Reading books takes so looooooooooooong. And by long I mean, I decided to start the year with a 700+ page beast and finish the month by starting The Priory of the Orange Tree which is an even bigger beast at almost 900 page. I’m drowning in words and I’m not even sorry about it!
And now… presenting the very small collection of books and short stories that I got to read this month (if you haven’t read Salem’s Lot yet and consider yourself a vampire fan then what are you doing with your life? Read it right now!).
1. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King ● rated 5 Stars
Cunning, relentless and spilling with bloodlust, King delivers an exceptional retelling and homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Set in small-town Maine, Ben Mears returns to his home town to write a book about the infamous Marsten House. Only something seems a little amis with the new owners (that’s an understatement). This is not the tale of a vampire you take to be a lover or a friend. This is the chilling tale of a vampire and his army of the night that will destroy you from the inside out.
2. Injustice: Gods Amongs Us Year 1 by Tom Taylor ● rated 5 Stars
Ever wondered what it would be like if Superman was the villain? Inspired by the videogame phenomenon, Taylor poses the philosophical questions: How far is too far when it comes to promoting the greater good? What would you sacrifice for the sake of peace? This comic is everything that Batman vs Superman should have been.
3. The Last by Hanna Jameson ● rated 4 Stars
A delicate mix of the locked room ‘whoddunnit’ and a nuclear induced apocalypse, The Last, explores the lives of 20 survivors trapped at L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland. The problem (beside the obvious)? One of them is a killer. Full review here.
4. Shades of Magic Vol 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab ● rated 4 Stars
The prequel to Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series follows Prince Maxim Maresh, long before he ever became King of Red London. Expect lawlessnes, magic and a new enemy with an interesting power. I only wish these comics were a little longer, and perhaps a little more detailed. Everything feels a tad rushed. Nevertheless, you’ll still feel the same Schwab magic.
In between juggling my reading of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon and The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, I have these four delights to read before February is out. I probably won’t have time to read them all but I’ll give it my best shot. As long as I get time to read Connections in Death then all is well!
How was the start to your bookish 2019?
Read any of the books above or a choosing to this January? Got a book you think I’ll be interested in? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
It’s been a hot minute since I last wrote one of these Top Ten Tuesday posts so lap it up while you can, kids, who knows when you’re going to get the next one.
There were plenty of books I added to my ‘must read’ pile last year that I didn’t get around to reading; and when I say plenty, I mean a whole damn lot. Apparently there just aren’t enough hours in the day. These ten little delights listed below are the poor, abandoned books that I never got to read in 2018 but will squeeze in any way I can into 2019. Consider that a new reading goal.
Strange Grace by Tessa Graton Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? The tagline that caught me hook, line and sinker and sent this book straight to my tbr pile.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Oh, Shirley Jackson, you wonderful Gothic Queen. I may have read a large amount of her work in 2018 (primarily her short story collections) but sadly didn’t get around to this beaut. I’ll be fixing that this year.
Dracul by Dacre Stoker The greatest vampire tale ever told, my main man… Dracula. Dacre brings us the prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by Bram Stoker. Consider me 132293649% excited for this book and the eventuality that I get to read it at some point in 2019. Please don’t disappoint.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear. This little Gothic delight has been sat on my shelf for the last few months, whispering to me… “read me, Jess. Read me…” but I will, you hear! I will. I’ll read you this year!
Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe How do you know who to trust… when you don’t even know who you are? You are outside your front door. There are strangers in your house. Then you realise. You can’t remember your name. You received this ARC from the publisher but you forgot about it. You let it slide further and further down your tbr list until… it was too late. The book had been published. This year, you’ll catch up. You’ll read it. Review it.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang The historical military fantasy novel grounded in the bloody history of China’s 20th century the world has been raving about. I admit I read maybe a chapter of this (which I enjoyed) but somehow I just never finished…
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid The book everyone briefly confuses with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle aka a book I will shout at anyone to read because it is GREAT! Sadly there wasn’t enough time in 2018 for the woman who has had more husbands than I’ve had broken bones (zero).
