Friday the 13th – Spooky Books!

spooky

Happy Friday the 13th!

I don’t read much traditional horror – actually these days I mostly just read romance – but  I do occasionally enjoy a book that just gives me the creeps. Some paranormal, some thriller, some that are just disturbing.

bury me lup

Bury Me by Tara Sivec
Narrated by Stephanie Willis

This is one of my favourites and one I recommend often, but you have to listen to the audiobook. Stephanie Willis, the narrator, does such an incredible job. She is SO creepy. Part of what makes me love Bury Me so much is that Tara Sivec is known for her sexy, funny contemporary romances. And this is SO not any of those things. I love when an author can test out a different genre and do it so well. I love when an author can surprise me. The book itself is full of surprises, too. Seriously, though, listen to the audiobook.

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You by Caroline Kepnes
Narrated by Santino Fontana

Caroline Kepnes did such an incredible job with this thriller that she kind of screwed herself over – at least for me. What I mean is that, I’m still so disturbed after listening to this book almost two years ago that I haven’t been able to pick up the sequel. You was sometimes categorized as a romance. THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE, but it is really seductive. Like Bury Me, I listened to this audiobook and the narrator, Santino Fontana, really made it for me. The second-person narrative rarely works, but it is perfect for this book.

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The Witching Hour
by Anne Rice

I spent most of my high school sophomore year reading all 965 pages (in hardcover. Pretty sure the paperback is ~1200) of The Witching Hour, including during a few science classes when I really shouldn’t have been. I read at the mom’s recommendation – apparently age fifteen is when a girl is ready for witchcraft and demon sex. Though, the year before she had decided I needed to see A Clockwork Orange. Afterward saying “Well, I had forgotten about all the rape”. So, The Witching Hour was pretty tame.

Honestly, I can’t say it scared me. I think Anne Rice is classified as horror and, in a recent discussion, quite a few others brought up this and others in the series as one of the most disturbing books they’d read. Even if you are like me and not scared or disturbed by the kind of evil this book deals with, it brings the spooky Halloween feels.

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Black Bird of the Gallows
by Meg Kassel

Black Bird of the Gallows isn’t quite spooky, but it gets pretty creepy and it’s chock full of magic and mythology. It also has a good swoony romance so it’s perfect to enjoy curled up with a hot beverage. Beautifully written and really fun to read.

 

What are you reading this weekend? I think I’m going to give myself the creeps with Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics.

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RELEASE BLITZ – Talk British to Me by Robin Bielman

Y’all – this is one of my favorite books of 2017. It’s so fun and sexy and such a perfect, feel-good read. Get it and take it to the beach.

Title: Talk British to Me 

Series: Wherever You Go #1

Author: Robin Bielman

Publisher: Entangled: Embrace

Genre: New Adult Romance
Release Date: June 19, 2017

 

Blurb
As the Dating Guy on L.A.’s top morning show, I give the
single guy’s perspective on dating, love, and sex—and I give great advice. Everyone’s
hooking up…well, except for me. Sure, I can get any woman I want, but I’ve got
a “no relationship” clause in my contract and the only woman I want has
“relationship” written all over her. Probably stamped on her ass, too. And
wouldn’t I like to confirm that.
Unfortunately, she wants nothing to do with me. At all.
Something about the next Ice Age might have even come up in her rebuttal.
Adorable. Because she’s determined to ignore what one simple kiss proved: she
wants me as badly as I want her.
Everything in me is screaming to go after her, but I’ve got
a secret that I’m fairly certain will end up with her roasting my nuts over an
open fire. So, job on the line? Check. Nuts on the line? Check. Can’t get her
out of my head? Nail…meet coffin. But what a way to go…

 

Purchase Links

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

Author Bio
When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin
Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl,
the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for
swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without
jumpstarts most of her story ideas.
She loves to frequent coffee shops, take hikes with her hubby, and play
sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty, dog Harry. She dreams of
traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. To keep in touch
sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com



Author Links

Audiobook Review: Bury Me, by Tara Sivec, narrated by Stephanie Willis

bury me lup.jpg

Bury Me
Author: Tara Sivec
Narrator: Stephanie Willis
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (Disclaimer)
Length: 11 hours 47 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp Audiobooks
Audible
GoodReads

Synopsis: 

I hear screams in my head. I see blood on my hands. When I look in the mirror, I see a stranger.

How is it that I can remember bits and pieces of my life, but nothing of any importance and nothing that makes any sense? Everything is twisted and nothing is right. I’m choking with every breath I take, suffocating on the unknown.

