Saturday, October 31, 2020

Books and movies for every Spooky mood

Happy Spooky Day, bookworms! This is the time of year when I love to make extra time for all things creepy, so today I wanted to share some favorite books and movies that are perfect for Halloween! Whether you're looking for creepy laughs, creature features, or something extra weird, there are books and movies here to fit whatever spooky mood you happen to find yourself in. 

I love a good slow burn, atmospheric horror story. Wilder Girls got some mixed reviews, but I loved how weird and atmospherically creepy it was. The Year of the Witching is another book that instantly transported me to another place where I felt a constant sense of wrongness. A Cure For Wellness sucked me in with its feelings of dread and ended up becoming one of my slow burn favorites!

My favorite movie genre of all time, there are also some pretty decent books in found footage or documentary style! Devolution is the newest book from the author of World War Z and was super tense and dread-inducing. Grave Encounters and Hell House LLC are two of the most underrated low budget found footage movies out there, in my opinion. I've watched both several times and they always freak me out!

Ghost stories are not my favorite kind of spooky story, but I've found some amazing ones over the years anyway. No ghosty list is complete without The Shining, of course. This book is one of the few King works I've really enjoyed and it's definitely terrifying. To absolutely no one's surprise, I found a way to include Crimson Peak on this list, which is one of my all-time favorites for a variety of reasons. And if you've made it all the way to 2020 without seeing The Sixth Sense, you need to stop what you're doing right now and go watch it!

I often feel that people as the monsters are so much worse than any of the supernatural variety, because they can actually happen. You is a story that most of us know from the TV series, but the book is equally terrifying. Don't Breathe took me totally off guard and had me glued to the edge of my seat, hoping that at least someone would be okay. Midsommar is in a class all it's own, but I will never not be disturbed by the people in the film and their actions. 

This kind of story is a horror classic - the terrifyingly possessed house or person. The Merciless is a book I have been raving about for years! I was as shocked as anyone to find a YA horror story that was actually pretty scary. Insidious, on the other hand, I absolutely expected to be terrifying and it was. Paranormal Activity is the only movie I've ever walked out of, but I've seen it many times since then and can testify that it's super scary until the very end! I'm sure we've all seen it by now though, right? 

No horror list is complete without monsters and no monster list is complete without Tremors. Seriously, the ONLY movie that absolutely needs to be on every single monster list ever. If you've never seen this masterpiece, why not? Sweetheart is definitely a hidden gem of a monster movie that's fairly new and deserves your attention. The Shuddering was one of the first books I read as a new blogger and it has lingered with me all these years. It is truly frightening! 

This is 100% my jam. I am always on the hunt for weird, mind-bending horror books and movies and luckily I've found some favorites over the years. A House at the Bottom of of a Lake is slow, but super weird and amazing. Pines will always be a favorite! It has a Shyamalan twist I did not see coming! The Endless and Coherence are two mind-bending horror movies that play with the time and Color Out of Space is an amazingly strange Lovecraftian horror. 

Another kind of monster, aliens are a horror genre all their own. The Last Astronaut was panic-inducing and claustrophobic with its alien spaceship setting. Cloverfield is one of my all-time favorite alien monster movies, also on the found footage list. Of course, Pitch Black had to be on this list because it's another masterpiece of modern cinema. I think Pitch Black was my first Vin Diesel film and teenage me was HERE for it!

What is your favorite kind of horror story?
What will you be reading or watching tonight?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

ARC Review: The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter

Title: The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning #2)
Author: Evan Winter
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 532
Add to Goodreads
Review for book 1
Amazon |

Tau and his Queen, desperate to delay the impending attack on the capital by the indigenous people of Xidda, craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the Queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the 'true' Queen of the Omehi.

If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne, and if she can reunite her people then the Omehi have a chance to survive the onslaught.

Earlier this month I finally picked up The Rage of Dragons and was utterly blown away by every aspect of the book. I was SO excited to get my hands on a copy of the ARC for The Fires of Vengeance that I dove in straight away and was unable to put yet another book in this series down.

The Fires of Vengeance picks up directly after the end of The Rage of Dragons, with Tau beginning his duties as Queen's Champion. Like in Rage, the action begins immediately and continues at a breakneck pace, which I absolutely loved. Tau's revenge is still a central focus of this book, but this time there is much more at play. There are threats to Tau and his Queen from all sides and he grows so much as a character as he takes up her cause as his own. 

