Reading 23 Books in a Month? (Update & Week 1 TBR)

So I have to read 23 books to meet my yearly GoodReads reading challenge goal of 100 books. This was originally 24 books but since my last post on this subject I finished another book. I am normally very good at reading constantly but this year I bought a house, adopted a cat and been very busy with work and socialising, so I haven’t been reading as much as I normally would. Apparently 2017 was the year I became stupidly popular. I am usually not that bothered about meeting reading challenge goals but my mum set me this target and I cant let her down.

So I have decided to write a To Read list every week this month to update you on my progress and how I plan to tackle such a high number of books in a month.

This week I will be reading:

The Lord of the Rings (All Three Books)

I hear you: “Spine Cracker, if you have 23 books to read why tackle something huge like Lord of the Rings?”

One word: Audiobooks. If I listen to books while I am working I can keep reading when I am not able to physically sit down and read. Realistically I should be able to listen to one of these a day…I hope. I managed the entirety of The Hobbit last week.

I have read these books before but I have been playing a lot of D&D lately and that has put me in a serious Tolkien mood. Right now I am at the start of the Fellowship of the Ring and they haven’t even left the Shire yet.

Graphic Novels:

Nightwing New 52 and Batman: No Man’s Land (volumes 3 & 4)

These are some graphic novels that I have been wanting to get to for a while, so much so that Nightwing appeared on the TBR for a challenge earlier in the year. Graphic novels are perfect for reading challenges because you can get through one in a single sitting. Both of these have been on my TBR shelf for a while so it will be great to see them finally read.

Also, who doesn’t love Batman?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I read this book EVERY December without fail! It is also perfect for this challenge because it isn’t very long.

In my mind it isn’t Christmas until I have read a Christmas Carol. It is an odd tradition I came up with for myself years ago. I absolutely love this book and if you haven’t read it yet you have to. It is the holiday season after all.

So my plan is to read 7 books this week. Do you think I can do it?

It doesn’t seem that difficult. I might even throw another book in if I feel like I have the time. I will let you know how it goes next week. I will run out of short books eventually and that is when things will get trickier.

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Reads of the Month: November

Can you believe it is December already??

I had a pretty good reading month in November. I read 6 books. Most of which are not relevant to this blog, but I will say this, if you haven’t read The Hobbit go do it.  I am having a bit of a Tolkien reread. Blame D&D.

So anyway, my top three picks for Dark Reads of the Month are…

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The Orient Express is stranded in the snow and a man is found stabbed to death in a bath tub onboard. Detective Poirot has until the snow clears to solve the case.

This is the first Agatha Christie book I have ever read, and even though I solved the case myself only a few chapters in I still enjoyed it. It was darker than I expected, with backstories involving a child murder and of course the dead body in the bath tub.

This is a bit of a stereotypical murder mystery but those stereotypes have to come from somewhere, and Christie started most of them. I am not sure if I will read more of her books but as a fan of detective stories this was very enjoyable. If you like crime novels this would be a perfect quick and fun read.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Heathers meets The Exorcist. Abby has noticed that her best friend is acting a little strange. She smells, is suddenly cruel and looks very sickly. Could her friend be possessed?

I absolutely LOVED this book. Set in the 1980s, My Best Friend’s Exorcism reads like your typical 80s teen movie with a side of horror thrown in. Even the chapter titles are the names of 80s songs.

This book also isn’t very scary so if you are easily scared maybe check out this horror novel. I will warn you though, it can be pretty gross in parts due to the whole exorcism thing. If you have seen a film with possession in it you will know what I am talking about. It also has sexual moments, animal cruelty and general 80s attitudes to things.

You can read my full review here. 

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang is 10 years old and a vampire. She lives with her parents in monster town (basically diet Halloween Town) and has regular adventures with her friends who are also monsters like her. One day a spoiled prince visits her parents’ house and takes her pet pumpkin, Squashie, from her. Amelia has to come up with a plan to get Squashie back.

It has been a long time since I read a children’s novel but I bought this book around Halloween and it had bright orange pages so it magically ended up in my shopping basket.