Two days ago, everything changed. Two days ago, the people I should trust the most became strangers in my convoluted head. The dreams I have can’t be real. The fleeting memories that whisper through my mind are scary and wrong…they have to be. If they aren’t, I have something much worse to fear than my fractured mind. I need to find out the truth, even if it destroys me.

I’ve been told my name is Ravenna Duskin. I’m 18 years old, and I live in a prison….

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Review: Jesus Christ.

This book is crazy.

So, we open on an 18-year-old girl who has suffered an injury and is experiencing memory loss. She’s told that her name is Raveena Duskin, that she lives in a prison (inactive, but a historical site and her parents provide tours), with her parents who love her, and she is a good girl. As she begins to remember more and more, she starts doubting everything they’ve told her.

This story is dark and full of unexpected twists. I kept thinking I had finally figured it out only to discover that, no, no I had not. Bury Me is an excellent psychological thriller, full of complicated characters – many of whom are absolutely unlikeable, but fascinating.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Stephanie Willis. And her performance was so creepy! Once I got into the story, I didn’t want to stop listening. Some of her voices are kind of screechy or whiny – but it makes sense within the story and I think those voice choices were good. The audiobook is only about 6 and a half hours long and it’s addictive enough that you might want to just listen to it non-stop.

ARC August Book Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between

IMAG0066A Curious Tale of The In-Between (Pram #1)
Lauren DeStafano
Paperback (ARC – BEA 2015)
Middle Grade
Amazon
GoodReads
Synopsis: Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.

Review: Excellent Middle Grade read. When it comes to children’s book & middle grade books, I prefer a bit of magic and whimsy and this was perfect. When I think of great middle grade, I think of books that deal with real life pain and real life hardship, but still have the innocence and wonder of childhood.

Pram’s mother hangs herself while pregnant. Pram dies, too, but the doctors save her (conveniently, her mom chose a tree right outside of a hospital, so they got to her pretty quickly). Because of this, Pram has a connection to the spirit world and lives In-Between life and death. She lives with her aunts, who run an old folks’ home and is home schools until she’s 11. Because of this, her only friend is a ghost named Felix —

Obviously this is how I pictured Felix the whole time

— who spends his time around the pond at the home’s property.

Until, she starts school, where she meets sweet, blue-eyed Clarence Blue, who grieves for his mother. His grief has lost him most of his friends, but Pram knows grief well. The story follows their friendship and their quest to find their lost parents. The channels for finding them is a bit suspect and they end up facing very real danger.

Do you want to figure out your family secrets with your two best friends – one alive, one dead? DUH. If you like middle grade fiction have a middle schooler in your life, I recommend this one.

This was one of the many books I picked up at Book Expo America in May.

There it is. Yes, the spatula was BEA swag, too.

There it is. In with my BEA Day 2 Haul. Yes, the spatula was BEA swag, too.

We are looking to add new Middle Grade & YA audiobooks to ListenUp’s catalog, so those are the books I went to first. This was actually the first book I pulled from the stack to read. Bloomsbury has the audio covered, so ListenUp won’t get to do the audiobook, but it was  great book to be my first BEA ARC read.

ARC August Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Format: ARC (Print)
Publisher: 
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 3, 2015
Length:
320 Pages
Where I Got It:
Book Expo America

Synopsis: Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.


Review: Sweet Lord Cleopatra this book is wonderful, wonderful. It has all of the things that are good about young adult romance and very few of the overused tropes.

Maddie was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) as a baby and has spent her whole life since in her home. People with SCID are basically allergic to anything and everything – you know, like Bubble Boy.

Maddie’s whole house is  bubble, basically – her mom and her nurse, the only two people she ever has face-to-face interaction with (her brother and father died when she was a baby) – go through a sanitizing/disinfecting chamber before entering the house, there’s a very fancy air filtration system, etc. She is in school online and talks with her teachers and tutors through Skype. She doesn’t have friends beyond those she knows through Tumblr.

A new family moves next door and that changes Everything, Everything. By miming through their windows, then writing with dry erase, then moving to email and IM, Maddie and the boy next door, Olly, become friends. Then consider being more than friends – which is extra complicated since Maddie can’t leave her house or touch any one.

I devoured this book in a few hours. I could not put it down.

This year has been a good year in reading for me and I keep finding myself declaring books The Best Book I’ve Read This Year. I feel like I’ve said it so much that no one is going to take me seriously anymore, if they ever did. So, I won’t say that – though I’m thinking it -but I will say that this book will for sure be on my Top 10 List of the Year. Probably my Top 5. Maybe my Top 1. I think you should read it.

