Tag Archives: here there are monsters

The Perfect Book Tag

I was tagged by the Orangutan Librarian a while back to do the Perfect Book Tag, and as I’m struggling right now with drafting my own book (blerghhhh), what better way to procrastinate than by dreaming of the perfect book I’d like to write, rather than actually writing the damn thing? 😉

The Perfect Genre

pick a book that perfectly represents its genre

I’m going to go ahead and pick horror, because I think it’s a genre that gets passed over a lot of times, and there are so many hidden gems in the genre–like one of my absolute favorite reads last year, Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé!

The Perfect Setting

pick a book that takes place in a perfect place

This one’s easy–the Downside trilogy by S.L. Grey, especially the mall setting in the The Mall, has some of my favorite world-building of all time. Just whimsical horror perfection.

The Perfect Main Character

pick the perfect main character

Gotta be Sookie Stackhouse from the Southern Vampires series–she’s just so smart, down-to-earth, and an overall badass.

The Perfect Best Friend

loyal and supportive, pick a character that you think is the best friend ever

Ooh, this is a hard one. I’m getting the sense that many of my favorite books involve loner main characters? XD I’m going to go with Eliza Tricklebank’s BFFs in The Princess Plan, Caro and Hollis. I adored their friendship, and their close dynamic makes me really excited for the forthcoming books in this series.

The Perfect Love Interest

pick a character you think would be an amazing romantic partner

Has to be King Zachary from the Green Rider series. I’ve wanted him and Karrigan to officially get together for like six years.

The Perfect Villain

pick a character with the most sinister mind

I will forever hate-love Professor Umbridge–she’s my ultimate villain.

The Perfect Family

pick a perfect bookish family

I’m going with all the sisters from Wildwood Dancing. I am such a sucker for sister stories, and I love MCs with big, boisterous families.

The Perfect Animal or Pet

pick a pet or fantastic animal that you need to see on a book

Has to be a dog, and let’s make it the fantastical, magical Disreputable Dog from Lirael.

The Perfect Plot Twist

pick a book with the best plot twist

Not going to give anything away, obviously, but the plot twist in Lock Every Door just floored me.

The Perfect Trope

pick that trope you would add to your own book without thinking

Slooooooow buuuuuuuurn~~~~~~~ See above: Zachary and Karrigan lol.

The Perfect Cover

pick that cover that you would easily put on your own book

If this were truly fantasy land and I could have any cover I want, I’d get a custom illustration by Leo and Diane Dillon. I’ve been a mega-fan of their artwork ever since I was a little kid and read Wise Child by Monica Furlong.

The Perfect Ending

pick a book that has the perfect ending

I’m going with another one of my great loves, Sunshine by Robin McKinley. The ending is desperate, it’s All The Things Go Boom, and the denouement blends the reality of picking up the pieces with an ambiguous ending that promises more. (The best and most achingly difficult part of Sunshine, I’ve always thought, is that there is no sequel.)


All right, so who’s going to write this book then? I’ll be the first one in line to read it. XD

Also, I tag everyone in this post! This is such a fun, unique tag, and I’d like to read everybody’s answers. 🙂

2019 Reading Analysis and 2020 Bookish Goals

Happy New Year! 😀 I waited to put out this post until today, just because I had the sense that I was going to be sneaking in one more book on the last day of the year. My instincts were right; I ended 2019 with the very sexy number of 69 total books read, along with more than thirty short stories for my Short Tuesday series.

2019 was officially the year that I became a whale reader, which I define as finishing 52 or more books a year (at least a book/week). A lot changed for me in 2019 that got me reading more. Can you believe that prior to 2019 I scarcely ever read ebooks? That changed this past year; I started reading on my phone, which really helped me get in more books. I also started reading ARCs, which gave me the necessary pressure to finish books, even if I didn’t really feel like it. I also discovered tons of new authors that I love, and, perhaps most crucially, I stopped watching as much YouTube, which opened up A LOT more reading time.

I haven’t quite kept up my reading pace these last few months of the year, but that’s because:

  • I’m drafting my Beauty and the Beast and Aliens book;
  • I was in the throes of NaNo throughout November;
  • and the holiday season always requires a lot of attention.

My Goodreads goal for 2019 was 45; this year I’m going to set it at 52. Here’s exactly what I read in 2019, but keep scrolling for all my statistics, my picks for all sort of different categories (sexiest book, funniest book, etc.), and my top three reads of the year!

Audience

This year my reading habits shifted dramatically in terms of audience, to my surprise. My 2018 reading habits were dominated by YA, but this year most of what I read was adult, in large part due to bingeing Sookie Stackhouse novels and diving deeper into romance. In 2020 I want to maintain a good mix of YA, New Adult, and adult books in my reading.

