Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Creepy/Paranomal Halloween Reads


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to post about a Halloween freebie. I decided to crete a list of some of my favorite creepy/paranormal Halloween reads. The titles are in no particular order. Check out my Halloween book recommendations from last year.

1. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco is one of my favorite reads of 2016 and for good reason. If you are looking for a Gothic mystery thriller and are not afraid of a little bit of gore, check this one out. The chapter photos work well with the storyline as well.

2. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is definitely an autumnal read. If you are fascinated about Salem, MA and the Salem Witch Trials, check out this paranormal goodie. Also, how cool is it that Adriana is descended from Cotton Mather? The novel is Mean Girls meets Sleepy Hollow meets Hocus Pocus.

3. The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics is a chilling horror novel that will sweep you off your feet. Although a short read, it's perfect for a quick scare.

4. The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett is one the books I am currently reading and boy does Kim go right for the kill from the beginning. Hauntingly mesmerizing, you will want to keep on reading.

5. As I Descended by Robin Talley is a modern paranormal retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth. I enjoyed this diverse book with it's twists and turns.

6. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova has fantastic world building and is an immersive novel with Latin American culture and magic. Zoriada sets a new bar for paranormal fantasy.

7. The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas is a psychological gripping thriller and is suspenseful. I can guarantee you that the ending will surprise you.

8. The Diviners by Libba Bray is a wonderful paranormal book located during the 1920's. Supernatural forces and a murder mystery is intertwined. Don't be intimated by the massive amount of pages! You're in for a ride!

9. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a horror classic. Do I need to say more?

10. Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly is a enchanting MG novel about a misunderstood girl who is destined to save young lives. If you love Frankenstein and the Brother's Grimm stories, check out this fantasy novel.

What books do you like reading in October or around Halloween? Are you looking forward to any of the books listed above? Do you have any horror or paranormal fantasy recommendations?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper: Chapter Thoughts 5-9

Thank you to Sabrina from Beyond the Book Reviews, Ava from Bookishness and Tea and Kerri Maniscalco for organizing this wonderful Stalking Jack the Ripper Read-A-Long. I am thrilled to showcase chapter thoughts for chapters 5-9. I hope everyone is enjoying the read-a-long. You still have time to catch up if you just heard about this wonderful read-a-long. The Stalking Jack the Ripper Read-A-Long started on Monday, October 17th and will end on Friday, October 28th. Check out this document for more information about the Stalking Jack the Ripper Read-A-Long.

Sabrina (@Splintered_Luv) will be hosting a twitter chat on Saturday, October 29th to discuss non-spoilery thoughts about the book and also to share our love for Stalking Jack the Ripper. There is also a goodreads group to further discuss your opinions about Stalking Jack the Ripper.

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Paterson
Publication date: September 20, 2016
Pages:  336
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Books of Wonder | Book Depository | Target 

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Exclusive Chapter Thoughts Chapters 5-9
[photo credit: reserved to copyright holders/the movie Se7en]

I both loved and found myself silently screaming for Audrey during these chapters. We get a glimpse at how annoying society and gender restrictions would have been. Instead of focusing solely on the horrific case, the majority of men in her life question whether or not she can handle it. The parts I loved, however, were Thomas’s skills of deduction being on full display. Audrey’s admiration for him is growing as he encourages her and her ability to handle the murders, and the way they go out and actively hunt down clues. It was fun seeing their friendship and relationship move forward, and Audrey has a chance to show off a bit of her strengths.

Fun tidbit for chapter 9: during this scene I’d envisioned Mr. Thornley lying in bed, covered in sores, and barely breathing. I’m a visual person and find that pulling up photographs usually assists my muse with writing a clearer picture. There’s this scene in the movie Se7en that I felt closely matched my own mental images, so this is what I pulled up to “inspire” the visceral atmosphere of the breathing curtains and the tension in the room.


About Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, a #1 NYT Bestseller, is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest

Stalking Jack the Ripper Chapter Thoughts Schedule

October 18th Chapters 1-4 thoughts: Ava, Zee, and Booknut

October 20th Chapters 5-9 thoughts: Sabrina Tam, Nicole’s Novel Reads

October 22nd Chapters 10-14 thoughts: Nicole (Little Fantasy Land)

October 24th Chapters 15-19 thoughts: Irene

October 26th Chapters 20-24 thoughts: Sabrina (Library Luv)

October 28th Chapters 25-end: Jordan, Nisha

Want a Signed Personalized Bookplate?

Kerri Maniscalo has been very generous and those who review Stalking Jack the Ripper will receive a signed personalized bookplate! To qualify for a bookplate, please participate in the read-a-long whether it be it by tweeting about it, commenting on one of the goodreads discussion threads or simply joining the twitter chat on the Saturday, October 29th. Also, you will need to post a review within a month after the read-a-long concludes. By November 28th, please have a review up on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or on your blog.

