Blogging Hiatus: Break Time

Friends, it’s time for me to take a blogging break. I was originally going to take a couple of weeks away from the blog in December, but I ended up sticking around. Probably not my wisest decision as I know I need a break and at this point, I feel myself starting to check out mentally. I was going to post a couple of more times before going on hiatus, but I’m going to go ahead and wait on those instead of trying to push myself to write and edit them when I’m not in the best head space. I have no definitive return date, but expect to be back sometime during the first week of February. I should still be active on Instagram and occasionally Twitter if you need to reach me. See you soon, friends ❤

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection. Between that wild Barnes & Nobel half off hardback sale and Christmas gifts, I have acquired a good amount of books in the last couple of weeks. I feel equal parts excited and kind of guilty that I haven’t gotten to the ones I haven’t read yet. It will probably be a while before I go on another book splurge unless I’m using gift cards. Covers linked to Goodreads.

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1. My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones – These first five books are thanks to Barnes & Noble’s hardcover book sale. I actually snagged the last copy that the store had of this book. Luckiest I’ve been in years.

2. Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis – Before I even stepped into B&N I had a plan and one of those plans was to get Bad Witch Burning. I had been meaning to read it and it was hard to resist snagging a YA hardback for the half the price.

3. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho – I can’t count the number of times I’ve had this one in my cart. The B&N sale finally got me to purchase it.

4. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland – Even the best plans can be derailed. I went in intending to get this in hardback only to discover my store didn’t have it. But there was a paperback copy and I had come so far and didn’t I deserve a little happiness?!?!?! So I went for it.

5. The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw – I did not intend to buy this book, but I was lured by the price and I knew I probably wouldn’t have bought it otherwise if it wasn’t half off. These adult novels were really hard to resist because it’s so rare to get them at such a cheap price.

6. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – I put this and the sequel on my Christmas wishlist this year and was so thankful to receive both. They are both really stunning books in person.

7. Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong – Despite my excitement about receiving this one, I am still very much afraid of it.

8. Dragonblood Ring by Amparo Ortiz – Another Christmas gift and sequel that I should probably prioritize now that I own it.

9. Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood – I feel like we are going to see so many YA horror in the next couple of years and I am so happy to see books like this one (also a Christmas gift) being released.

10. Soulstar by C.L. Polk – My final Christmas gift to round out The Kingston Cycle series collection. I’ve heard so many good things about this final book, so I’m excited to get to this one as well as the previous novel.

Did you partake in the Barnes & Noble hardback sale? What books were you gifted over the holidays? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit!

Mini-Reviews: White Smoke + Small Town Monsters

I meant to take care of any outstanding reviews I had from October/November before the year ended, but ended up only posting one review in December and just kind of forgot I had these in my drafts. As a result, these are both horror books. It may be early in the new year, but who says horror is only good during Halloween season? Certainly not I.

Title: White Smoke Author: Tiffany D. Jackson Series: N/A Pages: 384 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Release Date: September 14th 2021

TW: anxiety, drug addiction, drug overdose, death of a child, ableism

"The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson! Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper. The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone. But 'running from ghosts' is just a metaphor, right? As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks."

Mari and her new mixed family are given the opportunity to move to Cedarville when her mother is given a residency in an up-and-coming neighbor. But when they arrive, their neighborhood is nothing like they imagined. Dilapidated homes are the norm and their neighbors look at them with suspicion. If that wasn’t bad enough, their new house has come with a few surprises of its own. As Mari tries to reestablish herself in this new world, to erase her own questionable history, she begins to learn more about her new town’s nefarious origins. One thing I love about Tiffany D. Jackson’s novels is how layered her stories are. You can approach any of her books from several different angles and White Smoke is no different. On its surface, White Smoke is a haunted house story. It has all the classic elements like unexplained paranormal activity. Doors open and close on their own, objects go missing, furniture is moved, shadows move about at night. All this sets the lead character, Mari, on edge as well as the reader. But Jackson always has readers delving deeper as Mari begins to investigate why the town of Cedarville is so run down, why the Sterling Foundation seems to have its hands in every corner of the Town’s renovation, and why their neighbors aren’t the most welcoming to her and her family. It soon becomes clear that a haunted house is not the only thing Mari needs to worry about. From gentrification to the prison-industrial complex, White Smoke weaves a myriad of nefarious real world issues into an unforgettable horror story.

