Book Review

My Favorite Horror Novels

Halloween is about a month away. To celebrate, I’ll be doing a “31 Days of Halloween” series where I talk about my 31 favorite Halloween movies. Since that’s going to be taking up all of October, I thought I’d end September with mentioning some of my favorite horror novels:

 

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‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

This is King’s take on vampires, and it’s for sure one of his best works. I love that he took the traditional vampire mythos and allusions to Dracula while still putting his original spin on it. It feels very familiar to those who like classic vampires, but there’s still a whole second layer.

 

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Ring by Koji Suzuki

It’s commonly known that the Ring movie franchise was inspired by the Japanese movie, but that movie was actually inspired by a book series! This is the first in an excellent series of Japanese horror novels (which deviate quite a bit from the films). I just couldn’t put them down.

 

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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

While this may not traditionally be considered horror, it talks about a realistic horror: school shootings. This is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read, and it deals a lot with the psychology of evil, specifically nature versus nurture.

 

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The Ruins by Scott Smith

In this unique horror story, some vacationers encounter killer plants in the Mexican jungle. Yes, I admit that that sounds ridiculous, but this was actually a super interesting book about much more than external horror. It had a surprising amount of character development too.

 

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Help for the Haunted by John Searles

This book is classified as both mystery and horror. It’s about a girl named Sylvie whose parents were traveling paranormal investigators who helped spirits cross over. After their deaths, Sylvie copes with their loss as well as the loss of her own childhood. As she tries to come to terms with everything that has happened, she must discover whether her parents were truly gifted or were just clever con artists. Is she being haunted by something otherworldly or hunted by someone very much alive?

 

Well, I’ll be back tomorrow with the start of “31 Days of Halloween” so stay tuned for more spooky recommendations!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Book Review

Book Review: Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

I am a huge fan of Elena Ferrante, the Italian novelist whose true identity isn’t publicly known and who has written some of the most interesting pieces of contemporary domestic fiction. Ferrante is best known for her Neapolitan Quartet (which is fabulous and is being adapted by HBO). Recently, however, I had the opportunity to read one of her stand-alone novels Troubling Love.

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In Troubling Love, after a personal tragedy befalls the main character Delia, she returns to her native Naples to discover long lost secrets about her family. What follows is a fascinating self-discovery which explores the themes of love, loss, and the true meaning of family. I devoured this one in just two sittings (it’s only 139 pages long), but so much insight was packed into this thin novel. Between the heartbreaking emotions and the amazing setting details, this was such a richly rewarding book.

I am so intrigued by Ferrante and the mystery surrounding her. She’s been quoted, “I believe that books, once written, have no need of their authors.” Still, her anonymity combined with the power of her prose makes me want to know more about her as a human being. Maybe it’s because I’m also an author, so while I agree with her quotation, I also feel that there’s some inextricable bond between an writer and her words.

Book Review

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

Autumn is coming, and with the cooling of the season comes the realization that Halloween is fast approaching too. This year, I plan on doing a “31 Days of Halloween” blog-a-thon where I’ll be reviewing a horror movie daily in October. But until then, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite supernatural-themed books. One of my favorites is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

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A Discovery of Witches is the first in a supernatural trilogy that follows the witch Diana Bishop as she comes to terms with what she is and learns the history of both her family as well as other supernatural creatures like vampires and daemons. There are so many things to love about this book:

  • Diana is a fascinating main character. She has a lot of depth and is a very strong woman. Even though she falls in love (and there is some compromise in her relationship as there is in all relationships), she retains her agency. She’s even flawed in believable ways that makes her seem like a real person. Her growth throughout this book and the rest of the trilogy is compelling.
  • The romance here is bittersweet but satisfying. I dislike when a book’s romance feels too easy. Here, there are obstacles to be overcome, and both characters grow as the relationship develops.
  • There is some fascinating world-building in this book. From a supernatural perspective, the folklore here about witches, daemons, and vampires felt like a really fresh and unique take on creatures that are so common in fiction these days.
  • Harkness is a historian by trade, and it really shows. She’s an academic (as is her main character), and I loved the details about history, science, alchemy, genetics, and more. You can tell that everything in this book was meticulously planned and researched.

I absolutely loved this book (and the whole trilogy). I’m so excited that this universe is expanding and there is going to be another book about a supporting character – Marcus. That book is called Time’s Convert, and it comes out on Tuesday!! My copy has been pre-ordered since the announcement!

