Author Archives: Jenn

A Month in Review: September 2014


Books Reviewed

 

* Picks of the month

See which October books I’m exited about!

Upcoming Events!

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My annual Halloween feature, Murder, Monsters & Mayhem kicks off tomorrow! There is still time to sign up. Just click on the image above to join in!

 

So, what was your favorite book read in September? Or, are you like me and can’t narrow it down to just one? Share!

Review: Party Games: A Fear Street Novel by R. L. Stine

 

  • Grade Level: 7 – 12
  • Series: Fear Street
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (September 30, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781250051615
  • Source: Publisher

When Rachel Martin is invited to Brendan Fear’s birthday party at his family’s home on Fear Island, she can’t resist. Despite her friends’ warnings, her crush on Brendan clouds her judgement and she readily accepts the invite. Brendan’s infamous parties are known for their unusual party games.  This time, however, the party games turn deadly. One by one, the guests begin dying, their means of death mimicking childish games. As their hopes for escape vanish, Rachel and the other guests quickly realize they are stuck on this remote island with a killer.

Who doesn’t love the Fear Street novels? Like many others my age, many of us grew up reading these terrifying teen horror novels.  When a new book in the series was announced I was thrilled beyond measure. Unfortunately, however, Party Games didn’t really live up to my expectations.

Without revealing too much about the plot, there is definitely a supernatural vibe to this book. Isolated, mysterious island, hints of brutal deaths and possible haunting.  Unfortunately, Stine decided to take a pass on this and instead opted to go the path of a mysterious masked killer.  This was quite unfortunate as I tend to think Stine fans (young and old alike) tend to prefer his novels with a supernatural edge. Additionally, I felt the ending was wrapped up a little too quickly, almost as if Stine ran out of ideas and decided to end it quickly.

My devotion toward the Fear Street novels is so strong that I would still recommend this novel despite my complaints. Perhaps I’m too old to appreciate them? Or perhaps Stine does have a contingent of fans that would read and enjoy anything he’s written.  Like with his adult novel last year, Red Rain, perhaps my expectations are just too high? I’ll let you decide.  Have you read Party Games? What did you think?

 

Frightful Friday: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix:

 

 

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (September 23, 2014)
  • ISBN13: 9781594745263
  • Source: Publisher

Something menacing is happening at Orsk, a warehouse furniture superstore outside of Cleveland, OH. When the employees arrive in the morning, displays are in a state of disarray. The security cameras reveal nothing. While Orsk is frequented by quite a few shoppers, sales are down.  They must get to the bottom of the mysterious activity before the corporate big-wigs arrive tomorrow morning.

So Basil, one of Orsk’s most dedicated employees, convinces two additional team members to join him in an overnight stakeout. Ruth Anne is a passionate, committed team member. Amy is…not.  It isn’t far into their mission before strange things begin to happen. A number of uninvited visitors make an appearance. Basil, Ruth Anne, and Amy soon realize what they thought would be a relatively uneventful evening has quickly transformed into a battle for their lives.  What walks the confusing and meandering floors of Orsk after hours isn’t human…at least not anymore.

The moment I read the premise of this novel, I knew I had to have it! A haunted house story, set in an IKEA-like setting? Simply brilliant.  The ingenious format added to the experience.  Laid out like an IKEA catalog, complete with illustrations of unpronounceable yet easy to assemble furniture, Horrorstor is a novel like no other! As the novel progressed into a darker, more sinister tone, so did the illustrated furniture. From mass-produced bookshelves to terrifying torture devices, Orsk has every furniture type imaginable.

PicMonkey CollageWhile the character development is minimal, Hendrix makes up for this with a truly chilling, albeit sometimes corny, plot line. That’s to be expected, of course, given that this is a spoof of the grand and simultaneously terrifying, IKEA.

The history of the land that holds this terrifying structure is just as terrifying, adding to the dark and brooding tone.  While the light formatting seems as though it would detract from the overall feel and mood of the book it actually does the complete opposite. As readers turn each page, they have no inkling of what comes next.

Bottom line: Horrorstor is a must read this Halloween season. It’s just spooky enough to send a chill down your spine, yet not too terrifying for the weak of heart.  Highly, highly recommended.

