August Bullet Journal Flip Through|| Disney Princesses

I came across some gorgeous Disney inspired line drawings and I thought they’d look really cool as a spread, so I decided to make them the theme for August. I know it’s super late, but I wanted to finish every month in my journal and this seemed like both a creative, yet relatively easy option. I know they aren’t all technically princesses, but I don’t really care about the semantics at this point.

So here’s my August bullet journal spread.

I omitted my monthly calendar because it was messy. This next spread was supposed to contain my Mood tracker but I didn’t fill it in, so it’s just Esmerelda and Ariel, but I think it looks really nice anyway. The next page has my habits and monthly goals, along with a drawing of Rapunzel.

The next spread has a line drawing of Wendy. I wish I’d moved her over toward the spine a bit more, but oh well.

Next up I’ve got my first weekly spread, featuring Cinderella and Aurora. They looked weird when I made them smaller so I just drew them to the size where they looked good. I wish they fit in the boxes, but alas. I decided to only ink the parts in the box, but I still left the pencil outlines anyway.

As always, this is the best weekly spread for drawing and creativity because there’s so much room. From left to right I’ve drawn Pocahontas, Tinkerbell, Megara, and Snow White.

I probably could’ve put a lot more characters in this spread, but they didn’t look right, so I chose to stick with Merida from Brave. It’s not my favourite movie, but I loved this line drawing.

Here we have Princess Jasmine and Belle for my final weekly spread. I didn’t bother photographing my haul and wrap up page because they were crammed full of writing.

I copied the designs from Kezzamin at DeviantArt, so be sure to check them out if here if you’re interested.

Books I’ve Read Recently|| Micro Reviews

#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

YA Thriller

⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Easy read
  • Not much in the way of suspense or surprise – I picked every single major plot point in advance
  • Quite gory – a lot of gratuitous violence
  • Thought-provoking themes – the intersection of justice and social media. The idea of retributive justice being consumed via social media. Capitalising on and commodifying the suffering of others. The toxicity and normalisation of bullying on social media. Government outsourcing.
  • Cookie cutter characters, but I didn’t mind very much – I sort of loved the whole Death Row Breakfast Club thing.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Thriller

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • This was an absolute page turner. I read it in a single evening.
  • The atmosphere was creepy, and I felt the suspense the entire time
  • The ending was a little anti-climactic, but I was satisfied enough
  • This probably only really deserves 3 -3.5 stars, but it’s one of the few books this year that have really kept my interest

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

YA Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

  • Writing was good – easy to read and paced nicely
  • Plot/Worldbuilding was inspired by a lot of different sources – it did feel a bit cobbled together to me, and my focus was more often drawn to identifying the inspiration, rather than just enjoying the story as an individual entity
  • Wished there had been a bit more focus on the sewing competition, not on the road trip to find the materials for the final dresses
  • Magic system had a lot of potential, but I found it hard to believe magical scissors could paint and bead and embroider material… but the part about magicians was interesting

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

YA Fantasy

⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Not what I was expecting at all – dark fairytales and the magic of stories
  • The pacing varied a lot – not much happened in the first half, and it really sped up near the end
  • Very easy to read, but pretty forgettable
  • My favourite parts were the dark fairytales of The Hinterland
  • Not a lot of character development
  • The world building of the Hazel Wood and the Hinterland was reminiscent of fairytales and Alice in Wonderland- kind of crazy, creepy and full of wonder

And Shall Machines Surrender by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Science Fiction

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I love the normalisation of all sorts of gender identities
    Liked the exploration of AI and autonomy
    The plot was fast paced and exciting – a mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of AI- human constructs
    I was genuinely surprised by the twists
    The almost-sex scenes were a bit confronting and definitely something you should be aware of if you are uncomfortable with BDSM, but they are very short (a page or two at most)

October Book Haul #3||Non- Fiction

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A Delusion Of Satan by Frances Hill

During the bleak winter of 1692 in the rigid Puritan community of Salem Village, Massachusetts, a group of young girls began experiencing violent fits, allegedly tormented by Satan and the witches who worshipped him. From the girls’ initial denouncing of an Indian slave, the accusations soon multiplied. In less than two years, nineteen men and women were hanged, one was pressed to death, and over a hundred others were imprisoned and impoverished.

This evenhanded and now-classic history illuminates the horrifying episode with visceral clarity, from the opportunistic Putnam clan, who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas and greed, to four-year-old “witch” Dorcas Good, who was chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. By placing the distant period of the Salem witch trials in the larger context of more contemporary eruptions of mass hysteria and intolerance, the author has created a work as thought-provoking as it is emotionally powerful.

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The Inheritor’s Powder: A Tale Of Arsenic, Murder, and the New Forensic Science by Sandra Hempel🎈

Non-Fiction

Available at any corner shop for little money and, because tasteless, difficult to detect in food or drink, arsenic was so frequently used by potential beneficiaries of wills in the first half of the nineteenth century that it was nicknamed “the inheritor’s powder.” But after wealthy George Bodle died under suspicious circumstances, leaving behind several heirs, the chemist James Marsh was brought in to see if he could create an accurate test pinpointing the presence of arsenic and put this Victorian scourge to rest.

