Halloween Thrills and Chills, Part II


Yes, I realize that seems like a belated statement since it’s already October 9th, but work has been so busy that today’s the first chance I’ve had to acknowledge and celebrate the arrival of my favorite month. I can finally break out my pumpkin roll and pumpkin whoopie pie recipes, try (and fail) to carve overly ambitious designs for Jack-o-Lanterns, and start queuing up eerie, atmospheric playlists on my iPhone (here’s looking at you, MS MR). Best of all, I can reintroduce one of my favorite themes I’ve featured on my blog so far: Halloween Thrills and Chills.

Halloween Thrills and Chills

In the coming weeks, I’ll be dishing up a series of Halloween-themed posts featuring everything from curses and changelings to haunted hotels and secret societies. There’ll be something for everyone, whether you prefer reading about creepy little towns, goblins and ghouls, or murder and mayhem. On Oct. 17 I’ll also be taking part in Fortnight of Fright for the third year in a row, hosted by The Book Addict’s Guide, Books Take You Places, and Tripping Over Books.

Check in tomorrow for the first Halloween Thrills and Chills post, a review and giveaway for The Uncrossing by Melissa Eastlake. Until then, stay spooky, friends!

Click here to view all posts associated with Halloween Thrills and Chills.

2016 End of Year Book Survey

2016 End of Year Book SurveyHappy 2017, my friends! It’s the start of a brand new year, and you know what that means – it’s time for the End of Year Book Survey! Founded by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, the survey is a fun way to take one last, fond look at the previous year. Everyone is welcome to participate, so feel free to link up on Jamie’s blog!

2016 Reading Stats

Number of books you read? I read 83 books and listened to 24 audiobooks.

Number of re-reads? I reread ALL the time; 20 of the books I mentioned above were rereads.

Genre you read the most from? I don’t really keep track of genres much, but I suspect fantasy.

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2016? Kings Rising, the final book in C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy

The Raven King on a bench at Ladew Topiary GardensBook you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t? The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (though it pains me to admit it)

Most surprising book you read in 2016? The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen; I didn’t see that ending coming.

Book you “pushed” the most people to read in 2016? The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown (read my review of the first book here)

Best series you started in 2016? C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy

Best sequel in 2016? A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Best series ender of 2016? Morning Star by Pierce Brown – it was everything I wanted and more!

Favorite new author(s) you discovered in 2016? Jennifer Niven – I read All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe and LOVED them.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward; I don’t typically read adult fiction, especially vampire erotica, and I wasn’t a fan of the rest of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but this particular book was surprisingly good.

FavoriteTimekeeper by Tara Sim cover of a book you read in 2016? Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Book you read in 2016 that you are most likely to re-read next year? Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Most memorable character of 2016? Laurent from C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy

Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2016? If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – it was amazing and deserved all of the hype.

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2016? Only the people you love can scare you witless enough for true courage.” – The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (read my review here)

Shortest and longest book you read in 2016? American Ballerina by Nancy Lorenz (shortest) and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (longest)

Book that shocked you the most? The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater almost got thrown across the room at one point, which is a pretty good indication of how surprised I was by one of the plot twists.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski with bouquet of lilies and rosesMost beautifully written book read in 2016? The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

One true pairing of the year? I will ship Laurent and Damen, from the Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat, until the day I die.

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year? Temeraire and Laurence from His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novak

Favorite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read previously? Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Best book you read in 2016 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure? This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016? The Fetch from Erika Johansen’s Queen of the Tearling trilogy

Best 2016 debut you read? Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read last year? The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (read my review here)

Book cover for Why We Came To The City by Kristopher JansmaBook that made you cry or nearly cry in 2016? Shifter by Alma Alexander (read my review here) and Why We Came To The City by Kristopher Jansma (read my review here)

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read? The whimsy and nonsense in Heartless by Marissa Meyer were delightful – and so were the delicious food descriptions.