When the audiobook comes out, I’ll listen to it – though there are some visual aspects of the story that would be lost. If they made a movie, I would cast Zoe Kravitz or Zendaya as Maddie –

   

(or Amandla Sternberg – I assume we have a few years before this happens)

and for Olly, maybe Colton Haynes? I don’t know who is young and foxy other than JHutch and he isn’t who I picture as Olly. Who are young hot actors? Anyway, I’d watch that movie.

 

My giant BEA haul left me with about 50 ARCs. I might get to 10 of them before their release dates. Maybe fewer because I might just re-read Everything, Everything 10 times instead. Nicola Yoon is going to be at this year’s Decatur Book Festival and I’m seriously considering ducking out of Dragon Con for a few hours to try to meet her and let her know how special this book is to me.

Audiobook Review: Nine Kinds of Naked

Nine Kinds of Naked
Author: Tony Vigorito
Narrator: Kristin Kalbli
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (Disclaimer)
Length: 11 hours 47 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp
GoodReads

Synopsis: Join cult favorite Tony Vigorito in his acclaimed, surreal whirlwind of a novel exploring chaos theory. A prisoner spins a playing card into a somersault, stirring a wind that becomes a tornado that takes off the roof of a church in nearby Normal, Illinois. Elizabeth Wildhack is born in that church and someday she will meet that prisoner, a man named Diablo, on the streets of New Orleans—where a hurricane-like Great White Spot hovers off the coast. But how is it all interconnected? And what does it have to do with a time-traveling serf and a secret society whose motto is “Walk away?”

REVIEW

I’ve been sitting on this review for awhile because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I knew going in that this book was pretty out-there and unusual. After the audiobook was finished, it was sent to Tom Robbins, who had this to say:

“Tony Vigorito has created that rarity…, a novel of ideas that also happens to be entertaining. And yes, fun. And like those maverick classics, Alice in Wonderland and Gargantua, Nine Kind of Naked is as fanciful and inventive in its form, its structure, as it is in its observations. Like Hesse’s ‘magic theater,’… it fed tasty crackers to all the hungry parrots in my mental aviary.” – Tom Robbins

So, I knew it was some kind of special. I expected humor and weirdness. And, those two things were there, but I didn’t expect this book to be so soothing.

Nine Kinds of Naked explores the butterfly effect, except the butterfly is actually the wind. A very strong wind. A tornado. Its effects reach across time and the lives touched by it intertwine. The quirky character are developed through their philosophical banter. Vigorito uses language beautifully and powerfully. The whole thing made me smile.

It may feel a bit random in the beginning, but the characters various story lines eventually come together brilliantly.

This audiobook was published by ListenUp Audiobooks, where I work. So, I got to hear the narrator auditions. One in particular stuck out as absolutely hilarious, but we decided that it was too funny. It worked for one scene, but might not be a really pleasant listen for nearly 12 hours. Before listening to this, I was still on the fence about our decision, but now I’m confident that Kristin was the right choice. The overall story was such an unexpected joy and her voice was a perfect fit. I loved her character voices, especially Diablo and Elizabeth. I loved listening to scenes with both of them.

I really love this audiobook. I didn’t work on it directly, but I’m proud that it came from ListenUp. We also published another of Vigorito’s audiobooks, Just a Couple of Days, which I haven’t listened to yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Audiobook Review: Red Queen

The Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Narrator: by Amanda Dolan
Publisher: Harper Collins
Length: 12 hrs, 40 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp
GoodReads

Synopsis: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

Review

Red Queen is the Hunger Games with some magic thrown in. If it were a little different from Hunger Games, it would have been awesome. But I’m loyal to Hunger Games and I kept comparing everything that happened in Red Queen to it, which was really detrimental to my opinion of Red Queen.

Moving on – In the world of Red Queen, there are two kinds of people – Reds & Silvers. Reds are those with red blood. They are your normal, average, human people. Silvers have, yep, silver blood. They are the ruling class, mostly because they have special gifts and abilities. For amusement and to remind the reds of their strength, the silvers often use their powers to fight each other to the death in an arena.

Mare is clever and a surviver. She pickpockets to keep her family afloat and ends up with a job in the palace, where she (and the world) discover that she, despite being Red, has powers, too. The ruling family launch a cover-up.

I feel like I’ve read this story before and this version of it didn’t leave me very impressed. However, I did like the way characters were developed and the twists in the plot. I liked the family dynamics explored, both in Mare’s family and the royal family.

I think I may have enjoyed this one more not in audio. The narrator, Amanda Dolan, did not work for me. The choices she made as far as character voices and pacing were mostly fine, but I just didn’t like listening to her voice. If I decide to read the sequel, I’ll opt for print.

I found this fan casting from She is Booked on Tumblr. I’d watch it.