.

Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.

From the author of Strands of Bronze and Gold comes a haunting love story and suspenseful thriller based on the ancient fairy tale of “Tam Lin.”

I was wary to pick up The Mirk and Midnight Hour because I had heard very mixed reviews about Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson, and by very mixed reviews, I mean that some people downright LOATHED it and they were very passionate as to why. Upon hearing that The Mirk and Midnight Hour was just a companion set in the same world, and not a sequel, I thought I would give it a go. How gorgeous is the cover, and the a retelling of Tam Lin hooked me right away.

The best compliment that I can give The Mirk and Midnight Hour is that months after reading it, I still can’t stop thinking of the haunting and vibrant setting where the story takes place. Much of the novel takes place in the woods, where Violet finds a wounded soldier, Thomas. I am a sucker for a gothic tale, and I love me some beautiful, bird filled woods. The setting and the secondary characters ended up adding some depth that the novel was missing from the beginning. I enjoyed Lainey and Michael, who work on Violet’s farm as slaves, and I absolutely adored Violet’s cousin, Seeley.

First, there is a lot going on in this novel. There is a focal point on Violet’s home life, her relationships with her stepmother and stepsister play an important role in the growth of the novel, and though at first they seemed irrelevant to the plot, I really enjoyed they way that the relationships grew as the characters did, I was surprised to find how much I liked Violet’s stepsister and mother come the end of the novel. For me, the love story was, in a word, rushed. I realize that some growth in their relationship happened “off the page,” but I still couldn’t see how they fell in love so quickly and deeply. Though I did enjoy it to an extent, it was not deeply moving in the least.

Probably the biggest flaw in The Mirk and Midnight Hour was found in the “retelling” of Tam Lin. Readers have to trudge through quite a bit of the novel before we actually meet his character and  though I can understand how certain circumstances can bring people together, the romance felt a little too easy for me. The fairies found in Tam Lin are replaced with (what is described in the blurb as being) Voodoo and I found it to be a tad out of place. Violet also has a rather nonsensical affinity with bees that somewhat plays into the novel but again, it felt out of place (and quite frankly confused me).

Shelf Talker: The Mirk and Midnight Hour was a very quick and vibrant read, if you are willing to look past some frustrations over the under developed romance and and less than stellar retelling. If you want a gothic novel, filled with a girl growing up in the south during the Civil War that focuses on the struggles of this time with hints of romance, voodoo, and a creepy atmosphere, then give this one a go.