Monday, October 5, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers That Feel Like Fall

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is: Books With Fall Colors/Vibes. 

Like many bibliophiles, I love fall. Fall is all about cozying up with a good book, a mug of coffee and a soft blanket (probably with my cats) and falling blissfully into the pages of whatever book I'm reading. And I especially love reading autumn themed books during the fall. It just ramps that cozy feeling up a couple of notches. I've already done a post on my recommended Autumn Reads so following that up with a list of book covers that scream autumn to me just seems like a natural choice.

While I have not read all of these books (some have been on my TBR for far too long - time to remedy that!) all of them give off autumn vibes to me, whether it's cozy feelings or downright creepy, perfect for Halloween. And now, onto the covers!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

I'd love to know what book covers give you those autumn feelings most or what covers you think look like fall colors. Leave a message in the comments and let me know!

xx Melissa

Friday, October 2, 2020

review: lies like poison by chelsea pitcher

Lies Like Poison by Chelsea Pitcher
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Rating: 4 stars

Poppy, Lily, and Belladonna would do anything to protect their best friend, Raven. So when they discovered he was suffering abuse at the hands of his stepmother, they came up with a lethal plan: petals of poppy, belladonna, and lily in her evening tea so she’d never be able to hurt Raven again. But someone got cold feet, the plot faded to a secret of the past, and the group fell apart.

Three years later, on the eve of Raven’s seventeenth birthday, his stepmother turns up dead. But it’s only belladonna found in her tea, and it’s only Belladonna who’s carted off to jail. Desperate for help, Belle reaches out to her estranged friends to prove her innocence. They answer the call, but no one is prepared for what comes next.

Lies Like Poison is a contemporary dark fairy tale that deals with many complex themes such as transgender / LGBTQ+ representation, murder, grief and abuse and handles them beautifully with intriguing characters and stunning writing. Honestly Chelsea Pitcher's writing in this book reminds me of Francesca Lia Block and Alice Hoffman and I am 100% for it. Pitcher's writing is lyrical and haunting yet also packs a punch.

Having four main characters and being able to give them such distinct personalities and stories can be tricky and often times one of the characters will fall by the wayside, yet that doesn't happen here. All characters are given ample time to tell their individual stories and still come together to finish the mystery. It's rare when I can't figure out who the murderer is in a story pretty quickly but Lies Like Poison did manage to keep me guessing until right before the reveal. 

I won't say Lies Like Poison is a perfect read. I did have a little trouble following who was narrating at times but could quickly figure it out after a moment. Unreliable narrators can be pretty tricky to follow in general and there's more than one here. There are also moments that are definitely hard to read, especially during flashbacks to abusive moments and situations, but they are vital to the story. But I will say that I loved this book. I absolutely devoured it. I'm pretty sure I read it within 3 hours and definitely lost sleep before work the next day so that I could finish it. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery and enjoys Young Adult reads or to anyone who is a fan of fairy tales, especially twisted ones.

A huge thank you goes out to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing and Margaret K. McElderry Books for giving me an advance copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

xx Melissa

Monday, September 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is: Favorite Book Quotes! Oh man. This could be a doozy. I'm obsessed with quotes and always write down ones I love when I'm reading. I'll try and limit myself to ten, but no promises! There is no actual order to these quotes. I love them all.

1) "I have no tolerance for people that waste other people’s faith in them. None at all."
    Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

2) "All any of us wanted, really, was to know that we counted. That someone else’s life would not have been as rich without us here."
    Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

3) "You can’t buy people with your pain. They’ll just want away from it."
    Sadie by Courtney Summers

4) "The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference."
    The Last Vampire 2: Black Blood by Christopher Pike

5) "It doesn't matter what people tell you. It doesn't matter what they might say. Sometimes you have to leave home. Sometimes, running away means you're headed in the exact right direction."
    Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

6) "Love is an enchantress—devious and wild. It sneaks up behind you, soft and gentle and quiet, just before it slits your throat."
    The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

7) "You should always be taking pictures, if not with a camera then with your mind. Memories you capture on purpose are always more vivid than the ones you pick up by accident."
    Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