Incisive and wryly entertaining, science writer Sandra Hempel brings to life a gripping story of domestic infighting, wayward police behavior, other true-crime poisonings, and an unforgettable foray into the origins of forensic science. She also solves this almost two-hundred year-old crime.

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Queen Anne: The Politics Of Passion by Anne Somerset

Her personal life riven by passion, illness and intrigue, Queen Anne presided over some of the most momentous events in British history. Like Antonia Fraser’s life of Marie Antoinette or Amanda Foreman’s ‘The Duchess’, ‘Queen Anne’ is historical biography at its best.

In 1702, fourteen years after she helped oust her father from his throne and deprived her newborn half-brother of his birthright, Queen Anne inherited the crowns of England and Scotland. Childless, despite seventeen pregnancies that had either ended in failure or produced heartrendingly short-lived offspring, in some respects she was a pitiable figure. But against all expectation she proved Britain’s most successful Stuart ruler.

Her reign was marked by many triumphs, including union with Scotland and glorious victories in war against France. Yet while her great general, the Duke of Marlborough, was performing feats of military genius, Anne’s relationship with his outspoken wife Sarah was becoming ever more rancorous. Political differences partly explained why the Queen’s earlier adoration for Sarah transformed to loathing, but the final rupture was precipitated by Sarah’s startling claim that it was the Queen’s lesbian infatuation with another lady-in-waiting, Abigail Masham, that had destroyed their friendship.

Having lost the will to continue an expensive war that the Marlboroughs and their political allies favoured, the Queen embarked upon a peace process that some condemned as a betrayal of the national interest. And, as it became clear that Anne did not have long to live, the nation became polarised by fears that she intended to bequeath her crown to her Catholic half brother, rather than the German Protestant cousin whom Parliament had designated her heir.

Drawing widely on unpublished sources, Anne Somerset vividly depicts the clashes of personality and party rivalries that aroused such strong feelings at the time. Traditionally depicted as a weak ruler dominated by female favourites and haunted by remorse at having deposed her father, Queen Anne emerges as a woman whose unshakeable commitment to duty enabled her to overcome private tragedy and painful disabilities, setting her kingdom on the path to greatness.

Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends by Catie Gilchrist

Murder, manslaughter, suicide, mishap – the very public business of determining death in colonial Sydney. Murder in colonial Sydney was a surprisingly rare occurrence, so when it did happen it caused a great sensation. People flocked to the scene of the crime, to the coroner’s court and to the criminal courts to catch a glimpse of the accused.

Most of us today rarely see a dead body. In nineteenth century Sydney, when health was precarious and workplaces and the busy city streets were often dangerous, witnessing a death was rather common. And any death that was sudden or suspicious would be investigated by the coroner.

Henry Shiell was the Sydney City Coroner from 1866 to 1889. In the course of his unusually long career he delved into the lives, loves, crimes, homes and workplaces of colonial Sydneysiders. He learnt of envies, infidelities, passions, and loyalties, and just how short, sad and violent some lives were. But his court was also, at times, instrumental in calling for new laws and regulations to make life safer.

Catie Gilchrist explores the nineteenth century city as a precarious place of bustling streets and rowdy hotels, harbourside wharves and dangerous industries. With few safety regulations, the colourful city was also a place of frequent inquests, silent morgues and solemn graveyards. This is the story of life and death in colonial Sydney.

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The Suitcase Baby by Tara Bretherton

SYDNEY, 1923: a suitcase washed up on a harbourside beach reveals its grisly contents – and from there, an extraordinary story unfolds.

True history that is both shocking and too real, this unforgettable tale moves at the pace of a great crime novel.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, 17 November 1923, a suitcase was found washed up on the shore of a small beach in the Sydney suburb of Mosman. What it contained – and why – would prove to be explosive.

The murdered baby in the suitcase was one of many dead infants who were turning up in the harbour, on trains and elsewhere. These innocent victims were a devastating symptom of the clash between public morality, private passion and unrelenting poverty in a fast-growing metropolis.

Police tracked down Sarah Boyd, the mother of the suitcase baby, and the complex story and subsequent murder trial of Sarah and her friend Jean Olliver became a media sensation. Sociologist Tanya Bretherton masterfully tells the engrossing and moving story of the crime that put Sarah and her baby at the centre of a social tragedy that still resonates through the decades.

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The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz

The riveting history of tuberculosis, the world’s most lethal disease, the two men whose lives it tragically intertwined, and the birth of medical science.

In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accountable for a third of all deaths. A diagnosis of TB—often called consumption—was a death sentence. Then, in a triumph of medical science, a German doctor named Robert Koch deployed an unprecedented scientific rigor to discover the bacteria that caused TB. Koch soon embarked on a remedy—a remedy that would be his undoing.

