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Weekly Reads: Week 43

**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**

Happy Halloween!

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It just doesn’t feel like Halloween until you’ve carved some pumpkins!

Last week I spent most of my free time reading short stories and graphic novels – there are so many terrifying reads to choose from, so of course I had to read them all! Check out all my favorite Halloween short reads here – there’s still time to fit a couple in!

Even with all my short reads, I still managed to finish Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West and start Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig – both were excellent picks! This week I’m still hoping to finish Mischling by Affinity Konar. I keep forgetting the book at home or finding it too serious for my reading mood, but it’s absolutely beautifully written.

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Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Orphaned and wondering the village alone, Bristal was taken in by a loving kitchen maid, but her mysterious past soon catches up to her as rumors of magical enchantments spread. With a knack for shape-shifting, she unexpectedly finds her place among the two remaining elicromancers, an immortal race bound by magic to protect and guide the human realms toward peace, but as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Barely sixteen and untrained, she’ll find herself caught between the two in an all-out supernatural war, forced to choose between a life of servitude and a life of unchecked power. Though her choice is clear, the consequences are not as simple. As they ready themselves for war, Bristal will protect the mortals as best she can, fostering a hidden princess, disguising herself as a soldier to lead a prince to battle, and masquerading as fairy godmother to a young lady in order to join two crowns. Combining elements from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan, Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a beautifully written debut that will satisfy your cravings for fairy tale endings.

“Magic is given to the wise and unwise alike, just like titles and crowns. You could no more say it’s only used for evil than you could say every king is corrupt.”

I was very hesitant to read Kingdom of Ash and Briars – another fairy tale retelling, really? Especially seeing it combined the most traditional of tales, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, with the Chinese legend of Mulan, I wasn’t sure it would work, but I was so wrong! Hannah West is a master story teller, seamlessly weaving elements from all three into an entirely unique story of magical wonder, female wit, and fairy tale love. Bristal is a character of heart, selfless to the core and always willing to do what’s right instead of what’s easy. She’s brilliantly smart, a tireless soldier, and not afraid to put her love aside to save the kingdom. During the course of the novel, Bristal fills all three of her roles simultaneously, jumping back and forth between the soon to be sleeping princess, the warrior prince, and her marital plans for the lost duchess – she has a lot going on! Even so, she can’t help falling for the prince, a brave soul similar to her own, but their relationship is only going to make her job more difficult. How will his father, the king, ever take her serious when she’s about to be married – she has to convince him to send troops before it’s too late! During the entire course of the novel, Bristal does her work in secret, shape-shifting into her various disguises and guiding the force of the realm in secret, all the while hearing vicious rumors of her abandonment of the city, leaving the mortals in peril of her former teacher. It’s what makes Bristal such an amazing role model for readers, to see her selflessness in such blatant adversity, to see her hope for a better future, and most of all to see her ability to love though surrounded by hatred, making Kingdom of Ash and Briars so much more than just another fantasy novel, but instead an entirely unique and inspiring story for readers of any age.

Rating: 5 Stars      Goodreads

What have you been reading lately?

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Links to Love

Seriously, where is the time going? I can’t believe the year is almost over!

That said, it’s been quite a month. From spooky reads to watching Stranger Things… it’s been a Halloweentastic month! This weekend we’ll be carving pumpkins and hopefully find a new show; although, I doubt we’ll find anything nearly as good. Any suggestions?

Hoosier Love

I miss Indiana dearly, especially around this time of year – if you’re looking for fall foliage there’s no better place. So, I couldn’t be more estactic to see my old campus voted the second most beautiful college campus in America! Go IU!

**Walking the campus, you might suddenly wonder if you stumbled into Hogwarts.**

Gilmore Girls!!!

They’re back!! And you can FINALLY watch the trailer!!!

Is Netflix going to get a little Stranger??

We just finished watching Season 1 of Stranger Things…and OMG. So many questions! What do you think happened to El?

All Those Leftovers…

This month I’ve been experimenting with different recipes, trying to figure out how to use all our leftover chicken – there are so many options! My current favorites are Cornbread Chicken Casserole (like a pot pie) and Sriracha Chicken Quesadillas.

What have you been loving lately?

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Weekly Reads: Week 42

**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**

Happy Wednesday, friends!

