October Fright 2018: Favorite Reads from Octobers Past

Happy October! This month I’m celebrating my favorite holiday with all the creepy reads and Halloween-themed posts. I’ve made an effort over the last few years to pick up spooky reads during the month of October and I’ve ended up reading some really great picks (and a few duds if I’m honest). For this post, I’m listing ten of my favorite reads from Octobers past. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle – If I could read one book every October, it would be this one. It’s atmospheric and eerie and you spend the majority of the book not quite sure what to make of it. It also takes place during the month of October which is just perfect.

2. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, Edited by April Genevieve Tucholke – I don’t read anthologies often, but if there were more horror ones featuring my favorite authors, I’d be more likely to check them out. I really liked this collection and it got me curious about several authors I wasn’t familiar with.

3. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell – I picked this one up and its sequel one year for nostalgic purposes. This used to be one of my favorite books as a kid and those illustrations are beyond haunting. I can’t believe we are finally getting an adaptation. Someone pinch me.

4. Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – It took me a while to finally pick up the conclusion to this thriller series and I’m going to miss this ensemble a lot. I’d really like to see more mysteries in YA like this one, with smart characters and terrifying villains.

5. Penpal by Dathan Auerbach – I bought the ebook of this one on a whim and I’m so glad I did. It’s one of the few reads that has actually given me the chills. Also, I now think penpals are a terrible idea.

6. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – I’m still a graphic novel reading newbie. I just discovered the horror and graphic novel combination and I think this is my sweet spot. The illustrations in this one are fantastic and the stories just eerie enough to make you sit up.

7. The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan – I wasn’t sure what we would get with this one as it’s about witches and a rape survivor, but I thought it was incredibly empowering and Gran will forever be one of the fieriest characters I’ve read.

8. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis – I remember reading this when I was going through a slump, but it still managed to really impress me. I loved how dark this one was and I am still in search of a novel like it.

9. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Manscalco – I’m so glad I picked this one up during October. The setting and mystery really fit the bill. Audrey Rose and Thomas remain one of my favorite duos.

10. The Merciless II: The Exorcism of Sofia Flores by Danielle Vega – This sequel really surprised me as I just thought the first novel was just okay. This one was ten times more horrifying and why oh why don’t we have more horror novels in YA? I feel like there’s an untapped market for it.

Do you read horror novels during the month of October? Do you have any favorites you’ve picked up over the years? Let’s talk in the comments.

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Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part V: Wish List

Happy Latinx Heritage Month! September 15th through October 15th, I’m celebrating Latinx Heritage Month with a series of posts and a Twitter giveaway. Head on over here to check out my giveaway tweet. If you missed out on my previous posts, check them out here:

Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part I: Favorite Reads

Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part II: New and Upcoming Releases

Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part III: Latinx Poets You Should Know

Latinx Heritage Month 2018, Part IV: Backlist TBR

For this final post I am sharing with you my wish list for books that focus on Latinx characters. There are so many things I’d love to see explored and so many stories I don’t think Latinx authors have had the opportunity to explore. Many of these topics are issues that require both honesty and care and thus I’d like to see authors from within these communities write them. Titles are linked to Goodreads.

1. Retellings – I want all the retellings, but starring Latinx characters. I want the Twelve Latinx Dancing Princesses, a Latina Cinderella and maybe even see The Picture of Dorian Gray reimagined with Latinx protagonist.

Examples: Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore and Pride by Ibi Zoboi

2. Witches – I can never have enough witchy books and after reading a few witchy books featuring Latina characters, I now need all the Latinx witch books. I want good witches and bad witches and morally grey witches.

Examples: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova and Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

3. Magical Realism – When talking Latinx authors, it should be a given that we get magical realism novels, but aside from a few Latinx YA authors, I don’t see this genre explored enough. I need more Latinx authors writing these books because this is one of my very favorite genres.

Examples: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore and Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe García McCall

4. Mental Health – Talking mental health within the Latinx community requires the kind of nuance you can only get from someone who’s experienced it. It’s a taboo subject that isn’t always easy to talk about, but it needs more attention than it’s gotten.

Examples: The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork and History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

5. More LGBTQIA+ Representation – I think we’re pretty lucky to have the selection of LBGTQIA+ Latinx novels we have now, especially if you understand homophobia in the Latinx community. This is another one of these issues that I would need to see explored by someone within the community.

Examples: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore and More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

6. Fluff – I want to see more Latinx characters being carefree and happy. When I see us in contemporaries, there is always a heavy burden on the protagonist’s shoulders. Sometimes I crave more of a lighthearted read, but finding one with Latinx characters is sometimes difficult.

Example: The Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes

7. Historical Fiction – How many historical fiction books have you read that that center Latinx characters? Though I love reading contemporaries that center us, I also want ones that acknowledge that we’ve been here for years, that we’ve mattered, and there are stories of our past that are worth hearing.

Examples: Shame the Stars by Guadalupe García McCall, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez, Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina.

8. Afro-Latinx RepresentaionColorism and anti-Blackness are real issues in the community that need to be addressed head on. It’s also important to specifically rally around Afro-Latinx voices because for too long their voices have been ignored.

