Fantasy · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · Middle Grade · Mystery

Frighteningly Good Read #14

I know, I know. I’m running behind. There have been some big changes to my life outside this blog that have created a little hiccup in my schedule. But, I have all day today to get caught up!

So, lets start with the FGR for Saturday, October 14th. I have been reading some terrifying books during the day. At night, I just can’t do it. I have enough trouble with insomnia. So, I have been lulling myself to sleep with delightful children’s books that lean toward spooky or other wordly. This one is just too cute!

supernaturalsleuthingThe Supernatural Sleuthing ServiceThe Lost Legacy by Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe is the story of Stephen and his father moving to New York City to live in an unusual hotel, The New Harmonia. This hotel has a resident dragon and his hoard living in the basement. Bigfoot, creatures of the night and the fae are all frequent guests. And, my favorite side character, Elevator, torments riders with his big personality while he carries them up and down.

As is typical of books for grades 3-8, Stephen is dealing with moving to a new city, mysterious and magical artifacts and the self-discovery and social learning that is unique to children his age. This, as I have reiterated again and again, is what makes children’s literature so special. These characters don’t know who they are yet and they have to figure that out, deal with social norms and solve a big mystery. I will never stop reading them and recommending them because I think adults are constantly readjusting our self-knowledge. Except, we aren’t supposed to talk about it.

Stephen makes new friends and foes and together the story is simply adorable. With the characters including those of the night category I felt safe declaring it today’s (well, the 14th’s) FGR!


Tell me, please!?

Can you read truly scary stories right before bedtime?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · historical fiction · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #12

Today’s FGR is another children’s novel that I really believe everyone should read. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is a sweeping piece of historical fiction that covers all of the major events in American history through the eyes of children and linked them together through a magical harmonica.

EchoI wrote about Echo months ago and have recommended it to everyone for at least a year. Recently, a young reader told me they found the book “terrifying.” I was a little taken aback – I had not considered it scary at all.

But, that is the thing about fears. For me, the ocean is the most terrifying setting possible. So, a book set on a cruise ship is already terrifying. A submarine…..full shudder. For this child, this book reached into his deepest darkest psyche and kept him up reading until all hours. Thankfully, he found it thrilling!

Echo tells the story of three children struggling through some of the most difficult moments in modern history.  The rise of Hitler’s Germany, the Great Depression and segregation in America are all experienced through the eyes of these young and brave kids.  It is the harmonica – an immensely popular instrument in its own time – that provides a means of escape for the each of them.

But, the forces working against our little heroes provided enough tension and mystery to create fear in the younger reader. So, for today I recommend again the fabulous Echo.


Tell me, please!?

Have you ever read something that just terrified you (even though it wasn’t supposed to)?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Graphic Novels · Halloween2017

Frighteningly Good Read #11

Today’s FGR is the fabulous and award-winning Graphic Novel Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. After reading the super creepy Into the Woods I had to give myself a couple of days before going back into the Graphic Novel genre. Somehow, the illustrations with these stories have a way of creeping me out.

anyasghostAnya’s Ghost is more than a spooky tale. This Graphic Novel covers a myriad of other teen-related topics superbly. From being self-conscious about your body to discovering that maybe other people’s perfect lives are no-so ideal, this is a phenomenal book for teens.

Additionally, Anya has a ghost. For three-quarters of the book I thought the ghost was a literary device for her conscience. Then the ghost took a dramatic turn in behavior and I found myself flipping pages faster and faster with my heart racing. It is remarkable how the authors of Graphic Novels can build so much tension with their illustrations and a few choice words!

Anya’s Ghost is also set to become a new Supernatural comedy directed by Dan Mazer. Now, I have been guilty of thumbing my nose at Graphic Novels in the past (no more, I swear!). But, for a slender illustrated book to pack enough life lessons and interest to be made into a movie is impressive indeed. I can only hope the live telling of Anya is as good as the Graphic version.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever looked down on a subject or genre or anything only to later convert?


 

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall Book Covers

toptentuesday

I love Top Ten Tuesdays hosted by The Broke and The Bookish but I have been so busy immersing myself in the Frighteningly Good Reads that I have not had time to participate. But, today – yahoo! – the theme is Top Ten Fall Book Covers. I have that in spades!