Hidden gem of the year? The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

Book that crushed your soul? Alice and the Fly by James Rice

Book that made you the most mad? I wouldn’t say it made me mad, necessarily, but I lost patience with Gena Showalter’s Firstlife pretty quickly.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016? I participated in the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon this year and discovered a ton of great blogs, including Reader Rayna, Alexa Loves Books, and Book Scents. Tashapolis is another great blog I found outside of the Love-a-Thon.

Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? So, uh…I just looked at my stats and realized I only wrote nine reviews in 2016. (Oops. Gotta do better than that in 2017!) Of those nine, I’d say my favorite was of The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors (read my review here).

Angela's photo with Pierce Brown and Morning StarBest event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? I got to meet Pierce Brown and it was amazing!!! My husband and I drove to New York last January for Brown’s Morning Star signing/Q&A session at Barnes & Noble. It was a surprisingly intimate gathering – not overly crowded – and was a fantastic experience.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016? I started receiving solicitations for book reviews/promotions from major publishers in 2016, which was super exciting!

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life in 2016? I got promoted to Sr. Analyst at work in 2016, and as proud as I am of this accomplishment, it’s definitely required me to dig deeper professionally. The work is harder, the expectations are higher, and I’ve been putting more hours and energy into my job. This has made it really difficult to find an appropriate balance for work and my personal life, and my blogging has taken a hit. I’m hoping I’ll learn to juggle everything better as 2017 progresses.

Most popular post in 2016 on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)? My review of The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall (read my review here) was my most popular post, even though I wrote it in 2015. The most popular post that I wrote in 2016 was my review of Why We Came to the City (read my review here).

Post you wished got a little more love? I was really excited about my Valentine’s Day post on 10 Messy, Unconventional, Thought-Provoking Romances, but it didn’t get as many views as I expected/hoped.

Cold As Ice: A Snowmageddon Book ListBest discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? I’m actually quite proud of all the non-review posts I did in 2016! I tried really hard to be creative and original, and I came up with a lot of ideas that I thought were pretty good. Here are my top three:

Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I finally started watching the Outlander TV series on Starz, which is based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon, and I am ADDICTED. I follow the actors on Twitter, have watched/read countless interviews, and started reading the books that inspired the show. I am ravenously awaiting Season 3, which should come out this year!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I participated in the Retelling Challenge hosted by Mel at The Daily Prophecy. I read nine retellings, not as many as I originally anticipated, but still not too shabby.

Looking Ahead

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer with sleeping coonhoundOne book you didn’t get to in 2016 but will be your number 1 priority in 2017? I received a review copy of David Dyer’s The Midnight Watch from St. Martin’s Press, but I haven’t finished reading it yet. It’s about the sinking of The Titanic, and it’s going to be my top priority this year.

Book you are most anticipating for 2017 (non-debut, non-sequel)? The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

2017 debut you are most anticipating? Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2017? The Gauntlet by Megan Shepherd

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2017? I’m way behind on writing reviews for ARCs that I received in 2016 and need to catch up. I’d also like to be able to dedicate more time to blogging in general.

2017 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone? I haven’t started it yet, but I’m excited to read my ARC of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, which will be published in March 2017.

Back to School: Books for Every Subject

Back To School: Books for Every Subject

Labor Day has come and gone, which means it’s back-to-school time for kids in the United States! To celebrate the new school year, I’ve put together a list of books inspired by the various subjects studied in American schools. Load up your backpacks, pack those lunch boxes, and let’s get ready to read!


Book cover for Flatland by Edwin A. AbbotBook cover for Little Brother by Cory DoctorowBook cover for Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot: Who would have guessed that a fictional tale of geometric shapes, written as a satire of Victorian society, could be entertaining? Certainly not me, but this little book, narrated by “A. Square,” is actually quite clever.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: Little Brother is a computer nerd’s dream and a civic student’s nightmare. It’s about teen hackers using technology to protest governmental oppression, and it explains a ton of cool facts about information technology and the mathematics behind it.

Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School by Louis Sachar: I loved the wacky Wayside School stories as a kid, and this particular book is a lot of fun, even though I still can’t wrap my head around the majority of its quirky math puzzles. Here’s a typically goofy quote from the book: “Everyone take out your spelling books,” said Mrs. Jewls. “It’s time for arithmetic.”


Book cover for Catalyst by Laurie Halse AndersonBook cover for Kissing Frogs by Alisha SevignyBook cover for The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson: I don’t remember a ton of details about the plot and characters in Catalyst – it’s been many years since I read it – but many of the science-y facts from the book fortunately stuck with me. In fact, I recall getting really excited in ninth-grade Chemistry because I got the question “What is a catalyst?” on an exam. The only reason I knew the answer was because of this book.

Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny: When Jess Scott starts failing her high school Biology class, her only shot at saving her grade is extra credit – namely, spending her Spring Break in Panama with the school’s Conservation Club, working to protect an endangered species of frog. This novel is light and fun and shares the importance of ecosystems and conservation. (Read my review here.)

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett: Bennett’s book introduced me to a career I never knew existed: medical illustrator. (For some reason I thought medical journals just used photos nowadays.) The book’s protagonist, Bex, spends much of her time drawing careful diagrams of muscles, organs, bones, and more. It’s not a job that I could do – too squeamish – but it’s definitely a cool idea.


Book cover for The Fall by Bethany GriffinBook cover for For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana PeterfreundBook cover for This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

The Fall by Bethany Griffin: This novel-length retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” is deliciously Gothic and creepy. Griffin fleshes out the story and makes it, in my opinion, even better than the original. (Read my review here.)

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund: Persuasion has always been my least favorite of Jane Austen’s books, but this futuristic, quasi-dystopian reimagining brought the tale alive for me in a whole new way.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel: I’ve never read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but this prequel makes me want to do so quite badly. It introduces a teenage Viktor Frankenstein and shows him taking the first steps on his path to knowledge and power. (Read my review here.)


Book cover for Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear ShecterBook cover for Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse AndersonGone With The Wind

Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shectar: A love story set in Pompeii, this book includes great historical details about what life would have been like in the days leading up to the infamous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson: This fictional account of a true event – a mass breakout of yellow fever in Philadelphia that left more than 5,000 dead – was the first plague book I ever read. It made me supremely grateful for modern medicine!

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Mitchell’s tale is a classic not only for its iconic characters and volatile romance, but also for its portrayal of the American Civil War and the profound transformation that war had on the Southern way of life.

Physical Education

Book cover for Whale Talk by Chris CrutcherBook cover for Winger by Andrew SmithBook cover for Summerland by Michael Chabon

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher: An unlikely group of outcasts form a swim team and confront racism, bullying, and injustice in this short but super-special novel.

Winger by Andrew Smith: Although Winger is about so much more than just sports (like first love, friendship, and tolerance, for example), rugby does play a big role in the story, as you might guess from the title. The school rugby team’s camaraderie and pranks are part of what makes this book so much fun to read. (Read my review here.)

Summerland by Michael Chabon: I don’t know much about baseball, but Summerland makes me wish I did. The great “American pastime” lies at the center of this magical tale, which is also full of adventure and faeries and a battle of good vs. evil.


Book cover for David by Mary HoffmanBook cover for I'll GIve You the Sun by Jandy NelsonBook cover for From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler

David by Mary Hoffman: Hoffman’s book tells the fictional story of the man who supposedly modeled for Michelangelo’s statue of “David.” I love the insight it gives into the relationship between model and artist and the way it showcases the political climate of Italy at the time of the statue’s creation.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Twins Jude and Noah are best friends turned bitter rivals, bound by their shared love of art yet constantly striving to outdo one another in a bid for their mother’s attention. Art is the lifeblood of this story, from paintings to sketches to sculptures, and as a decidedly non-artistic person I really enjoyed seeing the world from an artist’s point of view.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: In this story, two kids run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eleven-year-old me thought this was the coolest idea ever, and I still entertain fantasies of sleeping in Marie Antoinette’s bed, wandering through the Egyptian galleries, and diving for spare change in the fountains after hours like Claudia and Jamie in the book.