To enter your information to receive a bookplate, please fill out this Google form or if you are more comfortable with emailing, please can email sjtrreadalong@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Snape: A Definitive Reading by Lorrie Kim

Title: Snape: A Definitive Reading
Author: Lorrie Kim
Publisher: Story Spring Publishing
Publication date: July 2016
Pages: 299
Source/format: Purchased // Paperback

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

The Harry Potter series may be named after the Boy Who Lived, but if you want to know the story, keep your eyes fixed on Severus Snape. This hook-nosed, greasy-haired, grumpy character is one of J.K. Rowling’s enduring gifts to English literature. He’s the archetypal ill-tempered teacher: acerbic, yet horribly, deliciously funny. When he’s in a scene, you can’t take your eyes off him. Snape is always the story. - From the Introduction

In this examination of J.K. Rowling's most enigmatic character, Lorrie Kim shows us how to sort through the illusions and lies to the man who dared to spy on Voldemort and without whom, Harry's story would have turned out very differently. In his final moments, he asks Harry (and the reader) to "Look at me." This book does just that.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Lorrie Kim's insightful take on retelling Harry Potter through Severus Snape's perspective is refreshing. Kim includes excerpts from the series and interprets every word and every action for the reader to fully understand Snape. Her detailed analysis describes Snape perfectly. Because Snape is such a complex character, Kim breaks down Snape's personality, reasoning and motives. The reader learns to perceive Snape with a new mindset.

She delves into what it means to be a double agent. Many people cannot master being a double agent, yet Snape was able to conceal who he truly is for many years. His motivation to do what he does is important. He is an enigmatic character that is often misunderstood. Very few people know the true Snape. If you're a Snape fan, Snape: A Definitive Reading is a must read!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Boston Teen Author Festival 2016 Recap

On Saturday, September 24th I was fortunate to attend the Boston Teen Author Festival in Cambridge, MA. The Boston Teen Author Festival expanded this year to celebrate their 5th year anniversary! This year, the festival was hosted at the Cambridge Public Library and at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

I wanted to grab a coffee prior to the festival so I swung by Starbucks and bumped into Kim from Book Munchies. Afterwards, I met up with Elizabeth from Book YAbber to venture to the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School for the intro panel. I ended up saying hi to my friends Alberto and Jess before walking to the auditorium.

We ended up running into Rachel from Rachel Writes Things right before we entered the auditorium. The intro panel featured all 35 authors and was located in the auditorium and can I say that the place was pretty much packed. I am so glad to see so many YA readers in one room with amazing YA authors. Instead of doing 3-4 panels back to back, Elizabeth and I decided to only attend two panels for the rest of the day.

I skipped the Panel A from 11:15 to 12:00 for lunch with Elizabeth. We ended up going to a local market to get some hot foods. We ended having some rice, some really tasty teriyaki chicken and a couple other sides. It was a decent lunch although it was kind of expensive but it definitely beat the food truck. We ended up sitting outside next to Rachel and Adrienne. Of course we were sitting right across from no other than Emery Lord!!! How exciting! I was able to chat with Ellie from By Ellie M a few times when I saw her in the library helping attendees find panel rooms.

For The Panel B section, Elizabeth and I bumped into Alberto and Jess again at the Magic Beyond the Grave panel at the Cambridge Public Library. This panel was my favorite and it was absolutely hilarious! Roshani Chokshi, Zoraida Córdova and Daniel Jose Older definitely carried the panel well and self moderated the panel. They had intriguing answers to questions asked and they gave good tips to give to the audience. I also saw Cara Bertrand before the panel which is pretty cool. Her Sententia series is one of my favorite paranormal boarding school series of all time. Cara surprised me with a copy of Tangled Thoughts, which is the third book in the series.

Afterwards, the four of us ended up going to back to the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School to check out the books being sold and to pick up our Kickstarter rewards. We enjoyed the nice weather before venturing to the teen room at the Cambridge Public Library. The last panel we attended was located in the Teen Room. The Journey Toward Mental Health was a change of pace from the Magic Beyond the Grave panel. This panel was serious and heavy in terms of the subject matter. Kathryn Holmes, Emery Lord, Natasha Sinel and Francisco X. Stork self-moderated the panel with Emery Lord taking the lead!

Elizabeth and I left the panel a little bit early to beat the huge rush at the signing line near the cafeteria. During last round of OSTPSecretSister, I ended up writing to Kat while Kat ended up writing to Elizabeth. It was definitely the icing on the cake to meet Kat and her friend during the signing line! It was awesome to have all of us together!

BTAF did an excellent job organizing the signing area with authors sitting in alphabetical order by last name except for Victoria Schwab and Roshani Chokshi. I was able to meet a lot of wonderful authors like Emery Lord and Melissa Landers. I was too excited about meeting both of them because I love their books!! It's awesome how Emery remembered me from twitter! I was able to see Marie Rutkoski and Zoraida Córdova at the signing areas and I briefly saw Roshani Chokshi and Lori Goldstein when walking around BTAF.

BTAF is definitely a great place to meet up with YA book lovers! All the authors are fantastic and are super nice! Also, I was able to get together with old friends and I met some new ones. I hope you are able to attend BTAF next year if you are near the Boston area. It's definitely worth checking it out at least one time in your life.

