Strangeathon Wrap Up!

Strangeathon Wrap Up!

BOOK REVIEW (21)
I recently participated in a spooky Halloween readathon called Strangeathon. The challenge was to read fourteen books in two weeks which I didn’t manage at all because I was working on passing my theory driving test (I passed!) I did manage a fair few of the challenges though so I thought I would do a quick wrap up post. I’m not really going to talk about the books because I talked about most of them in my October wrap up so if you want to know more you can take a little look here!
Untitled design (53)
Challenge #2 – Thriller Killer: Read a thrilling book

I picked up a little penguin classic of Shirley Jackson’s The Missing Girl and two other tales. These were thrilling unsettling tales that I absolutely flew through and I enjoyed them. Overall rating for this one was 3/5 stars.

Challenge #3 – Halloween Icon: Read a book with something iconic to Halloween on the cover
For this I read Strange Ink by Gary Kemble. It has a skeleton on the cover and it was dark and gripping and a really well done thriller. You can take a look at my full review for it here! I gave it 4/5 stars.

Untitled design (18)Challenge #6 – Horror Monster: Read a book with a creature that is often the villain
For this I read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein as Frankenstein’s Monster is often a horror monster. I absolutely loved this book and it was one of my favourites of last months reading. I gave it 5/5 stars.

Challenge #8 – Tales From the Grave: Read a short story collection
For this I picked up some classic Edgar Allan Poe tales in The Murders In the Rue Morgue. These three tales are seen as the forerunner to well known detective stories by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle. They were really fascinating and I gave them 3/5 stars.
Untitled design (16)
Challenge #9 – Setting Fun: Read a book with a spooky location

For this challenge I completed Strange Places by Katherine Arden which was a spooky fun ghost story that I completely adored. It’s set on a haunted farm which I thought was a pretty spooky location and I gave it 5/5 stars.

Challenge #10 – Blood Red: Read a book with a red or orange cover
I had originally planned to read Last Time I Lied but I ended up reading Spellbound by Cate Tiernan which has an orangey/red cover. I’ve really been enjoying revisiting this fun witchy series and gave it 5/5 stars.

Untitled design (70)Challenge #11 – Darkness Within: Read a book in darker conditions that normal
I picked up Bram Stoker’s Dracula for this because I haven’t read it in so long. I ended up reading it on the Kindle and pretty much only read a few chapters in bed each night in the dark so that definitely counted as darker conditions than normal.

Challenge #12 – Striking Title: Read a book based purely on the title
Without a doubt I had to read The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton. The title really drew my eye and I was really excited to read this witchy tale. I enjoyed it but I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I’d hoped so I only gave this 3/5 stars.

Untitled design (22)Challenge #14 – The F-Up: Read a book that has nothing to do with Halloween
I ended up reading Sleeper: Red Storm by J. D. Fennell for this as I had a blog tour review coming up for it. I really enjoyed this action packed spy thriller and it had nothing Halloweeny about it so it fit the bill really well and I gave it 4/5 stars.

So I completed nine out of the fourteen challenges and I’m pretty pleased with that! Did you participate in any readathons in October? If you did what did you read?

October Wrap Up!

October Wrap Up!

BOOK REVIEW (17)
October is one of my favourite reading months. So many spooky books come out and it’s dark and cold outside and all I want to do is huddle under a blanket with my cat and a good book. Somehow in the month of October I managed to read sixteen books and one short story – I’m not even sure how that happened. I participated in a readathon which I think really helped and also quite a few of theses were on the shorter side. I’m going to keep it brief about each book because quite a few of them have featured in readathon wrap up posts or have full review posts up already.

