Tag Archives: Book Recommendations

Book Recommendations | The 4th and Fireworks

Happy Independence Day! Hope everyone is having a great day celebrating the 4th of July… or just having a good day if you’re in another country! I thought it would be fun to gather up some books that have scenes on the 4th of July or involve fireworks! Here are a few of my favorites (which all happen to be some wonderful summery books too!)

26 KISSES by Anna Michels | Noted: fireworks | Review

26 kisses anna michels

FIREWORKS by Katie Cutugno | Noted: fireworks | Review

NANTUCKET BLUE by Leila Howland | Noted: 4th of July AND fireworks | Review

PAST PERFECT by Leila Sales | Noted: 4th of July | Review

THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS by Sarah Ockler | Noted: fireworks and 4th of July | Review

OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord | Noted: fireworks | Review

open road summer

Which 4th of July and Fireworks books are your favorites? Happy 4th!

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Q&A With Stalking Jack the Ripper Author Kerri Maniscalco!


Welcome to our fifth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FIFTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

I’m so excited to share a fun Halloween Q&A with Stalking Jack the Ripper author Kerri Maniscalco! Kerri is such a lovely person and she was gracious enough to participate in a Fortnight of Fright even though it was RIGHT after her book launch. Check it out below!

I’m a total chicken when it comes to horror and yet Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! What’s your favorite part about Halloweentime?

Is it cheating if I say EVERYTHING?! I grew up in New York and absolutely *love* the fall and changing leaves. Running around in costumes, crunching fallen leaves and breathing in the scent of leaves and firewood—it’s as if the whole earth is celebrating before the winter rolls in. So yeah, the entire season in general—the fun/creepy movies and shows on tv, and books that make me want to snuggle up with tea and fuzzy socks. Those are part of my favorite Halloweentime things 😀

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER is such an excellent, atmospheric read for Halloween. Did you always feel drawn to write horror?

Aww thank you so much! I’m glad you think so! I am a giant fan of mysteries and thrillers and grade B horror movies. So when I set out to write this book, I wanted to take elements of my favorite fall things and sort of combine them together. I love Poe’s brand of horror—horror that borders more on the psychological uncertainty than the gross-out variety—and wanted to weave shades of horror throughout, but not be too heavy-handed with it. My favorite reads are the ones that treat atmosphere and setting as if they were unsettling characters themselves, and hope readers who enjoy that find those elements in SJTR.

I read in your bio that you grew up in a semi-haunted house! What’s the creepiest thing that ever happened there?

Oh my gosh, how much time do we have?? I think one of the creepiest things that ever happened was when my best friend and I were in the kitchen getting an after-school snack and heard this little kid laughing uncontrollably in the foyer. It was on the opposite end of the house and we thought my mom and younger sister had just come in and ran to go help them with groceries…only no one else was home. The tv wasn’t on. The radio wasn’t on. No open computers or electronics in any way. We went through the whole house, CONVINCED my sister was home and was messing with us. When my mom pulled into the driveway several minutes later and my sister got out of the car we were so freaked out! We later found out through old documents that a child had lived and died in the home a long time before then.

Do you think your experience with the haunted house started your love for the delightfully spooky?

I think it definitely helped my muse form its admiration for the creepy and unusual! It also really helped form my love of history because parts of our house were dated to the Revolutionary War era and other sections were added on in the 1800s. We were always finding cool things on the property and in the walls whenever we’d do a renovation. Old toys, vintage marbles, really cool and weird things. They were like little treasures growing up. I loved making up stories of who they could have belonged to and what their life might have been like.

What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? (Movies? TV episodes? Haunted houses?)

When I still lived in NY I really loved traveling up to the Headless Horseman Haunted Hayride in Ulster Park, but really I enjoy any corn maze or haunted house. I also love going to pumpkin patches and searching for the perfect gourde to carve up. Much like my main character enjoys carving corpses, I think 😀

What’s the best Halloween costume you ever had? (Or have ever seen?)

My mom used to make all of our costumes and I’d be hard pressed to choose my favorite. One year I was a mermaid. Another I was a butterfly. Actually…maybe this year is one of my favorite costumes…I bought this Rey (from Start Wars) cosplay outfit and I am SO EXCITED to wear it out! I will be posting a bunch of embarrassing pictures all over the interwebs, for sure.

I always love reading spooky or atmospheric reads around Halloweentime! What are some of your go-to recommendations for readers looking for the perfect Halloween novel?