After BTAF, Elizabeth and I walked through Harvard University and then went to dinner at John Harvard's with Kat and her friend. I was so excited to sit down to eat and chat. I had a pretty tasty dinner of salmon on a bed of snap peas and red peppers. I can't wait to see Kat again. Hopefully I will see her at BEA or at another book event!

Photo credit of the OTSP Secret Sisters: Kat
I want to thank BTAF for putting together an amazing festival this year and I would like to thank the ladies at On the Same Page for pairing Elizabeth, Kat and I for our last round of OTSPSecretSister!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Title: The Bronze Key
Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: August 30, 2016
Pages: 256
Source/format: Library//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Magic can save you.
Magic can kill you.

Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world.

But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process.

As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time.

In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

"One of you will fail. One of you will die. And one of you is already dead." - Prophecy from The Bronze Key

The Bronze Key is the third book in the Magisterium series and so far is my absolute favorite installment. It's the turning point of the series and it doesn't disappoint. The pacing of the book is good. Readers join third years Call, Aaron and Tamara on a journey to discover who the Magisterium spy is and to learn so much about other people's intentions. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare definitely keeps my mind open to all possibilities.

Black and Clare have created a story where magic and friendship collide. Trust and loyalty are hard to come by at the Magisterium especially since the Magisterium is no longer safe. One cannot even guarantee to feel comfortable in their own room without being ambushed. So who is hunting Call, Aaron and Tamara?

Call, Aaron and Tamara have to work with Jasper (the frenemy), much to their dismay, but it's the only way to keep their secret. But they're not the only ones who harbor a secret. The twists and turns in The Bronze Key caught me by surprise. Never rule anything out. That ending is still looming in my head! It's the perfect cliffhanger; Black and Clare nailed it! I had to re-read the last couple chapters just to let the ending soak in! I cannot wait for the next fourth installment, The Silver Mask, to find out more.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Top Favorite Villains


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to post all about the villains. I decide to list some of my favorite villains. The villains are in no particular order.

1. Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series is disturbing twisted but she makes an extremely likable villain. This right hand woman of Voldemort loves to play with her food.

Image from tumblr.com
2. Constantine Madden from The Magisterium series is a very complex character that is slightly mysterious. I would love to know about his backstory.

Image from tmisource.com
3. Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments is probably one of the most evilest villains. Born from Lilith's blood, Sebastian is the ultimate enemy of many. He feels no remorse at all and he is extremely cunning.

Image from fan pop.com
4. Klaus Mikaelson from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals is definitely my favorite villain of both series. He is very vindictive but can have a soft spot. I always wished Klaus and Caroline would get together.

Image from thevampirediaries1.wikia.com
5. Regina Mills/ The Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite characters from the TV series. She can be good and evil depending on her mood and whether she wants to change. Her style is impeccable!

Image from pinterest.com
6. Other Mother from Coraline is devious. She tricks Coraline to think is is unwanted and that she can join this new world with "fun" parents. Looks are deceiving. Other Mother has a few forms and each form gets uglier and scarier.
Image from coraline.wikia.com

What are some of your favorite villains? Do we share any of the same?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Replica by Lauren Oliver

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: October 4, 2016
Pages: 544
Source/format: ARC borrowed from Rachel

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. 'A sickly child', her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father's connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she's always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father's name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute's walls, Lyra - or number 24 as she is known as at Haven - and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven's purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever...

M Y  T H O U G H T S

There are three ways to read Replica. Readers can start with Lyra's story first and then read Gemma's story last. Or the reader can read Gemma's story first and Lyra's story last. Or readers can read each girls' story alternating chapters. I ended up doing the latter. I started with Lyra and alternated with Gemma every two chapters.

Two girls are somehow intertwined and both stories take place at the same time. It's an interesting take on a book where the reader can read two stories that are interconnected with one another. The dual perspective keeps the pace of the plot engaging and the structure of the books creates a fascinating reading experience.

Lyra is a replica, also known as a biologically engineered human model. She lives in a research institute on an island off of Florida with other replicas being watched by doctors, nurses and scientists.

Gemma lives with her family in North Carolina as a normal human but uncovers secrets her parents have been hiding from her. Gemma is able to get a ride with her friend Pete and ends up befriending Jake Witz who knows a bit about the secrets of the Haven institute. Gemma wants to know how her father is connected with Haven.

Lauren Oliver's writing is superb. She makes you think of who you are. Replica is about identity and individuality. Oliver shows how conditioning can shape the person they are who they are today. Part of someone's identity comes from their genetics but a lot of it has to do with their upbringings. Oliver also taps into trust. Who can you trust? Oliver does a fantastic job with the character development and plotting out every interaction. Each person in the book is somewhat important to this puzzle of mysteries.

Erin Fitzsimmons did a wonderful job with Replica's dust jacket. The mirror image with the butterfly and the two sides of the book is perfect to convey two perspectives of the same story.

Replica is a stunning and insightful sci-fi novel. If you're interested in books like the Vault of Dreamers by , definitely check out Replica. I am super excited to read the second book in the series called Simulation.