Waiting on Wednesday: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab which finally had it’s big cover reveal last week!  I love Victoria Schwab and every single thing she’s written so this picking a book this week was really a no-brainer for me.  I preordered it the minute it went up and I can’t wait for it to come in the mail.  It’s full of monsters and it follows a pair of friends who battle them together.  It sounds really exciting but in all honesty, the “by Victoria Schwab” is what sold me :-)

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The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Life Lately: I Want To Be Better

I woke up this morning with an intense urge to be better. My schedule has been out of control for the past couple of months and being an introvert, I really need time to myself in my own home in order to stay sane.  Even though I’ll go straight home from work some days (if I’m lucky) and catch up on Fall TV or Netflix, it’s not the same kind of relaxing I need.  Since I’ve already spent 4 hours of the day commuting and I’m coming home to a limited amount of time to eat dinner, shower and set up a blog post for the next day, all the while knowing that I’ll be on the same schedule in a few short hours, I’m not able to truly unwind.  If for some reason I decide to save my blogging until 5:30 the next morning, it also takes away from the relax-a-bility factor of the evening because I have a nagging voice in my head saying “you should be blogging,” “you should be reading,” or “you should be BookTubing.”

Even if I only have a small amount of time alone, it still has the power to rejuvenate me.  Yesterday I had the first free two hour block of time in weeks and after using it to catch up on BookTube videos and tidy up my room, I’m feeling energy coursing through me that I’ve definitely been lacking recently.  It may sound ridiculous that cleaning my room for two hours of uninterrupted time is the kind of relaxation I felt devoid of, but really, when I add my treinta unsweetened green iced tea from Starbucks and the enjoyability factor of listening to my favorite BookTuber’s talk about books, the chore of cleaning becomes mindless and I feel like I’m being productive while relaxing. I detest having a messy room and I’ve often realized that the state of my room accurately reflects the state of my life, both of which have been in a state of complete chaos for weeks.  I was even able to film several BookTube videos without thinking about the amount of time I had before I should go to sleep.  When things are as busy as they have been it’s so much easier to make bad decisions food-wise (ie. I ate an entire box of Cheez-its for dinner on Saturday… and then had pumpkin ice cream and candy corn), and while I do walk a lot each day and stand for the majority of my day at work, I still feel like I’m not getting enough physical activity.  Being squished into a tiny corner seat on my train is doing a number on my back and I really want to move around more.  I’ve felt really restless recently but I always opt to sit on the train when possible because reading.

Anyway, I’m really happy to be back into one of those modes where I’m motivated to do everything, be as healthy as possibly and just generally be the best that I can be and not let myself get lazy when I’m faced with a mundane workweek (I actually love my job, it’s just the commute that’s a killer) combined with too many social functions and obligations.  It might sound silly but all day today I’ve kind of repeated the manta “be better” to myself and it’s a good feeling.  It’s not difficult to make a decision that will be better for me in the long run (ie. I had a greek yogurt and an apple from home for lunch today instead of buying grilled cheese, pretzels and hummus! More healthy + I saved $$$ and I feel just as full) and I have to actively recognize that each seemingly insignificant choice adds up.  I also need to make it a priority to decompress the way I know works best for me because it has a major impact on my mental health.  I’m going to start saying no to certain social things so I can make sure that I have at least two hours of time to myself per week.  For sanity.

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Kristin

BookTube: Creatures of the Night Book Tag

Hello and happy almost Halloween!! I was tagged by Tiffany from About to Read for the Creatures of the Night Book Tag.  I really wanted to do this one so I’m glad that she tagged me!  This book tag involves giving recommendations based on different types of supernatural creatures such as vampires, angels, ghosts etc.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

It’s Halloween season so today I have yet another YA horror / thriller book to review.  The second book I read this month is called The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich and it follows a girl who is mentally ill and diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder which means that she has a split personality.  During the day, she’s a quiet good girl named Carly and at night her alter-ego Kaitlin takes over.  The girls are aware of each other’s existence and they love each other very much.  They refer to one another as sisters and they often leave notes for each other about their experiences during their time in Carly’s body.  While the book had a very interesting premise and I was engaged for the majority of the story, there was an element near the end that just lost me.

Carly / Kaitlin were each a well developed personality and while the story is primarily told by diary entires from Kaitlin’s journal, we do get see some notes and entries penned by Carly.  Each sister has very different handwriting and each entry is is labeled with the amount of days to the incident or the amount of days after the incident.  A big part of why I was so interested in continuing to read is because I wanted to find out exactly what type of incident occurred.  The narrative was unique and in addition to Kaitlin’s diary entries, the story is also told via description of video footage Carly’s best friend Naidia filmed throughout their school experience as well as interviews with Doctor Lansig who was assigned to treat Carly.

