Dewey’s Readathon 2020 + Three Cosy Reading Nights! | TBR

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Hello Readers!

Tomorrow is Dewey’s readathon so today I’m going to lay out my plans for attempt #56241.

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have taken part in a lot of 24 hour readathons, most of them Dewey’s, and I still wouldn’t say I’ve done one successfully. But this round I hope I’ve created the perfect TBR which will help me cross the finish line.

This round actually takes place on the day the clocks go back here in the UK so I’m still trying to work out what that means for me. I’m thinking I am going to sleep, at least for a little bit, so an extra hour in bed I guess?

There’s going to be a lot happening this weekend as there is also a series of Cosy Reading Nights happening. All hosted by LaurenAndTheBooks, there will be three of them. Click the link for all the details.

What I Plan On Reading

First is the first of three rounds of Cosy Reading Night which will be this evening from 7PM BST to 10PM BST.

I’m currently in the middle of a couple of books, one of which I hope to finish during this Reading Night. That will be I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I then was to continue reading Cemetery Boys if I have time.

Then Dewey starts and during it there will also be two more Cosy Reading Events, one on Saturday Afternoon and Another Sunday Morning.

Dewey starts at 1PM for me and to start it I will finish reading Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.

Once I’ve finished that I’m going to start and maybe, if I can, start (and finish?) Final Girls by Riley Sager. Hopefully with enough time to sleep before morning.

In the morning I will pick up The Witches by Roald Dahl which I’m thinking will be an easy read as I’ll probably be exhausted by then. Obviously I’m picking this up because of the new movie being released. I’ve never actually seen the original witches movie though so maybe I should watch that too…

I’m so excited about this TBR. It will really get me into the Halloween spirit I think. Are you taking part in this years Dewey?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Halloween Reading Recommendations

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Hi Readers

I’m sure you’ve all got your lists of spooky books to read this spooky season, but I want to try and convince you to add a few more to them. These books are creepy, spooky and freaky. Perfect for October.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

This book really spooked me out and I made the mistake of read it just before going to bed one night and spent a long time jumping up because I swear that shadow moved!

I don’t know if this will be spooky for everyone, maybe I’m just a whimp. But this is a story in a story about a house that was made famous by a book claiming it’s haunted. Years later the daughter of the man who wrote that book returns to the house and starts experiencing weird things…

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

I have found a new favourite author in Riley Sager this year. This was my second book within weeks of reading the first one, which is something I never do. But I just couldn’t help myself.

This is about a woman who finds herself without a job or permanent place to live. She finds an opening as a flat sitter in the paper and when she arrives for her interview she finds the flat is in one of Manhattens most prostigious and expensive places to live. Which also comes with a dark past.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

This is one of the few ‘horror’ books that I’ve actually enjoyed. It’s kind of horror mixed with post-apocolypse and it really creeped me out. I could not read this whilst it was dark outside.

It’s about an unexplained, monster type figure who drives anyone who looks at it mad. Because of this, Malorie now lives in a world of blindfolds and tapped up windows, as looking outside is almost certain death.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Queen of mysteries, and this is her best (coming from someone who has only read two of her books btw). I definitely need to read more by her and I think I’ll make that my mission next year.

A group of strangers are all invited to stay on an island by a mutual friend/acquaintance. As time goes on, people start dying…

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh

This is what I would call a classic British thriller. It really felt like reading an ITV detective series and could definitely see it being adapted into one.

This is about a woman who, after the loss of her child, runs away and beings a new life on the coast. This has one of the best twists I have ever read in a book.

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

This book really gives me Autumnal feels, but does also have quite an unsettling and mysterious atmosphere which would make it the perfect Halloween read.

This is about a man who is hired to be an art teacher for an heiress and things escalate from there. There are mysterious and untrustworthy characters and a few spooky settings.

The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

This is a staple classic for Halloween reading. It follows a character you start out liking, but then you see him go down a corrupt and twisted path, with the themes explored in a really dark way. It’s beautifully written and perfect if you’re looking for a gothic tale.

1984 by George Orwell

I don’t know about you but I find dystopia, the books that explore the future of society, pretty terrifying. Mainly because I don’t always feel like it’s that far from the truth.

1984 introduced us to dystopia, big brother, and the idea of society being very tightly controlled by a government. In this the members of society are largely brainwashed into obedience and belief in the new system, but out main character Winston isn’t too charmed.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

This is Jane Austens nod to the gothic genre. It’s been called a parody and it kind of pokes fun at the tropes seen in the gothic books she probably would have read a lot.