Me too! They are The Best! Classic-wise I always say Poe. I love The Fall of the House of Usher or A Cask of Amontillado. More recent? I cannot get enough of Cat Winters’ work. IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS and THE CURE FOR DREAMING are FULL of atmosphere and are beautifully written. I’m DYING for ODD AND TRUE. I mean…here’s the pitch for that and I seriously cannot wait to see what she does with it:  “A dark Edwardian tale involving two sisters, American monster legends, family secrets, and the war between reality and imagination.” YASSSSS, PLEASE.

If you could hang out with one creature/ghost/monster/witch/villain, who would you want to get to know better and why?

Ooooooh GREAT question! I really love villains, especially ones who are more or less in that gray area as far as their evil deeds are concerned. I absolutely ADORE the Darkling from the Grisha trilogy. He was definitely a villain, and yet his backstory and the way he really believed he was protecting the Grisha was fascinating to watch unfold. I always hear the song “Sympathy for the Devil” in my head when thinking of favorite villains, and think that’s the quality in a nutshell that I gravitate towards. Dark characters who are still relatable and sympathetic as opposed to full-out evil.

Thanks so much to Kerri Maniscalco for this awesome and fun interview! Her book, STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, is on sale now (and I personally enjoyed it so much!) – check out some book details below!


kerri maniscalco

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Buy links:

Goodreads   |   Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |  Indiebound


kerri maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, a #1 NYT Bestseller, is her debut novel. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.


Social media links:

Twitter   |  Facebook   |   Instagram   |   Website   |   Tumblr   |   Pinterest

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Not-So-Scary Villains (April from Between the Pages)


Welcome to our fifth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FIFTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, April from Between the Pages is sharing some not-so-scary villains!

So I am super excited to be participating in the Fortnight of Fright hosted by On The Same Page and share my Not So Scary Villains with everyone.  I know, I know its Halloween and Fortnight of Fright, and I choose something not scary, well I’m a big fat chicken and don’t do scary AT ALL!!!  

My Not So Scary Villains

TV/Movie Villains:

Hook | I mean I know he’s supposed to be a bad guy, but he is way too cute for anyone to really be afraid of him.

Evil Queen | Maybe it is the way they portray her on TV, but I’ve never actually thought of her as scary.

Loki | He may be my favorite movie villain of all time. He’s more mischievous than scary, and well he is kind of cute too, which helps.

Darth Vader | I admit he is a tiny bit scary, well at least he was to me as a child, but now, nope just a misguided dad who needs a hug.

Voldemort | What freaks me about him was his lack of nose, and yes I know snakes do not have a nose, but it creeped me out.

Dracula | Dracula Untold….It’s Luke Evan, and no matter what character he plays, he is way too cute to be scary…

Book Villains:

Warner | Shatter Me Series | yeah loved him from the start. He tried to be the bad guy, but did not succeed. At least he was not a scary bad guy.

Levana | The Lunar Chronicles | She could have been scary, but to me she just seemed desperate.

President Snow | The Hunger Games Trilogy | He’s like Levana –  he was desperate to have things his way and when it did not work out that way, he decided to kill everyone. Not scary, more pathetic.

So there they are my picks for Not So Scary Villains. I know there are more out there, who would you pick?

Thanks, April! I love your choices and totally agree. Those are some amazing villains there!

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Book Review (Ashley from Must Love Books )


Welcome to our fifth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FIFTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Ashley from Must Love Books is sharing a review for AND THE TREES CREPT IN! Check it out below!!

And The Trees Crept In

Stay away from the woods…

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night…a man no one else can see?

I am most definitely a person who judges a book by it’s cover and this book totally caught my eye. It was released this September and ended up being a perfect creepy Halloween read. I’m also a major audio book person and I decided after listening to a sample, I’d download it. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed! This is the first book I’ve listened to that was narrated by Polly Lee and I will definitely be on the look out for anything else she works on.

Let me start by saying I don’t think the physical copy of And The Trees Crept In would be nearly as creepy and fun as the audio book, although it is pretty neat too, it’s pages are fun and different. The audio is full of spooky sound effects sprinkled throughout the performance and they come in at just the right moments. A few times I stopped and looked around because I wasn’t sure if I was really hearing the sound of tearing paper, crackling fire or soft whispers. I listen to a lot of audio books, including a few that had some super cheesy sound effects but I assure you this was not one of them!

So on to the review!


Silla and her little sister Nori flee their parents home because of their abusive father. When they arrive unexpectedly at La Baume, Aunt Cath welcomes them with open arms. Silla and Nori start to feel more at home, more importantly, they feel safe, free. Aunt Cath has only one rule, stay away from the woods and she is very very adamant about it. The Creeper Man lives in the woods and once you cross into the woods, you belong to him.