This was a pretty cute read. It was very simple and clearly meant for child readers. It wasn’t like other children novels that throw in references or cleverness for adult readers. It was a simple kids’ story about a little vampire and her pumpkin. It even had a pretty decent anti-racism and “don’t judge people who are different” subplot to it. The art work is adorable too because it is fully illustrated.

I might not pick up more Amelia Fang books for myself in the future but if I had kids I would happily give them this to read. Perfect reading for tiny people who are discovering books with chapters.

You can read my full review here 

What was the best book you read this month?

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

REVIEW: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Summary:

From GoodReads.com:

“Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?”

Review:

Heathers meets The Exorcist.

I have fallen in love with Grady Hendrix’s writing. Earlier this year I read his other novel, Horrorstor, and thought it was amazing so naturally I had to pick up his second novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Was it as good as Horrorstor? Yes! In fact it was even better.

The book had all of the charm of an 80s teen movie but with the edginess of a horror film thrown in. Even with the horror aspect this book wasn’t scary, it was just simply enjoyable. It was funny when the moment called for it, it was creepy in just the right places, and all of the characters felt so very familiar. I am starting to think that is a trend with Hendrix’s writing, if you don’t relate to the characters you will know someone like them in real life which makes his novels very realistic, even if it is a high school drama involving exorcism.

I think my favourite part of the story was the friendship between the two main characters. You really felt for Abby while she was desperately trying to save her friend. There is no main romance in the story, it simply focuses on friendship and the power of it. That is brilliant.

Also this was my first time seeing an exorcism in a book. I studied exorcisms in school (I went to an odd school) so it was interesting seeing a topic I knew about being played out in a novel. It was done really well and made for very fast paced reading.

This is the perfect novel for anyone who loves teen dramas, 80s movies and just wants a little touch of horror thrown in.

Warnings:

Attempted suicide, drug use, rape references (no act, just discussion), sexual references, animal cruelty, gore and crude moments. For YA Readers and Adults.

Rating:

 

 

         4 out of 5 Skulls

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.com. You are missing out if you haven’t read this book yet. If you are a fan of films like Heathers or The Breakfast Club this is the book for you.

If you have read My Best Friend’s Exorcism let me know what you thought of it or link me to your own review. I would love to read it. Or, if you haven’t read it, tell me your favourite song from the 80s. I want music suggestions. This book has put me in the mood for some 80s music.

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

Waiting for Wednesday: Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

Book Synopsis:

“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.”

Why I need it:

I was scrolling through the upcoming releases list for 2018 on the hunt to for something to look forward to and then the genre this was listed as caught my eye. “Goth YA Retelling”? What the hell is that? I’m goth and I have never heard of this genre in my life. So I looked into it and discovered that it is a retelling of one of my favourite novels: Frankenstein, with the usual sappy YA twist.

Even though I am not a fan of YA retellings I am looking forward to this book. Anything to do with Frankenstein will catch my interest. Also I used to work in a morgue so I find the main character’s career path interesting. She seems like a pretty cool character.

Also, what is the information Victor remembers? I must know.

Cadaver & Queen is scheduled for release on February 27th 2018 

Waiting for Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Break the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases, and continued by Wishful Endings

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

Can I Read 24 Books in a Month?

A Quick Reading Challenge Update:

So at the start of this year I decided to set myself a reading target of 100 books. My mother dared me to do it because I read 75 books last year easily. And the challenge hasn’t gone very well. It is now November and I have to read 24 books before the end of the year. And lets not forget, Christmas isn’t exactly the best time for reading. It is when everyone suddenly wants to socialise.

So, can I get 24 books read before the end of the year? I doubt it.

I decided to write a little post about this because I thought it would be fun to keep you all updated on my progress. Lets see if I can manage to read almost a book a day for the next month. It sounds impossible.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

 

5 Reasons Why I Love Horror Novels

This post was inspired by a comment from Beware of the Reader   on my 5 Reasons Why I Blog post last week. She isn’t a fan of horror but was interested in why I found it, not only enjoyable, but enjoyable enough to spend my time reading and reviewing horror novels. Yes, I also review thriller and generally dark novels but horror seems to be the marmite of book genres and the one I get asked about the most. People either love it or hate it, but I don’t think it is possible to hate an entire genre, there is always something for everyone.