It follows Catherine who is invited to stay in Bath. She’s pretty naive and has quite a wild imagination thanks to the books she reads, and she’s not really apt to navigating a big town like Bath.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

Another dystopia, and I think this one would be especially scary for woman because this book is kind of about a very patriarchal society where, because reproduction has drastically dropped, women have been stripped of their identities.

What are some spooky reads you would recommend for Halloween?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Reviews (2)

| Published: October 2020 by Orbit |
| Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy |
| Age: Adult |
| Length: 528 Pages |
| ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

*Thank you to Orbit for sending me this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Hi Readers!

As it’s October I’ve been on the hunt for books that give off the Halloween vibes and a book about witches and New Salem fit the bill for me.

What Is It About?

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

What Did I Think?

This book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen and I feel very fortunate to have been sent it by the publisher. But I really do have to be honest and say this book didn’t quite click with me.

I’ll start with the positives. I loved the atmosphere and the vibes of this book. It screams Autumn with it’s witchcraft and twists on fairytales and I felt very immersed in the atmosphere whilst I was reading it.

It’s a historical fantasy and combines witches and the women’s right movement, which I think is such an interesting concept. The setting is so vividly written. The author really did her research for this and it really does pay off. There are little touches she adds that really transports you to New Salem.

The characters are also very well drawn. The three estranged sisters especially are very distinctive and have clear roles in the story. I also enjoyed their sisterly bond and complicated relationships with each other.

It comes down to personal taste, but the writing wasn’t particularly for me. I reckon there will be a lot of people who will read this book and fall in love with the poetic prose Harrow uses. I just didn’t. For me, this was too wordy and made it feel quite slow.

Overall Thoughts

Just take a look at that cover. It really does portray what’s in the book. If you’re looking for a witchy novel this Halloween, I recommend giving this one a go.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Bookish TV Shows You Should Be Watching

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Hi Readers!

Something very exciting is happening this Autumn. Books are coming to the television!

Every Friday and Sunday bookworms can now settle down with their favourite beverage and watch people discuss books and reading, and it’s fantastic. It’s so cosy and perfect for the Autumn as the nights draw in.

This is such a novelty thing. There are TV shows for all sorts of hobbies, there’s the Great British Sewing Bee for sewers, Top Gear for car enthusiasts. There’s gardening programmes and countless of cooking shows. But I very rarely see books on the TV.

It really feels like booktube has taken over the TV and actually booktube is one of the reasons I heard about one of these as one of my favourite booktubers, Simon of SavidgeReads, is actually a part of one of them.

Between The Covers

bbc.co.uk

Watch Here

The first one I’ll talk about is Simon’s competition. You can view this on the BBC Two on Friday evenings at 7:30PM. It’s also available on the BBC iPlayer.

Between the Covers is a 30 minute programme (don’t worry, it ends before Bake Off: Extra Slice). With this show they have celebrity guests who love to read come in and discuss their ‘favourite book’.

They also have a book club read for each week along with plugging one of the celebrity guests latest release. In episode one they had Sara Pascoe talking about her new comedy book. And they also discussed The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, with the author making an appearence via video.

Sky Arts Book Club Live

sky.com

Watch Here

This one, for me, wins the battle for the best bookish show. It’s a two hour live programme hosted by Andi Oliver and Elizabeth Day, with special guest Simon Savidge who gives watchers his recommendations.

Each week they’ll be inviting two authors to come on and promote their latest release, along with an book club to discuss the books and give their very honest opinions.

It also asks the audience at home to send in questions for the author. They also have various guest authors appear via video to answer a very bookish question.

The great thing about this being on SkyArts is you don’t need Sky to watch it as it’s now a free-to-air channel on Freeview. They also stream this show on their facebook page, and can catch up on episode one there as well.

Which Should You Watch?

I think both of these bookish shows brings something very different. Between the Pages features celebrities and their favourite reading experiences which I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy watching. I know I did.

Sky Arts focusses more on authors and literary topics and also brings in book clubs made up of regular people like you and I with different views on the book. It also engages more with it’s audience as they get an opportunity to ask the author questions.

I love that there’s now more bookish content coming to mainstream media and I really hope both of these shows get renewed for more. The Sky Arts book club as it stands has 3 more episodes to go, but if we get watching and let them know we like it, they might just make more.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Top 5 Most Shocking Plot Twists I’ve Ever Read

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Hi Readers!

We all love a good plot twist. They make books memorable, especially if the twist is so good it makes you gasp out loud. These books all sent my head spinning, fooled me with their red herrings and some even had me jumping out of my seat with their shocking revolations.

Obviously, I can’t spoil the twists, so I’m just going to tell you the book and how shocking I found it on a scale of 1-10.

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty – 8/10

– You know when I said some of these made me jump out of my seat I was so shocked? That was me with this book. I’m sure most of you have either read this or watched the TV Show but if not I recommend you do.