Untitled design (59)1. A Blade So Black – L. L. McKinney
This Alice in Wonderland retelling was quick paced, action packed and so much fun. I raced through it and it’s definitely one of my favourite Alice retellings that I’ve ever encountered. I participated in the blog tour for this and you can check out my extract from the book here. (Rating: 4/5 stars)
Untitled design (60)
2. The Woods Vol 1 – James Tynion IV
This is the first instalment in a graphic novel series about a school that disappears into another realm. Full of strange monsters and dark and creepy sequences I thought this was an interesting start, although it didn’t grip me as much as I hoped that it would. (Rating: 3.5/5 stars)
Untitled design (5)
3. The Wicked Deep – Shea Earnshaw
This was the biggest surprise of my October reading. I adored this book. Dark and creepy, this story was so atmospheric and unfolded in such a clever way. It was the perfect Halloween read and it is definitely going on my favourites list. (Rating: 5/5 stars)
Untitled design (8)
4. Vicious – Victoria Schwab
I finally read Vicious and it was so amazing. Victoria Schwab is pretty much the Queen of books, everything I’ve read by her is magnificent and it just makes me want to read everything that she’s ever written. (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (58)5. Warm Up – Victoria Schwab
In the back of my edition of Vicious there was a short story entitled Warm Up, which shows another EO and his encounter with Eli. It was pretty short but I enjoyed the chance to see Eli from another perspective and of course to read more of Victoria’s writing. (Rating: 4/5 stars)
Untitled design (6)
6. Daughter of the Siren Queen – Tricia Levenseller
I absolutely loved the first book in this duology and was really excited to dive back in. This one is a bit darker than the previous book and definitely felt a lot more intense and high stakes. It was a brilliant read and I highly recommend these books. (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Untitled design (7)7. One Of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus
This YA thriller is incredibly popular so I was looking forward to picking it up and seeing what all the fuss is about. The story is quick paced and enjoyable and there were more than a few twists that I didn’t see coming. I fell the ending was a little unbelievable but it was still a really fun read. (Rating: 3.75/5 stars)

Untitled design (16)8. Small Spaces – Katherine Arden
Katherine Arden is one of my favourite authors so I was really excited to see how she writes a Middle Grade novel. Honestly I absolutely loved this. Ollie is a brilliant protagonist. The story is dark and creepy with plenty of adventure. It’s a perfect autumn read and I’m so glad I picked it up. (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (26)9. The Price Guide to the Occult – Leslye Walton
I haven’t read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender but I know lots of people adore that book. This is the authors newest release and honestly I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting a very atmospheric magical read but I didn’t really connect with the characters and the story fell a bit flat for me. (Rating: 3/5 stars)

Untitled design (57)10. The Murders in the Rue Morgue – Edgar Allan Poe
It wouldn’t be Halloween without reading some Edgar Allan Poe! This is a set of three stories featuring Dupin, one of the earliest detectives who uses logic and reasoning to discover who did the crime. The stories were interesting and I enjoyed the big reveal of how the crime was committed but I definitely prefer his more Gothic and creepy tales. (Rating: 3/5 stars)
Untitled design (18)
11. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White
This is my first book by Kiersten White and certainly not my last. I love Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so to read this reimagining from the point of view of Elizabeth was just a dream. I loved the characters and I think White did a brilliant job. (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (12)12. Strange Ink – Gary Kemble
This has got to be one of the most original concepts I’ve ever read. The story follows a man who wakes up one morning with a tattoo he has no memory of getting. He chalks it up to too much alcohol but as more and more tattoos keep appearing and he becomes wrapped up in their mystery, he discovers he’s actually part of a much bigger plot. This book was so fascinating and I couldn’t put it down. (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Untitled design (53)13. The Missing Girl – Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is relatively new to me, I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle earlier in the year. I thought I would try my hand at some of her short stories. This little Penguin Modern Classic features three of her tales full of eeriness and that unsettling feeling. This is another one that is definitely perfect for Halloween. (Rating: 3/5 stars)