Genre

I want to give a big caveat that I’m the one doing the categorizing here, so some books that I define as speculative for example (The Warehouse) others might place in the sci-fi category.

What do I take from this graph? First of all, I read very widely this year, though almost everything here falls under the umbrella category of “genre fiction.” Urban fantasy was a dominating force, but really those were just Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackouse novels. (More on those down below.) Romance was a huge surprise for me this year–I found some authors that I just adore (Eloisa James, Julia London), and I discovered exactly how binge-worthy the genre can be. Fantasy continues to be less and less of a presence in my reading, which is so interesting to me as I used to primarily read fantasy. As we head into 2020, I hope to keep my genre selections wide, while still reading what I love.

Star Rating

Crazy that I didn’t give any books a one-star review this year, though, to be fair, I DNF’d a few here and there. I continue to get better and better at judging what kind of book is going to agree with me, so I don’t see anything wrong with the distribution here. Let’s turn the whole graph green for 2020!

ARCs vs. Books Purchased/Borrowed

This was the first year I used NetGalley, and I dove in whole hog to the ARC game, signing up for books left and right. Reading ARCs come with their fair share of headaches, but my reading selection was very broad this year, mainly due to how many ARCs I read. In 2020, I want to continue reading a lot of ARCs, since reading widely is an ongoing goal of mine.

Indies vs. Hybrid vs. Traditionally Published

Here I’m defining indie as an entirely self-published book, hybrid as a book that’s been put out by a publisher that produces books with an indie mindset and grants authors a higher royalty rate, and trad pub as books that have been put into production by a publisher with a more traditional business model. Sometimes it can be hard to tell where books fall, especially as indie authors get more and more professional, but I believe the numbers up top are accurate.

The indie community as it stands right now is essentially a return to pulp fiction, with an extreme emphasis on quantity of output, since rapid release is a proven technique for making money. It’s not unusual to see an indie author who’s putting out 4+ books/year. Needless to say, the quality of a lot of indie books can be shoddy, so that’s why one of my reading goals for 2020 is to discover more indie authors who are putting out a quality product. I found a few this year, and I just want to keep broadening my horizons. 🙂

Top Three Favorite Short Stories

This year I started my Short Tuesday series, where I review a short story every Tuesday and provide a link so that everyone can read it. The vast majority of what I read are horror or SFF, since I mainly stick to either Tor.com or Nightmare Magazine. Out of the thirty-odd stories I read in 2019, these three are my top picks!

#3

“Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future” by Carlie St. George is a great choice for YA fans out there. Written in second person, this story is perfect for any fan of eighties slashers.

#2

“In a Cavern, in a Canyon” by Laird Barron is a short story that I just haven’t been able to shut up about. The character voice, the setting, the musical tie-in, the ending–everything here is picture perfect.

#1

“Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy” by JY Yang was a short story that swept me off my feet, with both the tone and the worldbuilding. I remembered reading through my review that this author has other books–maybe it’s time to pick one up.

Favorite New Author: Jessica Thorne

I wax lyrical about Thorne’s book The Queen’s Wing down below, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that I adored the two books by Thorne that I read this year, and I’ll be the first in line for future books. I’m also curious to check out the other books she has out under her other pen names, R.F. Long and Ruth Frances Long. Isn’t it great when a new-to-you author has a back list? 😀

Three-Star Read That Left the Deepest Impression

Esaping Exodus had its flaws–scattershot character development, overbearing social justice themes, a too-much-of-everything plot–but boy, was it memorable. Scenes such as climbing through a giant space-beast’s sphincter just to have a private conversation tend to stick in your mind. It’s going to take a long time for the riotous journey that was Escaping Exodus to fade from memory, and I’m curious to read future books by this author.

Biggest Surprise

I won’t lie–I expected The Shape of Water to be garbage. Guillermo del Toro for me is a drawback, not a plus, and I suspect it was the concurrent (and awful) movie tie-in that kept this book from being a five-star read. Lo and behold, the book was great, and now I’m waiting with bated breath for Kraus’s YA alien horror release next year. He’s a really talented author, and I’m super curious to see how he tackles a YA book, since this book was decidedly adult fiction.

Biggest Disappointment

I read not one, but two YA books this year that claimed to have aliens in them but actually didn’t. Just look at that cover–When the Sky Fell on Splendor makes promises to its readers that it simply does not keep. I was hoping for a Stranger Things-esque story with an alien flair, and instead got a navel-gazing mess of characters that I didn’t really care about. This book was unfortunately a huge disappointment.