8) "Even when I detach, I care. You can be separate from a thing and still care about it. If I wanted to detach completely, I would move my body away. I would stop the conversation midsentence. I would leave the bed. Instead, I hover over it for a second. I glance off in another direction. But I always glance back at you."
    The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

9) "But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll."
    The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

10) "I often don't say things out loud, even when I should. I contain and compartmentalize to a disturbing degree: In my belly-basement are hundreds of bottles of rage, despair, fear, but you'd never guess from looking at me."
    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

And that's ten! It was really hard to keep it at ten and it took me forever to decide on which ones to choose because I have so many saved book quotes. But that's it for me - for now. What are some of your favorite book quotes? Leave a comment and let me know!

xx Melissa

Friday, September 25, 2020

Autumn Vibes: 13 Books For Your Fall Reading List

Maybe I'm a weirdo, but autumn is my absolute favorite season. The rainy days, warm mugs of coffee or cider and sometimes chai, fuzzy blankets, all the candles, crunchy leaves, comfort food and most importantly: books! 

Obviously you can read during any season. But there is just something so soothing about pulling your favorite blanket over your lap, grabbing a cup of coffee and reading your book while listening to the rain or wind outside. I look forward to this time every year and this year, fall also marks the last quarter of this absolutely asinine year.

For me, fall reads tend to have a magical or creepy theme. Not always of course, but fall is definitely the best time to pull out those cozy mysteries! This list is not in any particular order. I will also be adding some YA titles, which will be marked as such. And without further ado, let's get to the list!

1) Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman:
Set in New England, this story features two wise, old aunts and their two stubborn nieces trying to break the 300 year old curse on their family, while also trying to deal with the dead guy in their garden. The writing is beautiful and lyrical and will stay with you after reading it. For me, this book is like seeing an old friend. I read it every couple of years and I never get tired of it. It is also now part of a series with TWO prequels: The Rules of Magic is a prequel about the two aunts in the story and Magic Lessons (which releases in October), is about the ancestor who invokes the curse in the first place.

2) The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (YA):
Every October, Cara and her family become mysteriously and unavoidably accident prone and this year is exceptionally bad. This is the year that Cara will discover a long-hidden family secret, fall desperately in love and uncover the dark origins of the accident season - whether she wants to or not. Deliciously creepy and I cannot recommend it more. Her other books are also as beautifully written and her writing style actually reminds me a bit of Alice Hoffman.

3) Real Murders by Charlaine Harris:
Librarian Aurora Teagarden is a member of the "Real Murders Club" who gets together once a month to discuss famous cases. It's relatively harmless, well until Aurora discovers the body of a member killed in a manner very similar to the murder the club was just about to analyze... This is book one of the Aurora Teagarden cozy mysteries written by the author of the Southern Vampire series (better known as True Blood). What exactly is a cozy mystery? Basically mysteries featuring amateur sleuths, take place in small towns/villages and without sex and violence (that is done off-stage, so to speak).

4) The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White (YA):
Elizabeth was abused, hungry and almost homeless before she came to the house of Frankenstein. Terrified of living that life again, she makes herself the perfect house guest, even if that means getting closer to their very lonely son and Victor and having to deal with his temper and ... unsettling desires. This is a YA retelling of the story of Victor Frankenstein through the eyes of his adopted sister and (later) wife. It's spooky and absolutely not a love story.

5) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott:
The classic story of four very different sisters struggling to survive in New England during the Civil War. I'm not the biggest reader of classics, but I have adored this one since I was 10 years old and Jo March has remained one of my favorite characters ever written.

6) First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen:
An apple tree that doesn't care for men, a house with feelings and four generations of magical women are all a part of this novel that is sprinkled with a little bit of romance, a little heartbreak, a dah of family secrets and a whole lot of whimsy. It's actually the sequel to a novel called Garden Spells but reading the first is not actually necessary. Same characters but its own book.

7) Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice:
The gothic classic story of the vampire Louis, told in his own words, and his journey through both mortal and immortal life with his creator, the master manipulator, Lestat. The first in a 13 book series and most well known due to the movie of the same name.

8) These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (YA):
A historical mystery set in New York City in the 1890's and featuring a young woman who desires to become a journalist and to learn the truth of her father's suspicious death, despite the fact that it was ruled an accident. Pretty fun and a quick read. Not super scary, just a good mystery.