Untitled design (56)14. Spellbound – Cate Tiernan
This is the sixth instalment of the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan. I loved these books as a teenager and so I am revisiting them slowly. I love the blend of magic in these books and the sense of nostalgia reading them again. These books are pretty short and really quick so they’re perfect for reading in a single sitting. (Rating: 5/5 stars)
Untitled design (55)
15. The Last Namsara – Kirsten Ciccarelli
This is the first book in a YA fantasy featuring a whole host of magic, folklore and DRAGONS. It’s a really exciting book and I loved the blend of action and romance that this story has. (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Untitled design (54)16. The Caged Queen – Kirsten Ciccarelli
The Caged Queen is the second book in the Iskari series. This book follows a different character – one we meet briefly in The Last Namsara. This book was much more focused on politics and intrigue and I ended up loving it even more than the first book in the series. You can see my stop on the blog tour here! (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (22)17. Sleeper: The Red Storm – J. D. Fennell
Sleeper: The Red Storm is the second in the series that features Sleeper agent Will Starling. I loved the first book in the series so I was so excited to dive back into this mixture of historical fiction and spy thriller. Bursting to the seams with action, explosions and fighting, The Red Storm is a fantastic new instalment to the series and I’m already dying to find out what happens next. You can take a look at my full review here! (Rating: 4/5 stars)

So that’s all the books I read in October! What did you read in October? And if you read any of these let me know what you thought!

Recommended Reads: Halloween!

Recommended Reads: Halloween!

BOOK REVIEW (6)
Today I thought I would try something different and give a list of recommendations for the perfect books to read at Halloween. I’m going to try and do these more often, so I might do seasonal ones and holiday ones too.

Untitled design (17)1. The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell
This is without a doubt one of the scariest books I have ever read. The story follows Elsie, a young widow who has moved into her later husband’s stately manor home in the country. Without only her husband’s cousin for company she explore the house and finds a painted wooden figure – a silent companion. She feels the eyes of the painting constantly following her and with the help of an ancestral journal she finds out that the companion is a lot more than it seems. This book was dark, Gothic and terrifying, it’s definitely the perfect choice for Halloween reading.
Also Try: The Corset – Laura Purcell: Laura’s newest creepy Victorian tale. 

Untitled design (5)2. The Wicked Deep – Shea Earnshaw
This story follows the cursed town of Sparrow, in which 200 years ago three sisters were drowned because the town believed they were witches. Now each year the sisters return to possess bodies of the local teenage girls, using them to lure boys into the water and drown them. This story has so much atmosphere and a really vivid setting. It’s creepy and has lots of twists and turn. I raced through it and it’s a really well told tale.
Also Try: The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert: A dark tale about a young girl who enters a land of fairy tales created by her reclusive grandmother.

Untitled design (16)3. Small Spaces – Katherine Arden
This is a middle grade novel that is spooky, unsettling and a fun adventure tale. Ollie is going home from school when she finds a young woman trying to destroy a book in the river. Rescuing the book, she takes it home and begins to read the tale of a family and the horrors that have happened to them. The next day she goes on a school trip to a local farm where she learns that the story might not be entirely fictional… This story is so enjoyable and spine-tingling. It’s an excellent adventure story and perfect for Halloween.
Also Try: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden: This is an adult fantasy, but incredibly atmospheric and set in a frozen Russian landscape, making it perfect to dive into on a chilly Halloween night!

Untitled design (18)4. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White
This year marks 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. If you’ve read the book or are looking for something a bit more accessible to start off, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is the perfect choice. Told from the point of view of one of the few female characters in the story, the book is fast paced, dark and disturbing. It’s a truly excellent retelling and a brilliant Halloween book.
Also Try: And I Darken – Kiersten White: This is the author’s series of Vlad the Imapaler (Dracula) retellings, but reimagined as a woman.

Untitled design (13)5. City of Ghosts – V. E. Schwab
V. E. Schwab’s first middle grade book is the perfect addition to your Halloween reading. The story follows Cassidy, a young girl who can see ghosts. When her parents are asked to create a TV series about ghosts they travel to Edinburgh to begin filming. Here Cassidy meets all kinds of ghosts and not all of them are friendly. This story has such a stunning setting in Edinburgh and is all kinds of dark and creepy.
Also Try: Vicious – V. E. Schwab: A dark and gritty story of two best friends turned enemies who try to make themselves superhuman and the death and destruction that follows.

