Top 5 Wednesday | Favourite Spooky Settings

 

 

This week’s theme is SPOOKTACULAR!!

I haven’t necessarily been spooked while reading them, there has just been something kind of eerie about each of these – whether it be the plot, characters or the setting. As you will see, I really fancy books which don’t feel like a particular time or place. So here we go!

5. Crimson Bound | Rosamund Hodge

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“Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.”

It was tough choosing between this book and Cruel Beauty because they are both pretty spooky. I decided on this one because of the lore that Hodge has written into the story.

This book was stunning. I sort of forgot just how wretchedly beautiful it was until I looked into it again. It is set in Durendal – a fictional city with a quite disturbing Great Forest.

Rachelle is our protagonist – Hodge’s interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood – and she is a protector, assassin and guard of the realm. Her main goal throughout the story is to end/stop the Devourer – this dark creature that wants to destroy the world.

The characters are intense and violent. The story is thorny and twisty. There are many dark creatures killing townspeople. It’s just a very spooky village!

4. The Raven Boys | Maggie Stiefvater

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“I guess now would be a good time to tell you,” He said. “I took Chainsaw out of my dreams.”

What makes this book so spooky is that you are never quite sure what is happening. You are kept on your toes. The story is told from many perspectives but you still aren’t 100% sure of people’s motives – you can’t trust everybody. And I love it when fantasy elements are wrapped into real-life situations. It raises the intensity of the story.

3. Her Fearful Symmetry | Audrey Niffenegger

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“There was only the cemetery itself, spread out in the moonlight like a soft grey hallucination, a stony wilderness of Victorian melancholy.”

This is about two sisters who are mirror twins. They are completely identical except that one sister’s organs are on the opposite side of the body, so it’s like looking into the mirror of yourself.

They inherit their Aunt’s flat and it is here that their unusually close relationship starts to crumble. The other inhabitants of the building have their own issues and they start to seep into the sisters’ lives. Mistrust and paranormal activity keep the sisters and the reader on edge. It was an intense and almost stressful book to read.

2. In the Shadow of Blackbirds | Cat Winters

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“We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.”

Not only is this one of my favourite books but it is one of saddest and creepiest. It explores one of the great questions: Are ghosts real? Is there an afterlife?

This book is atmospheric. Winters really encapsulates American life in 1918 – it’s close to the end of the war but many people are still dying, especially from the Spanish Influenza. Not only are the supernatural elements strong here, but it is also exploring the social elements of life for a 16 year old girl in this time. There is strength and horror and fear.

1. The Diviners | Libba Bray

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“There is nothing more terrifying than the absoluteness of one who believes he’s right.”

I am ashamed to say that I still haven’t finished reading this! I am currently listening to the audiobook which is either the greatest or worst decision I have ever made. The narrator is spectacular! Her accents and the story she is telling really places the reader in 1920s New York and I feel like I have stepped through time to see this story play out.

There are some pretty graphic murder scenes in this book and one of the creepiest villains ever – he just feels insubstantial and his motive for killing beyond “Because I want to and can” aren’t 100% clear yet. And the fact that he sings while hunting his prey really makes my skin crawl. So even though I am only about 1/4 of the way through the book this is by far one of the creepiest settings for a book that I have come across.

Honourable Mentions

  • Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Supernatural Murder Mystery with a side of quirky humour – count me in! There are creepy characters and the setting is atmospheric, but it wasn’t too spooky to me. Dry, hot desert doesn’t really scream “Bump in the night”.

  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This just missed out because the setting falls too much into the realm of surreal rather than spooky. An incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking story though.

 

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Unboxing | Owlcrate | October 2016 | Once Upon A Dream

I am very pumped about this month’s box!

It was one of the cutest boxes that Owlcrate have put together and I was particularly excited about the book.

Vassa in the Night | Sarah Porter

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This book guys, this book! It was included in last month’s Fairyloot box and I was so sad that I didn’t get that box, so when I saw this I screamed.

Blurb: “In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…”

Retellings can be hit and miss, but this is one that I am not worried about. As usual this came with a delightful letter from the author, and it also came with a signed bookplate and temporary tattoo. Owlcrate choose the most giving authors for their boxes.