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Due to unexpected technical difficulties, I’ve had to delay my weekly reviews. Warning: Windows 10 updates might cause errors with your drivers, particularly the WIFI adaptor? Oh well, it’s a bummer that I haven’t had time to fix it yet, but still, last weekend/this week has been pretty great! From Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon to the beer festival to finally watching Stranger Things… it’s been one for the books!

Even though I only read for about 10 hours during the readathon, I amazingly finished 3 books! THREE! For a total of 864 pages!

This week I’ll be finishing Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West and starting Mischling by Affinity Konar. Plus, I finally have book two of the Lunar series on audiobook!

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning was already difficult when Kady broke up with her boyfriend Ezra, but now, as their illegal mining village and ENTIRE planet are being destroyed, it doesn’t look that significant. The year is 2575 and two megacorporations have just waged war, starting with the planet Karenzia. Told through a series of emails, schematics, military files, interviews, and other documents, Illuminae follows Kady and Ezra as they fight their way to an evacuating fleet with and enemy warship hot on the trail. But that’s the least of their problems. With thousands of extra hands aboard supplies are running low, a deadly plague is spreading ship to ship, and the fleet’s AI (artificial intelligence) has gone rogue! With worsening conditions and little information from the fleet’s captains, Kady hacks her way into the main database, but to find the truth she’ll need a little help from her ex, someone she swore she’d never speak to again. A thrilling ride, full of courage and hope, Illuminae is just the first installment of this jaw-dropping series.

“Ezra: And then I said it.
Interviewer: What did he say?
Kady Grant: He said, ‘You picked a hell of a day to dump me, Kades.'”

The novel opens to interviews with Kady and Ezra over their escape, but as much as the investigators want to learn about the attack, they learn much more about the teens’ relationship… in the most hilarious fashion. Kady is definitely a spit-fire, spider monkey, bad-ass human hybrid – everything she does, not only does she do it well, but with a flair entirely her own, unafraid to break the rules no matter how high the stakes. Ezra, on the other hand, toes the line. He’s not always happy with the decisions made, but he trusts the command to know what they’re doing, until Kady shows him otherwise. Together, they’re an unstoppable force. Full of angsty humor and classic teenage rebellion, Illuminae is also about love, honor and friendship, facing a world of danger to do what’s right. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two, Gemina – now available!

Rating: 5 Stars      Goodreads

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

In the dark of the night, seven minutes past midnight, Conor O’Malley’s nightmares take shape as a mysterious monster calls his name. With a father comforting a new family in America, a pesky grandmother who doesn’t understand, a bully who won’t stand down, and his mom undergoing cancer treatment, it’s no wonder Connor suffers from such vivid nightmares, but what about the berries left on the floors? The root growing from under it? The ancient being must be real, but to what end? What could it possibly have to gain asking so much of a boy so small? Surrounded by darkness and screams, Conor must learn to face his fears before it’s too late, no matter the odds.

“Who am I? the monster repeated, still roaring. I am the spine that the mountains hang upon! I am the tears that the rivers cry! I am the lungs that breathe the wind! I am the wolf that kills the stag, the hawk that kills the mouse, the spider that kills the fly! I am the stag, the mouse and the fly that are eaten! I am the snake of the world devouring its tail! I am everything untamed and untamable! It brought Conor up close to its eye. I am this wild earth, come for you, Conor O’Malley.

‘You look like a tree,’ Conor said.”

This book destroyed me! Be warned, if you’re going to read it, which you absolutely should, make sure to have a box of tissues at hand. A WHOLE box, you’re going to need it! Conor is a beautifully written character, so young and innocent, but filled with rage and hurt as he struggles to understand his mother’s illness. Why her? Why him? Everyone who’s ever had a parent diagnosed with cancer, or anyone who’s known ANYONE who’s been diagnosed, will understand the overwhelming anger that comes with understanding how little control we have in life, how the biggest battles are faced at home with the ones we love most. The monster itself is a wonderful concept, a monster of our own making in the most natural form of all, a tree. But not just any tree, the yew tree, an ancient, mysterious natural wonder of healing and warning. The monster’s lessons are full of wisdom, sharing important messages not shared often enough, of life’s triumphs and disappointments, how life’s hardships are never as simple as black or white, right or wrong, how two parties may both be in the wrong, and how only in a world in understanding and truthfulness can we thrive. A Monster Calls will tear you apart, but it will also build you back up – a truly beautiful message of love and hope in the wake of life’s worst lessons.