Untitled design (14)6. We Have Always Lived In The Castle – Shirley Jackson
No creepy book list would be complete without a mention of a Shirley Jackson book. Merricat and her sister Constance live with their Uncle Julian in a grand estate home. Several years ago four of the Blackwood family were poisoned with arsenic and died. While acquitted for the murders, the family are still the talk of the villagers. When a distant relative comes to visit, the future becomes fraught with danger. What will happen to the sisters, and will the truth of the murders come out? Shirley Jackson has a way of making stories so dark and intense and this is a perfect unsettling tale.
Also Try: The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson: This story follows four people who come to stay at Hill House looking for spooky phenomenon and the horror that awaits them inside. It is not also a super scary Netflix series too!

Untitled design (19)7. Dark Matter – Michelle Paver
This story is so spine tingling and eerie! I’ve read it a few times and it’s still as creepy as it was the first time I read it. The story is told in a series of journal entries from a young man who is part of an expedition to the icy baren wilderness of the Arctic. As things start to go wrong and his companions are forced to leave, our narrator Jack is left along in this freezing land, but is he really alone, or something watching him? I couldn’t put this down and it’s definitely one my favourite books of all time.
Also Try: Thin Air – Michelle Paver: A story in the similar vein about an expedition up a mountain in which things start to go wrong. It’s not as good as Dark Matter but it’s still an excellent creepy tale.

Untitled design (15)8. Wytches – Scott Snyder
This is the first volume in a series of graphic novels by Scott Snyder. This story is haunting with some really stunning artwork. I read it for the first time earlier this year and really wish I’d kept it for closer to October. This story follows witches (obviously) but not the kind that you think you know. Hiding in the woods, these witches are ancient, and they’re hungry.
Also Try: The Woods – James Tynion: The story of a school with 500+ students and staff that mysteriously disappear. Where could they have gone? And what’s waiting for them when they get there?

Untitled design (20)9. See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt
This book isn’t so much scary as it is atmospheric and disturbing. A fictionalised account of Lizzie Borden, a young woman accused of murdering her mother and father with an axe. The story is told in a very visceral way and it is a really impressive debut novel. “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”
Also Try: The Witch Finder’s Sister – Beth Underdown: A historical fictional novel about a young man who accused women of witchcraft. 

Untitled design (21)10. The Willows – Algernon Blackwood
During my English degree we did a class on the fantastic and elements of a story that make you feel unsettled even if there’s nothing these. Tasked to find a book and write an essay on this, I found and read The Willows. This book really frightened me, partly because you never really see or find out what’s going on. In the vein of H.P. Lovecraft the story follows two friends camping by the Danube river when they are forced to pause their trip. During their stay something in the environment starts stalking their every move and the two companions aren’t sure they will make it out alive. This short tale is one of my absolute favourites and if you like haunting creepy books that you can absolutely fly though, definitely try this.
Also Try: Anything by H. P. Lovecraft: His stories are dark, eerie and definitely unsettling.

So that’s my top list of Halloween recommendations. If you’ve read any of these let me know what you thought and if you have any good recommendations for me then definitely comment below!

Strangeathon TBR!

Strangeathon TBR!

The Bibliophile Chronicles (8)
October seems to be the month for Readathons! As the Magical Readthon finishes on the 13th of October I thought I could dive straight into another one. I really wanted to do a Halloween one because I have so many spooky books I want to read. I found the Strangeathon on Twitter, a readathon hosted by Rachel Verna.

This readathon runs from 13-31st Oct, and has 14 prompts. I thought this would be a great chance to get quite a few books off my TBR and I’m also on holiday for 10 days which means I’ll hopefully get through quite a few challenges. I doubt I’ll manage all 14 but it was really fun to pick books for the prompts. I tried to be tactical about my choices and pick shorter books/ones I’m really dying to read – so let’s dive in!