In addition to Tau's continued character growth, I adored the side characters. Evan Winter does an incredible job making me care for everyone in this book, even making me fell sympathy for the bad guys. I loved, LOVED the relationship between Tau and Queen Tsiora as they learned to (awkwardly) navigate each other in their new roles. Oh, and if anything happens to Hadith and Uduak we riot.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this second book in this series is that it explores the mythology of the world even more. We learn more about the Cull, the Goddess, and much more about the demon world that Tau takes so much advantage of. There are more politics and more cultures explored, but I never felt lost or in over my head. 

Every time I pick up a second book, I'm terrified that it will suffer from the dreaded middle book syndrome (see: most YA fantasy second books), but this absolutely did not. Nothing felt like filler or overly drawn out. Everything that happened advanced the plot and the characters and I wasn't bored for a single second.

My only issue is that The Fires of Vengeance ended as soon as it did! I would have read another 500 pages of this without complaint. The worst part of reading an ARC is having to wait even longer for the next book in the series to be published. I definitely see myself doing a re-read of these during that time. This series is definitely on my favorites shelf!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Weekly Recap: 10/18 - 10/24



Hi, everyone! Things have been picking up here again. Seriously, HOW do I have so many appointments this year? In the middle of a pandemic?? I saw a new doctor last week and now I have referrals literally everywhere. The one I'm least excited about is because of something seen in my ear that she didn't like because of my family history of hearing loss and deafness. Oh, joy. Just what else can 2020 bring me? Y'all cross your fingers for me! 

In book news, Fraterfest progress slowed a bit. This week I only completed The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, which was amazing! I could have sworn that MC reviewed it on the blog years ago, but I suppose she didn't, so I'll have to do it! I do remember that she loved it as well. I can't wait to dive into this author's new book, The Devil and the Dark Water! Posting suffered this week because I'm the worst, but one day I hope I'll get my posting back to pre-COVID levels. I did receive my Illumicrate copy of Leigh Bardugo's Lives of Saints and it's so gorgeous!! I hope Fairyloot ships Shadow and Bone soon. 





I watched some spooky movies for Saturday Screen Time


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday Screen Time #43: Spooky season part one


Happy Saturday, everyone! It's almost Halloween! Since I haven't done one of these in a couple months, it seemed a good time to come back and update on my recent watches, both spooky and otherwise.  



Butterfly Kisses - This one was a blind watch. I spotted it on a found footage list on Reddit and decided to give it a shot. It's definitely a low budget film, but sometimes those are the best kinds of found footage. This one follows two students working on a film project with the intention of getting a local legend on camera. It's definitely effective at building dread, even if it isn't a perfect movie. I'll probably give this one another watch next Spooky Season! (3.5/5 stars)

The 5000 Fingers of Dr T - I spent TWO full days trying to figure out the title of this movie. All I could remember was that I watched it in the 90s and it was like Dr. Seuss on acid. I searched everywhere (and it wasn't on the Wikipedia page for Dr. Seuss.) I finally stumbled across a website called 366 Weird Movies and, after combing through it, finally found the name! I ordered a copy and made my husband watch it with me. It's definitely just as weird as I remember. I'm so sad that this movie didn't have a better reception, but I truly believe it was ahead of its time. This movie is probably the strangest I've ever seen, but I'm so glad I found it again! (4/5 stars)

Enola Holmes - Of course I had to watch Enola Holmes! I guess everyone else watched it for Henry Cavill, but it just looked like a good movie to me, and I'm happy to report that I did enjoy it. The story was cute and I really enjoyed meeting a new character in Sherlock's world. The themes were a bit too on the nose at times and the editing took awhile to get used to, but it was a lot of fun! (4/5 stars)

Spiral - Another spooky movie! Spiral is about a gay couple who moves into a small community and one of them starts to notice the neighbors being weird. This movie had me wondering if things were really as off as they seemed or if it was all in the MC's head. It was definitely creepy and had me on the edge of my seat! I also loved seeing Jay from Unreal in something else! (4/5 stars)