Book cover for Just Listen by Sarah DessenderBook cover for I Heart Robot by Suzanne van RooyenBook cover for Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: Music aficionados will find a kindred spirit in Owen, the music-obsessed love interest in Just Listen. Music is Owen’s life, and he’s constantly trying to induce Annabel, the book’s protagonist, to explore new musical genres: “Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”

I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen: Tyri is a teenage girl torn between her passion for music and her family’s expectations. Quinn is a run-away companion droid who yearns to be human and move people with his music. When the two musicians’ paths intersect at a prestigious orchestra, neither realizes just how big an impact they will have on each other’s lives and on the fight for robot autonomy. (Read my review here.)

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater: When it comes to literary bad boys, musician Cole St. Clair is one of my favorites. He’s one half of the romance in Sinner and the front man of the wildly popular band NARKOTIKA. Brilliant, troubled, and self-destructive, Cole strives to find an outlet for his love of music and performing without giving in to his addictive personality.

What books you would add to the lists for each school subject above? Let me know in the comments section!

BEA For Beginners: 5 Tips To Maximize Your Experience at BookExpo America

With BookExpo America 2016 just a week away, I thought it would be a great time to share some tips for first-time attendees. I was a newbie myself in 2015 and had the time of my life, walking away with a ton of books, lots of new friends, and plenty of great memories. Now that I’ve got one year under my belt and am OFFICIALLY a BEA expert, here are a few kernels of wisdom that will help you make the most of your time at the show.

1) Research galley drops.

Fangirl signing with Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl signing with Rainbow Rowell, BEA15

In the days leading up to BEA, many publishers provide schedules of what galleys and ARCs they’ll be releasing when. Social media, especially Twitter, is a great source for this information, as is Publisher’s Weekly.

Some publishers only release their galley drop schedule the morning of. In that case, the first thing you’ll want to do when you arrive each day of the event is to swing by the booths of your favorite publishers to see if they have the day’s printouts. ARCs and galleys tend to go pretty quickly, so you definitely want to make sure you know when to show up for the books you want the most.

2) Make a plan (with back-ups).

Once you know what galleys, author signings, and speakers you’re interested in, I recommend creating some kind of plan. On my map, I circled and highlighted the booth numbers of keypublishers where I knew I had important signings. I also made up a simple paper schedule listing the times and locations of events that caught my eye.

In addition to keeping track of your can’t-miss events, I suggest noting several back-ups in case your first choice doesn’t pan out. Last year I was interested in getting an ARC of Six of Crows but learned that all its previous galley drops had been mob scenes. I decided I didn’t want to wait in line with no guarantee of getting a copy, so I checked my schedule, found a signing going on during the same time slot, and went to that instead.

3) Bring a rolling suitcase.

Book Haul From Day 1 At BEA15

Book haul from Day 1 of BEA15

At the end of my first day of BEA, I was downing extra-strength Tylenol to deal with the pain in my neck and shoulders from toting around the 20+ free books I’d collected in my backpack. Then a friend shared a secret for days two and three – bring a rolling suitcase!


Suitcases are prohibited on the show floor but can be deposited at the bag check. I collected books in my backpack in the morning, transferred them to my checked suitcase during a lull in the action, and gathered more books in the afternoon. It lightened my load, and my back was grateful.

4) Don’t be afraid to talk to people.

I understand that walking up to a random person at an event and striking up a conversation may not be the most comfortable thing in the world. Do it anyway! One of the coolest things about attending BEA is the camaraderie and kinship that comes from being surrounded by people who have the same passions you do. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, talk about your favorite authors, or request book recommendations.

Don’t shy away from asking questions, either. Stop by publishers’ booths to ask what galleys they’ll be offering and when. Query seasoned veterans for tips and advice. Ask people in line who/what they’re waiting for – you may want to queue up, too. The more you ask, the more you know, and the more you know, the better your experience.