Funniest Book

I loved Milman’s first book, Scream All Night, and Swipe Right for Murder was even better, and funnier. Milman is an auto-buy for me at this point, and he truly understands how to take his readers on a trippy, hilarious ride. If you’re in need of a laugh, then give this contemporary YA thriller with a cyberpunk feel a try.

Sexiest Book

I… did not know that a romance book had the ability to make me feel the way When Beauty Tamed the Beast made me feel. Not to go into the gory details, but this book had my nerves physically on fire when I was reading it. I think that’s all that needs saying, hahaha.

Best Plot Twist

I’m putting up two books for this category. I tore through Sager’s Lock Every Door and did not see the plot twist coming at all–but God, was it great. You know how some plot twists are deus ex machina-esque and just make you groan? That was not this in the slightest. As for Definitely Dead, the sixth Sookie Stackhouse novel, I was so floored by the revelation involving Vampire Bill in this book that I couldn’t help but share all the deets with my husband–that’s how shocking it was to me. (He was also very surprised, lol.)

Most Touching Book

I cried–‘nuf said. Hardly any book has ever made me cry, but Lovely War managed it. Yes, the Greek god framework of the book was a little janky, but the main love story in this book was incredibly moving. Whenever anyone who’s not a big genre fiction person has asked me for a book recommendation this year, I’ve used Lovely War as my go-to choice.

Top Three of 2019

(with some admitted cheating)

#3: TIE

I know it’s lame, but I honestly could not make a decision for the number three spot between these books. Here There Are Monsters debuted to less-than-stellar reviews, which was heartbreaking to me because I adored it. The author’s lyrical language, the fraught relationship between the two sisters (gotta love a sister story), and the entirely unexpected ending–for me, Amelinda Bérubé is an author to watch. I get it, the main character and her sister weren’t that likable, but that was half the point of the book. I would change literally nothing about Here There Are Monsters, it was that strong of a book for me.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies caught me completely off-guard–I was looking for a book about an agoraphobic character, but I didn’t expect this book to be so moving and thought-provoking. This book is entirely character-driven, and I did not want to give these characters up at the end of the book; I was sorely tempted to head back to page one and do an immediate reread. If you’ve been looking for a palate-cleanser, give this book a try.

#2

I happened upon a glowing review of this book and decided to take a chance on it, only to discover my favorite new-to-me author this year. The Queen’s Wing consumed me; it has that “science-fantasy” feel that I just adore, similar to the Lunar Chronicles series, and the character development, setting, plot–literally everything here is perfect. I’m not sure if Thorne will be continuing this series with a third book (I see she’s working on another series on Goodreads) but I’m praying that she does. Anyone who loves young adult/new adult sci-fi or fantasy needs to place this at the top of their list. It is such a gem, and it’s flying under the bookish community’s radar.

#1

I never did a formal review of the Sookie Stackhouse books, but Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires series dominated my reading for the latter half of the year. I read the first book, Dead Until Dark, last year, but then binged all other twelve books in the series within a few month span at the end of 2019. There were a few days in there where I would finish one book, check the time to make sure Barnes and Noble was still open, then dash out of the house to buy the next in the series; that’s how much I loved these books, and I’ve been having a book hangover ever since I finished up the last one. Was every single one absolutely perfect? No, but the series is so long, has such a wide cast of characters, and is so entertaining that I can’t put anything else as my number one for 2019. I will forever adore these books, and now I’m left with the unfortunate task of having to find more books that will give me a spiritual successor feeling. Mehhhh…


2020 Bookish Goals

Like I mentioned up top, I’m striving to read at least 52 books in 2020, which should be pretty doable. I also want to read at least one non-fiction book, since not a one featured in my reading selection this past year! A third goal of mine is to discover more indie authors whose work I enjoy, since quality can be an issue with indie books. Finally, I want to finish more series; I got caught up on and/or finished six series this past year, but I still have a lot to go.

What about you–what are your reading goals for 2020? Looking back at 2019, were your reading habits satisfactory, or is there something you want to change for the new year? Comment down below, and have a great year, everybody! ❤

Pumpkin Spice Latte Book Tag

I saw Ren Strange’s take on the Pumpkin Spice Latte book tag and thought it was so cute and fall-ey that I had to do it myself. Normally I’m not a book tag person (not against them, I just don’t think to do them), but this one hit me in just the right way. I think that might be because my reading selection changes a lot in the fall; I feel much more in the mood for spooky and paranormal reads, obviously, as well as fantasy for some reason.

So if you’re looking for a little fall reading inspiration, keep scrolling!