Strange things begin to happen slowly at first, then everything completely changes. Aunt Cath slowly begins to lose her mind and disappears to the attic, all the townspeople disappear, which means the food too begins to disappear. Then a strange and beautiful boy named Gowan shows up and he comes through the woods everyday. With Cath not herself Silla begins to rely on Gowan, but no matter how much he helps, there is something he isn’t telling her and she can’t shake the feeling he knows what’s really going on.


One day Silla begins hearing voices and seeing shadows. Is she going mad just like Aunt Cath? Then Nori tells her about the shadowed man that lives in the woods she sometimes plays with at night then Silla notices the trees creeping closer and closer to the house…

This book was very surprising. I was drawn to its creepy cover and was pleasantly surprised by the creepy audio book but then the ending…whoa that ending! There is so much that happens in this book that I want to talk about but I don’t want to confuse anyone or give anything away! I will definitely be picking up The Dead House (also written by Kurtagich) and anything else she writes in the future!

Thanks, Ashley!! This sounds super creepy!! Thanks for the excellent book review and being a part of a Fortnight of Fright!! 

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Halloween Book Recommendations (Jolene from Jo’s Book Blog)


Welcome to our fifth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FIFTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Jolene from Jo’s Book Blog is sharing her Halloween reading recommendations! Check out her recs below!

I love Halloween! I go to haunted houses, dress up and hand out candy, and decorate my house with pumpkins, skulls, and cobwebs.  I also love to read scary and creepy books.  These are the ones I have most recently read that gave me goosebumps and prickles on the back of my neck.

a monster calls

“Stories are wild creatures, the monster said.  When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” I saw the preview for this movie and of course had to read the book first.  There may be some spoilery type comments here so I caution you if you continue reading.  “You know that your truth, the one that you hide…is the thing you are most of afraid of.”  This is what the old yew tree outside Conor O’Malley’s window tells him in his sleep.  Conor has been having a rough time lately; his mom is sick so his grandma comes to visit, his friend Lily told the whole school his mom has cancer, and he is being bullied at school by Harry and his lackeys.  Worst of all, he has the same nightmare every night.  This book is so beautifully written(and illustrated) and explores how we deal with grief, denial, and our fear of being invisible to the world.  The author captures how  accurately we sometimes deny our fear of the truths we don’t want to face.  This story convicted me  about how I tend to talk to people that are dealing with loved ones who are dying.  Sometimes, it is uncomfortable to talk about it so I error on not talking about it which I believe is worse for the person dealing with it.  I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to see the movie in a few months.

trees crept in I don’t read scary books or mysteries very often so this was out of the norm for me and I really enjoyed it.   I am not going to go into too much of a review because I don’t want to give away what happens.   This book kept me guessing until the very end.  I had no idea what was going on (in a good way)! Also, there were parts so creepy that I got goosebumps so that is an extra bonus. The author’s writing style was very unique. For example, there were different points of view, journal entries, and poems throughout the book to keep me engaged and trying to look for clues.

memoirs of a vampireIt has been a long time since I have read a Vampire book so I was excited to read this one.  First off, I really liked how this story was told.  There is the present day story and then the journal entries from 100 years ago to present day.  The main character, Karen, is physically abused by her husband and with the help of her friend, Melissa, leaves her husband secretly and move across the country.  Melissa’s family has a house in Oregon that has been in the family for years.  This is where the two friends first discover a journal that was left by one of Melissa’s ancestors.  The writer of the journal, Allison, says she is a vampire and goes on to tell the story of how she became so.  Her story is similar to Karen’s.  Allison’s sister was abused and murdered by her husband.  I loved how the two stories mirrored each other. Oh and by the way, Allison’s last entry was to Karen and Melissa the night they moved in!  The story has more characters and plot twists but I don’t want to ruin it for you.  I think one of my favorite lines from the book is in the dedication.  Ms. Coulter writes, “I dedicate this book to all the women who have ever known abuse in their lives.  No one should ever have to suffer in an abusive relationship.  You are beautiful, your are strong, and you are so much more than they deserve.”


I am a 41 year old blogger but that don’t let that fool you. I love Harry Potter (proud Ravenclaw), Disney, coffee, chocolate, and dogs. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to read! My favorite books to read (other than Harry Potter) are Contemporary YA books.  I have been married to my husband for 20 years and I have two teenagers, a son and a daughter.  I also have two dogs, Zeba and Bella. We all live happily in Iowa.


Thanks so much, Jolene! I love your picks and need to read some of these myself!! 

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | 5 Fictional Characters You Can Dress Up As This Halloween (Carlisa from Confessions of Carlisa)


Welcome to our fifth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FIFTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Carlisa from Confessions of Carlisa is sharing her ideas for some literary Halloween costumes! Check them out!!