When Koch announced his cure for consumption, Arthur Conan Doyle, then a small-town doctor in England and sometime writer, went to Berlin to cover the event. Touring the ward of reportedly cured patients, he was horrified. Koch’s “remedy” was either sloppy science or outright fraud.

But to a world desperate for relief, Koch’s remedy wasn’t so easily dismissed. As Europe’s consumptives descended upon Berlin, Koch urgently tried to prove his case. Conan Doyle, meanwhile, returned to England determined to abandon medicine in favor of writing. In particular, he turned to a character inspired by the very scientific methods that Koch had formulated: Sherlock Holmes.

Capturing the moment when mystery and magic began to yield to science, The Remedy chronicles the stunning story of how the germ theory of disease became a true fact, how two men of ambition were emboldened to reach for something more, and how scientific discoveries evolve into social truths.

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The Medical Detective: John Snow, Cholera, and the Mystery Of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel

In 1831, an unknown, horrifying and deadly disease from Asia swept across Continental Europe, killing millions in its path and throwing the medical profession into confusion. Cholera is a killer with little respect for class or wealth. When it arrived in Britain, its repercussions rocked Victorian England – from the filthy lanes of the Sunderland quayside and the squalid streets of Soho, to the great centres of power: the Privy Council, Whitehall and the Royal Medical Colleges. One man – alone and unrecognized – uncovered the truth behind the pandemic and laid the foundations for the modern scientific investigation of today’s fatal plagues. John Snow was a reclusive doctor, without money or social position, who had the genius to look beyond the conventional wisdom of his day and work out that cholera was spread through drinking water. The book draws extensively on nineteenth-century medical, political and personal records in order to describe what is both an important breakthrough for medical science and also a dramatic story with a cast of colourful characters, from the heroic to the frighteningly incompetent. The book is also full of fascinating diversions into aspects of medical and social history, from Snow’s tending of Queen Victoria in childbirth, to the Dutch microbiologist Leeuwenhoek’s breeding of lice in his socks, and from Dickensian children’s farms to riotous nineteenth-century anaesthesia parties.

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City Of Light, City Of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief Of Paris by Holly Tucker

Appointed to conquer the ‘crime capital of the world’, the first police chief of Paris faces an epidemic of murder in the late 1600s. Assigned by Louis XIV, Nicolas de La Reynie begins by clearing the streets of filth, and installing lanterns throughout Paris, turning it into the City of Light.

The fearless La Reynie pursues criminals through the labyrinthine neighborhoods of the city. He unearths a tightly knit cabal of poisoners, witches, and renegade priests. As he exposes their unholy work, he soon learns that no one is safe from black magic – not even the Sun King. In a world where a royal glance can turn success into disgrace, the distance between the quietly back-stabbing world of the king’s court, and the criminal underground proves disturbingly short. Nobles settle scores by employing witches to craft poisons, and by hiring priests to perform dark rituals in Paris’ most illustrious churches and cathedrals.

As La Reynie continues his investigations, he is haunted by a single question: Could Louis’ mistresses be involved in such nefarious plots? The pragmatic, and principled, La Reynie must decide just how far he will go to protect his king.

From secret courtrooms to torture chambers, City of Light, City of Poison is a gripping true-crime tale of deception and murder. Based on thousands of pages of court transcripts, and La Reynie’s compulsive note-taking, as well as on letters and diaries, Tucker’s riveting narrative makes the fascinating, real-life characters breathe on the page.

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Christina, Queen of Sweden by Veronica Buckley

The groundbreaking biography of one of the most progressive, influential and entertaining women of the seventeenth century, Christina Alexandra, Queen of Sweden.

In 1654, to the astonishment and dismay of her court, Christina Alexandra announced her abdication in favour of her cousin, Charles. Instrumental in bringing the Thirty Years War to a close at the age of 22, Christina had become one of the most powerful monarchs in Europe. She had also become notorious for her extravagant lifestyle.

Leaving the narrow confines of her homeland behind her, Christina cut a remarkable path across Europe. She acted as mediator in the Franco-Spanish War and, in return for financial support, was received into the Roman Catholic Church despite the fierce condemnation of her protestant countrymen. Christina settled in Rome at the luxurious Palazzo Farnese where she established a lavish salon for Rome’s artists and intellectuals. More than once she was forced to leave Rome while one scandal or another died down; she was painted a lesbian, a prostitute and even a hermaphrodite. Her most impassioned affair was with a well-connected Cardinal. Later, when financial support from the Pope and the Spanish crown dried up, Christina began to court French favour, eventually even plotting with them to overthrow the Spanish at Naples, where she hoped to be installed as queen.

Despite her political vacillations and a lifelong refusal to restrain her appetites, Christina ended her days in Rome relatively free from disfavour and financial strife. At the express order of the Pope, she was buried, with full ceremony, in the walls of St Peter’s Basilica, one of only two women to be so honoured.