Bookmark

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This stripey piece of beautiful was an excellent edition. One can never have too many bookmarks, especially one this adorable.

It is created by My Heart My Tribe – I can’t find their store, but here is their Instagram account.

Notebook

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The next item was an Oz Passport notebook. It’s so freaking adorable and notebooks are always useful. This one was created by The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild.

Bracelet

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After the book this was my favourite item. I’ve already worn it a bunch of times and it the jingliest, cutest bracelet ever. It has a Sleeping Beauty theme and that is one of my favourite Disney movies. Those fairies slay me!

Beanie

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Come on guys! You are killing me with cuteness! In Australia we are starting to get into hotter weather so I won’t be able to wear it for ages, but I will appreciate it from afar until that time.

This Peter Pan beanie is by Whosits & Whatsits and ya’ll need to get your own.

 

Top 5 Songs | 17 October to 23 October 2016

Haiiii!

I have decided that I want to branch out a bit with this blog because there are things other than books that I love.

One of those is music. I love me some musak. I don’t really care what type of music it is, I can usually find an artist inside a genre that I can enjoy, but I definitely do love the mainstream stuff.

So I am going to attempt to give you my top 5 songs of the week every week starting from now. These will just be any five songs that I have not been able to stop listening to over the last week.

5. Blue Bayou | Roy Orbison | 1955

I have a bizarre fascination with talent shows on television and I was watching random performances from The Voice (America) and I came across someone called Alisan Porter who just nailed this song, and I had to go see who originally sang it. Should have known it would be bae.

4. This Town | Niall Horan | 2016

I am making heart eyes at this cutie patootie! I feel like this is an underrated song because it’s such an even-tempered one. There is no big chorus, it’s just peaceful and beautiful in its simplicity.

3. Lost | Major Lazer ft. MØ | 2015

This is a cover of Frank Ocean’s Lost and I feel that they have made it their own. The beat is there and I love that they have techno-ed it up. I have been listening to it non-stop for the last week so I can already feel myself hitting the “so over it” stage, but it has been a fantastic week.

2. Crash | Usher | 2016

HE.

IS.

BACK.

Usher is too talented to not be performing so I am so ridiculously happy that he is releasing his own music again.

1. Fade | Kanye West | 2016

I don’t even know where to begin with this. A lot of my love comes from the video – I can not look away from Teyana dancing because she is hypnotising and such a ridiculously good dancer. But the song is also catchy and I am always sad when it ends. Maybe I am just proud of Kanye for making a video that’s not about him…

October Reviews | 15 October – 21 October 2016

V for Violet | Alison Rattle | 15 October 2016 | 3 stars

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I started this week with V for Violet by Alison Rattle. I usually put in a book blurb so you can see for yourself if you would be interested. After reading the book I decided the best thing I could do for you is not tell you because any description you read is about 78% spoiler. No joke. They give away a bunch of things in the blurb which are meant to be secret and mysterious.

So I am here to tell you DON’T READ ANY GOSH DARN BLURBS FOR THIS BOOK!!

I will tell you that it a historical murder mystery set in Ireland and that is all you need to know.

I liked that I was reading about a character that wasn’t very likeable (no idea if that was on purpose or not) – she’s so angry and a little angsty and she reminded me of me at her age. “No one understands me, my interests are different, why don’t I fit in”…the whole shebang!

It’s hard looking at an historically-set book with a modern brain because all my feminist hackles are raised by the quite disgusting sexism and victim blaming in the book, but at least it feels a bit more historically accurate by not shying away from it. It’s tough being a proud and disgusted reader at the same time.

The romance is a bit insta-lovey but it wasn’t the focus of the book so it didn’t phase me too much. Just a tiny bit of an eye-roll occurred over the main character falling for the “bad boy”.

The Problem With Forever | Jennifer L Armentrout | 18 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“When Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.”

I found that there was nothing overly wrong with this book, but after reading some reviews I realised that she was not great – sometimes even offensive – at representing Puerto Rican people. Knowing nothing about their culture I didn’t want to make some misinformed judgements about it, this is just a warning for those that may find themselves really offended by it.