Examples: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

9. More Racial Diversity – Did you know there are large Arab-Latinx communities in Latin America? What about Asian Latinxs? When’s the last time you came across a book written by an Indigenous Latinx author? Latinx people can be of any race, but, for example, I’ve only ever come across one book featuring an Asian Latinx character (The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo – protagonist’s parents are Korean Brazilian). I’d really like to see all these communities represented.

10. High fantasy – I really can’t think of a Latinx high fantasy that pays homage to our history while simultaneously allowed to explore fantastical worlds. When I think of Latinx characters in fantastical settings, my mind immediately wanders to urban fantasy, but this isn’t the kind I’m thinking for this one. I think a Latinx fantasy novel done right can also function as a commentary on genocide and colonialism both of which are very much a part of Latinx history. I’m basing the following example on the synopsis alone, as it hasn’t been released yet.

Example: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Have you read any books that explore these topics (please note I am specifically looking for books by Latinx authors)? Any upcoming books that I should be aware of or topics you’d like to see explored more? Let’s discuss in the comments!

The Friday 56: Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Wait. You kissed him?” asked Cindy.

“Yes!” I said, super excited.

But then she went on and on about how that made me seem desperate and easy and blah blah blah. I wanted to say, “Let’s not talk about desperate and easy,” but that would have made her cry, and I would have felt like shit afterwards.

Isabel Quintero’s Gabi, a Girl in Pieces made me both laugh and cry. Told in diary entries, Gabi has such a clear voice and I loved that poetry was used as a way for the protagonist to both express and embrace herself. You can read my mini-review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Gabi Hernandez chronicles her last year in high school in her diary: college applications, Cindy’s pregnancy, Sebastian’s coming out, the cute boys, her father’s meth habit, and the food she craves. And best of all, the poetry that helps forge her identity.
      July 24
      My mother named me Gabriella, after my grandmother who, coincidentally, didn’t want to meet me when I was born because my mother was unmarried, and therefore living in sin. My mom has told me the story many, many, MANY, times of how, when she confessed to my grandmother that she was pregnant with me, her mother beat her. BEAT HER! She was twenty-five. That story is the basis of my sexual education and has reiterated why it’s important to wait until you’re married to give it up. So now, every time I go out with a guy, my mom says, ‘Ojos abiertos, piernas cerradas.’ Eyes open, legs closed. That’s as far as the birds and the bees talk has gone. And I don’t mind it. I don’t necessarily agree with that whole wait until you’re married crap, though. I mean, this is America and the 21st century; not Mexico one hundred years ago. But, of course, I can’t tell my mom that because she will think I’m bad. Or worse: trying to be White.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Title: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage, #1
Pages: 320
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: August 28th 2018

      “In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
      But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
      As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.”

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“The bones of our old ways of life were there, barely traceable, and I wanted them back. I wanted all of us to remember what we’d been, how strong we were. And endurance was strength, to be sure, but even a rock wore away to nothing if asked to endure enough rain.”

Somaiya Daud wows with her debut Mirage, a sci-fi novel that also functions as a commentary on the effects of colonialism. Amani’s majority day should be a time for celebration, as it marks her transition into adulthood. There are very few traditions Amani and her people are allowed to take part in since the Vath have conquered their home planet and surrounding moons. When droids interrupt the celebration, kidnapping Amani and whisking her off to the planet Andala where the Vathek have established themselves as rulers, she has no idea what’s in store for her. That is until she comes face-to-face with Maram, High Princess of the Vath, and implausibly her doppelgänger. Forced to be the princesses’s double, Amani is thrust into a world wholly unlike her own where any wrong move could cost her her life.

One of my favorite things about Mirage is how full-realized the world is. Daud has created a people whose history and culture feel very real. For Amani and her people, Vath rule has cost them more than their ability to govern themselves. It has meant a loss of their religion, their language, and their customs. Using the fear of rebellion as a front, the Vath have made it nearly impossible for the Andalaan people to keep their culture intact. Large gatherings are prohibited, their religious poetry is deemed illegal, and if caught aiding rebels, they are quickly exterminated. Though Amani cannot remember a time when the Vath were not their rulers, she understands the loss that her people have endured. She knows she’s been cheated out of experiencing the full scope and beauty that is her culture. The Vathek people for their part do not see Andalaans as equals. But a treaty between the two was necessary to stop a war that would have resulted in even more deaths. Mathis, the High King of the Vath, married an Andalaan woman, and their only child, Maram, has the only legitimate claim to the throne. But for some Vathek, this doesn’t sit well with them and there is always the threat that some may rise and take the throne by force.