Reminiscent of Amanda Foreman’s Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life, Buckley combines a personal approach with a lively interest in the social and historical world of seventeenth-century Europe to bring this remarkable personality to life.

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The Doctor’s Wife is Dead: The True Story Of a Peculiar Marriage, a Suspicious Death, and the Murder Trial that Shocked Ireland by Andrew Tierney

A mysterious death in respectable society: a brilliant historical true crime story

In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor. So why was she buried in a pauper’s coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder?

Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley’s death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor’s Wife Is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man’s confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens of hold him to account. Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life. It is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama.

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Mr Briggs’ Hat: A Sensational Account Of Britain’s First Railway Murder by Kate Colquhoun

On 9 July 1864, after an evening with relatives, Thomas Briggs walked through Fenchurch Station and entered carriage 69 on the 9.45 Hackney-bound train. Little did he know that he was travelling into history …

A few minutes later, two bank clerks entered the compartment. As they sat down, one of them noticed blood pooled in the buttoned indentations of the cushions. Then he saw blood smeared all over the floor and windows of the carriage, and a bloody handprint on the door. Ladies in the adjacent carriage complained that their dresses had been stained by spurts of blood entering their window while the train was in motion.

But there was no sign of Thomas Briggs. The only things left in the carriage were his ivory-knobbed walking stick, his empty leather bag – and a hat that, stangely, did not belong to Mr Briggs …

So begins a breakneck-paced, fascinating Victorian true crime story – a story that obsessed the nation and changed rail travel for ever. With formidable narrative skill, Kate Colquhoun evokes the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian rail travel, and uncovers long-buried secrets from one of the most gripping murder investigation of that age.

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The Trial Of Tempel Anneke: Records Of a Witchcraft Trial in Brunswick, Germany, 1663 edited by Peter A. Morton, translated by Barbara Dahms

The Trial of Tempel Anneke examines documents from an early modern European witchcraft trial with the pedagogical goal of allowing students to interact directly with primary sources. A brief historiographical essay has been added, along with eleven civic records, including regulations about sorcery, Tempel Anneke’s marital agreement, and court salaries, which provide an even clearer picture of life in seventeenth-century Europe. Maps of Harxbüttel and the Holy Roman Empire and lists of key players enable easy reference.

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Hell’s Princess: The Mystery Of Belle Gunness, Butcher Of Men by Harold Schechter

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s Princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery—and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.

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The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth

A sweeping narrative history of a terrifying serial killer–America’s first–who stalked Austin, Texas in 1885

In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens’ panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.” And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.

With vivid historical detail and novelistic flair, Texas Monthlyjournalist Skip Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.

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Childhood and Death in Victorian England by Sarah Seaton

In this fascinating book, the reader is taken on a journey of real life accounts of Victorian children, how they lived, worked, played and ultimately died. Many of these stories have remained hidden for over 100 years. They are now unearthed to reveal the hardship and cruel conditions experienced by many youngsters, such as a traveling fair child, an apprentice at sea and a trapper. The lives of the children of prostitutes, servant girls, debutantes and married women all intermingle, unified by one common factor – death. Drawing on actual instances of Infanticide and baby farming the reader is taken into a world of unmarried mothers, whose shame at being pregnant drove them to carry out horrendous crimes yet walk free from court, without consequence. For others, they were not so lucky. The Victorian children in this publication lived in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. With the introduction of the New Poor Law in 1834 the future for some pauper children changed – but not for the better. Studies have also unearthed a religious sect known as the ‘Peculiar People’ and gives an insight into their beliefs. This book is not recommended for those easily offended as it does contain graphic descriptions of some child murders, although not intended to glorify the tragedies, they were necessary to inform the reader of the horrific extent that some killers went to. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the social history of the Victorian period.

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Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th Century New York by Stacy Horn

Today it is known as Roosevelt Island. In 1828, when New York City purchased this narrow, two-mile-long island in the East River, it was called Blackwell’s Island. There, over the next hundred years, the city would send its insane, indigent, sick, and criminal. Told through the gripping voices of Blackwell’s inhabitants, as well as the period’s city officials, reformers, and journalists (including the famous Nellie Bly), Stacy Horn has crafted a compelling and chilling narrative.

Damnation Island recreates what daily life was like on the island, what politics shaped it, and what constituted charity and therapy in the nineteenth century. Throughout the book, we return to the extraordinary Blackwell’s missionary Reverend French, champion of the forgotten, as he ministers to these inmates, battles the bureaucratic mazes of the Corrections Department and a corrupt City Hall, testifies at salacious trials, and in his diary wonders about man’s inhumanity to man.

For history fans, and for anyone interested in the ways we care for the least fortunate among us, Damnation Island is an eye-opening look at a closed and secretive world. With a tale that is exceedingly relevant today, Horn shows us how far we’ve come—and how much work still remains.