My main issue was that it was just really predictable. Within 50 pages I had predicted almost every single thing that would occur in it. Conversations and thoughts were repetitive and it made the story drag on a bit. Only so much internalised agonising by the protagonist can be handled by me. People can struggle to converse in social situations and still think straight instead of being a complete mess at all times.

I don’t feel like this story added anything new or unique to our understanding of children welfare in America or things like social anxiety.

Like I said, not a great book, not a bad one, just majorly average.

Jack West Jr and the Hero’s Helmet | Matthew Reilly | 19 October 2016 | 4 stars

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“Late on Christmas Eve, decorated SAS officer and Egyptologist Jack West Jr is about to make a discovery that could rewrite history.

In the ancient Temple of Dendur, housed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a legendary weapon has lain hidden for millennia.

But Jack is not the only person who knows about the artifact’s existence. As Jack examines the temple in the deserted museum, he is watched by a mysterious figure. A man intent on stopping him at any cost.”

THE HISTORY OF HOW JACKY BOY GOT HIS HELMET!! ALL THE SCREAMING!!!

Please tell me there are other Matthew Reilly fans here because this man writes the most fucking epic books! And I refuse to apologise for swearing. He deserves to be sworn over.

This was just a 20ish-page badass interlude that you can find here. It acts as a reintroduction to Jack and other characters (because sweet baby chestnuts it has been ages since the last book). I lubbed it ❤

The Four Legendary Kingdoms | Matthew Reilly | 21 October 2016 | 4.75 stars

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“There are sixteen contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow.

Now he awakes to find himself in a hellish scenario. Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit.

In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.”

Well this is a first.

I legitimately felt giddy while reading this. Giddy. I only get this excited when squealing over smoochy kitties. It’s probably weird that I was smiling as much as I was while reading about a bunch of dudes murdering each other, but I like me for me 😉

But this, THIS, was everything. Worth the 63 million year wait.

Myth, action, heroes, legends, death, bizarre-o science that I don’t know even where to begin for fact-checking purposes, more death, friends, enemies, even more death.
Well, compared to his other books the death count isn’t actually that high. He didn’t George RR Martin us!

If you are reading this I don’t think you need to be told to read Reilly’s books, but I’m going to anyway. READ THE THINGS!

Top 5 Wednesday | Favourite Non-Canon Ships

This was so difficult because there is a reason that I love authors: they give me exactly what I want in my Ship Life.

But I did find 5, some I feel more strongly about than others.

WARNING: This will contain spoilers and I apologise if you are spoiled by anything I say, but really, you’ve brought doom upon yourselves…

5. Alina and the Darkling from the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

(Photo cred: maveybarrow)

I haven’t finished this trilogy because I had issues with the second book, but I did find out what happened between these two and the disappointment was a bit strong. I just love me a bad boy!

4. Victor and Eli from Vicious by VE Schwab

(Photo cred: lokoba)
Romance was not the point of this book but I totally got sexy vibes from these two. Can’t be this much hate and anger without the love.

3. Robin and Cormoran from the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

(Photo cred: twiggymcbones)

It physically hurt to read Robin getting married to a human that is not Cormoran. I adore these two to bits and they need each other more than I need oxygen. If I donate my oxygen can Queen Rowling please make it happen?

2. Theodore and Violet from All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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Hmm not sure if it counts but they don’t end up together. THEY DON’T END UP WITH ANYONE!

I can’t. I just can’t. There aren’t words to describe the pain this book caused. Please go read the thing if you haven’t yet.

1. Sam and Celaena from the Throne of Glass series  (The Assassin’s Blade) by Sarah J Maas

(Photo cred: celaenasardothiencloset)

These two are my precious smoosh face babies and it broke something in me to not see them together. If you want to be emotionally crippled then defs go read this book.

Don’t get me wrong, Rowan is a babe and a half, but with Sam being a part of Aelin’s/Celaena’s past I can’t fully enjoy him. I just can’t ship them as hard. Samlaena 5lyf!

0.5 Me and Rhysand from my Imagination

(Photo cred: charliebowater)

Please?

Yes?

Thanks!

*dies*

Unboxing | The YA Chronicles | September 2016 | You Win Or You Die

Hi everyone! How was your Monday? Mine was extremely … Mondayish.