I Let You Go – 9/10

– Another jump out of my seat. This book really fooled me and led me down a road I didn’t even know I was taking. This sent my head spinning and I had to put the book down just to wrap my head around it.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – 7/10

– This was a big shock but I feel like I might have been spoiled for it a little bit, I can’t remember. But still, I’m sure we can all agree this is easily one of the best plot twists ever.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – 7/10

– I just never saw the ending of this one coming. This book has such an ominous atmosphere from page one, but I never guessed why.

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – 8/10

– This is a fantastic gothic historical fiction book whose ending I did not see coming at all. Besides that, it has a really dark a gritty feel as it’s set in Victorian London (and not the posh parts) which really adds to the atmosphere.

What book has a standout plot twist for you?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Series Review | Vicious & Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Reviews

| Published: 2013 & 2018 by Tor Books |
| Genre: Science Fiction |
| Age: Adult |
| Length: 366 & 462 |
| ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ & ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

After reading and adoring The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue last month I wanted to dive into more books by V.E. Schwab, and I thought I’d start with her most recommended books, Vicious and Vengeful. I’ve read them both and I’m going to review them both seperately (and without spoilers) today.

Vicious Review

What Is It About?

Victor and Eli met at medical school and over the course of the book you find out how they went to roommates to rivals. With a shared interest in adrenaline and near-death-experiences, they begin research on ExtraOrdinarys and whether it’s possible they could really exist.

What Did I Think?

Vicious is another take on humans gaining powers. Eli and Victor are bright and likeminded students who both become intrigued by this subject. In their research they discover what gives these people their powers which leads them to partake in some pretty dangerous experiments that gave it a Frankenstein feel.

The two main characters Eli and Victor are fantastic to read as they’re what I would call ‘anti-heroes’. They’re so sinistar and twisted which is so much fun to read. They’re unlikeable, but in a fascinating way. You just can never predict what they’re going to do next and I loved reading their POV’s.

Because of the subject matter, I think it’s easy to draw comparisons between this and something like the X-Men movies. There are a lot of similarities that I noticed, especially with peoples reactions to EO’s, but I still think this was a really original take. If you’re a fan of those movies, I think you would like this book.

This was a perfect read for October. It has morally gray characters, characters who can bring the dead back to life, dangerous experiments and a dark atmosphere. I’m really glad I read it in October.

Vengeful Review (Spoilers For Vicious)

What Is It About?

After the events of Vicious, Victor and his band of EOs are travelling the country, never staying in one place for too long. Eli is in a maximum detention facility, and a new EO is being born which may force these two rivals together again.

What Did I Think?

This was a strange reading experience for me. I read this right after finishing Vicious so I was still so hyped about these characters and I was so excited to continue their story. I did start out enjoying it, but as it went on, that enjoyment kind of waned.

This not only follows Victor and Eli, but it also introduces us to two new EO’s, Marcella and June. These two characters had so much potential and at first I was as obsessed with them as I was with the original duo. But I quickly became disinterested in both of them as they just felt like plot devices.

I also found the timeline so confusing in this book. It does what book one does which is go from three years before to two days before, but this book also switches POV quite a bit more also. My little brain couldn’t keep up with when we were and who we were with.

But saying all that, I did love the moments where we focused on Victor and Sydney’s relationship. I think that ‘found family’ is one of my favourite tropes and even though Victors feelings are confusing (he’s a sociopath) I loved the little glimpses of emotion and protectivness from him.

Overall Thoughts

I loved Vicious, Vengeful was disappointing, but I probably will read the next books V.E. Schwab will apparently be adding to this series.

Thanks for reading, Jess X

Scary Movies | Recommendations and On My ‘To Watch’ List

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Hi Readers!

It’s spooky season. The only time of year I am remotely interested in anything scary or unsettling. I am a self confessed whimp and it doesn’t really take much to scare me into having to sleep with a light on.

But the last couple of Halloweens I have been brave and stepped out of my comfort zone and watched what I think are pretty scary movies. Here are some I’ve enjoyed and also some on my watch list for this year.

Recommendations

The Descent (2005) is about a group of cave explorers who get lost in the caves and, as they climb further down, they realise they are not alone. This movie made me feel claustrophobic, it made my palms sweat, it made me cringe and quite literally had me on the edge of my seat. Sometimes, the ‘monsters’ aren’t even the scariest part.

Cloverfield & 10 Cloverfield Lane (2008 & 2016). These two movies are part of the same franchise but stand alone story wise. Cloverfield is a ‘found footage’ movie about an alien invasion, and 10 Cloverfield Lane is about a woman who finds herself locked in a bunker with a stranger who tells her he’s saved her from the apocolyspe. Both are creepy af.