Here is a little preview

Now, these covers all scream Halloween to me because the Fall is all about Halloween in my house. I love the leaves and the weather and the change in food the fall brings but, mostly, Hello Halloween!!

FullSizeRenderThis is one of my favorite books for the whole year but I really love it in the fall. I just reach down inside and get in touch with my inner-Witch. You can see my full review here.

 

 

 

 

fullsizeoutput_d9 This is one of the scariest graphic novels I have ever read. I reviewed it hFrighteningly Good Reads #4ere and besides loving it for freaking me out, isn’t the cover awesome?

 

 

 

 

FullSizeRenderThe cover of this classic ghost story book is scary but the stories are very mild. This is just fun to have around the house for when someone wants a short spooky story.

 

 

 

 

 

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I picked this little gem up at the local library book sale and reviewed it heFrighteningly Good Reads #9re. I love the ridiculousness of the cover!

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3075I couldn’t help grabbing this book of a display. Murder, Magic and What She Wore is like a Halloween checklist for me. I cannot wait to read it.

 

 

 

 

 

FullSizeRenderI love the Flavia de Luce series so much. Flavia is an amazing character and Alan Bradley always writes great stories. I haven’t read The Dead and Their Vaulted Arches yet but I ja’dore this cover!

 

 

 

 

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I am not a big Disney fan. I have never been to any Disney park and I really don’t want to go. However, my favorite podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class did a feature on the history of the Haunted Mansion and I find myself completely fascinated. Also, I admit, I loved the Eddie Murphy movie. I am excited to see if the story can live up to the cover.

 

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And, I have to give big props to Disney for this cover. Amazing. I’m not even sure I know what the story is about but I am loving that artwork.

 

 

 

 

 

FullSizeRenderAnd, speaking of art, look at this cover art. I cannot wait to get into this Graphic Novel by Vera Brosgol.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finally, for # 10 I love this cover for the children’s book The Supernatural Sleuthing Service. I am almost finished with the book and if it finishes as well as it has been going so far I hope to review it soon!

Fantasy · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · historical fiction · SeriousSeriesLove

Frighteningly Good Reads #10

For today, my Frighteningly Good Read recommendation is The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Beginning with A Discovery of Witches, adventuring through Shadow of Night and culminating in Book of Life, the adventures of Diana the Witch and her Vampire soul mate Matthew were thrilling and fascinating. And, since it is soon to be a BBC television series (*squeal!*) it is right at the front of my mind this Halloween season.

Much like Diana Galbadon’s sweeping historical fiction series Outlander, Deborah Harkness utilizes fascinating historical details to bring the story depth. This is not a surprise, really, since Ms. Harkness is a historian herself. I quite enjoy that she describes herself as, “A history profession who tumbled down the rabbit-hole and wrote the Internationally best selling All Souls Trilogy.

If you follow my blog then you know that, for me, it is often the supporting characters that take a book from enjoyable to obsess-able. And All Souls Trilogy has a cast of supporting characters that I adored. A tremendous time is spend on Diana and Matthew and their budding (forbidden!) romance. But, I loved the Demons in the books, the third category of non-humans who were incredibly and diversely talented. They reminded me of all the wonderfully productive adults I knew who were told to “slow down” as children.

I appreciated that there were several LGBTQA+ characters in the book including Diana’s adoring aunts. I also revealed in the rich addition of history and scenic details. To be in a library like the ones Diana visits is a dream of mine. Visiting them through this book is as close as I am going to get this year.

Several reviewers have called this Twilight for grownups. There may be some truth to this but I would add that it is a smarter, stronger and more grownup story. And I liked Twilight! I will say that there is a scene that involves all three magical species together practicing Yoga. I enjoyed the scene but it appears to be the Jar-Jar Binks of this book. If you can accept that Witches, Demons and Vampires might get together in a human-free environment and downward facing dog then the rest of the series will be magical.

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So, the FGR for today is really this delightful trilogy. I don’t know when the BBC plans to give us the television version but it is going to be difficult to top these books! Well, Matthew Goode as Vampire Matthew might help.

 

 

 

 


Tell me, please!