I am going to show you last month’s YA Chronicles unboxing today AND I IS SO EXCITE!

September’s box arrived a bit late because they were having supply issues, but the ladies handled it gracefully. As soon as they could get the boxes out they did.

Here are all the goodies that they got for us **GET PUMPED**

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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I am very excited about this book. I got the same book in my Owlcrate box, but I absolutely don’t mind having two copies – a hardback and paperback. Both covers are stunning but I secretly prefer the Aussie cover.

Blurb: “Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.”

If that doesn’t excite you then I am afraid that there is just no hope for you.

Tealights and Funko Pop

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These “Queens of YA” tealights are PERF! They were created by a brand new Etsy store called The Book Hangover, which is run by one of the YA Chronicles owners. Go check them out and prepare to spend all your money  😀

The four scents are:

  • Cinder – white tea, peony and smoke (this is probably my favourite as it’s light and refreshing and slays all my feels)
  • Aelin – lemon verbena, jasmine and embers
  • Meira – cold, rain and cherries – SWEET CHEESUS I still need to read Snow Like Ashes
  • Sharzhad – sandalwood, lilac and spices

My room smells so delicious right now and I can’t deal.

The mini Funko Pop key ring is of Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. That TV show that I am two seasons behind on. I already have this key ring as well, but I think I might keep this for my 2k giveaway on my Instagram account or something *shrugs*

Either way, it is an excellent addition to the box.

Prints

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The first print is the “Dementor and Stag” by ColorfulPrint on Etsy (eugh! Typing “colour” without the ‘u’ makes me want to vom.)

It’s absolutely stunning and dark and magical. Gosh darn you talented people!

The second print is a Game of Thrones quote print – “You Win or You Die”. Quite a cheery motto, wouldn’t you say?

This print is by IdaShopBoutique, but both of these prints have very similar looks and vibes.

Crown Ring

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE when jewellery is included in a sub box! And this crown ring is no exception. No idea where it comes from, but I adore it. It is extendable so it should fit most people’s fingers.

Overall, I am incredibly pleased with September’s box. I am a bit sad that I already have a couple of items, but I only have myself to blame for getting more than one sub box. A small sacrifice to make to enjoy boxes of love every month.

October Reviews | 8 October – 14 October 2016

Goodwood | Holly Throsby | 8 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret.

In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.

People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear.

As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.”

I received this book as an review copy in a Dymocks competition and I was so ridiculously excited. I am in the middle of this giant crime binge and I thought it would be right up my alley. This book took forever to read – like 18 days – and I was a little let down by the end of it.

‘Chaotic’ is how I would best describe this book.

It’s like we are seeing events unfold through Evie’s eyes but she doesn’t feel like the protagonist, just a narrator. She was basically the relayer of information without being emotionally/physically affected by the missing people. The stronger chapters were those with Mack and Davo or Judy and Mrs Bart because I could feel the emotional trauma caused by the missing people.

Evie’s self-discovery being intertwined with the unravelling of the mystery of the two missing people didn’t feel right for me – almost like two different stories were mashed together incohesively.

It flips between characters and between tenses but there were no strong individual voices between them – I felt like I was being told events in the same tone so everyone blended together and it would take me time to discern that the narrator had changed.

I was expecting a mystery but the mystery element wasn’t too strong. I felt like this was more an exploration of the underbelly of suburbia. So if you are in people’s psyches then this may be more up your alley.

I Hunt Killers | Barry Lyga | 12 October 2016 | 4.25 stars

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“Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminals’ point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?”

This, this, is what I’ve been needing in my life!

If this is what it’s really like in the head of a sociopath then consider me terrified. Jazz fully understands that he grew up in a fairly unhealthy environment and it shaped him. He is manipulative, obsessive, cunning and intelligent.

I love that this book boils down to a kid on the road to self-discovery but he is trying to figure out if he is or is not a killer. He knows that he is capable, but it’s an actual effort to remind himself that people matter. Not something the average Joe needs to worry about! It’s a book about choices – about nature vs nurture.

I thought the crime was interesting and well-plotted. Just an all-around pretty great book about killers and definitely a series that I need to continue.