Wednesday, November 15, 2017

True Crime & Memoir Book Haul




 
Hi, everyone! I hope that you have been reading a lot of wonderful books. Today I'm bringing to you another one of my book hauls that I filmed this summer. This book haul is memoir and true crime centered. I hope you enjoy the video and I'd love to hear if any of these are on you to read list or are favorite books.

THE BOOKS:
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I've acquired five books and I've read two. I gave It Gets Worse 4.75 stars and it's a favorite of mine. I gave Zodiac 3 stars, but this is subject to change once I write my review. I had a lot of issues with how Graysmith presented the case. I'm also currently reading Helter Skelter which is fitting for the most recent season of American Horror Story.
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

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Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

4.5 stars

“God didn’t create monsters. Monsters created themselves.”

Eve Smith is half-native and has been recommended to a group passing through as the best tracker in town. This group claims to be searching for members of the lost Donner party, but Eve can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right. As she treks up the mountain away from her frail mother with strange men and only her friend, Avery, and companion, Donna, to remind her of home. Eve is confused by being asked to accompany this group and their intentions and Jake McGraw is putting her on edge with his racist comments and his blunt attitude. Her senses are picking up something… something that smells like rotting flesh and in the snow of the mountains that killed the Donner party, Eve is worried about being next. I’ve been describing this book to everyone as zombies meets a historical event with cannibals. Technically, this a wendigo story, but zombies and wendigos are very similar. They eat people for fun/to survive and they decay at quicker rates without food. Really there isn’t much of a difference, so this is a zombie story.


This novel is intense. It opens up with a rabid horse trying to eat Eve’s family. Very fitting and foreboding as to where this novel is going to go. I’ve always been a fan of Halle’s horror stories. I enjoyed the first two books in the Experiment in Terror series and I LOVE the Devils series. So, a standalone novel set in historical America with connections to the Donner party was right up my alley. I gobbled this novel up. It gets a little graphic… I mean cannibals are not fun to read about or meet (or is meat? Hahaha I hate myself). I advise avoiding this romp through the woods if you can’t deal with that because while this is a zombie novel, they weren’t always zombies, which is where the wendigo plot comes in. I was definitely grossed out, but it was captivating and exactly what I was looking for during Halloween. Halle knows how to up the ante, set the suspense to high levels, and create characters you want to make it out alive.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

The main character is Eve. I really liked Eve. She was unsure about her place in the world because of heritage. She is fierce and has a lot of sass, a quintessential Halle character, and is able to hold her own in a battle of wits. Plus, by the end of this novel, she is setting zombies on fire and having to take monsters out. While she has her heroic moments, she isn’t always the one to save the day and that is the great thing about Eve. She isn’t always trying to play the hero because she isn’t meant to be one. She’s just trying to survive and make it out alive.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.5

The main male character is Jake. Jake is my biggest problem with this novel. Mainly because of his racist and misogynistic comments towards Eve and I mean, yeah, his tragic backstory explains his comments, those comments were not nice at all. I know if a guy made those comments to me about my heritage and gender, then I wouldn’t like him. Granted Eve doesn’t like him for a while and it isn’t until he starts calling her Pine Nuts that she becomes more aware of him. Also, I feel slightly guilty for rooting for them as a couple. Completely illogical and against my morals, but they were so cute together and I loved their chemistry. I was trash for Jake McGraw by the end of this book.


Swoon Worthy Scale: 4.25

The Villain- Y’ALL. THIS GOT INTSENSE QUICK. People started eating noses and making soups out of their friends. I can’t. I am still shocked and slightly queasy about it, but it was great horror. I was horrified.


Villain Scale: 5

There was a huge cast of characters in this novel. Most of them die because it’s a horror novel, but still I didn’t expect Halle to keep her body count high.


Character Scale: 4

Overall, I highly recommend this novel. It’s chilling, creepy, and captivating. It also has cannibal. (Yes, I’m purposely using adjectives that start with a C because this novel is about cannibals, so why not?) My only caution for going into this novel is to avoid it if you are not a fan of romance of sex scenes (there’s only one). The romance gets heavy towards the last half of the book and I know that may not be attractive to some horror fans, but it’s perfect for me.


Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover so much. It’s gorgeous.
 
What are your thoughts on zombies/ wendigos? Are you a fan of them in movies, books, or TV shows? What are some of your favorite zombie novels? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

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Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

4.25 stars

“It was the land itself. It had been soured by an infection of constant panic, hate and fear.”

Amanda Verner isn’t the same person she was before last winter. Before she saw something in the woods. Before her mother gave birth to her baby sister who was born deaf and blind. Before she met the boy that she meets in the woods. Now she’s pregnant with the boy’s child and she doesn’t know what to do. Her father has decided it’s time to leave their mountain home for the prairies before the harsh winter comes and tears the family apart this time. The Verners discover that their new home may not be the best thing for their family. The cabin is covered in blood and the floorboards and torn up from the floor. Amanda starts to hear things… kids laughing, crying, and things start to blur between paranormal and hallucination. What’s real and can the Verners withstand it and come out alive? This is the perfect Halloween book if you are a fan of ghost stories/ paranormal settings. Daughters Unto Devils is intense. It’s hard to put down. Lukavics does a great job of having an unreliable narrator struggling through her own guilt over her fleshly sins, her past, her family struggles, and whether or not what she experiences is real. I read this book so quickly and I didn’t want to put it down, which is rarity as a college student juggling being an active member of the color guard and in Chi Alpha. The only time I have to read is when I walk to class and I couldn’t put this book. I flew through it and when one of my classes was cancelled I took the time to read this book for that hour of free time. This is the type of book you want to read in one-go because if you put it down you’ll lose momentum and you may see the plot holes or oddities of the story. Lukavics is an author to watch in YA horror. She does it right. It’s haunting, creepy, unsettling, and over the top. She pushes boundaries that many are too scared to.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.25

The main character is Amanda Verner. Amanda is a very interesting character. She is someone you are not meant to like, but she also has qualities that make you like her. I think Amanda’s problem is that she hates herself so much that she thinks everything she does is evil, when reality she is a good person. This is actually a theme that I really liked and I don’t know if anyone else picked up on it, but the theme of evil and whether Amanda is possessed is important to the story and how it unfolds. I have my own interpretations of that Amanda thinks she is possessed because she is struggling with her fleshly downfalls. Amanda has participated in sex at a young age outside of marriage in a time when that is very against strict religious doctrine and I saw Amanda’s struggle with her own inner demons as a metaphor for her own struggle as a human. I’m probably off or just looking for themes that aren’t there, but I like to see Amanda’s struggle in that light because it makes her character arc come full circle and make more sense. While Amanda wasn’t always the best character, there were moments where she shined. Like when she holds Hannah for the first time and regrets praying she was dead. My heart melted at that scene and I started tearing up. Also props to Lukavics for tackling teen miscarriagesthat’s something rarely talked about, much less portrayed in YA literature.

"The only devil inside of you is the one you created yourself.”
Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3.5

There is a wide cast of characters. Mainly because Amanda comes from a big family, but they are all such wonderful characters. I felt like I was a part of the family. Emily is the eldest sister after Amanda, but she acts older than Amanda and gives her a lot of wise advice. There was Ma, who offered a lot of sweet advice, usually in Bible verses that were spot on than the girls would care to admit. There was Pa, who was kind of standoffish, but he loved his family and his actions showed that. There was Joanna and Charles, who were never far away from one another and I sometimes thought they were twins. Lastly, there’s Hannah, who was born deaf and blind, she’s still a baby, but she plays such an integral part in this story that she feels more prominent than some of the adult characters. I loved Hannah so much. There is also Zeke and his father, a doctor, who live in the woods next to the prairie. They play a very odd role in this story and I’m still not sure exactly what they were doing, but they were definitely important. Lukavics does a great job of fleshing out characters with stories of the past to make you feel like you knew them and have been a member of the family always.