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The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice by Judith Mackrell

Commissioned in 1750, the Palazzo Venier was planned as a testimony to the power and wealth of a great Venetian family, but the fortunes of the Veniers waned during construction and the project was abandoned. Empty, unfinished, and decaying, the building was considered an eyesore until the early twentieth century, when it attracted and inspired three women at key moments in their lives: Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim. Their extraordinary, acclaimed story is now available in paperback.

Luisa Casati turned her home into an aesthete’s fantasy, where she hosted parties as extravagant and decadent as Renaissance court operas, spending small fortunes on her own costumes in her quest to become a “living work of art” and muse. Doris Castlerosse strove to make her mark in London and Venice during the glamorous interwar years, hosting film stars and royalty at glittering parties. In the postwar years, Peggy Guggenheim turned the Palazzo into a model of modernist simplicity that served as a home for her exquisite collection of modern art. Each vivid life story is accompanied by previously unseen materials from family archives, weaving an intricate history of these legendary art world eccentrics.

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Monster She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson

Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales, from Frankenstein to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond.

Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales.

Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.

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An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold

The page-turning biography of an Australian woman who refused to bend to the expectations of her husband and her time.

Julia Sorell was an original. A colonial belle from Tasmania, vivacious and warm-hearted, Julia’s marriage to Tom Arnold in 1850 propelled her into one of the most renowned families in England and into a circle that included Lewis Carroll and George Eliot. Her eldest daughter became a bestselling novelist, while her grandchildren included the writer Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, and the evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley.

With these family connections, Julia is a presence in many documented and famous lives, but she is a mostly silent presence. When extracted from her background of colonial life, extracted from the covers of marriage and family life, her story reveals an extraordinary woman, a paradox who defied convention as much as she embraced it.

What began as a marriage born of desire soon turned into a relationship riven by discord. Tom’s sudden decision to become a Catholic and Julia’s refusal to convert with him plunged their lives into a crisis wherein their great love for each other would be pitted against their profoundly different understandings of marriage and religion. It was a conflict that would play out over three decades in a time when science challenged religion, when industrialisation challenged agrarian forms, when democracy challenged aristocracy, when women began to challenge men. It was a conflict that would shape not only their own lives and that of their children, but also touch the lives of all those who came into contact with them.

Told with the pace, depth, and psychological richness of a great novel, An Unconventional Wife is a riveting biography that shines a shaft of light on a hidden but captivating life.

October Wrap Up

General

I didn’t read nearly as much as I planned to last month, but in my defence I had very good reasons. My family celebrated my Gran’s 80th Birthday (2 days in a row.) So there was a lot of cooking and shopping and cleaning and organising to do. I’m happy to say it went well. Three days later Gran had a stroke. Luckily it was only a small sensiromotor stroke. It means that, while she has weakness and changed sensation on the right side of her body, all of her memories and mental abilities are intact. As long as she doesn’t have another stroke, her general prognosis is good. I’ve been spending as much time with her as I can, so I haven’t been reading or blogging as much.

In other bookish related news, I’ve started using an app called Serial Reader to read classics. I’ve always lacked the motivation to read them unless I had to for school (back in the day.) I’ve found Serial Reader really useful because it sends me a new ~10 minutes ‘issue’ of the book I’m subscribed to every day. It makes the whole process a lot more manageable for me. There’s a free version, but it does have some restrictions related to saving books to read later.

I’ve also started a book club with my mom and cousin. Our first meeting is tomorrow, and we’ll be discussing Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey. I will report back next month and let you know how it goes.

As for blog related news, I’ve started expanding my reading repertoire, so I’ve decided to start a series of (hopefully) monthly posts titled Genre Exploration. I mostly read fantasy, so I’m looking forward to trying books that aren’t normally in my wheelhouse.

Books Read

Key: 💕 2019 Release 📚 Retelling

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave 📚💕 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

There was definitely a whole lot of atmosphere and tension. The plot and characters were great. And the writing is lovely. My only problem was the pacing. The ending was rushed and I felt a bit… deflated? If not for that this would have been a solid four stars.

Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery ⭐️⭐️

While there were moments in this book I genuinely enjoyed, I found it overwhelmingly boring most of the time. I wasn’t much of a fan of the twins, and I wished there were more interactions with previously established characters. *Cough* Gilbert.

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring💕📚 DNF 14%

This was a pretty divisive book in terms of ratings. I struggled with the writing, and I also didn’t enjoy the second POV (who I didn’t even realise was male). I did read the last 15% to find out what happened (something I rarely do.) I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I’m glad I didn’t force myself to continue reading.

Labyrinth lost by Zoraida Cordova 📚 DNF 36%

The writing was very easy to read, and the magic system seemed like it probably was going to be pretty good, but I just didn’t really care about the MC enough to continue.