How much would you love doing yoga with a bunch of supernatural beings?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · Mystery · Romantic

Frighteningly Good Reads #9

On the first Friday of every month my local library has a $4.00 Bag of Books sale. Sometimes there is little to nothing of interest for sale. But, this time I hit the jackpot! I found a couple of books to add to some of my series collections, some non-fiction gems and two fantastically ridiculous looking YA books that were perfect for the FGR theme.

queendeadThe first one is Queen of the Dead, A Ghost and the Goth Novel by Stacey Kade. The cover of this book was just too awesomely ridiculous to pass up. And the story did begin just like a made for TV movie. But then, slowly, layer upon layer the story became more complex and the characters more likable and realistic. At first, I couldn’t believe this was actually a series. But, by the end I was so glad there were more stories!

It helped too that this book was set in the small town of Decatur, Illinois near where I grew up. Isn’t it amazing the things you will forgive a story for if you lived in the town or visited it?

The story is about Alona who died in her gym uniform and Will who is a ghost talker. Alona goes from the most popular girl in high school to Will’s spirit guide. Will finally gets to spend time with the girl he has had a crush on since sixth grade. But, admiring people from a distance is different than waking up to them every morning as Will soon learns. And Alona finds out quickly that being popular is not the same as being liked.

Now, doesn’t this sound like every book we have ever read? Except, at almost the half way point the author really puts a new spin on the whole thing. Without giving any spoilers this suddenly had a unique storyline and I loved it!

This may not be a book that you buy multiple copies of to give to friends and family. But it is definitely akin to a middle of the day, cute ghostly romance with just a dash of mystery that you watch with a cup of hot apple cider. But I really loved it. And how hilarious is that cover!?!


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy reading books set in your hometown?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017

Frighteningly Good Read #8

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are both prolific and talented writers. Whether they work together or separately, I always love their books. My hands down favorite character that they have created is Special Agent A.X.L. (Aloysius) Pendergast. Pendergast is the coolest person I have never met (who doesn’t exist) and if he is in the story I am buying the book. In fact, you can go to Douglas / Child’s website and sign up for the Pendergast Newsletters that as wonderful, weird and varied as Pendergast himself.

There are at least fifteen books with Pendergast but the one that really scared the socks off of me was Wheel of Darkness. It is right smack dab in the middle of all the stories but it deserves accolades galore for freaking me out. It should be noted that the authors made this book different enough that it could easily be read as a stand alone.

wheelofdarknessWheel of Darkness is bizarre and eccentric. In this story Special Agent Pendergast and his ward Constance are wrapping up a World Tour in Asia where they find that a rare and dangerous artifact hidden and guarded by monks has been stolen. Of course, Pendergast offers to track and retrieve the relic.

I cannot pinpoint one particular part that scared me the most. The pace and anticipation of the book was fast and thrilling. Perhaps it is because large sections of the book take place on a cruise ship which is where all my nightmares begin. The big red boat is my idea of hell. I know so many people that find cruises relaxing but I just know I would be stuck on a ship with Norovirus and a hurricane outside. Plus, so many strangers…. no, thank you!

Some people did not enjoy this book. It was absolutely a departure in tone for many of the other Pendergast stories but I loved it. It was thrilling and terrifying and definitely deserving of being called a FGR. One person told me she was a huge fan of the series until this book and it scared her too badly to continue reading. Most importantly, did I mention it has Pendergast?


Tell me, please?

What is something everyone else enjoys that is a nightmare for you?


 

all ages · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017

Frighteningly Good Reads #7

Recently I was coerced into watching the Amazon original show, The Worst Witch. Truthfully, this is not the best filmmaking I have ever seen. The “magical” moments were definitely not million dollar blue screen shots. However, the story telling was absolutely on point. It follows a girl struggling to better herself even though she is considered “the worst” in her class. It was so endearing that I watched the remainder of the entire series.

apprentice witchSo, when I saw The Apprentice Witch I had to check it out. This book by James Nicol begins with our witch, Arianwyn, flunking her Witch’s assessment. However, since there is such a great need for Witches she is assigned to a little town called Lull as an Apprentice Witch. There she works she learns to become more and more confident in her abilities. And, it is working. With each spells cast and charm mended Arianwyn becomes more confident in her abilities. Then, sinister darkness appears out of the woods and Arianwyn is challenged by a force that would thwart even the most talented and seasoned Witch.

Maybe this selection takes the Frighteningly out of the FGR but it was such an adorable and fun book that I had to add it to my selections for October 2017. Arianwyn is a good person who chooses friendship over personal success and makes mistakes while learning.