Halloween is kind of the best. Especially when you’re equipped with an entire bookshelf of characters you can dress up as. Seriously, so many options. (My costume is still in the works and secret, but let me tell you, it includes a certain Netflix series that went big a few months ago. Pretty strange, huh? And…those things. They’re even stranger. Okay, I’ll stop). Here are five characters from books that would make really fun costumes this Halloween!

  1. Newt Scamander
    The new Fantastic Beasts movie is going to be phenomenal—there’s no doubt about that. So why not dress up as the newest and coolest wizard on the block? Here are some of the essentials I think you’ll need for a good Newt Scamander outfit. (And make sure you get the Muggle-proof Suitcase at your local Walmart).
    newt scamander costume
  2. Anne Shirley
    Surely you want to be Anne Shirley from the beloved Anne of Green Gables series. She’s the best. All you need is a simple frock, some red double braids, and a fun little hat. And maybe some added freckles with eyeliner for good measure.
    anne shirley costume
  3. Coraline
    Coraline is one of the creepiest books. Just eerie. But I still love it. And Tim Burton made a great film adaptation of it…and you can be the film Coraline! She’s colorful and fun and just wants to be loved. Come on, doesn’t that sound great? Throw in some button eyes, for good measure.
    coraline costume
  4. Cath Avery
    Cath (from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell) is an awesome character, and I just want to be her best friend. Not many people may recognize your costume if you wear this, but the people who do…oh man, you’ll know to hold on to them forever and always. And the costume is super simple.
    cath fangirl costume
  5. Professor Trelawney
    I actually dressed up as Trelawney once. Not gonna lie, a lot of people asked me if I was dressed up like a hobo. Ahem. Anyway, this one is fun and easy and you can get almost everything at Goodwill if you wanted to. Just tie that scarf around your teased hair and you’re good! If you can find a little fortune ball to carry around, then you’re great. And you walk around pointing at people and predicting their death in a scary, I’m-in-a-trance type voice, then you’re perfect.
    trelawney costume

This has been so fun! Thank you Brittany for having me on your blog! And I hope you all dress up in the best, fictional-character costumes. 

Confessions of Carlisa

Thanks so much, Carlisa!!! I love your costume ideas! I would personally rock the Cath one 😀
HAHA some people just don’t get good costumes! (Regarding the Trelawny/hobo incident) I dressed up as Belle (in the blue dress) one year and people though it was an Amish costume….. (mostly boys. The girls got it right away!) 

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Halloween Book Recommendations (Nisha from Paper Cranes)


Welcome to our fifth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FIFTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Nisha from Paper Cranes is sharing her Halloween reading recommendations! Check out her recs below!


Hi! I’m Nisha from paperrcranes.blogspot.com, and I unapologetically love Halloween. There’s candy, dozens of corny horror movies, and there’s this irreplaceable feeling of something exciting about to happen as soon as its over.

But, I also love books. (Don’t we all?) And what’s better than Halloween themed reads? I’ve read dozens of books that gave me this creepy, Halloween-esque vibe, the ones that are perfect for this time of year. So, in the spirit of everything spooky, here are some of my favorite Halloween books recommendations!

station eleven
emily st. john mandel


I thought I’d start this off with an eerie, yet dazzling tale of STATION ELEVEN, a post-apocalyptic story that was like nothing I’d ever read before. It’s a story that weaves its way through the past and future to meet in the middle and create this beautiful story that talks about the nature of people.

When I read this book, it kept me up for half the night because I just couldn’t stop reading. The story is a little bit creepy, but there’s also a lot of philosophy that makes you think about humans and the way our civilization works (though, that may be creepy, depending on your personality). I would recommend this to people who want that spine-tingling experience, but also something that gets you thinking.

this savage song
victoria schwab


Let’s get on to monsters, shall we? THIS SAVAGE SONG is a Young Adult book that takes place in a city split by two major families, but, the city is overrun by different types of monsters, which creates this whole other twist to the book.

The two best things about this book were the monsters and the writing. I thought that the way the monsters were introduced and expressed throughout the book was a way that made them intriguing and easy to understand. As for the writing, I honestly expected it to be wonderful. Victoria Schwab has an amazing writing style, and because of that, all of her books are an insta-buy for me. All in all, this is creepy, yet oddly beautiful novel that I think is perfect for Halloween.

the end games
michael martin


If you’re more The Walking Dead type, then maybe you should try this book out. This is a zombie-slash-video game themed novel, and if that doesn’t intrigue you, I’m not really sure what will. In this book, a boy named Michael is in the wilderness with his little brother Patrick, and the two of them are listening to somebody called the Game Master, who creates tasks for them, like in a video game. But, there’s a catch: they also have to stay away from the “Bellows”, which are the flesh-eating monsters that roam the woods.