9) Coraline by Neil Gaiman:
Coraline moves into a new house and sets off to explore the many doors inside and quickly discovers that some doors should remain locked. A fascinating and fully eerie tale. If you loved the movie, you'll love the book. Plus, it's Neil Gaiman.

10) Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz:
Odd has a gift - or maybe it's a curse - but Odd Thomas can communicate with the dead. Sometimes they just want peace. Other times, they want justice, and sometimes they give tips to him so he can try and help prevent crimes. Whatever it is, Odd tries to help them so they can finally rest. Until the mysterious stranger arrives bringing catastrophe with him, and not even Odd's deceased friends can tell him who the stranger is. I seriously need to read the rest in the series because the first 3 where truly wonderful.

11) Mister Tender's Girl by Carter Wilson:
When Alice was 14, two girls viciously attacked her, claiming that Mister Tender made them do it. But that's not possible, after all, Alice's father created the graphic novels featuring the sinister Mister Tender. Ten years later, Alice has changed her name and trying to recover from the trauma of her past. But someone is watching her. Someone knows her name. Inspired by the Slender Man stories, this thrilling story will have you guessing til the end.

12) Little Monsters by Kara Thomas (YA):
Kacey is the new girl in town who is quickly welcomed into a tight knit group of friends and she, Bailey and Jade become inseparable. Which is why it's so strange that they start acting distant and when they don't invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn't seem like an accident. But Kacey will never be able to find out if it was accident or not because Bailey never makes it home. Even worse, everyone is starting to look to Kacey for answers she doesn't have. Little Monsters is kind of a Pretty Little Liars meets intense psychological thriller and I was all for it.

13) A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle:
"It was a dark and stormy night." Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure—one that will threaten their lives and our universe. One of my favorites since I was a child, this book has delighted me through the years and I read it every autumn.

And we made it! I hope you find something that you haven't read! I'd love to hear what your favorite fall reads are or if you were able to find a book on this list that interests you! Leave a comment and let me know.

xx Melissa

Sunday, September 20, 2020

thoughts on turning 40


Today I turn 40. It's hard to believe at times. I don't "feel" 40, whatever that means. I don't act 40. I don't look 40. But today I am 40. Sometimes I feel like I should be different. I mean, I like things that others call childish (video games, star wars, YA novels, blanket forts) but I also have an adult life. I work (often times too much), I pay bills, I have debt, I find more gray hairs then I would like to admit, there are lines around my lines, my knee creaks when it rains (which can be a problem since I live in Washington).

I've been asked recently if I'm dreading turning the big 4-0. "You're middle aged now!" Said one (quite annoying) co-worker. Perhaps I am now considered middle aged, but no. I'm not dreading it. While I may not be over the moon at turning 40 I will say that I'm looking forward to seeing what this next phase of life has in store for me. And I think that's a healthy attitude.

I've learned a lot over the last 40 years. Some were horrible things to learn. Some were great. But all in all, these are the experiences that helped shaped the person I have become. And I have to say that I happen to like who I am. 

I've learned:

+ Take care of your feet. Trust me, they are more important then you think.
+ Learning how to say no AND actually saying it is one of the most important things anybody could ever learn. NEVER feel bad for saying no.
+ Never forget that you matter too.
+ It doesn't matter if you have a huge circle of friends or if you have one friend. All that matters is that you have people around who let you be you. 
+ Remove toxic people as soon as you can and DO NOT feel bad about it.
+ Love is not a game. Please do not pretend otherwise.
+ Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about.
+ Saying "fuck" is liberating as hell and it's one of the most versatile curse words. Use it more often.
+ Facing even "small" fears is still courageous. Give yourself credit.
+ Don't compare where you are in life to where someone else is. You have two different lives, two different experiences. It's not a race.
+ It's never too late to go back to school or learn a new skill.
+ Embrace your flaws. You are not damaged simply because you have flaws, Everybody does. Accepting them isn't a crime. Using them to excuse bad behavior, is. 
+ Say "I love you" to the ones you love. Say it often. There will come a day when they are gone.
+ Live your life. Eat the damn donut. Buy the dress. Go on that trip. Make the memories.

xx Melissa