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Kaitlin’s account of her experiences are filled with raw emotion and it’s up to the reader to determine whether they believe her narrative or if they believe that she is mentally ill and her story is fabricated.  Usually I’m not a fan of unrelatable narrators because I find it frustrating to not be able to trust whoever is recounting details to me but in Kaitlin’s case I really enjoyed it.  It didn’t take me long to warm up to Kaitlin but without spoiling anything, I had some issues with the direction the story went in about two-thirds of the way into the book.

Final Thoughts:  The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich is a thriller that follows a young girl named Carly / Kaitlin who suffers from DID.  The book has an intriguing style of storytelling as it is a compilation of diary entries, interviews, and descriptions of video footage.  While I had issues with the ending, I definitely enjoyed the majority of the journey to there.  I wouldn’t necessarily classify it in the horror genre but the cover is very festive for Halloween. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and you don’t mind unreliable narrators I would recommend checking this one out!

Rating 3

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . . 

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

5 Fandom Friday: Couple’s Costumes I Want to Force My Significant Other to Wear For Halloween

We did this topic last year for 5 Fandom Friday as well but it’s such a fun one to include because people are always discovering new characters and fandoms so everyone on your list from last year might not make it this year.  This year I decided to shake things up and post 5 couple’s costumes that I want to dress up as with Andrew at some point in the future.  We don’t have anything big planned for this Halloween (besides the aforementioned pie-baking, Halloween-candy-eating and scary-movie-watching) so Andrew and I will be saving our costumes for Kelly & Erika’s annual after-Halloween Halloween party.  I’m not going to reveal our plan just yet but here are some characters I want us to dress up as in the future!

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1) Bilbo & Gandalf – Andrew already has the height going for him to be Gandalf and since Gandalf is my favorite character I would love to see Andrew dressed up as him.  Also, being Bilbo will give me an excuse to eat a million meals in a day and walk around barefoot.

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2) Rapunzel & Flynn – This is one of my favorite Disney films and Rapunzel and Flynn are the characters in the Disney World that most closely resemble us.  We have something planned involving Tangled but I’m not allowed to say what it is just yet :-)

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3) Jack & Sally – I toyed with the idea of dressing as these characters this year but we ultimately went with something else.  I would rather save a classic like Jack and Sally for when we have something huge planned!

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4) Harry Potter & Luna Lovegood – I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t want to do a couples Harry Potter cosplay. Luna is my favorite character and I chose Harry for Andrew since he’s so easily identifiable but I would be open to letting him choose a different character.

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5) Spider-Man & Spider-Gwen – We actually have each other listed in our phones as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.  I love both of these characters and now that Gwen is webslinging in an alt universe I think it would be incredible to pair her up with Spidey in our universe.

Tea & Movie Chat: Crimson Peak

Oh Crimson Peak, I really really really wanted to love you but sadly you did not deliver.  You had so many things in your favor with the top selling point being Tom Hiddleston playing the lead male character.  Before I talk about why you didn’t work, I will say that you are definitely the most aesthetically beautiful film I’ve watched this year.  The costumes are stunning, the scenery and cinematography are breathtaking and you truly captured the atmosphere of a gothic romance / horror film.  Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain were perfectly cast and they performed well with the script they were given.  Guillermo del Toro directed and co-wrote the film which I’m certain is why it is so visually satisfying.  I went into the film with healthy enthusiasm and an open heart because I was prepared to declare Crimson Peak with it’s promising trailer and appealing posters a new favorite.  Everything seemed to be going in it’s favor until about a third of the way into the film.

As Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) states early on regarding the book she’d been writing, it’s not a ghost story, it’s a story with ghosts in it which is exactly what Crimson Peak is.  The ghosts could’ve easily been removed and the story wouldn’t have had to change at all.  In the beginning, the ghost of Edith’s mother haunts the house she now shares with her father to heed a very specific warning and the effect is done really well.  As the story progresses, more and more ghosts are used and they ultimately lose any eerie effect they originally had because they become almost commonplace.  Since Edith is the only one who acknowledges them, I have to wonder if it’s a The Turn of the Screw type situation but again, that’s a plot hole that’s never explained.  There were also issues with Edith’s character who differentiates herself from the women of the time early on, but relies on Sir Thomas to “save” her once tragedy strikes.

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Overall, the plot of the film is lacking.  It’s doesn’t create a memorable tale and it’s clear that the focus of the film is heavily placed on the visuals while the other elements fall to wayside.  There were several little unexplained plot holes including the significance of Lucille’s ring and one large one being exactly why the Sir Thomas and Lucille have gotten into the cyclic situation they’re in. There’s one reason that the audience can infer but it feels like it must be more than a simple attachment considering the messy web they’ve woven.  There’s also a constant seeping of red clay coming through the walls of the house which add to the horrorific aesthetic of the story, but this and the presence of moths everywhere seem difficult to just accept and it’s odd that Edith wouldn’t inquire about them.