Love and Monsters - I had absolutely no idea what this movie was about, but it was playing at our local drive-in. It was a NEW movie playing at a THEATER! Of course, we had to go pay the $6 to see it while safely distanced in our car. As the first new movie I've seen on a big screen since February, I have to say it didn't disappoint. The story was strangely uplifting and the monster design was amazing! I've already preordered a copy to commemorate this occasion and I really hope this turns into a franchise. (4/5 stars)


The Houses October Built - Well, they can't all be winners. This was another on Reddit's found footage list and unfortunately it was a miss. While the concept was interesting, I was bored out of my mind. I didn't hate it, but I won't be watching it again. (1.5/5 stars)

Mulan (2020) - Ugh. I never would have watched this so soon if my husband wasn't dying to see a new movie. Trust me, it was not worth the rental price. For whatever reason, they made Mulan into a Chosen One with superpowers and chose an actress who has no emotion whatsoever. Bring back Mushu! (1/5 stars)

The Devil All the Time - Okay, okay. I know this is supposed to be "artsy" and "deep," but I just could not. I am HERE for weird, slow movies, but this one was just not great. I can appreciate the incredible acting, which is why I'm giving it such a high rating, but it was honestly a mess of a film. It was dark and cruel for no real reason and the scenes seemed spliced together with no real coherent story. It was also about an hour too long. This just was not the movie for me. (2.5/5 stars)

Alone - Oof. Again, I was victim to my husband's need to rent new movies when there aren't many good options. This was a zombie movie in which the main character is trapped in an apartment during the outbreak. Once he spots a girl in an apartment across the courtyard, he proceeds to make the dumbest possible decisions over and over and I cannot. (1.5/5 stars)


The Challenge: Invasion of the Champions - I forgot how much I love this show! This season was hard to watch at times as the champions invaded and dominated the rookies. I actually loved almost ever minute of it, but I'm taking a full star off for the really unfortunate final challenge. (4/5 stars)

The Vow - I watched an episode of a different show about NXIVM earlier this year, but I'm really glad it got a full series. This one follows a few individuals who left the cult and their journey as they attempted to bring it down. It's definitely fascinating, but I do wish there was a bit more focus on the inside workings of the cult. I believe there's another documentary series coming out on Starz that I'll probably watch soon! (4/5 stars)

Love Island - Infinitely better than this season of Big Brother, but still over the top and ridiculous, I did enjoy this season of Love Island. Some of the drama was too much, but the winners were amazing and perfect and it was a much-needed distraction from the garbage that is 2020. (4/5 stars)



What childhood movie do you still like?
Have you seen any new releases lately?
Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Weekly Recap: 10/11 - 10/17



Hi, everyone! It's Fraterfest time! If you guys don't know about this super spooky readathon (it's only as spooky as you want it to be though), you should definitely check it out. I have shocked myself by actually reading for this one. Even though I sign up for them, I usually suck at readathons. Hurray me! In other news, I made peanut butter cookies this week and accidentally ate almost all of them... At least peanut butter and eggs are healthy? Right? 


Nothing this week!




Wednesday book review of The Year of the Witching


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Book Review: The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Title: The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1)
Author: Evan Winter
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 544
Add to Goodreads
Review for book 2
Amazon |

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He's going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn't get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He'll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

I bought The Rage of Dragons earlier this year and patiently waited to find myself in the mood to read a 500+ page adult fantasy about a man obsessed with revenge. Alas, that mood has struck and I devoured this book and immediately preordered the next! It was THAT good.

The Rage of Dragons begins in Tau's small village (after a brief, dragon-filled prologue). We meet Tau and learn that he has no desire to fight in an army, that he has a plan to get out of it. Although this was only the beginning of the book, I sympathized with Tau immediately because of my own vaguely similar experiences.

I've seen a lot of criticism for Tau as an impulsive hothead, which he is, but his rage is understandable. His actions don't always make sense, but then I remember that he's a teenager who is grieving and I can forgive it. My favorite thing about this story is that, once the revenge plot begins, Tau isn't handed his power or strength - he works for it every step of the way. He's knocked down several pegs multiple times, but he always gets back up and tries harder.

The world building is another place where this book shines. I've never read a fantasy inspired by African cultures and it's rare to read one that's inspired by a pre-medieval world. This was a truly unique world and the magical system was so good! Admittedly, I was confused from time to time, trying to understand how the Guardians worked and how the Gifted used their power, but not enough to detract from my enjoyment.