The Suitcase Baby by Tanya Brethington ⭐️⭐️⭐️

An infant is found dead in a suitcase on a Sydney beach in the 1920s. I was interested. This was a part true crime, history, and sociology.

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was a decent book. It managed to keep the tension up for basically the entire book, but there were time’s I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read this in one night. I was completely addicted. It had the right amount of creep factor to keep me hooked, and I revelled in it.

What I Watched

Aquaman ⭐️

The Hunger Games ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Agatha Christie’s Marple (Season 1) ⭐️⭐️

X-Men: Dark Phoenix ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Blog Posts

2020 Releases I’m Already Excited For

Top 10 Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Blog Posts I Liked

All the *WARNINGS* @ The Orangutan Librarian

Why I Don’t Accept ARCs Anymore by Morgana @ Morgana’s Book Box

Morally Grey Characters in Books// Why do they make such interesting characters + book recommendations with such characters by Krisha @ Bookathon

October Book Haul #2|| General

Hello and welcome to my second book haul. These are just general fiction titles I’ve come across.

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The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Over five years in the writing, The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel.

In 70 C.E., nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.

The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets – about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Northern Iceland, 1829. A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover. A family forced to take her in. A priest tasked with absolving her.

But all is not as it seems, and time is running out: winter is coming, and with it the execution date. Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story.

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The Murder Of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, was found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she had regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The community was appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters, each of whom have a reason to want her dead. Harriet Monckton had at least three lovers and several people were suspected of her murder, including her close companion and fellow teacher, Miss Frances Williams. The scandal ripped through the community, the murderer was never found and for years the inhabitants of Bromley slept less soundly.

This rich, robust novel is full of suggestion and suspicion, with the innocent looking guilty and the guilty hiding behind their piety. It is also a novel that exposes the perilous position of unmarried women, the scandal of sex out of wedlock and the hypocrisy of upstanding, church-going folk.

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The Wendy by Erin Michelle Sky & Steven Brown

When the world doesn’t want
you to be who you are,
you must become more yourself
than you knew you could be.

London. 1789. More than anything in the world, Wendy Darling wants to be the captain of a ship, but women aren’t allowed in the Royal Navy. When she learns the Home Office is accepting a handful of women into its ranks, she jumps at the chance, joining the fight against the most formidable threat England has ever faced. Magic.

But the secret service isn’t exactly what she hoped. Accompanied by a reimagined cast of the original Peter Pan, Wendy soon discovers that her dreams are as far away as ever, that choosing sides isn’t as simple as she thought, and that the only man who isn’t blinded by her gender might be the worst friend anyone could ask for.

Anyone, that is, except Wendy Darling.

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The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

An exquisitely talented young British author makes her American debut with this rapturously acclaimed historical novel, set in late nineteenth-century England, about an intellectually minded young widow, a pious vicar, and a rumored mythical serpent that explores questions about science and religion, skepticism, and faith, independence and love.

When Cora Seaborne’s brilliant, domineering husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one. Wed at nineteen, this woman of exceptional intelligence and curiosity was ill-suited for the role of society wife. Seeking refuge in fresh air and open space in the wake of the funeral, Cora leaves London for a visit to coastal Essex, accompanied by her inquisitive and obsessive eleven-year old son, Francis, and the boy’s nanny, Martha, her fiercely protective friend.

While admiring the sites, Cora learns of an intriguing rumor that has arisen further up the estuary, of a fearsome creature said to roam the marshes claiming human lives. After nearly 300 years, the mythical Essex Serpent is said to have returned, taking the life of a young man on New Year’s Eve. A keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, Cora is immediately enthralled, and certain that what the local people think is a magical sea beast may be a previously undiscovered species. Eager to investigate, she is introduced to local vicar William Ransome. Will, too, is suspicious of the rumors. But unlike Cora, this man of faith is convinced the rumors are caused by moral panic, a flight from true belief.

These seeming opposites who agree on nothing soon find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart—an intense relationship that will change both of their lives in ways entirely unexpected.

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City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

You’ve got to be careful when you’re chasing a murderer through Bulikov, for the world is not as it should be in that city. When the gods were destroyed and all worship of them banned by the Polis, reality folded; now stairs lead to nowhere, alleyways have become portals to the past, and criminals disappear into thin air.

The murder of Dr Efrem Pangyui, the Polis diplomat researching the Continent’s past, has begun something and now whispers of an uprising flutter out from invisible corners. Only one woman may be willing to pursue the truth – but it is likely to cost her everything.

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

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Wicked Like Wildfire by Lana Popovic

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

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Bone China by Laura Purcell

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.

