Debut Novel Pick for November: Blood Heir

Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

Full disclosure: I’m not intending to dive deeply into the uproar on Twitter that originally led to the author deciding to pull publication of her book. It’s been highly publicized so you can use Google to read more about it.

But I will say that I was interested in reading this book when I originally read the back cover copy and was rather disappointed to hear that it wasn’t going to be published. I’m glad the author has since changed her mind (it’s unclear to me if the book has also been significantly changed or not) and Blood Heir will finally be released this month!

I’m just as excited by the back cover copy now as I was when I read it originally and I absolutely adore this cover of a moody, dangerous-looking princess with an equally dangerous-looking crown. I love the idea of a Russian-inspired young adult fantasy with magic, danger, and political intrigue.

Blood Heir is scheduled to be released on November 19th from Delacorte Press.

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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.

I’ve seen a lot of talk about Stalking Jack the Ripper since it came out. But now with the release of the fourth book in the series, I finally decided to pick it up and give it a read.

After being on the fence for a long time if I’d actually like this book, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I was supposed to be reading a different book for book club, but often found myself picking this one up to read a chapter or two before bed instead. It’s told in a breezy, yet period-appropriate style that keeps the pages turning. I probably could have read this in one sitting if I had that much time (which I don’t these days).

I haven’t read many fictional takes on the infamous Jack the Ripper murders (the only one I can think of that I’ve read is The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson), but I really enjoyed Maniscalco’s vision for who the Ripper really was. Yes, in this book we do get an answer about who the killer was!

While I enjoyed this book quite a bit, I’m even more excited to see where the series goes from here! I know there are three more books out and with names like Hunting Prince DraculaEscaping from Houdini, and Capturing the Devil, I can only image what exciting adventures await Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell as they presumably cross paths with Dracula, Houdini, and…the devil?! Speaking of Audrey Rose and Thomas – while I was surprised at how forward the romance was (I was expecting more of a enemies-turned-best-friends-turned-lovers slow build), the chemistry between the two crackles off the page from their first conversation and I’m looking forward to watching it progress over the next few books!

Stalking Jack the Ripper is the perfect atmospheric, spooky Halloween read that’s not too scary. Pick it up before the month’s over!

9 Books to Get You in the Mood for Halloween

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to round up some of the spooky (and not-so-spooky) books I’ve read and reviewed. Books are ranked from least to most creepy! Bonus: many of these books and series have become films and tv shows since they were published!

The Gates by John Connolly

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween, which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe, a gap through which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

Apparently I don’t have a true review of The Gates by itself on the blog, but I absolutely love, love, love this three book series from author John Connolly. Such a fun, cute story that’s perfect for those who like their Halloween fare on the sweeter side.

Click here to read my mini-review of The Gates 

 

Ghost Bully by Brian Corley

Roommates can be hell.

Like when they’re late with the rent, late on bills, or constantly trying to kill you.

Jonah Preston thought he knew what he was getting into after signing the paperwork to buy his new home: yard work, a leaky pipe here and there, maybe the occasional squirrel in the attic.

He just didn’t expect to share that new home with a ghost.

Before all the boxes are unpacked, Jonah learns the previous owner, Willard Hensch, committed suicide in one of the bedrooms. It’s bad news, but Jonah and his (corporeal) roommate, Max, take it in stride. Jonah’s just happy to own a home and begin this new chapter in his adult life.

Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly short chapter.

Unhappy with his new roommates, the resident ghost quickly makes his presence known. Like, really known. When Jonah wakes up dead, he knows exactly who’s behind it.

Willard. Effing. Hensch.

For the newly deceased Jonah, that’s where his new chapter truly begins. He will befriend angels, fight demons, and take on a ghostly army in this comic-paranormal thrill ride through the freakish underworld of Austin, Texas. 

If you like your ghosts at the speed of The Haunted Mansion, you will love this book. Follow along with Jonah as he hilariously navigates the afterlife and discovers a whole new side of Austin, Texas. I’m lucky enough to be friends with the author so I can tell you the sequel to Ghost Bully is going to be just as fun – so make sure you pick up a copy of this book and get caught up!

Click here to check out my review of the book plus an exclusive interview with the author

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island.

 An abandoned orphanage.

 A strange collection of very curious photographs.
 It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

This book and the subsequent series are primarily on this list because the found photography that is sprinkled throughout the pages of the book is more than a little creepy. I found the first book a little spooky in places, but overall I wouldn’t classify it as a scary read. Perfect for those who want to be just a little spooked for Halloween!