For me, the supporting characters are often the biggest draw in a book. And these supporting characters come in all shapes and sizes. Arianwyn has to cope with being assigned her first post while on Witching probation and a long term visit from her rival Witch from school – Gimma. Gimma was a great foil for Arianwyn and her blossoming friendship with Salle. Truthfully, people like Gimma have managed to manipulate me my whole life and I went back and forth between hope that they would finally become friends and cheering for Arianwyn to crush her.

There was also Wyn’s new friendship with Lull townie Salle that had the realistic element of awkward hope that seems to be true of all new friendships – no matter how old you become. And maybe this is what I enjoy the most about children’s books. They allow us to learn over and over again what every child and adult needs to know. How to become a better person.


Tell me, please!

Are there any not-so-spooky stories on your TBR for this month?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017

Frighteningly Good Reads #6

This FGR is a throwback. This is in part because I read this book over and over again and also because some of the books I planned to review were not exactly stellar. One was so very good….until the ending. This is the downside of only writing positive reviews!

Everyone has their favorite Stephen King and, in my opinion, this psychological thriller is one of the best. Misery hits home for so many of us intrepid little writers because, while we dream of connecting with people through our work, nobody wants a Number One Fan like Annie. *Shudder* Can you imagine?!misery

My first job was at a local library. I started as a page. In case you didn’t know, that is one of the many people tasked with re-shelving all of the books that are returned.

Public service announcement: if you don’t want the book, that is FINE. Don’t just stick it anywhere. Please.

Anyway, when I had to shelve books in mystery / thriller I would always check on Misery. If one of the copies was there, I would randomly open it and peek in on the characters. This book is so scary that I could read a page or two and my head would be in the same terror-stricken place as I was when I first read the story!

If you haven’t already read Misery, this is the time of year to sit inside and revel in the terror that King’s words can create. And, the movie is so iconically terrifying that you can look forward to watching it later in the month.


Tell me, please!

If you a fan of Stephen King, which of his (many) books is your favorite?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Halloween2017 · nonfiction

Frighteningly Good Reads #5

I purchased a copy of The Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells by Judika Illes on a whim a couple of years ago and I use it all of the time. I am really fascinating by different religions and beliefs systems and I was curious about the spells. Alright, honestly, I was extremely frustrated with a situation in my life and there is a whole chapter on The Evil Eye. Sold.

excyclopediaThis Encyclopedia not only offers the spells but also gives fascinating reference information and background knowledge. As a self described, “inclusive encyclopedia and reference book,” The Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells feels comprehensive to me but honestly, I have no basis for that opinion. I only know that when I wish there was a spell for something this book has five options.

For example, I know I have mentioned before that I struggle with insomnia. Sometimes, I try to be a good little Catholic and pray on it but, as far as I can tell, there is not a Patron Saint of Sleep. So, I like to try some of the Insomnia Spells – there are at least 10. My favorite is the Insomnia Bath.

  1. Gently warm goats’ or ideally, sheep’s milk (as in counting sheep),
  2. Blend true almond extract and several drops of essential oil of lavender into the warm milk so that the fragrance pleases you.
  3. Add to a tub filled with warm water before bedtime.

After one of these baths (I can never find sheep’s milk and sometimes I use almond milk) I feel better, I’m more tired and I am usually able to sleep. Not to mention, I smell good and my skin looks nourished.

I’m also a frequent user of a domination spell (stay with me! It’s not what you think!) which is called the “Kick a Stone Spell”. Basically, you find a small stone and name it after the person who is making you insane. Imagine the most annoying person at school or work and go from there. After naming it you drop it, kick it around (not to hurt it, just to envision that you are in control) and talk to the rock about what you want it to do. This is probably effective for me since it is like a dry run of being assertive. I also find it very enjoyable. Its cathartic. And hilarious for any onlookers.

The Encyclopedia’s bibliography is pages and pages of references. I cannot imagine the work that went into creating this tome. I feel almost rude in the fun way I use this wonderful book but I cannot help it. The spells and information fascinate me.

If you are at all interested in spells I highly recommend The Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells the Ultimate Reference Book for the Magical Arts by Judika Illes as a Frighteningly Good Read. I keep mine right next to my Bible.


Tell me, please!

Would you ever try casting a spell?