Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday

(I will be alternating between What I'm Reading Wednesday and Whodunnit Wednesday)

These are the books I'm currently reading! I'm one of those readers who usually has multiple books going at the same time. Frequently one is the book I keep on my bedside table for nighttime reading.

* Dead by Sunset-I have had this on a TBR shelf for quite a while, and as a true crime lover, knew I needed to read a book by Ann Rule. This is the first of hers I have read, and she has a real talent for research and spinning a story. This is also a book from my list for the R.I.P. reading challenge.

*Pride and Prejudice and Zombies-My amazing friend Nicole just surprised me with this book in the mail! She is not only a great friend, but she has great taste in books too, and knows me really well. I will definitely be starting this one tonight.

*The Hiding Place-I enjoyed Bell's previous novel, Cemetery Girl, and am very interested in giving his other books a try. I am a few chapters into this one, but got sucked in by Dead by Sunset, so haven't read very far yet. This is also a book from my list for the R.I.P. reading challenge.

*Chicago Haunts: Ghostly Lore of the Windy City-I recently heard the author of this give a talk in my neighborhood, and realized I already had a copy of one of her books on my TBR shelf. This is definitely an interesting read, especially given how often I've walked by some of the places she talks about!

What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Creepy Reads

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and Bookish )

I love a creepy read any time of the year, and so for this Top Ten Halloween freebie week, I couldn't resist talking about ten creepy books I really enjoyed. I've tried to only pick books this week that I haven't talked about at length on this blog already, so while I love And Then There Were None and The Turn of the Screw, they won't be making an appearance this time.


1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl

"On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years." (Amazon)

I seriously love Night Film more than I can say. It is so clever, and so unique, and has an amazing mystery that is seriously scary.


2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

"First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own." (Amazon)

This is one of those books that has such a deep, foreboding nature about it that never lets up, and leaves you wondering just what exactly is real within the book's terrifying world. 


3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle

"Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate." (Amazon)

Simply put, this book contains some of the absolute creepiest characters you will ever encounter.


4. The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Carr unrelentingly takes his readers deep into the terrifying mind of a killer.

5. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This was required reading in college that really stuck with me, and that I have revisited and recommended to friends since then. Gilman unflinchingly puts the reader into the mind of a woman who is going insane.


6. The Ghost Writer by John Harwood

"In this tantalizing tale of Victorian ghost stories and family secrets, timid, solitary librarian Gerard Freeman lives for just two things: his elusive pen pal Alice and a story he found hidden in his mother's drawer years ago. Written by his great-grandmother Viola, it hints at his mother's role in a sinister crime. As he discovers more of Viola's chilling tales, he realizes that they might hold the key to finding Alice and unveiling his family's mystery-or will they bring him the untimely death they seem to foretell?" (Amazon)

Like The Haunting of Hill House, this is a book that has you constantly questioning how much is real. Can the protagonist's mind be trusted?


7. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Watson taps into a deep, terrifying nightmare-the idea that one day, someone could be in an accident, and every morning wake up not realizing they can't remember years of their life. What would it mean to have to rely completely on a person who might as well be a stranger?


8. Drood by Dan Simmons

Even the cover of this book is creepy! Drood features the real-life characters of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, is a chilling tale of obsession and madness, and is one of the most haunting, eerie books I have ever read. 


9. Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile

Just how far would you go to find justice for a murdered loved one? In this book, a scientist takes the DNA of his daughter's unknown murderer, and clones him, then watches the clone grow up, hoping to find answers.


10. The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates

Oates writes some of the scariest short stories I have ever read. I highly recommend all her short story collections.

What are some of your favorite scary reads? :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Memory Monday: Frightful Fall Reads

Today I decided to combine Memory Monday and Frightful Fall Reads to bring you some of my favorite scary books from my grade school days!


This book series was absolutely terrifying as a child, and still holds up as terrifying today. These were the type of stories to give you nightmares, and the illustrations were just as scary as the stories themselves.