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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.

I’m actually still reading this one, but it’s the perfect spooky read for Halloween.  Stalking Jack the Ripper presents an interesting spin on the historic serial killer’s story. Not too scary though! If you like the show Mind Hunter, you’ll enjoy this YA take on a famous criminal case.

Book review coming soon!

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This book didn’t scare me too much, but it IS pretty much the perfect Halloween read. Atmospheric and utterly enchanting, this is a short read about a circus of nightmares that preys upon a small Midwestern town.

Click here to check out my review

 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I remember this series starting out more than a little creepy, but my fears subsided after awhile so that’s why it’s not ranked higher on the list. So not as tame as the books that have come before it, but not all-out scary. This is a great series about the end of the world, aliens, and the teenagers who are fighting to survive.

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy – abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape – but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world. 

Apparently I’ve never reviewed the first book in this series of my blog – WHAT! I recommend this series all the time so this is a travesty. Guess it just means I’ll need to do a re-read for you guys. I do have reviews for the subsequent two books in the series The Twelve and The City of Mirrors, but you do need to start with The Passage. This series about a vampire apocalypse is definitely creepy – I read this book while camping in Joshua Tree which, oddly enough, is one of the settings in the later part of the book. 10/10 do NOT recommend that experience, but 12/10 do recommend starting this series.

 

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.

Guillermo del Toro is one of authors – I mean, do you need me to tell you this is scary?! It’s freakin’ scary. But good. So, so good. The Strain is the first book in another trilogy about the vampire apocalypse told by one of the masters of the horror genre.

Click here to check out my review of the series

 

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

This series is INTENSE. So CREEPY. I mean, I almost couldn’t handle it and I wasn’t home alone. But I also couldn’t put it down. If you like being intensely unnerved and riveted by a story, give this series a try.

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

Bonus:

Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology

Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

With twenty-three spooky stories in this anthology, you’re sure to find the perfect one to put you in the mood for Halloween. From the not-so-scary to the downright frightening, pick up your copy of Cursed Collectibles today. Click here to buy!

 

What’s your favorite Halloween read? Leave me a comment below!

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore Event With Renee Ahdieh and Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir and Renee Ahdieh at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego

Mysterious Galaxy is an independent bookstore in San Diego that specializes in carrying fantasy, science fiction, young adult, horror, and mystery novels. Tucked away in a shopping center, this bookstore is a small, but mighty bastion in the San Diego book scene.

Though I’ve lived in San Diego for almost eleven years, I only recently visited Mysterious Galaxy. Of course once I walked through the door I immediately thought, What have I been doing with my life?! It’s such a cute store and though the space is small, they have TONS of books, including copies that are signed by the authors.

After my first visit, I also signed up for Mysterious Galaxy’s email list which was how I saw that Renee Ahdieh and Sabaa Tahir were going to be in San Diego in October to celebrate the release of Ahdieh’s new book, The Beautiful.

Though I haven’t read either author’s books yet, both An Ember in the Ashes and The Wrath and the Dawn have been on my TBR list FOREVER. And I enjoy following them both on Instagram so their visit seemed like a great excuse to go spend an evening doing bookish stuff with my friend and fellow writer, Kristin Luna.

With Kristin Luna

Renee and Sabaa are friends in real life so it was like sitting down to coffee with your best friends. Both are very sweet, funny, and clearly love what they do. And these two ladies packed the house for their event! It was standing-room only during the discussion portion. I felt like Renee gave us quite a bit of extra insight into the characters and the world of The Beautiful so now I’m even more excited to tear into this new story of romance, New Orleans, and vampires! She also brilliantly navigated touchy subjects like domestic abuse, women’s rights, and immigration without allowing the conversation to spiral into a political discourse.

Even though this night was mostly about Renee’s new book, Sabaa also got to talk a bit about her books, characters, and experiences as an author. I think they did a good job of balancing the promotion of The Beautiful and allowing both ladies to talk since there were fans of both in the crowd.

Sabaa Tahir Signing Books at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

After the discussion we lined up to do the book signing and even though the signing took awhile because many people had multiple books that needed to be signed, Renee and Sabaa were just as sweet and patient in person. The four of us mostly ended up talking about makeup (Renee and Sabaa are the real pros here) and Kristin asked them for advice about the querying process since we are both querying agents now. They were so kind, encouraging, and supportive.