Character Scale: 3.75

The Villain- There are ants. Those ants. Totally horrifying. There are pigs, which are my worst fear because 1) they eat people 2) Spirited Away pig parents 3) that Criminal Minds episode 4) now this story. Pigs and ants were not something I expected to be used in such a horrifying way, but it worked out so well. But man, what a ride. I’m still creeped out over this and I’m glad I’m not a settler in a prairie.


Villain Scale: 5

The ending also sets up potential for a sequel and I say, yes please. I want a sequel from another member of the family’s PoV. Anyway, this a great horror novel that completely surprised and while it isn’t a perfect novel, it accomplishes what it sets out to do. This novel offers a scary, fun ride with an atmospheric setting that is memorable and haunting. Also pigs.


Plotastic Scale: 4.25

Happy Halloween!


Cover Thoughts: This cover is creepy and unsettling. 10/10 creepy enough not to want to look at.

Thank you, Netgalley and Harlequin Teen, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Have you read any horrifying reads this October? What are some of your favorite YA horror novels? I want to read some more! Are you dressing up this Halloween? What are you going as? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Kingtober: Ranking Stephen King's Adaptations

 
Hi, everyone! I hope your October has been filled with creepy books and movies. Today, I'll be ranking the Stephen King adaptations I've seen. 

What are some of your favorite adaptations? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

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My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

First in the Improper Princess series

2 stars (DNF)

Gillian Dryden is the illegitimate daughter of a prince and has just finished avenging her stepfather’s death. Vengeance isn’t as sweet as it should be and she and her mother are forced to flee Sicily and come back to London. Charles Penley is tasked with taming Gillian and making her suitable for the ton so that she can find a nice suitor and wed. Of course, they end up absolutely enamored with each and entangled in a game of passion. Only not really. This novel wasn’t about as passionate as stale bread. I’ll be honest I made it chapter 18 before finally calling it quits and skimming to the end. I wasn’t taken with this story at all. This is the first HR I’ve ever DNFed, but I just couldn’t force myself to continue. It wasn’t worth slogging through hours of reading just to get to the obvious and unsatisfying ending. HRs are predictable, but what makes them so much fun is the passion and the swooning. This book lacks all the fun and substance. It takes itself too seriously and I think that the problem lies in the characters’ personalities.


There’s nothing wrong with Kelly’s writing, but the one flaw that I can point out and it’s a big one is character development. These characters are boring. They don’t leap off the page other than in the first couple of chapters. The opening chapters are so strong and I was hoping for a good HR, but they slowly begin to tank when it comes to the same boring back and forth of conforming to the ton vs. being absolutely everything the ton despises. I don’t think this is particularly my type of romance novel anyway. I’ve never read an HR with this trope before and I don’t think it’s for me.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 2.5

The main female character is Gillian. There isn’t really anything wrong with Gillian’s character, but she takes herself so seriously. Everything is so dire and everyone is out to get her and she just can’t fit in, but she doesn’t want to fit in. All these contradictions are constantly brought up in almost every chapter and it quickly becomes tiresome. I want to read about a fun heroine when I come to HRs. I want characters like Beatrice Hathaway who have affinities for animals and there are so many other interesting heroines who completely steal the show that I could list all of them, but we’d be here all day. Gillian just wasn’t any fun. She had a few great one-liners, but I just didn’t think she was the best character to match this type of storyline.


“At this rate, I’ll soon have an entire alphabet of nicknames trailing behind me like a dirty cloak.”

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2

The main male character is Charles. To be honest, Charles is just as abhorrent as, if not more so, than Gillian. My first impression of him was complete douchecanoe and he does get a little better, but his random obsession with her body and breasts randomly comes into play early on in the novel and instead of being cute, it just feels creepy and perverted. Charles isn’t the worse character, but his uptight personality and his hero complex (he is obsessed with saving the day and protecting Gillian) make this story feel trite and forced. I don’t buy their chemistry at all. In fact, there is none. It doesn’t exist.


Swoon Worthy Scale: 1.75

The Villains- There are a couple of different villains that pose a threat to Gillian, but none of them were really intimidating enough to pose any real threat. I just wasn’t interested.


Villain Scale: 1.25

There is a large cast of characters. I don’t really care for any of them and so many were constantly being introduced to disappear and then come back at odd times. I couldn’t keep them all straight and I didn’t really care enough to do so.


