Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri & The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha) by Tasha Suri
 Publication Date: November 13th, 2018
496 pages
Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Some Spooky Books I'd Like to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is: Halloween Freebie

Since today's topic was a Halloween freebie, I just decided to share some scary/horror/etc. books that I've seen over the years and would still really like to read! I have no specific plans on when I'll actually read these, but you know, I'd really like to read this one day because they all sound incredible. I don't read a lot of horror/scary books on a regular basis,  but I'm never sure why because I almost always end up loving them--maybe I'll finally change that one day!

Gothic TalesLittle GirlsThornhillThe Hunting Party

Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell: "Elizabeth Gaskell's chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. 'Disappearances', inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; 'Lois the Witch', a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in 'The Old Nurse's Story' a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as 'The Poor Clare', where an evil doppelgänger is formed by a woman's bitter curse, or mischievous like 'Curious, if True', a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the stories in this volume form a stark contrast to the social realism of Gaskell's novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling style of writing."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Little Girls by Ronald Malfi: "When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…"
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository
Thornhill by Pam Smy: "Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley:  "All of them are friends. One of them is a killer. 
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves. They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world. Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead." (out 2019)
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

DraculThe VisitorsIn a Dark, Dark WoodThe Silence

Dracul by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker: "The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula's true origins but Bram Stoker's--and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them. 
It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here..."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Visitors by Catherine Burns: "With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware: "Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself. When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Silence by Tim Lebbon: "In the darkness of a vast cave system, cut off from the world for millennia, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed... Swarming from their prison, they multiply and thrive. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death. Deaf for many years, Ally knows how to live in silence. Now, it is her family's only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?"
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Children's HomeHangsamanThe String Diaries (The String Diaries #1)The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1)

The Children's Home by Charles Lambert: "For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes. 
In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up..."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson: "Shirley Jackson's chilling second novel, based on her own experiences and an actual mysterious disappearance Seventeen-year-old Natalie Waite longs to escape home for college. Her father is a domineering and egotistical writer who keeps a tight rein on Natalie and her long-suffering mother. When Natalie finally does get away, however, college life doesn’t bring the happiness she expected. Little by little, Natalie is no longer certain of anything—even where reality ends and her dark imaginings begin. Chilling and suspenseful, Hangsaman is loosely based on the real-life disappearance of a Bennington College sophomore in 1946."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones: "A family is hunted by a centuries-old monster: a man with a relentless obsession who can take on any identity."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson:  "Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden. In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens."
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Have you read any of these or do  you want to read any of these? What spooky books do you want to read? Let me know!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Review: The Narrows by Travis M. Riddle

The Narrows
The Narrows by Travis M. Riddle
Self-published, 2018
Ebook. 256 pages.

About The Narrows:

"I can show you how to enter the Narrows to find what you seek.” 

Oliver and his friends have returned to their hometown of Shumard, Texas for the funeral of their close friend Noah. They each grapple with the loss in their own ways, trying to understand the strange circumstances of their friend’s unexpected death. 

While visiting the site where the body was found, Oliver stumbles across a chilling discovery that he knows must be related to what happened to Noah. Wanting to protect his friends from these newfound horrors, Oliver takes it upon himself to venture into the grotesque otherworld known as the Narrows to learn what happened to his friend and find a way to bring him back. 

Entering the Narrows is one thing, but will whatever he finds there allow him to leave?"

The Narrows is a spooky little horror story that combines a myriad of components to create a compelling, imaginative, and highly entertaining story. This is a great book to read for the Halloween and holiday reading period, as it has a wonderfully mysterious atmosphere that pervades the entire book as well as contains that post-holiday feeling of indifference that we all know and expect.

My favorite thing about Riddle's writing is how he slowly feeds information about the characters and the plot in small, essential doses--it's just enough to prompt you to understand something or cause you to ask more questions, which in turn makes for a book that is impossible to put down. He's also so a master at writing characters that I actively wanted to hear more about, including their background and minute details about them. 

The horror aspect was done really well. It was more of a quiet spookiness for the majority of the story, rather than something blatantly and obviously horrifying. There were, of course, some very overt and outrageous moments, but the rest of the time was more about wondering about the unknown and trying to figure out just what sort of crazy things were happening to Oliver and the town of Shumard. 

As much as I loved the main horror plot, the other main area in which Riddle shines is with his characters. This is something that I started to realize when I read my first book from Riddle (Balam, Spring), but that really stood out to me as I read this book. There's something exceptionally authentic and realistic about the characters Riddle creates, something that brings them to life in different ways than a lot of books seem to do. Every character somehow feels like someone I would actually meet or interact with on a regular basis. They aren't boring by any means, but they're wonderfully normal and simply living their lives like any normal person would, complete with complex relationships and, you know, the occasional otherworldly experience.

Oliver was a great protagonist. He's intelligent and caring, but as with any human, he can easily make mistakes or jump to conclusions. I did appreciate that he seemed rather open-minded about both people and the crazy things happening in this book, which made him someone I actively liked as a person. Oliver is a bit stubborn about doing dangerous things that he probably shouldn't be doing, but it wasn't overdone and he actually had good reasons for doing them most of the time, so I didn't really find myself annoyed with him at all. The rest of the characters in this book are all equally interesting and had strong, well-developed personalities. I thought that Riddle's inclusion of a transgender character was one of the best I've seen. It was very intelligently done in a manner that, although was very clear and highlighted this person's character, was still somewhat subtle and felt very natural. It's handled with a deftness that almost made it stand out more in a positive way than I expected.