I remember I collected these in grade school, and my friends and I would pass them around as soon as we got a new one. I'm almost positive I owned every Joan Lowery Nixon mystery at one point before eighth grade. These YA mysteries were full-on scary, featuring everything from the paranormal to all-too-human killers.

Once I read my first Christopher Pike, I was hooked. I would grab every one I could find at yard sales and used book stores and immediately devour them. They were like the gateway to "grownup" scary books, playing on a lot of the same themes of books I read now.

What were your favorite scary reads when you were a kid, or teenager?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson


This is a book that has been hailed as a new Hitchcock, an updated twist on Strangers on a Train, a novel up there with books by such authors as Gillian Flynn. I was given a copy at an ALA convention, and later saw write ups everywhere singing its praises.

For the first part of the book, I honestly wasn't sure all the accolades were deserved. The beginning of the book was good, don't get me wrong, but it didn't read as particularly different from a lot of other stories. Lily and Ted meet in an airport bar, and end up being on the same flight. Ted tells Lily that his wife is having an affair, and that he wishes he could kill her. Lily says it's possible. Interesting, well-written, but nothing new in the word of psychological thrillers.

But then the second part of the book began, and turned everything I thought I knew on its head. And then the third part began, and flipped everything on me again. The book successfully, beautifully, tricked me, over and over again. Just when I was getting comfortable, thinking I knew what was going on, the story twisted again.

Swanson brilliantly plays with his readers, and this book packs a punch. Once you get to the end of the first part, you won't be able to put the book down again.

4/5 stars

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whodunnit Wednesday: Murder with a Twist by Tracy Kiely

Wow am I tired today! Parent-teacher conferences are tomorrow, plus Halloween is coming up, so it's an especially exhausting time to be a Pre-K teacher. By the time I got home from work and had walked my dog, I had walked over 20,000 steps!

So this light fun read was exactly what I needed to curl up with on the couch.


This was a book I received an advanced copy of at a recent ALA convention, and it was a really fun read. The main characters, Nic and Nigel Martini, are pretty clearly take offs on Nick and Nora Charles, but I love Nick and Nora Charles, so I liked Nic and Nigel Martini quite a bit.

This book does not take itself too seriously, and it made for a funny, breezy read. It features mobsters, philandering husbands, giant dogs, Valium, lots of alcohol, rich crazy relatives, and two quick witted constantly quipping protagonists. 

The mystery is a good one, with a lot of layers, and some surprising twists. The characters have big personalities, which really works for this kind of humorous read, especially with all the bodies that start turning up.

I would definitely recommend this book for when you need something light and easy to read, and want to fictionally bond with two protagonists you would definitely want to grab a drink with. 

3/5 stars

Monday, October 19, 2015

Frightful Fall Reads: The Murderer is Among Us!!

Continuing my Frightful Fall Reads series as we build up to Halloween, one of my favorite types of scary story to read is The Murderer is Among Us. This typically features isolated locations, such as islands or snowed-in mansions, and the characters' (and readers') horrified realization that they are trapped, the bodies are piling up, and the killer could be the person right next to them.


These are two absolute classics of this genre, by the Queen of Crime herself. Murder on the Orient Express features a group of passengers trapped on a train in a blizzard, while And Then There Were None 's characters are stranded on a mysterious isolated island.


A group of guests have gathered together at a grand old estate to play "The Murder Game", but soon of them is murdered for real.


My absolute favorite book for the last twenty years! A group of people have all been enticed to move into a new apartment building when a murder occurs. They are snowed in, and have to take part in a mysterious game in an attempt to solve the murder and win big.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

"I am not the kind of person who gets haunted by anything."

The person Hannah projects to the world is a bright, sunny girl. But really, Hannah is haunted-by the knowledge that her best friend, Lillian, died and she wasn't able to stop it, and by the ghost of this same best friend, who continues to appear whether Hannah wants her to or not.