Fair warning, this book is extremely violent and quite dark. The majority of it is combat training and actual combat, but I was enthralled from page one. Perhaps because of the almost constant action, this was one of the quicker adult fantasy books I've read. The writing definitely kept me hooked! I am counting down the days until book two arrives in my mailbox. If you're in the mood for an action-packed adult fantasy, pick this one up! 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Weekly Recap: 10/4 - 10/10



Hi, everyone! It's been a couple weeks since I've done a recap, but let's dive right in. I'll be including all the books I've received and read since then, so please don't judge me - it's like three week's worth, okay?? My husband and I have discovered that, although our Disney annual pass is worth a lot less these days, Epcot seems relatively safe. The crowds are very low and Disney is surprisingly serious about their mask and cleaning policies. I was definitely judging people for going out a couple months ago, but it seems to me that if everyone is wearing a mask, it has to be reasonably safe. Honestly, we just can't take not doing ANYTHING anymore. And so, we've taken to visiting Epcot once a week to literally just walk around. It's better than sitting on our couch. Judge away!

In my reading life I'm finding that I'm skewing more towards adult fantasy these days, which is a surprise. Not to say I'm not still reading YA because I totally am! Just that I'm reading more adult than I had before. I guess that's a good thing, considering I'm old. I recently finished The Rage of Dragons which was AMAZING! I can't wait to share my review of that one. Now I'm reading the first Mistborn book after one of my best bookish friends wouldn't shut up about it (I know that's YA). What other adult fantasies do I need to read?  






Wednesday book review of The Year of the Witching


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Book Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Title: The Year of the Witching
Author: Alexis Henderson
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Ace

Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads
Amazon |

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

Earlier this summer I read The Year of the Witching and immediately became obsessed! Imagine my dismay when I found this review sitting in my drafts! How will everyone know how incredible this book is if I don't yell about it? 

The Year of the Witching is what I'd hoped Agnes At the End of the World would be - a dark and terrifying cult fantasy with an incredible, feminist heroine and amazing world building. First of all, Immanuelle is a fascinating main character. Her backstory is heart-wrenching and she was highly relatable, but not in a Mary Sue kind of way. Simply put, I loved her. I also loved the Prophet's son, Ezra, and their unlikely relationship. The Prophet, by the way, it a truly disgusting and creepy villain. 

Speaking of creepy, the absolute best thing about this story is the atmosphere. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but this one certainly sets the mood. It's dark and tense and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The scares in this book are slow and unsettling and I could not get enough of it. The world building is so good, I felt like I was right in the middle of Bethel. 

There was truly nothing I didn't love about The Year of the Witching other than that it ended too soon. I'm really hoping for a sequel, but I can't wait to read whatever she writes next in any case. Alexis Henderson is definitely on my auto-buy list!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

2020 Retellings Challenge Third Quarter Update

Hi, bookworms! Welcome to the (very late) second quarter update and link-up of the 2020 Retellings Reading Challenge! I hope you've all made some great progress and read some amazing retellings so far this year! As a reminder, this challenge is still open to join! To get started, I'll share my progress for this quarter:



This quarter I read a bit less than I'd like in the way of retellings, but I really enjoyed what I did read! First was Midnight Sun, which I'm calling a retelling because it's literally Twilight retold. You can find my review here! Next was Into the Heartless Wood, a genderbent Beauty and the Beast retelling that was INCREDIBLE! Review will be posted closer to the release date but trust me, it was amazing.


In case you missed it, we also have a group on Goodreads where we discuss books we've been reading, share suggestions to fill bingo spaces, and do a group read each month. You can join the group HERE if you haven't already! Here's what we read in August and September:


Each month the group nominates a bingo topic to group read, then we nominate books based on that topic. Finally, we vote on which book to read and discuss throughout the month. For August, we voted to read The Guinevere Deception to fill the King Arthur retelling space. Cinderella Is Dead was our September read and filled the Own Voices retelling space. In October we are reading The Raven's Tale as our spooky month Edgar Allen Poe retelling!


Now it's your turn! Link up to your reviews for the challenge to get an extra entry in the year-end giveaway! As a reminder, you can also get extra entries for getting bingo or filling your bingo card completely. Do NOT share your quarterly updates in this link-up! This is for reviews only. Instead, share links to your updates in the comments!