I read this book a couple of years ago, and every time somebody wants Halloween recommendations, this is always on my list to them. There’s something about this book that makes it equal parts heartfelt and creepy. There’s a wonderful sibling friendship that made my heart happy, and there are also zombies. What’s not to love?

stalking jack the ripper
kerri maniscalco


This is a recent release, one that will definitely be on my top books of 2016 list, and it’s a book that I found a little bit creepy and definitely very entertaining. This book takes place in the 1800s, and our badass main character is Audrey Rose Wadsworth, who hides a career of work in her uncle laboratory behind frilled skirts and silk shoes. When her work reveals a series of gruesome corpses, she searches for her answers by herself.

If you’re someone who loves reading about conspiracy theories and unsolved murders, I highly recommend this for you. It gives a YA twist on a famous story, along with spine-chilling photographs and epic characters. I also love how badass the main character was and how she continually breaks the stereotypes of a women in that era.

So, did you find any books you like?



bloglovin’ // twitter // instagram // tumblr

Thanks so much, Nisha! These are excellent recommendations and I LOVE Stalking Jack the Ripper and Kerri Maniscalco!!! 

Fortnight of Fright 2016 | Halloween Book Recommendations (Anna from A Literary Potion)


Welcome to our fourth annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2016

Thanks for checking out the FOURTH annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Anna from A Literary Potion is sharing a Halloween reading recommendation! Check out her rec below!

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Published in September 2011 by Orion Books
Paperback, 288 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆ [4.5/5]

Out of nowhere, for no reason, I was afraid. My skin pickled. My heart thudded in my throat. My body knew before I did that I was not alone…
London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.
But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.
And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…

This book is more than a ghost story; it is a perfectly executed tale of the descent into madness.

The story centres around Jack, who wants to escape his lonely life in London. He signs up to be part of an expedition to the High Arctic, to Spitsbergen. Originally setting out with four companions, one by one they are all forced to abandon the expedition, leaving Jack to overwinter alone. As the nights close in, Jack’s mind begins to turn on him.

Michelle Paver has created a truly gripping tale, one that reveals a little bit more of itself each time I read it. The setting, a remote bay called Gruhuken in Spitsbergen, is stunning. She evokes the raw beauty of the Arctic wilderness and follows it as it steadily begins to threaten rather than entice. The stark difference between the constant summer and the polar night are wonderfully written. At first, Jack is happy to be so far away from civilisation. He wants to feel like a true explorer, coming to a place that has not been inhabited before. The isolation Jack finds himself in stops being a relief and starts being a danger when he is left alone.

Jack is a wonderful narrator. The story is told in journal form and the writing begins to change as Jack’s fears manifest themselves, you can trace the insanity as it grips Jack and forces him to hide from his own mind. I loved Jack’s stubbornness and his mental strength despite everything, his ability to find the small bits of respite wherever he can. The other characters are given a clear bias through Jack’s eyes, and the later addition of one or two other characters (one of which is a dog) show the full contrast between Jack’s behaviour when he is alone to when he has company of some sort.

The power in this story is not in dramatic scares, but in the lingering fears in the back of your mind, the fear of the dark, and what lies in the darkness, waiting. The way your mind slowly turns on itself the longer you stay in the place of fear, until you start doubting everything you see or hear. How acknowledging that fear can sometimes invite it in.

This book is incredibly well-written. I am not a huge fan of ghost stories but this will always be my favourite for how blurred the lines are between fiction and reality, and how it portrays the heavy toll the constant darkness takes on the human mind. Just hearing the word ‘Gruhuken’ makes me shudder and not want to turn my back to the room.

Thanks so much, Anna! This sounds like such a great recommendation — so spooky!!! I can’t do ghost stories (way too scary haha!) and it sounds like it’s positively creepy… Perfect for Halloween!!  


Anna {A Literary Potion}
Blog: aliterarypotion
Instagram: aliterarypotion
Twitter: aliterarypotion
Booktube: aliterarypotion

If You Liked… The Winner’s Curse

Ever since I read the conclusion to The Winner’s Trilogy, I’ve been thinking how much I loved these books and what a great series it was. I absolutely loved the forbidden love, strong characters, political intrigue, and a fantasy world without magic. The Winner’s Trilogy has grown to be a fan-favorite within the YA community and if you’re a fan of the series, I wanted to share some of my personal recommendations on what to read next!


if you liked the winner's curse


Try… SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I think SCARLET and this Robin Hood-retold series is a great read for those who liked THE WINNER’S CURSE. Since it’s based on Robin Hood, it has that fantasy world but there’s no magic involved in the story. SCARLET also features a very strong female main character (named, well, Scarlet) who has her own hardships but learns to overcome. There’s also a bit of — well, I guess I wouldn’t call it forbidden romance — but the characters essentially hem and haw and don’t quite feel it’s right to be together. The books in this series are just really well done. I read them back-to-back-to-back!

Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I had a similar experience reading THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN as I had reading THE WINNER’S CURSE — the book wasn’t slow to start but it took me a while to really get in the swing of things, but once I did, oh boy. The book was good. The characters really grow, the romance becomes intense, and there’s some really interesting world building throughout that provides insight to secret motives and a whole lot of political conflict. THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN was the first book I read from Sarah Fine but it really got quite interesting and I loved how it turned a few tropes upside down.

The Scorpio Races paperback coverTry… THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
THE SCORPIO RACES isn’t really like THE WINNER’S CURSE but I like its original feel, similar to what I felt when I read The Winner’s Trilogy. It walks a line between fantasy and magical realism (I’d say more on the side of magical realism since it does mention real places and it is largely realistic aside from its one magical element — the water horses). It’s a little bit fantasy in the sense that the book takes place on the fictional island of Thisby, similar to the fictional regions in The Winner’s Trilogy. THE SCORPIO RACES is much more character-driven than action-driven but I think that’s also what makes it so special. You really get to know the characters and that’s something I liked about Sean and Puck in THE SCORPIO RACES as well as Arin and Kestrel in THE WINNER’S CURSE.

The Wrath and the Dawn coverTry… THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was an intimidating book for me, having received so many amazing reviews before I had even read it. This one took me a little bit to get the hang of as well but the set-up and intro is really necessary to everything that follows, which sets up a wonderfully sweeping romance, gorgeous descriptions of setting, and some truly interesting and complex characters. I love how much influence even secondary characters had on the plot of this book and it really shows how even the smallest of actions can affect and entire kingdom. The end of the book really started to dip into those magical elements as well so this would be a great selection for fans of THE WINNER’S CURSE who are just dipping their toes into the fantasy world.

The StoryspinnerTry… THE STORYSPINNER by Becky Wallace.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
I loooved THE STORYSPINNER when I first read it. There was just something special about this book that had me diving in head first. The book has a Portuguese influence which really made it feel unique and quite distinct from so many fantasy books that usually venture to Iberian influence through Spanish adaptations and not Portuguese, if they venture there at all. I also really loved all of the different character POVs. There were quite a few (at least six) for each of the main characters in the crew but I didn’t feel confused by the switches or inclusion of any of them. I really loved the overall feel — and the series is only a duology so you can read both books back-to-back!

Grave MercyTry… GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I selected GRAVE MERCY largely for its political plot and its slow burn romance. This series from Robin LaFevers is actually a trilogy of companions that all revolve around the same political plot and each lead in their respective books play a certain part in the on-going conflict. Based on some real-life history, GRAVE MERCY can technically be categorized as historical fiction but it’s also a bit fantasy hedging on the side of mythology, the basis of which revolves around the god of Death. I’m not big on historical fiction but these books are so well written that it’s easy to get caught up in the story! The slow burn romance is also top notch and I love the gradual yet amazingly strong connection that the characters make with each other.

The Kiss of DeceptionTry… THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

This is a series I still need to continue but so many people love it! Where the first book left off, there was just a hint of the magical elements that were to come into play so it’s a nice push into the fantasy world, still getting the basis of world-building with the (current) absence of of magic, for the most part. The book was quite interesting with some really clever twists! I think this is a fantastic read-alike for those who were fans of The Winner’s Trilogy and personally, I’m looking forward to continuing on with the series! I was waiting for the very last book to come out so I could read the second and third one right after the other because I have a feeling I won’t want to wait!

GracelingTry… GRACELING by Kristin Cashore.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
GRACELING was one of my first forays into fantasy and I instantly fell in love! I had no idea what fantasy was all about when I first picked up this book. My first experience was The Lord of the Rings and I just really had a hard time with Hobbits and orcs and the like. Once I got more into high fantasy that felt a little more… realistic, I guess, I really started getting into it a lot more! GRACELING opened that door with a little bit of magic and a whole lot of amazing including characters, setting, and some really creepy villain-types.

the crown's gameTry… THE CROWN’S GAME by Evelyn Skye.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I adored THE CROWN’S GAME. I wouldn’t say it has a slow start but the build is gradual and totally rewarding. I loved getting to know a new setting (based on actual events, although the book is not really historical fiction) as well as the two characters and how their worlds collided. It’s one of those amazing and yet terrifying books that basically makes you fall in love with two characters but promises to destroy one (no spoilers there… that IS “the Crown’s Game”) so I spent the whole book basically holding my breath… as I had with The Winner’s Trilogy! I love the dashes of magic and this forbidden romance just had me all aflutter.