At the same time, young girls are turning up murdered around Hannah's small town.

What most impressed me about this book was how well Yovanoff avoided any typical tropes of a young adult paranormal romance novel. The way she writes Hannah and her love interest, Finny, feels fresh and new, even with Finny being a boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a heart of gold. The use of ghosts is clever and well-executed, and always serves a purpose. And you will think you've figured out the mystery right before Hannah does, but Yovanoff will completely twist things around on you in the last few chapters, and leave you gasping.

This is not a book that is just about one thing. It is about what it means to be a best friend, and what it means to be part of a clique, and how that effects how you act, and how you treat others. It tackles how the persona we present to the world is all too often not who we truly are inside, and how far we will go to be special in someone else's eyes. And it does all this with ghosts, and a serial killer, and a Ouija board to boot.

3.5/5 stars

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon!!

This is my first time participating in the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, and I could not be more excited!! It is the perfect day for this-chilly outside, warm inside, and this was already a day I had been planning on hibernating and reading.

This is where I will be posting my updates on what I'm reading, how many pages I've read, what I've finished, etc. I will also be posting my introductory meme below, as well as posting on my twitter account, so feel free to follow my progress there as well!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

 I am reading from Chicago! I'm curled up in my cozy little apartment with my beloved dog, Sherlock.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? 

Really, all of them! I have a stack of library books, and shelves of TBR, and I'm so happy to have a day to just curl up and read them. I'm excited to finish Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson, so that will be my first read.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

 Hmm...well, I'm making brunch for myself currently, so I would say the fried egg and veggie bacon sandwiches I will be eating soon.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a Pre-K teacher, my favorite things to read are mysteries and true crime, and my favorite author of all-time is Agatha Christie. I love tea, especially chai, and have a miniature poodle named Sherlock who is the love of my life.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? 

This is my first Readathon, and I am just so excited to spend a chilly day curled up inside reading, and to have the time to do it! Life has been really busy lately, and its so nice to have a day like this.

Readathon Updates:

Currently reading: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Unfair: The New Science on Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado
Finished books: 
1) Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson (a book in progress from earlier this week, so started in today on page 283)
2) Darke Academy: Lost Spirits by Gabriella Poole

Pages read:  538

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Frightful Fall Reads: Old-School Classics

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, I thought it would be fun to recommend some of my favorite scary stories to read, and why I find them creepy. Today features some old-school classics.

1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

  • Ghosts
  • Creepy children
  • Practically deserted large old house in the middle of nowhere
  • Unreliable narrator
  • Psychological uncertainty

2-3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818); Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  • Two of the creepiest, most iconic monsters in literary history
  • Murder and mayhem
  • Lots of lurking in the shadows
  • Psychological fear
  • Being stitched from the dead/rising from the dead
  • Preying on innocents

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
  • Supernatural forces
  • Twisted immortality with a price
  • Creepy inanimate object

5. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
  • Murder and mayhem
  • A haunting you can't escape from-not even in your own home
  • The past never truly being behind you
  • Psychological torture

6. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  • Mysterious, eerie setting
  • Isolated old house
  • Supernatural possibilities
  • Murder and mayhem
  • The potential of a long-reaching curse
  • Evil doings from the past
  • Possible monstrous creature
  • Overhanging threat of evil

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top Ten Author Pairings I Would Love to See Write a Book Together

 This week's Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish ) is ten author pairings who I would love to see collaborate on a book.

1. Gillian Flynn & Paula Hawkins


2. Donna Tartt & Will Lavender


3. Joanne Harris & Christopher J. Yates 


4. Kimberly McCreight & Jennifer McMahon


5. Alice LaPlante & Rosamund Lupton


6. Marisha Pessl & Donna Tartt


7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Agatha Christie


8. Dennis Lehane & Will Lavender


9. Jay Asher & Stephen Chbosky 


10. Agatha Christie & Ngaio Marsh