Have you read this book, or do you have a favorite supernatural book you want to share? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

 

Book Review

Book Review: Aim True by Kathryn Budig

Sometimes, self-improvement books can be really frustrating. Often, they’re filled with bad advice or they just feel super impractical. However, every so often, I stumble upon a truly amazing one and then I just have to share. The most recent one I’ve been loving is: Aim True: Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance! by Kathryn Budig.

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Like most females, I don’t always feel super positive about my body. Well, in this book, renowned yoga instructor Kathryn Budig delivers solid advice for loving yourself inside and out. She also has a lot of anecdotes about her own experiences with body image, mental health, and physical health. Her writing style is light and humorous, and it almost felt like I was reading a very long letter from a new friend than reading a book.

This book includes a lot: recipes, yoga guides, meditation guides, and self-care/homeopathy tips. But what I loved most was the personal, honest way that Budig shares her own journey. Even if you’re not in to yoga, I think this one is worth giving a try because it’s just so positive an uplifting.

I highly recommend this book for all women, but especially those who sometimes struggle with their self-esteem and body image.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

 

Book Review

Book Review: Magick & Mayhem

I love the wide variety of subjects that come up in the cozy mystery genre. You can find almost any hobby, profession, or setting if you look around at Cozy-Mystery.com (my favorite resources for finding new cozies to read!)

Even though it’s July, I’ve been thinking a lot about Halloween because my coworkers and I are trying to decide what our costume theme will be. Because of this, I’ve been in the mood for something spooky and paranormal. While no cozy is really spooky, I have found some great paranormal picks, and one of my new favorite series is the Abracadabra Mystery series by Sharon Pape, which begins with the book Magick & Mayhem.

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First off, can we just acknowledge how adorable this cover is? I love it so much!

This book starts off with our spunky protagonist Kailyn Wilde who unexpectedly inherits her grandmother’s shop and ends up stumbling upon a murder. This jumpstarts a very cozy and humorous adventure through this small-town infused with magic.

Kailyn comes from a long line of magical descendants, and some charming (literal) ghosts from her past help to guide her along the way. As she tries to prove her best friend’s innocence in this murder mystery, Kailyn also learns more about her powers and grows stronger in her magical practice. This book sets up a unique world of magic mystery. I was so pleased by the balance between traditional magical elements and fresh, new twists on the typical cozy witch story.

The mystery itself was more detailed and richly plotted than the average cozy mystery. I enjoyed the adventure and the great world-building. Rather than stumbling upon clues, Kailyn and her sidekicks are smart and resourceful. They are really solving puzzles here to discover the identity of the real murderer.

Kailyn is a really fun protagonist who is kind of insecure about her powers. She’s got a lot of growth to do, so I think this is the start of a really wonderful series where she will get more and more confident with each book. There are three books so far in this series, and I hope many more are to come.

Book Review

Book Review: When Books Went to War

I don’t often read a lot of historical-themed nonfiction, but my book club always tackles one a year. This year, we read When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning.

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This was a fascinating book about WWII and the Armed Services Editions of books that librarians and publishers from the USA made sure went overseas for soldiers to read in their down time. The result was a new generation of readers. Even soldiers who hadn’t been interested in reading before the war, fell in love with these paperback books. Fan letters from soldiers were written to authors, and some long-forgotten books like The Great Gatsby might never have become classics without finding this new audience. Over 100 million books were banned and burned in WWII, but this effort resulted in keeping literature alive.

If you’re interested in history, publishing, or just interesting facts, give this one a chance!

Book Review

Book Review: Black Ice

I’m currently working on a romantic suspense project, so I’ve been reading a lot of romantic suspense to learn as much about the genre as I can. Recently, I picked up the book Black Ice by Anne Stuart, and I was not disappointed!

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This book is a lot steamier than mine will be, but it was so exciting to read. In this novel, innocent American book translator Claire Underwood (this is an older book, so this is not an homage to House of Cards) runs into sexy Bastien Toussaint during a business conference in Paris. There’s been a dire misunderstanding, and soon she’s dragged into the Parisian underworld filled with dangerous arms dealers and ruthless assassins. Sparks fly as Claire and Bastien spend more and more time together on the run.

There were so many intriguing elements in this book. First, there’s the romance, which was more lustful passion than anything else. Also, the fast-paced adventure was filled with fun twists and turns. I never was sure who was good and who was bad until the very end. I really enjoyed this little guilty pleasure, and I’m excited to read the rest in this series.

I do think I should note that this is really aimed at audiences who love to suspend disbelief and just want to go along for the ride. It’s over-the-top and unbelievable, which is negative for some and great escapism for others.