So let me try to convince you by explaining why I love the horror genre.

1. Human Monsters

In my experience the best horror novels do not have an entirely supernatural villain. A human villain or a villain with human motives makes the novel relateable. It makes it scary. Human villains are the worst because they could actually exist, or in the case of many “based on a true story” novels like The Girl Next Door, they did actually exist. Ghosts, ghouls and all things creepy are brilliant but there is nothing scarier than a human monster.

2. The Atmosphere

Have you ever spent a cold, dark night with a storm rattling around outside reading a creepy book? No? Then you are missing out. I think as a reader you haven’t truly lived until you have read Frankenstein, Dracula, Poe or some other classic horror novel during a thunderstorm. It is even better if you do it by candle light.

So next time the weather is awful gather your blankets, pick up a classic horror novel, get a cup of tea, curl up and get reading. Also open the window a little so you can hear the storm better. It is one of the best reading experiences.

3. Something For Everyone

People tend to think of horror as a one track pony but that isn’t true at all.

Don’t like ghosts and supernatural things? Ok, find a horror novel based around regular people. Not comfortable with gore? Fine! Research your novel a bit to see if you can handle it or read a psychological horror. Easily scared? Easy! Read a YA horror or find a book about something that doesn’t scare you.

There are so many different ways to frighten someone so naturally the horror genre has a large variety of fears to choose from. I think a perfect example of this is the short story collection Dark Water. The entire collection is based around the theme of water and covers every possible fear with just water being featured somewhere in the story.

I plan to write guide someday to help people find the right horror novel with recommendations of course.

4. The Backstories

My favourite part of anything horror related is the backstory. What made all of the events happen? What horrible thing is the driving source behind the characters and the story? The explanation is always my favourite. There is usually a brilliant flashback or a plot twist thrown in. I love it and it keeps me hooked.

Also what I don’t understand is that I have seen so many people write “why I love YA/Fantasy/dystopian” lists and have a point on their list about loving the dark moments, and then on another post saying they hate horror. Clearly you don’t hate horror. You are just turning down an entire genre of that thing you just said you love. Maybe you just haven’t found the right book.

5. Morbid Curiosity

Have you ever read a story in the news that is tragic and terrible but find yourself wondering what exactly happened? Sure you will get the jist of it in the news but you just want the gory details. This is what drew me to the world of horror in the first place.

My introduction to the horror genre was when I watched the 1931 Frankenstein film as a small child. My grandfather made horror film props so the only thing to watch in his house was Hammer and Universal horror films. I don’t know how many of you have seen it but there is a scene in Frankenstein were the monster meets a little girl and they spend time throwing flowers into water and watching them float. They run out of flowers and the monster picks up the little girl and throws her into the water to see if she would float like the flowers. She drowns. This scene filled 5 year old me with so much curiosity, so much so that it stuck in my head forever. I learned two things: A little girl like me can die (something which had never occurred to me before) and the monster that did it wouldn’t understand what it did. The monster was innocent. I loved it so much that the following Halloween I dressed up as the Bride of Frankenstein.

I think when it comes to scary stories, especially those with characters similar to ourselves, we can relate so much we end up hooked. It makes us address our own mortality or our own humanity if we relate to the villain.

So these are my reasons for loving the horror genre. Tell me your favourite genre below or, if you are a fan of horror, tell me why you love it. Or heck, tell why you don’t like horror novels. I would love to read your reasons.

Q&A Questions? Hitting 300 Followers

This blog is very close to hitting 300 followers. We are not quite there yet, but thank you all for taking such an interest in my blog.  My wonderful followers and the book blogging community keep this place interesting.

I plan on celebrating hitting the 300 follower milestone by doing a little Q&A once the number hits 300.

So, send me your questions! Whether it be about books, blogging or anything else you think of, ask away. Either by commenting on this post or sending me them on Instagram (@belle_and_books).