5) Bring business cards.

Anatomy of Curiosity signing with Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, and Maggie Stiefvater at BEA15

Anatomy of Curiosity signing with Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, and Maggie Stiefvater at BEA15

I learned this lesson the hard way. BEA is a great way to network and build relationships, and just about every person I met last year had a business card to give me. It was awkward and a little embarrassing that I didn’t have one to give in return. It may be just a little piece of paper, but it’s an important way to get your name out there, share contact information, and leave a lasting impression.


There you have it – 5 easy ways to ensure you have the best time ever at BookExpo America! Now go out, make new friends, and read on!

Fictional Tricksters – An April Fools’ Day Book List

April Fools' Day Fictional Tricksters

I’ve long had a soft spot for scallywags and scamps in books, and what better time to celebrate them than on April Fools’ Day? If you’re looking for some ideas on how to pull off the ultimate scheme or prank, these fictional tricksters can point you in the right direction.

Book cover for This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall by Gordon Korman1) Bruno and Boots from the MacDonald Hall series by Gordan Korman: Korman’s This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall is the book that first kindled my love for mischievous troublemakers. The protagonists, Boots and Bruno, are two boarding school boys who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. They’re constantly wreaking havoc, like putting Alka-Seltzer in the swimming pool, stealing a rival school’s mascot, or letting a classmate’s ant farm loose in the halls. Fifth-grade me found the MacDonald Hall series delightfully hilarious and couldn’t get enough of Bruno and Boots’ hijinks.

Book cover for Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer2) Jacky Faber from the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer: Spunky, theatrical, and resilient, Jacky Faber is my fictional BFF. Her initial “trick” is to disguise herself as a boy in order to secure a spot upon a British warship, but as the series progresses Jacky becomes embroiled in myriad other schemes and capers. She’s a natural actress and has no problem playing the wretched waif, coy maiden, saucy minx, or fearsome pirate. She’s always up for an adventure, which usually leads to her getting herself in and out of hilarious scrapes.

Book cover for The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner3) Eugenides from the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner: Eugenides has the distinction of being the cleverest, most cunning character I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. He’s a master thief and brilliant strategist whose plans have the power to alter the fate of kingdoms. I’m completely in awe of Eugenides and count him as one of my top two favorite fictional characters of all time.

Book cover for How I Paid For College by Marc Acito4) Edward and friends from How I Paid For College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater by Marc Acito: When Edward’s father cuts off his financial resources, right before Edward is supposed to start college, it seems like he’s hit a dead end. But Edward will do whatever it takes to come up with the money for Juilliard, and his ragtag group of friends will do whatever it takes to help him. Together they cook up a daring, hysterical, outrageous plot to scrape together Edward’s tuition, involving blackmail, money laundering, nun costumes, and a lot of other questionable behavior.

Book cover for The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch5) Locke Lamora from the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch: Locke and his band of professional con artists are crafty, shameless, and infinitely ballsy. There’s nothing they won’t do to pull off their impressively intricate schemes, which are jaw-dropping in their scope and execution.

Book cover for Dodger by Terry Pratchett6) Dodger from Dodger by Terry Pratchett: Inspired by The Artful Dodger from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Pratchett’s Dodger is a resourceful pickpocket living on the streets of 19th century London. He’s charismatic, scrappy, and mischievous, capable of producing tears on demand, charming passersby, and getting himself out of (and then back into) sticky situations and schemes.

Book cover for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling7) Fred and George from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: No trickster list is complete without the Weasley twins! We could all do with some of their Weasley Wizard Wheezes, like the Extendable Ears to help eavesdrop on conversations, or Puking Pastilles to get out of tiresome obligations. To me, though, Fred and George’s most epic trick is their grand exit from Hogwarts, with its epic fireworks dragon and other chaos-causing charms.

Know any other tricksters who should be on this list? Let me know by leaving me a comment!