40499098
1. Deathly Time: Read a book where death plays a big part. 
Originally for this I had planned to go with Scythe by Neal Schusterman, but I recently got sent a copy of The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke and I am desperate to read it. The main characters are death traders so I thought that suited this challenge pretty well!

2. Thriller Killer: Read a thrilling book. 36355177
I recently went to an event at Bloody Scotland with Thriller/Horror writers and one of them was C. J. Tudor. She talked about her book The Chalk Man and it sounded so dark and thrilling I had to pick it up. It sounds amazing and I think it’s going to be a perfect fast paced read for the readathon.

42170244
3. Halloween Icon: Read a book with something iconic to Halloween on the cover.
For this I’m reading Strange Ink by Gary Kemble. It has a nice creepy skull with a rose on the cover and it sounds so good. I’m also on the blog tour for this one so stay tuned for that!

300954644. The Stella Special: Read a book with a part of a skeleton on the cover.
I could have doubled up and read Strange Ink for both challenges but for this I went with The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. I bought a copy of this at YALC and I have been dying to read it ever since. I also have The Heart Forger so if I love it I might switch something out to read the sequel.
41015038
5. Summer Slasher: Read a book set at summer.
For this I went with My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. It sounds like the perfect summer slasher type book and I’m so excited to read this one!

382553426. Horror Monster: Read a book with a creature that is often the villain.
For this I’m reading The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kirsten White. I still haven’t read And I Darken yet but I also have this in my back up spooky reads pile so perhaps I’ll get to them both this month. This book obviously features Frankenstein’s monster which I thought was a perfect choice for a horror villain.

39098246 (2)7. Gives Chills: Read a book about something that freaks you out.
Now I’ve cheated slightly with this one. The subject matter for this book doesn’t necessarily freak me out but Laura Purcell’s writing does. Her first book The Silent Companions is terrifying. I read it a year ago and honestly I still think about it. If The Corset is anything like that, I’m definitely going to be freaked out.

457938. Tales From the Grave: Read a short story collection. 
I don’t have an awful lot of short story collections so for this I’m going with The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s quite short and only features a few short murder mysteries so I should get through this one pretty quickly!

369596399. Setting Fun: Read a book with a spooky location.
For this I’m reading Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. This will probably be the first one I read because I’m excited to see the difference between this and her adult fantasy writing. This middle grade is set on a creepy old farm so I think that works really well.

3638582810. Blood Red: Read a book with a red or orange cover.
For this I thought I would go with Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager which honestly I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. It has a suitably dark and orangey cover so I’m hoping this one lives up to the hype.

38139409 (1)
11. Darkness Within: Read a book in the dark or in darker conditions than usual.
For this challenge I figured I could pick anything so I’ve gone with Sawkill Girls. I’ve got my candles at the ready to read this spooky and atmospheric book.

3909339412. Striking Words: Read a book based solely on the title.
I honestly bought The Price Guide to the Occult because it had such an interesting title so I think it’s going to work pretty well. It’s also quite short so hopefully it helps me fulfil this challenge!

2818723013. Lucky Number: Read a book with 13 chapters or 13 in the title.
So this one I am also cheating. I looked through all the books on my TBR and none of them have thirteen chapters and the only book I could find with 13 in the title was The Thirteenth Tale and it isn’t particularly a spooky book. So I decided for this to read The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – it was 10 on the cover and that’s pretty close right?

3596081414. The F-Up: Read a book that doesn’t fit any of the challenges.
For this I tried to go with something as far from spooky as possible so I’ve gone with The Accidental Bad Girl. I didn’t manage to get to this during Contemporary-AThon so I thought this would be the perfect time and a way to lighten up the scary reads!

So that’s my slightly insane TBR for Strangeathon. Honestly if I manage to read half of them I will be impressed with myself but I’m excited to try. Are you participating in any Halloween readathons? If you are what are you reading? Also if anyone has read any of these and can tell me which ones to pick up first or if I should avoid any let me know!