Fall Book Preview: October 2014, Part III

Didn’t I warn you that October was an outstanding month of books. I’ve shared two lists thus far (Part I & Part II) and I’m wrapping up with the final list of books today. These lists have covered the gamut as far as books go.  You’ll have to let me know if I’ve overlooked any!

Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite (Oct. 21):

Set in the Pacific Northwest, a spellbinding story of family, violence, and unintended consequences that showcases the searing prose, soulful characters, and vivid sense of place of an acclaimed writer in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy, Dennis Lehane, and Elmore Leonard

Sheriff Patrick Drake tried to lead an upstanding life and maintain some financial stability until his wife passed away. He did okay for a while, singlehandedly raising his family in a small mountain town. Then he was hit with money troubles, fell in with some unsavory men, and ended up convicted of one of the biggest crimes in local history.

Twelve years later Patrick is on parole under the watchful eye of his son Bobby, who just happens to be a deputy sheriff in his father’s old department. Bobby hasn’t had it easy, either. He’s carried the weight of his father’s guilt, forsaking his own dreams, and put off the knowledge that his own marriage could be stronger and more hopeful. Yet no matter how much distance he’s tried to put between himself, his father, his grandfather, and the past, small town minds can have very long memories.

Trouble isn’t done with the Drakes—and a terrifying threat boils up from Patrick’s old life. And this time, no one will be spared . . .

The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly (Oct. 28):

The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town…

But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet.

Charlie Parker has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive.

Prosperous, and the secret that it hides beneath its ruins…

The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron (Oct. 28):

Ruddy McCann, former college football star, has experienced a seismic drop in popularity; he is now Kalkaska, Michigan’s full-time repo man and part-time bar bouncer. His best friend is his low-energy Basset hound Jake, with whom he shares a simple life of stealing cars.

 Simple, that is, until Ruddy starts hearing a voice in his head.

 The voice introduces himself as Alan Lottner, a dead realtor. Ruddy isn’t sure if Alan is real, or if he’s losing his mind. To complicate matters, it turns out Katie, the girl he’s fallen for, is Alan’s daughter.

 When Alan demands Ruddy find his murderers, Ruddy decides a voice in your head seeking vengeance is best ignored.  When Alan also demands he clean up his act, and apartment, Ruddy tells him to back off, but where can a voice in your head go?

 With a sweet romance, a murder mystery, a lazy but loyal dog and a town full of cabin-fevered characters you can’t help but love, New York Times bestselling novelist W. Bruce Cameron’s The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man is yet another laugh-out-loud, keep-you-up-late, irresistible read. 

 

The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett (Oct. 28):

A man. A woman. A disappearance boy. This is the story of Reggie, an illusionist’s assistant, and the performances that come to define him.

Reggie Rainbow got his name at the orphanage. He had polio as a child, and seventeen years of using crutches have given him strong hands and nimble fingers. It is this dexterity, perfect for illusions, which first led Mr. Brookes to hire him for the act. Reggie has been a disappearance boy for years now, making a long string of alluring assistants vanish while Mr. Brookes tricks and misdirects the audience.

But in the spring of 1953, the public no longer seem interested in illusionists. Bookings are slim, even in London. When Mr. Brookes gets a new slot at the down-at-the-heel Brighton Grand, Reggie finds himself in a strange town, one full of dark and unexplored corners. And it is the arrival of Pamela Rose, a beautiful new assistant, that truly turns his life upside down. As the Grand’s spectacular Coronation show nears, Reggie begins to wonder how much of his own life has been an act—and sets out to find somebody who disappeared from his life long ago.

Masterful and heartfelt, The Disappearance Boy is the tale of one young man coming into adulthood amidst the smoke-and-mirrors backstage world; a story of love, tears, and illusion—of all that stays behind the curtain.

The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester by Nicholas Knight (Oct. 28):

Go back on the road with Sam and Dean Winchester in this revised and updated edition of the best-selling The Essential Supernatural. Filled with interviews with the cast and crew of the hit show, stunning behind-the-scenes-imagery and art, and a wealth of thrilling removable items, this updated version includes new chapters on seasons 8 and 9 and a preview of the upcoming season 10.