Character Scale: 2

I do feel a little guilty for not reading the whole novel, but I also don’t feel like I missed out or lost anything. Overall, I’m sure this novel be a hit with certain HR fans. I just wasn’t one of them.


Cover Thoughts: I love this cover. It’s so pretty. I want that dress. The tagline doesn’t work here though because there was no desire on any of the pages I read.

Thank you, Netgalley and Zebra, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
What are some of your least favorite romance tropes? Have you read this novel? Do you plan to? What are some of the best HRs that you've read? I'd love some recs! Let me know down below in the comments! 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spooky Halloween Reads (What I've Read So Far in October)

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all having a spooktacular October and having been reading all the creepy books. I've been reading a lot of creepy stories lately, predominately short stories, and wanted to share my thoughts with you about them. Two stories I won't be reviewing at this moment, but plan to in the future are Apt Pupil by Stephen King and The Haunter of the Dark by H.P. Lovecraft. Both of these stories are contained in collections that I'm reading right now. I gave Apt Pupil 5 stars and HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. I gave The Haunter of the Dark 4.25 stars and I'm happy to say that Lovecraft is growing on me again because he lost me for a long time, but this story was quick, fun, and creepy. Now, onto the reviews!

8141954Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

4.25 stars

I really enjoyed the themes that Hawthorne presents in this short story. The writing isn't particularly gripping and I found it easy to leave the story, but I felt very connected to the tone and I felt a little spooked and panicked, which I'm sure was Hawthorne's main purpose (since the ending gives that tone).



16091727The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

4.75 stars 

This is one the most referenced horror stories. I can think of multiple instances in books, movies, and TV shows when a character will mention the panicked main character from The Tell-Tale Heart with a man buried under his floorboards and his loudly beating heart. It's a classic. It's a lot of fun and it is one of Poe's better stories (compared to the ones I've read). I highly recommend checking this one out if you haven't already.


8436063The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

4.5 stars

This is my first time reading this short story and it was fun to finally read it. This particular Poe story is famous and is referenced a lot, but I wasn't as in love with this as I hoped to be. I am a fan of it and enjoyed it quite a lot, but there were a couple of odd moments in the prose that felted awkward. I'm hoping that with more reads this will become an all-time favorite, but for now it's one that I highly recommend checking out. 


261240The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

This rating still holds up years upon rereading and this continues to be one of my all-time favorite short stories.

5 stars
I had to read this for school and I absolutely loved it. Maybe the reason I enjoyed it so much was because I read it for school and we talked about irony. Talking about the story made me think more into it and now I think it's brilliant. I had already been intrigued, but the story just proved to be amazing.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5


264158The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

5 stars

I've recently reread The Raven for the umpteenth time for my American Literature class and I think this is the most fun I've had reading it primarily because it's October and I'm feeling very Halloween-y. This poem is fantastic in tone, beat, and imagery. It's famous for a reason.




25256808Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

5 stars

This is one of the most fascinating stories I've ever read. It's four pages and a lot happens in that brief space, which is impressive on Dahl's part, but also it's sparked the urban legend of a wife smart enough to hide the murder weapon (a lamb) by feeding it to the detectives. I want to thank one of my best friends for recommending this short story to me because without this odd recommendation and conversation I wouldn't have found this spooky story. I think my personal favorite thing about this story was the character shift from perfect, content suburban housewife to enraged, passionate killer to a cold, calculating woman desiring to get away with murder.


Have you read any of these stories? What are your thoughts on them? Do you have any short stories that you love that you recommend for the Halloween season? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kingtober: Ranking the Stephen King Novels I've Read

 
Hi, everyone! I'm continuing my Kingtober videos in celebration with the month of October and Halloween. I rank the Stephen King novels I've read in this video and it was a lot of fun to think about them and film this. 

THE BOOKS:
Mentioned but not ranked- 
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8.
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7.
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6.
30983478
5.
 155213
4.
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3.
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2.
29430672
1.
9813753 

Are you a Stephen King fan? How do you rank the novels you've read? Let me know down below in the comments!