★ ★ ★ ★

Title: Small Town Monsters Author: Diana Rodriguez Wallach Series: N/A Pages: 336 Publisher: Underlined Release Date: September 7th 2021

TW: death of a parent, alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide

"Vera Martinez wants nothing more than to escape Roaring Creek and her parents' reputation as demonologists. Not to mention she's the family outcast, lacking her parents' innate abilities, and is terrified of the occult things lurking in their basement. Maxwell Oliver is supposed to be enjoying the summer before his senior year, spending his days thinking about parties and friends. Instead he's taking care of his little sister while his mom slowly becomes someone he doesn't recognize. Soon he suspects that what he thought was grief over his father's death might be something more...sinister. When Maxwell and Vera join forces, they come face to face with deeply disturbing true stories of cults, death worship, and the very nature that drives people to evil."

Diana Rodriguez Wallach’s Small Town Monsters delivers plenty of scares with a death-worshipping cult at its center, bent on taking over a town. Vera Martinez has always been the odd girl out. Her parents’ unconventional vocation as demonologists have made her and her family the target of gossip. But when popular jock, Maxwell, begins noticing his mother’s strange behavior, he seeks out the one person who won’t turn him away if he suggests his mother might be possessed. With dual POVs, Rodriguez Wallach ramps up tension as Max’s mother slowly becomes unrecognizable while Vera begins to realize getting too close may put her in the same kind of danger. Max is at the end of his rope. He is trying to make sense of his mother’s behavior including her late night strolls through the house and her incoherent ramblings involving death. But at the top of his priority list is keeping his little sister safe. Vera is dealing with complex feelings of isolation. On one hand, her parents are the reason why her classmates whisper about her, but on the other, she secretly wishes she could share their gifts. It’s a desire built out of loneliness and the need to be closer to her often absent parents. Because of this, I wish Vera’s parents had been a bigger presence in the book. Their absence is needed in order to drive the storyline forward, but as a result Vera’s character development suffers. There are a few hackneyed tropes in this one and if you can forgive the cliché romance, Small Town Monsters is an enjoyable horror novel that at its core is a story about grief. Many of the characters who fall prey to the cult’s influence have lost loved ones and are just looking for a way to ease the pain. In the end, this pain is a necessary step in the grieving and ultimately healing process.

★ ★ ★

Book Lists: 2021 Releases I’m Making a Priority in 2022

I am riding this New Year high where I truly believe I can get to all the books I’m hoping to get to. I am feeling unstoppable and am making all these lists that are way too ambitious. I know am I going to come down (or get knocked down) from this high, but for now, I’m going to embrace the optimism. For this book list I am highlighting ten 2021 releases that I really want to get to this year. This list could have easily been twice as long, but even though I am feeling optimistic, I am still realistic. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

I can’t believe I’ve never read a Malinda Lo novel. I’ve heard so many good things about this one and wish I had found the time earlier last year to pick this up.

2. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

I almost listened to the audiobook of this one from the library, but I immediately stopped because it just felt like the kind of novel I would want to read a physical copy of.

3. The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

I know this one is a pretty heavy read and so I ended up putting it off, but now I feel like I really should have read it already.

4. Black Water sister by Zen Cho

I just feel like it will be a good thing if I have more Zen Cho in my life.

5. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

I know this one is going to captivate me and I have no real reason why I haven’t read it other than it was released when I was reading a bunch of other things and so it fell down the TBR pile.

6. The Bronzed Beast by Roshani Chokshi

I am determined to get to this one, but may have to reread the first two books (or at least skim them) before doing so.

7. Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

This one was actually going to be my first read for 2022 before my mood shifted and I went for horror for some reason.

8. Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno

Words can’t express how much I love Nina Moreno’s Don’t Date Rosa Santos, so this companion novel is high on my TBR.

9. Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

My only 2021 eARC that I didn’t get a chance to read. I will rectify this (hopefully early) in the new year.

10. She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

I don’t think I’ve seen a single person not rave about this one and I am always looking to pick up more adult fantasy reads.

Which of these should I get to ASAP? Which 2021 release are you making a priority this year? Let’s discuss in the comments!