This deluxe edition dissects the show season by season, state by state, tracking the Winchester brothers as they travel across the U.S. in their distinctive classic car. Join them as they hunt all those things that go bump in the night, seek vengeance on the Yellow-Eyed Demon that killed their parents, deal with the Knights of Hell, and stop the bona fide Apocalypse! Illustrated with full-color images, behind-the-scenes photos, exclusive production art, and other elements-such as continuity photos and even the covers of the in-universe Supernatural novels by Chuck Shurley-this is the ultimate guide to Supernatural for the show’s legion of fans.

Us by David Nicholls (Oct. 28):

Douglas Petersen may be a mild-mannered scientist, but his reserve hides a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful art-school graduate Connie into a second date…and into marrying him. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Douglas is still deeply in love with his wife, and is looking toward Albie leaving for college so that he can reconnect with Connie, and somehow reignite the spark that seems to be missing. That is, until Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

Connie’s timing couldn’t be worse. Wanting to encourage her son’s artistic interests, she’s planned a month-long tour across Europe, where they’ll experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, which she can’t bring herself to cancel. But perhaps going ahead is for the best? Douglas feels sure that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance they’ve lost along the way, as well as help him to bond with Albie. He prepares with a meticulously detailed itinerary, but they barely make it to Amsterdam before his plans go awry.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, stealthily witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man rising to the challenge of rescuing his relationship with the woman he loves—as he embarks on a life-changing journey on the heels of a son who’s always felt like a stranger. It is an authentic meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the complicated relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the famed museums of Paris to the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband and involved father, or the moment when he turns his marriage—his whole life—around?

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (Oct. 28)

A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, from the internationally bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White.

The Book of Strange New Things tells the story of Peter Leigh, a devoted man of faith called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him literally light years away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment and the ego-gratifying work of ministering to a native population hungry for the Bible—this “book of strange new things.” But he soon begins to receive increasingly desperate letters from home. North Korea is devastated by a typhoon; the Maldives are wiped out by a tsunami; England endures an earthquake, and Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

A separation measured in galaxies, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. Peter’s and Bea’s trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and the responsibility we have to others.

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood (Oct. 28):

Alex Marwood’s debut novel, The Wicked Girls, earned her lavish praise from the likes of Stephen King, Laura Lippman, and Erin Kelly, and was shortlisted for an Edgar Award. Now Marwood’s back with a brilliant, tightly paced thriller that will keep you up at night and make you ask yourself: just how well do you know your neighbors?

Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be renting rooms in a dodgy old building for cash—no credit check, no lease. It’s the kind of place you end up when you you’ve run out of other options. The six residents mostly keep to themselves, but one unbearably hot summer night, a terrible accident pushes them into an uneasy alliance. What they don’t know is that one of them is a killer. He’s already chosen his next victim, and he’ll do anything to protect his secret.

Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam (Oct. 28):

Who put the word fun in funeral? I can’t think of anything fun about Rachel’s funeral, except for the fact that she won’t be there.

Aubrey Glass has a collection of potential suicide notes—just in case. And now, five years—and five notes—after leaving her hometown, Rachel’s the one who goes and kills herself. Aubrey can’t believe her luck.

But Rachel’s death doesn’t leave Aubrey in peace. There’s a voicemail from her former friend, left only days before her death that Aubrey can’t bring herself to listen to—and worse, a macabre memorial-turned-high-school reunion that promises the opportunity to catch up with everyone…including the man responsible for everything that went wrong between she and Rachel.

In the days leading up to the funeral and infamous after party, Aubrey slips seamlessly between her past and present. Memories of friendship tangle with painful new encounters while underneath it all Aubrey feels the rush of something closing in, something she can no longer run from. And when the past and present collide in one devastating night, nothing will be the same again.

But facing the future means confronting herself and a shattering truth. Now, Aubrey must decide what will define her: what lies behind . . . or what waits ahead.

 

Fall Book Preview: October 2014, Part II

Yesterday, I shared the first part of my most anticipated books of October list, books that publish the first week of October. October is another big publishing month; I forsee at least one more post after this one!

Following are the books scheduled to post the second week of October. Click on the book image or title to preorder!

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden (Oct. 14)

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Ruth’s Journey: The Authorized Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind by Donald McCaig (Oct. 14):

Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.

Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind.

Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans (Oct. 14):

Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy, filled with “heroic action that keeps fans coming back” (Publishers Weekly).

Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.

In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.

Crooked River by Valerie Geary (Oct. 14):

He is not evil. I am not good.
We are the same: broken and put back together again.

Still grieving the sudden death of their mother, Sam and her younger sister Ollie McAlister move from the comforts of Eugene to rural Oregon to live in a meadow in a teepee under the stars with Bear, their beekeeper father. But soon after they arrive, a young woman is found dead floating in Crooked River, and the police arrest their eccentric father for the murder.

Fifteen-year-old Sam knows that Bear is not a killer, even though the evidence points to his guilt. Unwilling to accept that her father could have hurt anyone, Sam embarks on a desperate hunt to save him and keep her damaged family together.

I see things no one else does.
I see them there and wish I didn’t. I want to tell and can’t.

Ollie, too, knows that Bear is innocent. The Shimmering have told her so. One followed her home from her mom’s funeral and refuses to leave. Now, another is following Sam. Both spirits warn Ollie: the real killer is out there, closer and more dangerous than either girl can imagine.

Told in Sam and Ollie’s vibrant voices, Crooked River is a family story, a coming of age story, a ghost story, and a psychological mystery that will touch reader’s hearts and keep them gripped until the final thrilling page.

Three Hundred Million by Blake Butler (Oct. 14):

Blake Butler’s fiction has dazzled readers with its dystopian dreamscapes and swaggering command of language. Now, in his most topical and visceral novel yet, he ushers us into the consciousness of two men in the shadow of a bloodbath: Gretch Gravey, a cryptic psychopath with a small army of burnout followers, and E. N. Flood, the troubled police detective tasked with unpacking and understanding his mind.

A mingled simulacrum of Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Thomas Harris’s Buffalo Bill, Gravey a sinister yet alluring God figure who enlists young metalhead followers to kidnap neighboring women and bring them to his house—where he murders them and buries their bodies in a basement crypt. Through parallel narratives, Three Hundred Million lures readers into the cloven mind of Gravey—and Darrel, his sinister alter ego—even as Flood’s secret journal chronicles his own descent into his own, eerily similar psychosis.

A portrait of American violence that conjures the shadows of Ariel Castro, David Koresh, and Adam Lanza, Three Hundred Million is a brutal and mesmerizing masterwork, a portrait of contemporary America that is difficult to turn away from, or to forget.

Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline (Oct. 14):

Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: Everything is about to change.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and—just like that—her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she’d never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Oct. 14):

An instant bestseller in the UK, The Daylight Gate is Jeanette Winterson’s singular vision of a dark period of complicated morality, sex, and tragic plays for power in a time when politics and religion were closely intertwined. On Good Friday, 1612, deep in the woods of Pendle Hill, a gathering of thirteen is interrupted by the local magistrate. Two of their coven have already been imprisoned for witchcraft and are awaiting trial, but those who remain are vouched for by the wealthy and respected Alice Nutter. Shrouded in mystery and gifted with eternally youthful beauty, Alice is established in Lancashire society and insulated by her fortune. As those accused of witchcraft retreat into darkness, Alice stands alone as a realm-crosser, a conjurer of powers that will either destroy her or set her free.

Dead Set by Richard Kadrey (Oct. 14):

After her father’s funeral Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But life’s not so easy, the money is tight, and a new school always brings trials. Zoe’s only escape, as has been the case all her days, is in her dreams. A world apart from her troubled real life and the only place where she can spend time with her closest companion: her lost brother Valentine.

But something or someone has entered their dream world uninvited. And a chance encounter at a used record store where the vinyl holds not music, but lost souls, has opened up a world of the lives of the restless dead. It’s here that the strange proprietor offers her chances to commune with her dead father. The price? A lock of hair, a tooth, then . . .

Walking Dead #5: Robert Kirkman’s the Walking Dead: Descent by Jay Bonansinga (Oct. 14):

The latest novel in the Walking Dead saga, following the events of The Fall of the Governor, and Lilly Caul’s struggles to rebuild Woodbury after the Governor’s shocking demise.

Out of the ashes of its dark past, Woodbury, Georgia, becomes an oasis of safety amidst the plague of the walking dead – a town reborn in the wake of its former tyrannical leader, Philip Blake, aka The Governor.