After Crimson Peak ended I was left feeling satisfied that I completed my goal of seeing it opening weekend but completely dissatisfied with the time I wasted on an incomplete story.  Less than halfway through the film I knew the blu-ray wasn’t something I would be budgeting for in the future.  I struggle with flat out saying that it was a bad film because of how pretty and atmospheric it is but when I think about the story I can confidentally state that I didn’t enjoy it without having any reservations for doing so.  I thought it would be impossible to fail, especially with Tom Hiddleston as eye candy but alas, it did. Le sigh.  I don’t necessarily need to have every loose end tied up to enjoy a tale but Crimson Peak spent too much time perfecting its overt visuals and came across as a rushed and unfinished in regard to the plot.

Rating 2

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers. (via IMDB)

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Kristin

BookTube: T5W: Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year

This weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is the Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year.  So they’re not necessarily new authors, but they’re new to me! I had so much fun going through my list and seeing which authors I just started reading this year.  What are your favorite new to you authors?

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Renegades (Rebel Belle #3) by Rachel Hawkins

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating. This week I’m choosing Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins which is the third book in the Rebel Belle series. As with the first cover in the series, as soon as I saw the newest cover I fell in love with it (the second one wasn’t my favorite). The pastel purple is so soft and feminine and I love how it matches the bows on the elegant elbow length opera glove. It wouldn’t be part of the series if it didn’t have an edge so there’s also a fancy sword displayed. In case you haven’t read the series, I reviewed the first book here and mostly what you need to know is that the main character, Harper Price has a sense of humor that is very similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s. I don’t think anything else needs to be said!

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Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.  

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenaged girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town, which means her life is on the line yet again. 

Now, it’s a desperate race for Harper to find and rescue David before she backslides from superhero to your garden-variety type-A belle. 

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood #1)

The first book I completed from my horror-filled TBR pile for October is Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and it was the perfect ghost story to really get me into the spirit of Halloween.  It’s the first book in a duology (the second being Girl of Nightmares).  I loved it so much that I’m really looking forward to diving into more of the horror I have planned for this month!  The story follows Cas, a ghost hunter following in his dead father’s footsteps, who moves to a little Canadian town to hunt his latest tip about a very hostile ghost named Anna.  Cas lives with his mom who’s a witch, their black cat Tybalt and his most prized possession is his athame which he uses to slay ghosts.

As someone who is scared by just about everything, I was expecting nightmares and to feel unbearably spooked while reading but I was so interested in Cas and Anna’s stories that I was too enthralled to feel scared (except for one time when I had to mentally prepare myself to go upstairs alone).  The book has a very Supernatural feel to it and I couldn’t help picturing Sam and Dean’s car in the first chapter.  Cas is not your average teenage boy (being a ghost hunter and all) and though he’s never been open to getting attached to people he falls into developing some friendships in this new town.  Anna, the ghost he’s hunting, has an exceptional story.  She’s often thought of by Cas as a goddess of death.  She haunts the halls of a small Victorian house and she wears a long white dress that’s soaked in blood and because the fabric is oversaturated, the sound of blood dripping onto the floor is audible when anyone is in her presence.  She’s different than any other ghost he’s dealt with thus far.

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Kendare Blake’s writing gives way to imagery that is creepy and descriptive and it really romanticizes all of the elements of the story.  It made everything feel spooky but with an underlying beauty.  As I was reading, I kept going back to past paragraphs just so I could spend more time imagining the scenes and really seeing the setting.  I became so invested in finding out about Anna’s past.  The characters – main and supporting – are delightful and the plot just hooked me from the beginning.  I also really enjoyed the pacing of the novel because it felt like something was always happening.  There were never any lulls in action or story and it interwove the two elements beautifully.

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for a scary book to get your mind into the Halloween season but you don’t want to sacrifice plot (seriously, some horror YA novels are just terrible), you should definitely consider reading Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  It’s a gorgeously written ghost story and the imagery will transport you to Cas and Anna’s worlds.  You won’t be able to put it down because Anna’s story is so engaging and it’ll keep you up way past your bedtime!
Rating 5
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: Favorite Harry Potter Illustrated Edition Artwork

Today I wanted to share a video about my favorite illustrations in the newly released Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone illustrated edition.  In case you haven’t heard me raving about it in past videos, Scholastic is releasing a new and fully illustrated Harry Potter book each year, allowing us all to relive our childhoods.  Since many people already own the series, I thought it would be fun to share some of the best artwork in the book to help people decide whether they need to buy the series again (spoiler alert, you do).

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Kristin

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