Rating: 5 stars     Goodreads

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Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Charlie’s had it rough the last few years. It’s been three years since his mother’s death, exactly how long it’s been since he’s had a decent night’s sleep. But ever since his dad remarried and they’ve moved into her creepy purple mansion, his nightmares have completely taken over, even slipping into the waking world! Is that even possible? Desperate to conquer his nightmares and save his younger brother from being eaten, he’ll have to face his worst fears before he’s trapped in his nightmares forever! A hilariously terrifying, middle grade-grade series by How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel and illustrated by Karl Kwasny.

“That’s how fear grows. When you keep it locked inside and never let it out, it starts to eat you alive.”

I’m a sucker for a great middle-grade novel, and Segel’s series definitely hits the mark! At the novel’s start, Charlie is like any other kid: happy, looking for adventure, loves his family… But when his mom’s sudden illness takes a turn for the worse, we start to see Charlie’s happiness replaced by anger, distrust, and resentment. It’s crushing to see a kid so altered and misunderstood – I just wanted to reach through the page to give him a hug! Charlie’s nightmares are no joke though. Deeply imaginative as they are creepy, Charlie’s threatened to be caged by witch, and eaten by a cat, but just as he thinks he’s trapped forever, Medusa’s son comes to the rescue! Nightmares! is a thrilling ride, but more than just a scary story, the novel shares important messages not seen often enough in children’s fiction.

Rating: 4 Stars      Goodreads

What have you read lately?

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Top Ten Horrific Short Stories

This week on Broke and the Bookish it’s all about Halloween! Pumpkin carving, costumes, candy, spooky movies and décor… what’s not to love? Even though I rarely dress up for Halloween anymore, it’s still one of my favorite holidays, and this year is no exception. I’ve already read most of my Spooktober TBR, leaving me plenty room to fit in my favorite short stories! Everyone knows the classics of course: Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe… the list goes on and on.  All less than 200 pages, you’ll have no excuse to get a little spooked this Halloween season.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Most everyone is familiar with Jackson’s more notable work, The Lottery, but the author’s also known for one of the best literary ghost stories published in the 20th century. Dr. Montague has invited several strangers to take part in an extraordinary study of Hill House, known for mysterious disappearances and terrifying poltergeists. Together, they seclude themselves within the home, desperate to prove the sightings true, but unbeknownst to them the house is gathering it’s strength and soon it will choose on of them for its own. Read Here

The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

A heeding tale of technology, the Hadley family live a life of extraordinary luxury in a state of the art automated home known as “The Happylife Home.” From dishes to cooking to even getting dressed and brushing their teeth, everything is done for them. The two children, Peter and Wendy, are especially thrilled by the nursery, a virtual reality room that telepathically connects the children to produce any place they imagine, used in secret by the parents to check the psychological well-being of the children. But the children are selfish and spoiled, perplexingly obsessed with an African safari – complete with lions in the distance, feasting on an unseen carcass and surrounded by strangely familiar screams… Read Here

The Signal Man by Charles Dickens

A classic, gloomy paranormal tale from the master story teller himself, Charles Dickens. In the quick of the night, a lonely railway signal-man finds himself haunted, plagued by a mysterious presence who wishes for trouble. Three times the specter appears, and three times tragedy befalls the signal-man. Read Here

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Walking the fringes of fraud as a palm reader and psychic, a canny young woman and keen observer of human behavior, eagerly takes advantage of Susan Burke from the minute she steps into her shop. A beautiful, rich, and unhappy woman, Susan is the perfect client, complete with a haunted Victorian mansion in need of cleansing and a secret ready to be dispelled.