Get Out (2017) is a movie I’m sure you’ve all watched or at least heard of by now, but in case you haven’t I want to put it on your rader. This is a dark and twisted film that just gets more dark and twisted as the story unfolds. It also explores racism in a very interesting way.

Us (2019) is by the same director as Get Out. Jordan Peale is a master of slow-builds. It really adds to the creep factor as he’s almost able to fool you that this is just about a family going on holiday. Until things start getting… weird.

Zodiac (2007). Most of the actors in this went on to star in the MCU so I was kind of fangirling over the cast. Once I got over that though the film itself was so intriguing as it’s about a man who becomes almost obsessed with solving the Zodiac case. I love unsolved mysteries and I find this one in particular so fascinating. I wish I’d known it was a book, but I’ll definitely read that anyway one day.

To-Watch

I’m not a huge outright horror fan, but I do love a good mystery and thriller which I think is what most of these are.

  • Blair Witch Project
  • Shutter Island
  • 28 days later
  • Misery
  • The Shining
  • American Woman
  • The Witch
  • Knives Out

I’ll be making my way through this list over whats left of October.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

Reviews

| Published: January 2018 by William Marrow |
| Genre: Mystery/Thriller |
| Themes: Agoraphobia, Mental Health |
| Age: Adult |
| Length: 455 Pages |
| ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

This is a book that is constantly being plugged alongside other thrillers like Gone Girl and Girl On the Train. It’s very popular, but as always I’m behind the times, but two years later and I’ve finally gotten to it.

I must admit, I read it now because I was anticipating the release of the movie this month, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening any time soon…

What Is It About?

Anna Fox lives as a recluse in New York after a traumatic event left her with agoraphobia. She spends her days playing online chess, giving advice on an online forum and watching her neighbours lives from her window. One day she witnesses something horrific, but did it happen? Or did she imagine it?

What Did I Think?

This book is one of those twisty novels that will make you keep reading into the night until you’ve finished, because you can’t possibly go to sleep without knowing what the heck is going on.

Some of the twists, I saw coming a mile off, so some people might find things shocking that maybe I didn’t. But this book does also have a lot of red herrings that I fell for and unreliable characters that I didn’t know if I (or Anna) could trust.

As I said, I was motivated to pick this up because of the ever pending release of the movie. After finishing it, I think the casting for the movie is perfect When I was reading Anna’s dialogue, I could hear Amy Adams saying it.

I can definitely see why this book became so popular. I feel like it’s the type of story that would inspire a lot of discussion at a book club meeting. But I did find the ending disappointing and unimaginative. I didn’t see it coming, but I also didn’t feel a big shock at the reveal.

But it was a book I had a lot of fun with and I’m glad I finally made time to pick it up.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Spooky Library Book Haul

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Hi Readers!

I have taken full advantage of the library this October and ordered in a whole load of spooky, thrilling books perfect for this time of year. I love to use the library for mystery books especially as I tend to never reread them anyway, and I was quite excited to find some of these as I was browsing the shelves.

The Shining by Stephen King
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn
Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
The Whisper Man by Alex North
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Wicked by Gregory MaGuire

This is basically my TBR for the rest of October… What have I gotten myself into?

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X

Book Review | The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Reviews (1)

| Published: 1909 |
| Genre: Classic |
| Age: Adult |
| Length: 360 Pages |
| ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ |

Hi Readers!

One of my favourite musicals of all time is Andrew Lloyd Webbers ‘Phantom of the Opera’, yet I’d never read the book it was based on. And as a reader and book blogger, I think that’s shameful! But, 10 years after seeing the movie for the first time (I’m now a 2012 anniversary stan) I have finally rectified that problem.

What Is It About?

When her father dies Christine Daee is moved and raised in the Paris Opera House, and soon begins to hear the voice of the ‘Angel of Music,’ who teaches her how to sing beautifully. The theatre soon begins to experience horrifying events, and rumours of the Opera Ghost are beginning to grow.

What Did I Think

This was originally published as serials in a French newspaper at the beginning of the 20th century. What I find so intriguing is that this is apparently based on real events and rumours in the Paris Opera House. And the way it’s written makes it feel so believable, like you’re not reading fiction at all.

I already kind of knew this story as I’ve watched/listened to the musical many times, and while they definitely made a lot of changes to the original story, I loved to see lines and scenes that made it into the musical like ‘Angel of Music’ and ‘Little Lottie’ and, of course, the famous dropping of the chandalier.

I will say the musical stayed at the forfront of my mind the whole time I was reading this book. If you’ve never seen the musical before, I would recommend reading the book first as I think the musical does overshadow it.

Thanks For Reading,
Jess X