Blake’s legacy of madness haunts every nook and cranny of this little walled community, but Lilly Caul and a small ragtag band of survivors are determined to overcome their traumatic past…or die trying.

As a super-herd of walkers presses in on the community, Lilly’s innate leadership skills kick into high gear.  An undiscovered cache of weapons — as well as a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the town — changes the balance of power.

But as is often the case in Woodbury, things are not as they seem.

The beleaguered survivors are about to learn – along with the troubled yet heroic Lilly Caul – that the greatest threat is often from within.

The Boy Who Killed Demons by Dave Zeltserman (Oct. 15):

“My name’s Henry Dudlow. I’m fifteen and a half. And I’m cursed. Or damned. Take your pick. The reason? I see demons.”

So begins the latest novel by horror master Dave Zeltserman. The setting is quiet Newton, Massachussetts, where nothing ever happens. Nothing, that is, until two months after Henry Dudlow’s 13th birthday, when his neighbor, Mr. Hanley, suddenly starts to look . . . different. While everyone else sees a balding man with a beer belly, Henry suddenly sees a nasty, bilious, rage-filled demon.
Once Henry catches onto the real Mr. Hanley, he starts to see demons all around him, and his boring, adolescent life is transformed. There’s no more time for friends or sports or the lovely Sally Freeman-instead Henry must work his way through ancient texts and hunt down the demons before they steal any more innocent children. And if hunting demons is hard at any age, it’s borderline impossible when your parents are on your case, and your grades are getting worse, and you can’t tell anyone about your chosen mission.

A very scary novel written with verve and flashes of great humor, The Boy Who Killed Demons is Dave Zeltserman’s most accomplished and entertaining horror novel yet.

The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn (Oct. 15):

Jane Seymour is a shy, dutiful fifteen-year-old when her eldest brother, Edward, brings his bride home to Wolf Hall. Katherine Filliol is the perfect match for Edward, as well as being a breath of fresh air for the Seymour family, and Jane is captivated by the older girl.

Only two years later, however, the family is torn apart by a dreadful allegation-that Katherine has had an affair with the Seymour patriarch. The repercussions for all the Seymours are incalculable, not least for Katherine herself. When Jane is sent away to serve Katharine of Aragon, she is forced to witness another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences.

Changed forever by what happened to Katherine Filliol, Jane comes to understand that, in a world where power is held entirely by men, there is a way in which she can still hold true to herself.

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville (Oct. 16):

A captivating and atmospheric historical novel about a young girl in Nazi Germany, a psychoanalyst in fin-de-siècle Vienna, and the powerful mystery that links them together.

Gretel and the Dark explores good and evil, hope and despair, showing how the primal thrills and horrors of the stories we learn as children can illuminate the darkest moments in history, in two rich, intertwining narratives that come together to form one exhilarating, page-turning read. In 1899 Vienna, celebrated psychoanalyst Josef Breuer is about to encounter his strangest case yet: a mysterious, beautiful woman who claims to have no name, no feelings—to be, in fact, a machine. Intrigued, he tries to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Nazi-controlled Germany, Krysta plays alone while her papa works in the menacingly strange infirmary next door. Young, innocent, and fiercely stubborn, she retreats into a world of fairy tales, unable to see the danger closing in around her. When everything changes and the real world becomes as frightening as any of her stories, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could ever have guessed.

Rich, compelling, and propulsively building to a dizzying final twist, Gretel and the Dark is a testament to the lifesaving power of the imagination and a mesmerizingly original story of redemption.

Whew! What a list, right?  Stay tuned…one more list to come tomorrow!

Fall Book Preview: October 2014, Part I

I’m a little behind on this. Crazy work schedule plus a teen son with shingles, I have little time to even contemplate reading a book.  That said, I did take the time to review books releasing in October. Wow, what a month!  While I’ll be focusing largely on horror and thriller for Murder, Monsters & Mayhem, there are many books outside this genre that I’m excited about.

Following is the first part of that list, books releasing the first week of October.  As usual, I’ve included the publisher’s summary and a link for you to preorder the book.

A Brief History of Seven Killingsby Marlon James (Oct. 2):

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years.

Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters—assassins, journalists, drug dealers, and even ghosts—A Brief History of Seven Killings is the fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time and its bloody aftermath, from the streets and slums of Kingston in the ‘70s, to the crack wars in ‘80s New York, to a radically altered Jamaica in the ‘90s. Brilliantly inventive and stunningly ambitious, this novel is a revealing modern epic that will secure Marlon James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation.

The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue (Oct. 7):

Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier,10-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all.

In the tradition of The Turn of the Screw, Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a mesmerizing tale of psychological terror and imagination run wild, a perfectly creepy read for a dark night.

Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis by Alexis Coe (Oct. 7):

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation-it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.

Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter-and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail-including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.

Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes-painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.

In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation-it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.

Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter-and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail-including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.

Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes-painting a vivid picture of a sadly familiar world.

Brood by Chase Novak (Oct. 7):

Two teenagers struggle with a horrific family legacy, and the woman who has adopted them fights for their lives–and her own.

Adam and Alice are reaching the age when some of the children created by the fertility treatment that spawned them begin to turn feral. Will they succomb to the same physiological horror that destroyed their parents? Every change brings on terror–the voice cracking as it changes, the swelling of the breasts, the coarsening of down into actual hair. Their aunt, Cynthia, oversees renovations to the Twisden family’s Manhattan residence–torn apart by the children’s parents at their most savage–and struggles to give her niece and nephew the unconditional love they never had. Meanwhile, in the world outside, the forces of good and evil collide as a troop of feral offspring threatens to invade the refuge Cynthia is so determined to construct behind the Twisdens’ walls.

 

Reunion by Hannah Pittard (Oct.7):

Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly failed wife with scarcely a hundred dollars to her name, learns that her estranged father has killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she gives in to her siblings’ request that she join them, along with her many half-siblings and most of her father’s five former wives, in Atlanta, their birthplace, for a final farewell.

Written with huge heart and bracing wit, REUNION takes place over the following four days, as family secrets are revealed, personal foibles are exposed, and Kate-an inveterate liar looking for a way to come clean-slowly begins to acknowledge the overwhelming similarities between herself and the man she never thought she’d claim as an influence, much less a father. Hannah Pittard’s “engaging and vigorous”* prose masterfully illuminates the problems that can divide modern families–and the ties that prove impossible to break. (*Chicago Tribune)

The Who & the What: A Playby Ayad Akhtar (Oct. 7):

The Pulitzer prize-winning author of Disgraced explores the conflict that erupts within a Muslim family in Atlanta when an independent-minded daughter writes a provocative novel that offends her more conservative father and sister.

Zarina has a bone to pick with the place of women in her Muslim faith, and she’s been writing a book about the Prophet Muhammad that aims to set the record straight. When her traditional father and sister discover the manuscript, it threatens to tear her family apart. With humor and ferocity, Akhtar’s incisive new drama about love, art, and religion examines the chasm between our traditions and our contemporary lives.

The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble (Oct. 7):

The first new novel in five years from “one of the most versatile and accomplished writers of her generation” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker)

“Achingly wise . . . Admirers of Marilynne Robinson will find themselves very much at home in this book.” -Wall Street Journal

Jessica Speight, an anthropologist in 1960s London, is at the beginning of a promising academic career when an affair leaves her a single mother. Anna is delightful-a pure gold baby. But as it becomes clear that Anna is not a normal child, the book circles questions of responsibility, potential, even age, with Margaret Drabble’s characteristic intelligence and wit. Told from the point of view of Jess’s fellow mothers, The Pure Gold Baby is a movingly intimate look at the unexpected transformations at the heart of motherhood.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman (Oct. 7):

“As much F. Scott Fitzgerald as Dean Koontz” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs), Christopher Buehlman excels in twisting the familiar into newfound dread in his “genre-bending” (California Literary Review) novels. Now the acclaimed author of Those Across the Riverdelivers his most disquieting tale yet…

The secret is, vampires are real and I am one.
The secret is, I’m stealing from you what is most truly yours and I’m not sorry…

New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.

The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.

Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.

And neither are the rest of us.

A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson, Jeff Rovin (Oct. 7):

The first novel from iconic X-Files star Gillian Anderson and New York Times bestselling author Jeff Rovin: a science fiction thriller of epic proportions.

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work.