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne The sins of one generation are visited upon another in a haunted New England mansion. The literary nerd in me sings. I never got around to reading this during my disseration or last year but it’s part of my all-time favourite genre: the gothic.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black I haven’t touched a Holly Black book since the last Spiderwick Chronicles hit my library bookshelf at the age of 11. Since then I’ve had very little interest in anything she’s written. Until The Cruel Prince. The entire YA community hasn’t stop raving about it so I’m going to give it a shot so don’t let me down, Holly.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel. But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire. I got this wonderful book as an ARC from the publisher but after a very hectic end of 2018, I never got around to reading it. I’ve heard so many good things so I’m itching to read it this time round.
What are some of the books you didn’t get to read in 2018?
Have you read any of the above? Want to read any of the above? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.
It’s that time of the year again (very late I might add) for me to set myself some reading goals and embark on my next reading challenge. As the most unsurprising person ever… I am taking part in the Alphabet Soup Reading challenge for the third year in a row (maybe this time I’ll actually complete it). I’m kind of madly in love with this challenge because it gives me the flexibility I want without setting myself limits, although some of those letters are forever tricky to cross off.
Read a minimum of 50 books: The goal that never changes. Between work and adulting there’s not always a lot of time to read especially not as much as I’d like so I always keep my minimum goal to 50. That’s pretty much a book a week with a little time to spare. Once I hit 50 I always enjoy seeing how far over that goal I can go.
Read the books on my must-read shelf first: I have a bad habit of dithering through my tbr, never sure of what I want to read next and just adding books/requesting ARCs for the sake of it. Late last year I decided to split my tbr into “want to read” and you guessed it “must read”. Unless I desperately need to read something it might just end up sitting on my “want to read” shelf, collecting dust.
Write reviews for at least half of what I read in 2019: I am the absolute worst when it comes to putting my thoughts to paper (or in this case screen) about the books I’ve just read. The worst. I’ve found that I absolutely love and prefer the ‘mini review’ which I’ll include in monthly wrap-ups. Longer reviews I’ll save (and hopefully write) for any ARCs I read over 2019.
Read a minimum of 5 Classics/Gothic/Fantasy/Thriller/Horror/Historical novels: If there’s one thing I hate, it’s sticking to one genre and reading nothing else. I get bogged down in the repetitive storylines and copy-cat characters but maybe I’m just reading books that are too similar to each other, I don’t know? Reading as widely as possible makes things a little more interesting. Major props to anyone that can read nothing but one genre. I don’t know how y’all do it but it’s some type of magic.
Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge: A recap of the rules
Read one book that has its title starting with a letter of the alphabet. That’s 26 books. A’s and The’s can be dropped from the beginning of titles. The first main word needs to be the letter you are counting, except for Q, X AND Z titles then the word that starts with the challenge letter can be anywhere in the title.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Do you think you can read a book for each letter of the alphabet? Try it out. Create your own blog post or if you don’t own a blog, create a shelf on your goodreads account. 52 weeks. 26 books.
It was the year 2095, cars could fly, aliens ruled the world and Jess had finally ruffled together an update for her blog. Are you all shocked? Because I am. You’d be even more shocked if I told you that I had the time to write this post and pull together my ‘top reads of 2018’ post but you know the answer to that already, don’t you… I haven’t had the time.
If it helps ease your pain some of my highlights of 2018 include Baby Teeth, The Binding, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Dry, Thunderhead, The Death of Mrs Westaway… I’ve talked a lot about some of these books below and in my previous wrap-ups.
I promise I’ll be better in 2019 (or I’ll try at least). I’ll definitely try and do more book talk over on my twitter if my blog lays neglected for a little while.
1. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton ● rated 5 Stars
8 days. 1 Plague doctor. A house full of suspects. Murder on repeat. It’s time to dress for dinner. Turton’s debut is masterful, brilliantly plotted and utterly mind-bending. Please read it, it’s so so good.
2. Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb ● rated 5 Stars
1 suicide bomber. 11 dead. Families devastated. A Family tortured. After 47 books, J.D. Robb still manages to deliver these books with a bang and none of the whimper. Read my full review here.
3. Melmoth by Sarah Perry ● rated 4 Stars (ARC Copy)
Losely inspired by Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, Perry’s latest novel follows Helen Franklin, a English translator who did something she cannot forgive herself for. Melmoth is there to witness every cruelty and violation created by man, luring them to spend life at her side. A book riddled with darkness, despair and hope, I’d highly recommend this literary tale of the macabre.
4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson ● rated 5 Stars
The Haunting of Hill House is a tale of quiet horror and narrative unease. Claustrophobic and disorientating, Shirley Jackson proves why she is the Queen of Horror and the Queen of my Gothic Heart because I loved this. Read my full review here.