Renee Ahdieh Signing Books at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

Overall it was a great night and the staff of Mysterious Galaxy and the publicist for the two ladies did an excellent job keeping things running smoothly while letting the fans have their moments!

 

Debut Novel Pick for October: Fireborne

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone–even the lowborn–a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

Recently I feel like I’ve been going through Game of Thrones withdrawals. It sort of just hit me recently that the story is done done. True, we may eventually get The Winds of Winter and whatever comes after it, but we already know the ending. So in effect, that story is done.

So when I was browsing debut releases in fiction for October this one caught my eye because it’s being compared to Red Rising, Seraphina, and Game of Thrones. It also reminds me of course of Eragon and also weirdly enough, Dinotopia (the TV miniseries anyway). A YA fantasy, Fireborne is apparently the first in a new series featuring dragons, friendship, and the aftermath of war.

Fireborne is scheduled to be released on October 15th from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

 

Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology is Available Now

It’s officially Spooktober and what better way to celebrate than with a new collection of spooky stories?!

Cursed Collectibles is officially available through Amazon! The Kindle version is available now, with print and audiobook versions to come in the next couple weeks.

Click here to purchase Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology for Kindle 

Cursed-Collectibles-Anthology-Shannon-Fox-The-Garden-Party2

Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

Featuring stories from D.J. Butler, Joy Auburn, Martin L. Shoemaker, Jessica Guernsey, John D. Payne, Jen Bair, Karen Pellett, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Lauren Lang, Frank Morin, Mike Jack Stoumbous, Kelly Lynn Colby, Jace Killan, Jo Schneider, Gama Ray Martinez, Martin Greening, Chris Abela, A.J. Mayall, Heidi A. Wilde, Shannon Fox, Lauryn Christopher, and Mark Leslie.

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the Don Hodge Scholarship fund. This scholarship helps aspiring authors attend Superstars Writing Seminars. Click here to learn more about the scholarship.

 

Epic Reads Event at Barnes and Noble Mira Mesa September 2019

I’ve really been making an effort to go to more writing and book related events in the San Diego area. So I was stoked when Kristin Luna, my friend, neighbor, and fellow writer, sent me the details about an Epic Reads event happening at the Barnes & Noble in Mira Mesa. It sounded fun, was close by, and I saw Shelby Mahurin was going to be there (author of Serpent and Dove).

We’ve never been to an Epic Reads event so at first were a little confused how it worked, but the staff at Barnes & Noble Mira Mesa were really helpful and did a good job promoting the event. We stopped by the store early to buy our books (you needed to purchase a copy of one of the author’s books to get a wristband for the event) and were really impressed with all the in-store signage. One staff member (who may have been the manager) even came over to us as we were looking at the new release books to talk to us about the event and make sure we knew if we bought a book, we could get a wristband for the event. Same with the staff members at the register – everybody knew exactly what to do to promote this!

The night of the event I was surprised by how many people actually showed up. Because they set the event up in the center of the store where they sell the Nook readers, it was pretty cool because people who were just in the store shopping or hanging out at the Starbucks Cafe were able to see what was going on and learn about the cool event the bookstore put on. Starbucks even had a special drink menu to go along with each of the books (I did not try any sadly, but it was cool to see nonetheless).

The event itself was super fun. They divided everyone who attended into four groups and had the authors rotate in between. We got about fifteen to twenty minutes to ask questions of each author and all of them were so lovely and funny. We met Shelby Mahurin, author of Serpent and Dove, Rena Barron, author of Kingdom of Souls, Sara Raasch, author of the These Rebel Waves series, and Kendare Blake, author of the Three Dark Crowns series. Special shoutout to Sara for answering my question on Instagram about a book she mentioned during the event!

Sara Raasch

Kendare Blake

Rena Barron

Shelby Mahurin

Kristin and I asked a lot of writing/publishing related questions, but there was a good mix in the group between people who love, love, love to read and those who love to read and also want to be published authors. Our particular group was all women (I think), though there were some men there, too. Even though this event featured all authors writing in the Young Adult genre, there was a range of ages represented, including many teens which was fun to see.

After the author meet and greet, we had a chance to get our books signed by the authors and take pictures! I got my copy of Serphent and Dove signed by Shelby Mahurin and got a picture with her too!