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

We Are Not Good People by Jeff Somers (Oct. 7):

From the “exhilarating, powerful, and entertaining” (Guardian) storyteller of the Avery Cates series comes a gritty supernatural thriller featuring a pair of unlikely heroes caught up in the underground world of blood magic.

The ethics in a world of blood are gray—and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people.

Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work.

When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her—and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.

Book One in the Ustari Cycle, the first portion of We Are Not Good People was originally published in an altered form as Trickster (Pocket Books).

Some Luck by Jane Smiley (Oct. 7):

From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize: a powerful, engrossing new novel—the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America.

On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father’s heart.

Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.

Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Taking us through cycles of births and deaths, passions and betrayals, among characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force that stands wholly on its own. But it is also the first part of a dazzling epic trilogy—a literary adventure that will span a century in America: an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.

An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman (Oct. 7):

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seek a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. But when the house turns on them, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.

 

 

 

Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Oct. 7):

A new American classic from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gilead and Housekeeping

Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.

Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the days of suffering that preceded her newfound security.


Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.


Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more October releases!

Gone Girl Film Release Giveaway!

UPDATED:

WINNER SELECTED! Congratulations, Sarah Hayes!!

It’s the book everyone was talking about. In just a few weeks, the movie is hitting the big screen.  I don’t know about you, but I’m excited.  I loved the book (despite the urge to throw it across the room) t so I’m thrilled to find out how the movie turned out.

Thanks to 20th Century Fox, I am giving away the movie tie-in version of book and a $25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters.  To enter, comment below with the name of your favorite book turned movie!

The winner will be contacted on Friday, September 26th. Good luck!

Be sure to check out all these movie extras!

Amy Dunne is missing. Her Pinterest page has been found.  #GoneGirl

Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne has a Pinterest account you can explore. In the upcoming movie thriller Gone Girl by David Fincher, ‘Amazing Amy’ Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing and all eyes are on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck.) Everyone is wondering ‘Did Nick kill his wife?’

As evidence mounts and speculation rises, Amy’s past is coming into focus on Pinterest. What was she like? What were her interests? Did she leave any clues? Explore for yourself at http://bit.ly/AmyDunne

GONE GIRL – In Theaters October 3

Official Website | Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | #GoneGirl

 About the film

Directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Release: October 3, 2014
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn, based upon the novel written by Gillian Flynn
Produced by: Arnon Milchan, Joshua Donen, Reese Witherspoon, Ceán Chaffin
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

 

 

Review: A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention by Matt Richtel

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (September 23, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9780062284068
  • Source: Publisher

In 2006, Reggie Shaw, a Utah college student, was involved in a brutal car crash that instantly killed two men. The accident wasn’t caused by inclement weather or adverse road conditions. It occurred because Reggie Shaw’s attention was elsewhere: on his cell phone. In the minutes that led up to the accident, Reggie was sending texts to his on-again, off-again girlfriend. Sending the texts took seconds. The damage caused by the distraction forever changed the lives of numerous people.

In this narrative non-fiction, Richtel shares scientific evidence that details how our attention is easily comprised by technology.  We all experience this; one of the examples noted is the cocktail party effect. We can listen to a conversation with someone while our attention is elsewhere.  The same is true with our cell phones in cars, but the difference is we think we can balance that attention without any harm. That is clearly not the case. Texting while driving has deadly consequences.

The scientific evidence Richtel further shows just how addicted we are to our technology. Responding to a text, getting an instant response or interaction is, to our bodies, like a drug.  The high is similar to the effects of drugs or of having sex. Like other addictions, the need for more intensifies over time until it reaches an unhealthy level.

Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, succeeds at his intent to get this message across to his readers.  Balancing a truly horrific accident with scientific evidence grabs the reader with heart-breaking emotion from the very few pages.  Readers follow Reggie through the accident investigation, his prosecution, and how his life, too, was changed by this accident.

It’s obvious that Richtel knows his data. This is clear in the evidence he relays, but also in the formatting of this book.  He knows our attention spans are short. With the internet, and text messages, information has to be relayed in short bursts or our attention is lost.  So, to keep his readers’ attention, each chapter is limited to a handful of pages.

As I devoured this book, I often forgot I was reading a piece of non-fiction.  The constant reminder that this story is real was horrifying to me. Yet the emotion, the intensity Richtel uses captivates a reader much like a suspense or thriller novel. Unfortunately, this story is all too real.