5. Vengeful by V.E.Schwab ● rated 5 Stars
So here’s the tea: Victoria Schwab can’t write a bad book. I don’t know what else you need to know? This series is superpowers and vengeance and morally grey humans with a penchant for violence and super stabby female characters. What more could I ask for? Don’t ask any more questions… just read it. You won’t regret it.
6. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White ● rated 5 Stars
Written for the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, White pens a beautiful feminist and haunting retelling of the horror classic.
7. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor ● rated 4 Stars
4 out of 5 stars because I can’t stomach the utterly cringe and nauseating scenes between Lazlo and Sarai. I wanted a war between humans and demi-gods and everything was just too nice and easily solved and smothered in Lazlo/Sarai love feels and odd demi-god/ghost sex.
8. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas ● rated 5 Stars
My little band of warriors, I’ll miss them. Whilst this one fell a little flat for me at the end and was cheesy as hell (booooring!) I still had to give it 5 stars… out of loyalty. I’m a sucker for this series (and anything SJM writes). Don’t judge me.
9. Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean ● rated 3 Stars (ARC copy)
An expansive world steeped in Japanese mythology, Mari must conquer the enchanted seasonal rooms to marry the prince. Fiesty, feminist but sadly suffering from carbon-copy syndrome. While the premise was fresh, the characters were not. I would still recommend as this will definitely appeal to many.
10. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier ● rated 5 Stars
No year is complete without reading at least one Du Maurier novel. Chock full of intrigue and scandal, Du Maurier crafts a beautiful love story between Dona, a discontent noblewoman confined to the expections of the 17th century woman, and the ‘Pirate’, handsome and well-read, your very own French version of Robin Hood. I’m still bitter about the ending though.
11. A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan ● rated 4 Stars (ARC Copy)
Set against the backdrop of World War I, a group of people convene at Blackwater Abbey, off the Devon coast, for a spiritual gathering. Only things aren’t what they seem, and they soon find themselves trapped on the island when murder strikes. Ryan creates the perfect mix of espionage, mystery, supernatural and that little dash of romance. I’m practically begging for this to be turned into a series.
12. Dry by Neal and Jared Shusterman ● rated 5 Stars
Doomsday preppers are seriously on to something. This book left me thirsty as hell and with the extreme urge to walk into my closest supermarket and stockpile as much food and water as I can. If you’re into apocolyptic type stories then this is the one for you.
13. The Binding by Bridget Collins ● rated 4 Stars (ARC copy)
A beautiful and haunting piece of magical realism with an unexpected love story between a poor farmer’s son and the nephew of a wealthy aristocrat. A book bound by themes of unwanted memories, trauma and morals – books are objects of fear in this immersive tale. This is one book that will definitely live up to its hype, and if it’s not on your radar… it should be!
14. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage ● rated 5 Stars
Baby Teeth is the type of story many authors (and readers) would shy away from. Divisive, uncomfortable and chilling, Stage explores the relationship between a 7 year old girl with psychopathic tendencies and the mother she intends on killing. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year and one that will definitely stick with me for many years to come.
How was your bookish 2018?
Read any of the books above or a choosing to in 2019? Got a book you think I’ll be interested in? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.
Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
“I have waded through hell to deliver you heaven.”
Written for the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, White pens a beautiful and haunting retelling of the horror classic. Told from the perspective of Elizabeth Lorenzo, Victor’s childhood friend, and later, wife, we delve into the dark dwellings of the Frankenstein manor and what lies beyond: murder, corruption and scientific experiments.
Elizabeth Lorenzo gains agency in this retelling: crafty, cunning and clever, she stops at nothing to secure her place in the Frankenstein family and in Victor’s heart. No longer an object for Victor to own and dominate, Elizabeth Lorenzo fights back in ways that would be far too spoilerish to share. In other words, please gentle readers pick up this delightfully creepy little tale, you will not regret it.
Best read by those familiar with Shelley’s tale, White offers an interesting twist on the original material and layers it with plenty of homages (“I will be with you on your wedding night” anyone?).
I absolutely adored this book, especially the final third of it. Kiersten White has such a gift when it comes to writing historical retellings and I will gladly read each and every one of them.
KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, the And I Darken series, comprised of And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn; the Paranormalcy series; Slayer, and many more novels. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further-away times.