rebel of the sandsTry… REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
REBEL OF THE SANDS was another 2016 favorite that I just loved all around. It definitely has a lighter feel and a bit more snark than The Winner’s Trilogy but I think it’s a great recommendation despite its different feel. If you loved the writing and strong characters of The Winner’s Trilogy, REBEL OF THE SANDS is a great fantasy read to jump to for a little more action, some fast-talking (and fast-shooting) characters, and a bit more magic. I also loved how there was a clandestine identity (ooh, in more ways than one) and how two very different characters ended up being quite similar. This book was just great and I’m highly anticipating its sequel!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Try… THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Sarah J. Maas has grown to be quite a household name by now with huge hit series like Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Even though I’m sure most fantasy readers have picked this one up by now, I wanted to include THRONE OF GLASS in my recommendations today because I love Sarah’s storytelling and her incredible ability to really build things up throughout the course of a series, much like how I felt with Marie Rutkoski’s books. I love the feeling that the books are really going somewhere and that they’re so connected throughout. The character growth is also monumental and I appreciate that things don’t always go the “right” way just to please an audience. They truly feel like realistic situations and feelings/maturity/strengths change over time.

Try… SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Leigh Bardugois basically queen and if you haven’t read any of her books yet, YOU MUST. SHADOW AND BONE kicks off one of my favorite series ever, The Grisha Trilogy, and although it’s a world based largely in magic — ahem, small science — I think it’s a great read alike for THE WINNER’S CURSE even though Marie’s books don’t contain magic. Alina does some serious growing throughout the books and really comes into her own abilities, much like Kestrel. Both leading ladies are forced to face what their strengths really mean in terms of their future and how they’re going to help their country. It’s quite an excellent journey to witness!

So what do YOU think? Which books would you recommend for fans of The Winner’s Trilogy? Are there any favorites of yours on this list?

I hope you enjoyed the post! If you’re looking for more reading guides or recommendations or more posts about The Winner’s Trilogy, check out some of my links below! 

More reading guides and/or recommendations: 

More posts about The Winner’s Trilogy

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | 5 Under-Appreciated Paranormal Types (Cristina from Girl in the Pages)


Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Cristina from Girl in the Pages is sharing some underappreciated character-types in YA Lit. Check ou  her awesome post below!

5 Under-Appreciated Paranormal Character Types in YA Literature

I’ll be the first one to admit I jumped on the Young Adult literature paranormal train in the early 2000s. I was the first one in my school library to check out Twilight and I’ve owned Harry Potter books since before Goblet of Fire was released. Most of my young creative writing endeavors included a witch protagonist that was not-so-subtly based upon my likeness and a sassy pet cat that was extremely relevant to the plot (kudos if you also are old enough to remember the television staple that was Sabrina the Teenage Witch). Paranormal plot lines, especially those featuring romance, exploded within the YA genre and arguably were a huge factor in driving it forward to its success today and into the hands of millions of readers who may have been previously unaware that there was a middle ground between children’s and adult literature.

Despite its initial raging success, YA paranormal literature has suffered genre-burnout, which I’d argue is largely due to those initial popularized tropes being recycled in too many plot lines. Most notable among such tropes include vampires, werewolves, and angels, and more recently the tropes of mermaids and even aliens have become more and more common, used as a instant catalyst for success due to their paranormal popularity rather than plot substance, originality, and quality writing. However, I don’t think the paranormal sub-genre of YA is past its prime. Rather, I think seeing the inclusion of less widely known paranormal creatures, or even the revival of some common yet overlooked paranormal tropes, could revive a sub genre that is crumbling under the weight of an over-saturated market. Here are five lesser used and/or commonly overlooked paranormal creatures that would catch my eye in a book blurb or stop me in a book store aisle:


What they are: Necromancy is a form of magic that involves communication with the deceased, either through spirit apparitions or raising them bodily. Necromancers thus have magic limited to communicating with the dead, but necromancy can be practiced by characters who communicated with the deceased as part of their powers (such as in divination or wizardry).

Why they’re intriguing: Focusing on characters who can only perform as very specific type of magic is often more interesting than broad-spectrum magical characters, as it provides a canvas for the author to dive more specifically into the rituals and rules behind the magic. Yet while specific, necromancy can be used in so many ways and lend itself to so many different types of plots, even within the same book (think in Harry Potter: The Resurrection Stone allows Harry to practice necromancy by meeting with spirit-versions of his parents, while Voldemort practices necromancy through Inferi by raising corpses to provide a physical army). Necromancers also make intriguing protagonists as their powers and abilities are so firmly rooted in the past, and what information and clues they can glean from those that lived before them. Necromancers would make for  great historical fiction paranormal novels!