Amani was content to live a quiet life, but circumstances have dropped her into a position to do more for her people. She has the ability to see goodness even in those that do her wrong, to feel pity even when someone doesn’t necessarily deserve it. Amani is tasked with taking on a persona that is often cruel and never generous, but Amani never loses her ability to be kind. My favorite relationship in the novel was Amani’s and Maram’s. Maram is used to getting her way, of basking in her own power, and never having to worry about the needs or wants of others. I never expected to like Maram, but seeing her through Amani’s eyes changed my opinion of her. She grew on me and I didn’t simply see her as a cruel princess, but as a person caught between two worlds and forced to embrace only one side of herself. Amani’s relationship with Maram’s fiancé, Idris, an Andalaan himself, will either thrill the reader or leave them wanting more. I fell somewhere in the middle. I do think their relationship should have taken a little more time to develop and wouldn’t have minded having to wait until the next book to see their relationship blossom. On the other hand, I loved their connection with one another. Idris is old enough to remember how his family was taken from him, but he is beholden to the Vath for keeping him alive; the peace treaty is also contingent on his marriage to Maram. Amani is taken with Idris almost immediately and in him she finds a safe haven from her precarious position. For Idris, Amani helps him reconnect with a part of himself that he lost thanks to the Vath.

Somaiya Daud’s Mirage won’t thrill you with its non-stop action, but its charm lies in the brilliance of its worldbuilding and the message that enduring hope can be found even in the bleakest of circumstances.

4/5

★★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

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 “Longest Books I’ve Ever Read.” I feel like I don’t pick up as many big books as I used to and I think being a book blogger is partially to blame for this. It’s hard to justify spending a week or two on one book when there are so many books to get to. Here are ten of the longest books I’ve read according to Goodreads. To ensure some variation, I limited myself to mentioning only one book in the same series. Example, several HP books would make this list, but I’m only listing Order of the Phoenix since it’s the longest. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – Number of Pages: 1,056 – This book was so long that I literally paused in the middle of it, read another book, and then returned to finish it. Still impressed that I read this gigantic book.

2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – Number of Pages: 870 – This and Prisoner of Azkaban are my favorite HP books. Pretty sure I got through this in only a few days. I didn’t need sleep back then.

3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Number of Pages: 850 – I did a buddy read for this one and thankful I did because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to get through it otherwise. It wasn’t a bad book, just wasn’t really for me.

4. Winter by Marissa Meyer – Number of Pages: 827 – I’m surprised to find this one on the list, but yes, it was a big book. I wish I remembered it more vividly.

5. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke – Number of Pages: 699 – I do remember how big this one was because I took the whole series with me when I spent some time overseas and it wasn’t the best idea when I had to pack up and come back.

6. To Darkness Fled by Jill Williamson – Number of Pages: 681 – I read this series years and years ago. Don’t remember much, but they are all paperback, thick, and heavy. Couldn’t take them anywhere.

7. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – Number of Pages: 648 – I always felt that SJM’s books never really needed to be as long as they were. Is that just me?

8. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – Number of Pages: 640 – I almost didn’t put this one on my list because this novel includes illustrations, but hey, those count too.

9. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – Number of Pages: 624 – This is one of those big books that I loved partially because it was so long. It meant I got to spend more time with these particular characters.

10. Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier – Number of Pages: 608 – I’m so glad this one made it onto my list. I love Juliet Marillier’s books and this one is one of my favorites. I should totally reread this one soon.

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? Have you picked any of these up? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

October Fright 2018: Five Horror Shows I’m Binge-Watching This Fall

Happy October! Hope everyone is having a creeptastic month so far. As you’ve might have noticed the blog has undergone a Halloween-esque makeover. I’m a big fan of the holiday and this month I’m putting together some horror-inspired posts while also picking up some thrilling reads. Today I’ve got a list of creepy shows that I am planning to binge-watch this October and fall season.

1. Goosebumps (Netflix) – This show was a staple of my childhood. I recently discovered Netflix carries these episodes and I have been in nostalgia heaven. It makes me want to cast my October TBR aside and just binge-read Goosebumps books instead. Perhaps one day. I also loved Are You Afraid of the Dark? Let me know if you know where I can find episodes of this show!

2. Slasher (Netflix/Chiller) – I heard a couple of bloggers talk about this show and I’m curious enough that I want to check it out on Netflix sometime this month. I don’t know much beyond what I assume from the title and that it’s an anthology series. As it were, I had a hard time finding a gif for this one without knowing much. I think this is from Slasher.

3. The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) – I am so stoked for this one. It comes out October 12th and at first I thought it was just going to be a movie, but it’s a series and I’m even more excited. What’s Halloween without a haunted house story? Watch the trailer above if you haven’t done so yet!

4. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) – I read the graphic novel this is based on last year and loved it. I’ve always been a fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and when I saw there was a darker take on the story, I had to read it. Now that they’ve made a series for it, I am over the moon. Check out how dark and sinister this one looks in the trailer.

5. Channel Zero: The Dream Door (Syfy) – Technically I won’t be binge-watching this one since it will air weekly, but I still wanted to include it. I’ve enjoyed every season of this weird and creepy show. Listen, if I found a door in the basement of the house I grew up in but had no memory of it, I’d be out of that house so fast. But I don’t mind watching others make the terrible mistake of opening the door. The trailer for this one gives me the creeps and has me wishing October 26th would hurry up already.

Are you planning to watch any of these? Which horror shows are you hoping to catch this October and beyond? Let’s talk in the comments!