Pumpkin Spice Latte: A book everyone likes to shit on but is delicious

It makes me so sad that this book has poor reviews, which I chalk up to an unlikable MC. This book was a total binge-read, and the atmosphere, writing, and magical ambiguity were right up my alley. I received it as an ARC, but I’ve considered buying a physical copy—that’s how much I liked this.

Fall is My Favorite Season: A cliché you can’t get enough of

Slow burn. Arghhhhh I love this trope so much.

Sweater Weather in the AM and T-Shirt Weather by the Time You Get Out of Work/School: A book you thought was one thing but was completely different by the end

I was promised aliens by the cover, and this book did not deliver. What it did provide was too many characters and a lot of navel-gazing. Sad pass on this one. 😦

Spoops: Spooky books on your TBR

Um, I feel like half of my TBR is spooky; this girl looooves her horror. So I’ll pick three.

I love Daniel Kraus’s voice (he’s the author of The Shape of Water), and I’m all about aliens at the moment due to my WIP, so I’m super excited for his YA thriller with aliens which releases next year. I’m praying that I’m picked off the ARC list.

I’ve heard a lot about this author, and I love the retro cover. Very excited to dive into this book now that Halloween season is almost upon us.

I still haven’t read anything by Nevill (he wrote the book behind the awesome movie The Ritual), but I am always here for a cult story.

Tarot Reading: A five-star prediction

My Beauty and the Beast research continues, and this retelling just sounds so good, and I’m just so certain it will be great.

Sephora Sage & Crystal Set: A book that means well but missed the mark by a landslide

Like When the Sky Fell on Splendor up above, I desperately wanted to like this book, but clunky sentences, too many characters, and not much plot made for a very rocky read.


What’s on your TBR for fall? Any spooky or autumnal-feeling reads that you recommend?

A Tale of Two Forests: Contrasting The Devouring Gray with Here There Are Monsters (ARC)

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a free advanced reader copy of Here There Are Monsters for an honest review. Here There Are Monsters debuts August 6th. For full disclosure, I requested a review copy of The Devouring Gray and was denied, and then purchased The Devouring Gray with my own money. This in no way affects my opinions of the book.

The Devouring Gray was on my top ten TBR list for 2019, as I’m sure it was for many others. The marketing campaign for this book was pretty intense, and I was fully on the bandwagon. A small town setting with a Stranger Things comp? Sign me up, please.

Can you hear the “but” coming? I’m going to cut to the chase: The Devouring Gray was really disappointing to me. As has been the case with some other YA books I’ve read lately, this book could have done with a lot more page-turning plot and a lot less navel-gazing. Yes, I know that YA by its nature tends toward the introspective, but this book has… not much going on? I showed up for the malevolent presence lurking in the forest, but there’s actually not much forest action. The main character, Violet, is a Mary Sue to the core, and the characters flitting around her are boring. There is so much backstory that it feels like we are constantly playing catch up. Seeding of foreshadowed information and pacing were a further problem in this book, as well as awkward, confusing phrasing.

“Justin didn’t understand how it was possible to be simultaneously proud of May, relieved she’d known what to say, and jealous that he hadn’t. But he was.”

People don’t think it be it like it is, but it do.

So The Devouring Gray is an unfortunate pass for me, and I will not be picking up the second in the series when it releases.

Which leads me to Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé. Whereas The Devouring Gray dragged on and on, this was a total binge-read. As is the case with Gray, this book presents a main character who has lost her sister—here, “lost” is used literally, as the MC’s sister has disappeared somewhere into the sprawling, ominous swampland behind their house. The language is surprisingly lyrical, atmosphere suffuses every scene, and the characterization and dialogue are perfect. What Gray failed to accomplish with its forest setting, Monsters presents in spades.

I want to also touch on the sister dynamic in the book, which is extremely raw and real. The younger sister who’s gone missing, Deirdre, is a girl in her own world, constantly rubbing her older sister, Skye, the wrong way. A fair warning that Skye is very harsh to her younger sister—if you are looking for a likable MC, this is not the book for you. But not everyone is likable, and it is okay to tell their stories. I suspect that it is for the “unlikable MC” reason that this has a lower score on Goodreads (currently 3.43).

I would describe this as a book that pushes the envelope in terms of the sister relationship, one particular plot twist, and the ending. How I’ve longed for good YA horror; thank goodness this author has arrived on the scene.

So if you were at all disappointed by The Devouring Gray, I really recommend giving Here There Are Monsters a try. I will absolutely looking out for future releases from the author, and the story will be staying with me for a long while; I may even pick up a hard copy.

The Devouring Gray

Here There Are Monsters