Recommended Reading: The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong.


What they are: The opposite participant in the practice of necromancy, as ghost, shade, spirit, phantom, etc.) is the soul, spirit, or imprint of a deceased person that appears within the realm of the living. Apparitions in literature often range from visual to auditory and are often linked to “haunting” certain locations, objects, or people that had significant meaning to them while they were alive.

Why they’re intriguing: Ghosts may seem like an overly “obvious” trope, but I can count on less than one hand the amount of quality YA paranormal ghost stories I’ve read. Sure, it’s a broad topic, but the beauty of that is there is SO much that can be done with them, and the rules are really endless. Many cultures view ghosts as multi-dimensional, with certain spirits being malevolent and others being benevolent and even beneficial to those still alive, such as guardians/ancestor worship. Thus a novel or series focusing on ghosts could have a multitude of characters with a myriad of motivations. I’d love to read about ghosts that were perhaps guardian spirits rather than the typical spooky kind. On a more critical level, a focus on ghosts in a paranormal novel can dig deeper into more psychological themes via ghost and human interaction, such as why humans so fear the idea of the return of someone to the material world in a non-material form.

Recommended Reading: The Mediator series by Meg Cabot


What they are: A look alike or double of a living person, they almost always signify bad luck or evil intent.

Why they’re intriguing: A theme that’s quite common in classic literature (Jekyll and Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc), the idea of a doppelgänger is one that I find significantly eerie. It’s one thing to be confronted by a paranormal phenomenon, but to be confronted by one that’s essentially oneself…that brings a whole separate layer of disturbing to a plot. Yet this is why the convention of a doppelgänger in literature is so compelling. A doppelgänger could be the ultimate foil or compliment to a protagonist, or reveal deep truths about characters more subconscious motivations as they’re forced to
confront their “shadow selves.” While I’ve hardly seen doppelgängers as plot elements in YA literature, I believe they could bring about paranormal stories that also delve into a more psychological aspect. It’s a trope that could lend itself outside of the paranormal genre as well, such as magical realism or even contemporary.

Recommended Reading: The Vampire Diaries series by L. J. Smith or The Lying Game by Sarah Shepard


What they are: Often confused with mermaids, traditional sirens were dangerous and beautiful creatures who lived on an island, luring sailors to shipwreck on their coasts with their singing. They were often believed to be bird-women hybrids who used their musical powers to lead men to their deaths (somewhat reminiscent of the veela in Harry Potter).

Why They’re Intriguing: There’s no ambiguity where sirens are concerned in mythology: they’re dangerous. Whether their primal natures are manifested through a mermaid or land creature-based storyline, a true siren’s intentions would be the antithesis to a typical YA protagonist. A siren story would be the perfect opportunity for a YA novel to have an antagonist as a character. Plus, a siren-centered story would also set the stage for the power of music to be highlighted in all of its forms, from its use as a seductive force to a scary one (does anyone else get chills thinking about the siren song from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides?) Sirens are also a gender-specific paranormal creature (all being female) and thus could be used to explore a matriarchal structure in both character development and the way the story is developed. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to hear of any YA interpretations of sirens that fall outside of the mermaid realm.

Recommended Reading: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown. (I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet myself, but it looks as though it stays true to sirens’ more sinister mythological origins).


What they are: Popular in Greek mythology, a chimera is a monstrous creature composed of the parts of multiple animals.

Why They’re Intriguing:
When mixed with human traits, chimera make fascinating characters. They’re practically limitless when it comes to creating them, and thus could function as antagonist or protagonist, evil or good (or both). Chimera appear in fairytales as well (such as Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast) and can transition a paranormal story into a rich fantasy world. Chimera are perhaps the most creatively challenging paranormal creatures to write, as there are less traditional “rules” in how society typically expects them to be portrayed. Authors like Laini Taylor have run wonderfully wild with chimera as both main and secondary characters in their stories.

Recommended Reading: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

The amount of paranormal creatures to be featured in literature is undoubtably plentiful, yet the same stories seem to get recycled over and over once they’re deemed “on-trend” and the YA market develops a taste for them. Has this caused you to burn out on the paranormal genre? Did any of these lesser-used options surprise you or peak your interest? Do you have recommendations for novels featuring any of these tropes? My Halloween TBR is ready and waiting for your thoughts and suggestions!

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Thanks, Cristina! This was such a fun post. I absolutely loved it and totally agree with you!! I love the different paranormal creatures/characters and I’m a bit burned out on vampires, werewolves, and zombies myself! I really enjoyed Lies Beneath and the narrator for the audio is one of my favorites! <3