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The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

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Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

The house at the end of the lane burned down, and Rita Frost and her teenage ward, Bevan, were never seen again. The townspeople never learned what happened. Only Mae and her brother Rossa know the truth; they spent two summers with Rita and Bevan, two of the strangest summers of their lives… Because nothing in that house was as it seemed: a cat who was more than a cat, and a dark power called Sweet James that lurked behind the wallpaper, enthralling Bevan with whispers of neon magic and escape. And in the summer heat, Mae became equally as enthralled with Bevan. Desperately in the grips of first love, she’d give the other girl anything. A dangerous offer when all that Sweet James desired was a taste of new flesh…

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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers–and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is perhaps the crowning achievement of Shirley Jackson’s brilliant career: a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the dramatic struggle that ensues when an unexpected visitor interrupts their unusual way of life.

October Book Haul #1|| October Releases

I went a bit crazy again last month buying books. I always start with the best of intentions. Then I get stressed and away I go. This is the first of three hauls. Enjoy.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland

Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn’t listen …

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

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The Bodies in the Library by Marty Wingate

Hayley Burke’s fresh start as the curator of The First Edition Society’s library in Bath, England, is about to take a rotten turn in this charming new mystery series from USA Todaybestselling author Marty Wingate.

Hayley Burke has landed a dream job. She is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling’s former secretary.

Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley’s ideas to modernize The First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight–an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.

But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job.

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The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell … and Earth.

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Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb & E. Knight

Six bestselling and award-winning authors bring to life a breathtaking epic novel illuminating the hopes, desires, and destinies of princesses and peasants, harlots and wives, fanatics and philosophers—six unforgettable women whose paths cross during one of the most tumultuous and transformative events in history: the French Revolution.

Ribbons of Scarlet is a timely story of the power of women to start a revolution—and change the world.

In late eighteenth-century France, women do not have a place in politics. But as the tide of revolution rises, women from gilded salons to the streets of Paris decide otherwise—upending a world order that has long oppressed them.

Blue-blooded Sophie de Grouchy believes in democracy, education, and equal rights for women, and marries the only man in Paris who agrees. Emboldened to fight the injustices of King Louis XVI, Sophie aims to prove that an educated populace can govern itself–but one of her students, fruit-seller Louise Audu, is hungrier for bread and vengeance than learning. When the Bastille falls and Louise leads a women’s march to Versailles, the monarchy is forced to bend, but not without a fight. The king’s pious sister Princess Elisabeth takes a stand to defend her brother, spirit her family to safety, and restore the old order, even at the risk of her head.

But when fanatics use the newspapers to twist the revolution’s ideals into a new tyranny, even the women who toppled the monarchy are threatened by the guillotine. Putting her faith in the pen, brilliant political wife Manon Roland tries to write a way out of France’s blood-soaked Reign of Terror while pike-bearing Pauline Leon and steely Charlotte Corday embrace violence as the only way to save the nation. With justice corrupted by revenge, all the women must make impossible choices to survive–unless unlikely heroine and courtesan’s daughter Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe can sway the man who controls France’s fate: the fearsome Robespierre.

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Angel Mage by Garth Nix

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece – the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

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Hex Life: Wicked New Tales Of Witchery edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Brand-new stories of witches and witchcraft written by popular female fantasy authors, including Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon writing in their own bestselling universes!

These are tales of wickedness… stories of evil and cunning, written by today’s women you should fear. Includes tales from Kelley Armstong, Rachel Caine and Sherrilyn Kenyon, writing in their own bestselling universes.

Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery will take the classic tropes of tales of witchcraft and infuse them with fresh, feminist perspective and present-day concerns–even if they’re set in the past. These witches might be monstrous, or they might be heroes, depending on their own definitions. Even the kind hostess with the candy cottage thought of herself as the hero of her own story. After all, a woman’s gotta eat.

Bring out your dread.

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The Grace Year

The resistance starts here…

No one speaks of the grace year.
It’s forbidden.
We’re told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That’s why we’re banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we’re allowed to return to civilization.
But I don’t feel powerful.
I don’t feel magical.

Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness – and each other – for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry – if they’re lucky.

It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them – if they survive it…

The Grace Year is The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies – a page-turning feminist dystopia about a young woman trapped in an oppressive society, fighting to take control of her own life.

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The Family Upstairs

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

2020 Releases I’m Already Excited For

Yes, I know it’s only October, but I’m already super excited for 2020. There are some amazing books on the horizon, and I’m dying to read them. These are a few I’m already pumped for.

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The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

After a storm has killed off all the island’s men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, THE MERCIES is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

(No Cover Yet)

A Court Of Miracles by Kester Grant

A diverse fantasy reimagining of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book.

In the dark days following a failed French Revolution, in the violent jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, young cat-burglar Eponine (Nina) Thenardier goes head to head with merciless royalty, and the lords of the city’s criminal underworld to save the life of her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie).

Her vow will take her from the city’s dark underbelly, through a dawning revolution, to the very heart of the glittering court of Louis XVII, where she must make an impossible choice between guild, blood, betrayal and war.

For fans of the gritty criminal underworlds of Six Of Crows, The Lies Of Locke Lamora, fierce alternate histories like The Gilded Wolves, And I Darken …and anyone who knows that Eponine deserved so much more.

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Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire’s award-winning, bestselling Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down picks up the threads left dangling by Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones.

When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister–whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice–back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.

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The Silence Of Bones by June Hur

I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.

1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

Author of A BEAUTIFUL POISON and THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL Lydia Kang’s OPIUM AND ABSINTHE, centered on a wealthy young New York heiress battling a morphine addiction and confronting a series of vampire-like slayings, occurring just after the first publication of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, to Jodi Warshaw at Lake Union Publishing, in a two-book deal, for publication in June 2020, by Eric Myers at Myers Literary Management (world).

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Night Spinner by Addie Thorley

A must-read for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, transforming The Hunchback of Notre Dame into a powerful tundra-inspired epic.

Before the massacre at Nariin, Enebish was one of the greatest warriors in the Sky King’s Imperial Army: a rare and dangerous Night Spinner, blessed with the ability to control the threads of darkness. Now, she is known as Enebish the Destroyer―a monster and murderer, banished to a monastery for losing control of her power and annihilating a merchant caravan.

Guilt stricken and scarred, Enebish tries to be grateful for her sanctuary, until her adoptive sister, Imperial Army commander Ghoa, returns from the war front with a tantalizing offer. If Enebish can capture the notorious criminal, Temujin, whose band of rebels has been seizing army supply wagons, not only will her crimes be pardoned, she will be reinstated as a warrior.

Enebish eagerly accepts. But as she hunts Temujin across the tundra, she discovers the tides of war have shifted, and the supplies he’s stealing are the only thing keeping thousands of shepherds from starving. Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees.

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Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee

Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K.: A Love Storyis a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.

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Belle Revolte by Linsey Miller

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.

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The Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

In this gorgeous standalone companion to the critically acclaimed fantasy, The Boneless Mercies, April Tucholke spins a bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend that is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, and Laini Taylor.

On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister, Morgunn is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving Fremish wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls. Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known, and joins a shaven-skulled druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword.

On their travels, Torvi and her companions will encounter magical night wilds and mystical Drakes who trade in young men. They will sing rowdy Elshland ballads in a tree-town tavern, and find a mysterious black tower in an Endless Forest. They will fight alongside famous Vorseland archers and barter with Fremish wizards. They will feast with rogue Jade Fell children in a Skal Mountain cave, and seek the help of a Pig Witch. They will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death.

Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.

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Below by Alexandria Warwick

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

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18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold True Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics by Bruce Goldfarb

The extraordinary story of the Gilded Age Chicago heiress who revolutionized forensic death investigation. As the mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee is the reason why homicide detectives are a thing. She is responsible for the popularity of forensic science in television shows and pop culture. Long overlooked in the history books, this detailed and thoroughly researched biography will at long last tell the story of the life and contributions of this pioneering woman.

Girls of Paper and Fire|| Natasha Ngan (Mini Review)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

#1 of 3

Publication: November 2018

YA Fantasy

400 Pages

Synopsis

 

Girls of Paper and Fire was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. A sapphic Asian-inspired fantasy. Yes please!
To start with, I want to say the cover is absolutely gorgeous. The setting and the worldbuilding were fantastic. I really got a sense of where the characters were, and the world they inhabited. I thought the caste system of humans and demons was interesting, and well developed.
Sadly, I stopped reading at 65%. I felt that the extensive descriptions of the minutiae of every day life – the clothing, the buildings, the food etc. impeded the development of the characters, I was past the half way mark and I felt ambivalent at best about all of the characters. I didn’t care enough about them to care about how their story would end. There was also very little forward motion in terms of the plot.
I won’t go so far as to say this is a terrible book, it just wasn’t the book for me.

Top 10 Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week we are sharing book titles we think are extraordinary. I’m not sure if I’d describe all of these as extraordinary, but I’d certainly say that they’re intriguing. I also don’t necessarily like all these books, and I haven’t read half of them.

Anyway, here’s my list:

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#Spookathon TBR

October 14-20

Read a Thriller

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

YA Horror Mystery Thriller

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Read a book with red on the cover

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

YA Fantasy

A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Read a book with a spooky word in the Title

Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney 📚

YA Historical SFF

When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn’t have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she’ll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical–one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school–she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.

Only this Bio-mechanical isn’t like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings… and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein–a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death.. .and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out. Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie’s determined to succeed–even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire.

Read a book with a spooky setting: The Silent Companions

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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Historical gothic horror mystery

Some doors are locked for a reason …

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself …

 

Read something you wouldn’t normally read: Wakenhyrst

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Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Historical gothic horror mystery

“Something has been let loose…”

In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.

When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

Maud’s battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father’s past.

Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl’s longing to fly free by the bestselling author of Dark Matter and Thin Air. Wakenhyrst is an outstanding new piece of story-telling, a tale of mystery and imagination laced with terror. It is a masterwork in the modern gothic tradition that ranges from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Neil Gaiman and Sarah Perry.