Royal Jelly by Roald Dahl

A chilling tale of desperation and the throes of human nature. After patiently waiting years and years to conceive, a couple finds their treasured bundle in danger. Their precious child won’t feed, and even worse the doctors find nothing wrong with it besides the fact the baby is losing weight, and quickly at that. Desperate to save their child, the couple hits on a disturbing solution… Read Here

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

A Gothic novella published in 1872, Carmilla is highly noted as one of the influencing works for Bram Stoker’s infamous Dracula. Narrated by a young woman preyed upon by a female vampire named Carmilla, she’ll soon discover her long lost “family friend” is none other than the mysterious (and deadly) Countess Karnstein. Read Here

The Hanging Stranger by Philip K. Dick

An early work of Philip K. Dick, The Hanging Stranger tells the story of TV repairman Ed Loyce. Having spent the day working on the family home, he sets out in the late afternoon to check on the repair shop, but instead finds a chilling scene: a mysterious stranger hanging, dead, in the park, but even worse, no one seems to find it strange… Read Here

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Inspiration to Hitchcock’s acclaimed film, The Birds, the story follows the disturbing assault on a community by countless flocks of birds. A kamikaze attack few will survive. Read Here

The Feather Pillow by Horacio Quiroga

A fantastic short story I read in college, The Feather Pillow describes the horrific events surrounding a newlywed couple. Soon after their marriage, the woman falls ill, first feeling a stab of weakness followed by hallucinations, but no cause can be found for her mysterious ailment… until her death in five days’ time. An unforgettable study on human relationships and the boundaries set by gender roles. Read Here

The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards

James Murray has made a grave mistake, out in the dead of winter hunting with a snow storm on the horizon. All too quickly the countryside grows dark and the snow falls harder, but just as he’s decidedly lost without hope, James meets a mysterious stranger who directs him to the midnight mail coach. A classic Victorian ghost story you won’t want to miss. Read Here

How are you celebrating Halloween?

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: Midday Check-In

9 hours down – almost half way there and 2 books down!

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It’s the perfect day for patio reading (and for a beer fest!)

So far, this has been a great readathon. Knowing that I’d be taking an extended break for the beer fest gave me more freedom than anything. With such limited time, the pressure’s off to participate in every single mini challenge and just read! That said, my favorite part of every readathon is seeing everyone out on Instagram and Twitter – everyone looks to be having a great readathon! What’s been your favorite part of the day?

I’ll be leaving soon, but I’ve already managed to finish two books today! Both were relatively fast reads: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. Both were enthralling, all-consuming emotional reads for me, A Monster Calls more for Conor’s heart wrenching story and The Dead House for the mystery.

Now I’m back to Vassa in the Night. I started reading Vassa several weeks ago and have struggled with it ever since. Today’s the day I finish it though!

What are you reading?

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: Opening Survey

Good morning, readers! Starting my day off bright and early today and ready to read! First read of the day is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I’ve heard amazing things from all of you, and I can’t wait to start!

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Opening Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I’m joining you from Houston, Texas.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. Her book The Trees Crept In was absolutely terrifying so I’m pretty excited for this one!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Chicken sriracha quesadillas. Yum!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m totally addicted to Hallmark movies! I’ll definitely have some going in the background today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

Relax! I can’t wait to read and just enjoy a day doing what I love!

Happy Reading!

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Making the Most of Your Readathon

Happy Friday! Only one more day until Dewey’s Readathon!

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Not only is tomorrow the readathon, but I’ll be going to my favorite beer fest too! A perfect day, if you ask me. Luckily my start time is bright and early at 7 AM and the event doesn’t start until late afternoon, giving me plenty of time to read with a perfectly timed dinner break.

I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to read the full 24 hours (or attempt to), but I’ll still be reading most of the day. And besides, the whole point of the readathon is to celebrate our favorite hobby and connect with other readers, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing!

I first participated in a Dewey’s Readathon in April, but even with one under my belt, I’ve learned a few things about the process. Firstly, don’t take it too seriously! If you want to spend more time connecting with readers and blogging, do that, or if you just want to read, that’s ok too. There are no rules – it’s your readathon, so make it your own!

Tonight, I’ll be spending a little extra time browsing participating blogs and posting on the Goodreads Group. I’ll be posting on Instagram and Twitter, as well as the blog, throughout the day, so I might go ahead and outline a few posts to save time and line up my Instagram props to have at the ready.

This time, since we’re so close to Halloween, I decided on a Spooktober reading list. I LOVE themed reading lists – they make reading more exciting and more challenging. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a horror novel, but of course now I’m totally obsessed! So it’s not too surprising that I’ve already read a few from my Readathon TBR…

More importantly though, what will you be eating!? Last readathon I went a little crazy and ended up spending a few hours in the kitchen, chopping veggies and listening to an audiobook. This year, since I have such limited time, I pre made Sriracha Chicken Quesadillas last night. Yum!

Happy Reading!