Another great part about these characters was the friendships and various relationships among them all. Riddle created some strong and in-depth, complex friendships between different characters and examined the good and bad of those relationships, both of those that have lasted and those that have fallen apart.

I also have to mention how I loved the ending immensely. I can't actually say why I loved it because of spoilers, but suffice to say it made me enormously pleased and I had a huge smile on my face because of how Riddle chose to end it. And lastly, I just have to mention that I think the cover is fantastic and could not do a better job at representing the story. It's a bit creepy and unnatural and the details also reflects details of the story extremely well.

Overall, I've given The Narrows 4.5 stars!

Buy the book: Amazon

Friday, October 26, 2018

Anticipated November 2018 Releases!

Aaaand it's already time for November releases. November. I don't know how these months keep sneaking up on me, but somehow this whole year has been a blur so far. Regardless of all that, a new month also means new releases! As always, I've collected just some of the many great new books to expect on shelves next month. I think I'm missing quite a few, but maybe I'll come back and add them if I think of any. Happy reading!

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne || November 13th -- Amazon Book Depository

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri || November 13th -- Amazon Book Depository

Fox 8 by George Saunders || November 13th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Frolic of the Beasts by Yukio Mishima || November 27th -- Amazon Book Depository

Amber & Dusk by Lyra Slene || November 27th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender|| November 20th -- Amazon Book Depository

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey || November 8th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

Maestros, Vol. 1 by Steve Skroce || November -- Amazon Book Depository

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

Angel and Bavar by Amy Wilson || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

Master of His Fate || November 20th -- Amazon Book Depository

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan || November 6th -- Amazon Book Depository

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman || November 27th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross || November 6th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Tales of Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft || November 6th -- Amazon 

What are your anticipated November releases?

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: Lucifer's Star by C.T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus

Lucifer's Star by C.T. Phipps & Michael Suttkus
Mystique Press, 2017
Ebook. 300 pages

About Lucifer's Star:

"Cassius Mass was the greatest star pilot of the Crius Archduchy. He fought fiercely for his cause, only to watch his nation fall to the Interstellar Commonwealth. It was only after that he realized the side he'd been fighting for was the wrong one. Now a semi-functional navigator on an interstellar freight hauler, he tries to hide who he was and escape his past. Unfortunately, some things refuse to stay buried and he ends up conscripted by the very people who destroyed his homeland. 

LUCIFER'S STAR is the first novel of the Lucifer's Star series, a dark science fiction space opera set in a world of aliens, war, politics, and slavery."

Over the past couple of years I've been slowly starting to get more into sci-fi, and space opera is one of the subgenres I've been trying to dip into more and more. I'll be honest here and say something a bit controversial--I am not much of a Star Wars fan at all, so I'm always somewhat skeptical of whether similar sci-fi settings will be a hit or miss, but I have to say that I had such an enjoyable time reading this book and am glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Lucifer's Star is a great example of a well-written, highly entertaining space opera. The world-building was executed extremely well, with an engaging futuristic world in which humans have basically destroyed earth and have now colonized a large portion of the world in space. I really appreciated how much detail went into the world-building and also the politics and intricacies of the world that added layers of authenticity to the world. It did feel a little hard to keep up with everything at times because it all seemed to come at me pretty quickly, but it also made me appreciate how much work the authors put into it. I also found the mentions of alien life interesting, as they weren't a huge part of this story, but they were still mentioned in a way that made it apparent that they were a part of the world. The alien life in this book are known to have greater technology and advancements, but there is a still a large air of mystery surrounding them that I think only added to the world-building.

The story is told from the perspective of Cassius Mass, a man who was once a legendary pilot from the Archduchy of Crius, a smaller nation that fought--and lost--in a big battle against the Commonwealth. Cassius is the sort of character that is ready to be done with his career and fade away into a quiet retirement, but as is the case in most stories, he is inevitably drawn back into new threats and conflicts. I found myself intrigued by Cassius' character and I found him to be someone that I genuinely cared about and was interested in following throughout the entirety of the book. In addition to Cassius, there are many other intriguing characters that we meet throughout the story. Something that stood out to me was how many incredible female characters there were, all of which felt extremely well-written and were represented well, which is so important and can sometimes be difficult to find in sci-fi. They didn't feel cliche'd or pigeon-holed into one type, but instead varied and had distinct personalities that brought everything to life..

Lastly, I want to mention that I felt this book touched on some really interesting topics and themes. I particularly liked that nothing felt simply black and white or good and bad, there was so much grey area within this world and the story that reflected reality in such a good way. As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of politics in play that can be a bit much, but there is also action and other content interspersed to keep things engaging.

Overall, I've given Lucifer's Star four stars! I though this was a well-written space opera full of intrigue and I would recommend to anyone interested in the genre.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I received a copy of Lucifer's Star courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*