As the mother of a young man who will be driving within the next year, I genuinely think this book should be required reading for teens participating in driving programs.  We all remember what it is like to be a teenager; our social lives are the most important things to us. What we need to ingrain in the minds of our children is that texting while driving has deadly consequences. No conversation or relationship is worth the life of another human being.

It is rare that I say everyone should read a book. In this case, I almost demand it. While I read an egalley, I will be buying a print copy for my son. I will encourage his school library to carry it in their collection. I will share it with my friends so they, too, can have their children read it. This book is that important.

 

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (September 23, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781481422345
  • Source: Publisher

 

Darcy Patel is a teenage girl won’t be heading off to college like most of her peers. Instead, thanks to the success of a book she wrote in just 30 days, she’s off to New York to pursue her writing career.  She arrives in New York with little knowledge of the city or of the publishing world. She’s quickly taken under the wings of other more seasoned writers. Within a matter of months, she has an apartment, unexpectedly falls in love, and finishes edits on her debut novel, Afterworlds.

Darcy’s novel is about a teen girl, Lizzie, who slips into the Afterworlds after barely surviving a terrorist attack.  The Afterworlds are the spaces between the living and the dead, where recently deceased travel on their way to the afterlife. Since she barely escaped death, Lizzie is now has the ability to see the dead.  Her new ability has bestowed upon her great responsibility to help save the fate of the dead. Unfortunately this new power has little control over the lives of those she cares about in the land of the living.

I’ve been a fan of Westerfeld’s work for some time now. First introduced to his writing by my now teen son, I crave the release of each of his books. I recall a particularly embarrassing moment when I went all fangirl outside a party at Book Expo America a few years ago. I’m certainly not alone in my feelings.  Westerfeld has a talent for crafting unique storylines, taking risks that many others wouldn’t dare.  This is what makes him a truly outstanding writer.

I admit, in reading the premise of this novel I was skeptical. A novel within a novel? How could Westerfeld possibly pull it off?  Well, he did. He surpassed all of my expectations, quickly putting an end to my skepticism.

What makes Afterworlds such a profound read is that Westerfeld succeeds at creating a wholly successful novel within a novel.  Dual storylines are told in alternating chapters.  One would think this would be confusing but it’s not; they each flow quite well together but could easily be read as two stand-alone novels. The protagonist in each are given ample time to develop and grow, each evolving into completely different characters than they started out as.  I quickly became invested in Darcy’s life in the publishing world and her budding love life. The same was true for Lizzie and her understanding of her new powers.  Both were genuine, well-developed teen characters readers are certain to connect with.  They weren’t cookie cutter characters, each richly diverse in their own way.

Westerfeld has given his readers a great gift with Afterworlds.  With a novel at over 600 pages, many writers have the challenge of keeping readers engaged. That certainly wasn’t the case with this one; I devoured most of it in one day.  That is quite an accomplishment! Each story’s pacing is quite different, I think this is what lends to its readability. When one story’s pacing hits a plateau, the other one picks up, never making the reader feel like they are rushing through one just to get back to the other.

The only challenge I had with this novel how to classify the genre. Or perhaps that is one of the selling points; a novel that alludes any one genre, instead encapsulating many!

The ending alludes to a sequel, I certainly hope that is the case. I certainly haven’t had enough of Darcy and Lizzie; I anxiously await the opportunity to reunite with them!  Certain to be enjoyed by readers of all ages, from all different backgrounds, I highly, highly recommend this novel!

TSS: Week in Review: September 14, 2014

Fall is here! experiencing some pretty hot & humid weather, the past few days we’ve been gifted with cool, breezy weather. I kind of love it!

I love Fall for many reasons: changing color of leaves, cooler weather, wearing scarves and sweaters.  One of my favorite things, however, is the start of fall television series. The return of my favorite series, the start of new. I’m giddy with anticipation.  What are your favorite fall series?

 

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Topping my favorite thing about Fall, however, is Halloween.  The one time of year I can celebrate all thing spooktacular!  I will once again be hosting Murder, Monsters, & Mayhem.  I encourage you to sign up as well!

What are your favorite things about Fall?

 

In case you missed it, here’s what took place on the blog recently: