Ain’t No HollerBACKLIST

Ain’t No HollerBACKLIST

“Why should [new releases] get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about [new releases]? Hm? [backlist books are] just as cute as [new releases]. [Backlist books are] just as smart as [new releases]. (starts talking quickly) People totally like [backlist] just as much as they like [new releases]. And when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that’s not what [bookstagram] is about. We should totally just STAB [new releases]!” – Gretchen Weiners, Mean Girls

Can you tell I am feeling goofy today?

Anyway… let’s talk about some of my favorite backlist titles, friends. 😉

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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Love the idea of a cranky but lovable bookstore owner with a story that will warm your heart? This book is a sip of hot chocolate on a cold day.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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Fantasy at its finest and most unique, this book is the first in a beloved fantasy series that is a huge favorite among bookworms everywhere!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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The fact that Reese Witherspoon is starring in an upcoming adaptation of this book MAY have something to do with the fact that it is at the top of my mind for this list! Family drama that transcends the idea of the “perfect American family” and kicks your heartstrings is in store for you in this read, so buckle up!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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If you are a fan of historical fiction (or even if you aren’t), you NEED to read this book. As a lot of historical fiction novels do, this book takes place during WW2, but the characters (two sisters who are polar opposites) and their coming together and falling apart kept me hooked and wanting to keep exploring.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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With so much constant hype surrounding the TV show, it’s hard to believe that the books the show is based on first hit shelves almost 30 years ago (the first book, Outlander, was published in 1991). Heed this warning, though: If you easily fall in love with hot Scottish gentleman, you WILL become obsessed with Jamie Fraser.

Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

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This book is overlooked FAR too much despite is beautiful prose and heartwarming premise. I highly recommend this book to those who love books about love, but are also not afraid to cry a little (lot) while they read.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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If you’re looking for a story that will unsettle you and creep you the hell out, I highly recommend you give this book a try.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

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The Bill Hodges trilogy’s gripping and stomach-hurt inducing genesis is one of my favorite books I have ever read. This book isn’t King’s typical “straight up scary horror” type of novel, but it will give you the creeps. Also, if you have been loving the new show The Outsider on HBO, this series is the “prequel” to the novel that The Outsider is based on! You’ll even recognize some familiar characters from the show in this series. If you like thrillers/mysteries/books that make you cringe, pick this book as your next read!

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

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Easily one of my favorite romance novels of all time, this book brings the best of the best when it comes to “teen love gone awry to second chance at love as adults.” I LOVE stories that have “second chance romance” vibes to them so much. Something about the idea of the power of love defying the odds is so cozy and inspiring to me. Love love love this book!

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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If you ask me what my favorite book of all time is, I may just end up telling you it’s this one. I credit this book for helping me to fall deeply in love with high fantasy, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Yes, it is longggggg, but TRUST me when I tell you that the journey is so so so SO worth it.

 

As an avid backlist reader, I know there are other favorites I am missing, but I hope that these add just a few more titles to your TBR (which I am SO sure you needed lol…).

What are your favorite backlist titles? Do you try to prioritize reading backlist books or do you mostly stick to new releases?

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

After almost a decade after the release of The Night Circus, The Starless Sea, released in early November of this year, was an incredibly highly-anticipated new novel from Erin Morgenstern.

All over Instagram, Goodreads, and anywhere books are talked about, The Starless Sea has been getting rave reviews from people who have been relentless evangelicals for this novel. Because of this hype, I wanted to offer my thoughts in a more in-depth, but spoiler free, review from my perspective.

What I Liked About the Novel:

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading The Starless Sea. It’s incredibly reminiscent of the dreamlike atmosphere Morgenstern created in The Night Circus and kept me guessing, entertained, and captivated by its whimsy.

One thing that I kept comparing this story to, which is not a negative thing, is Alice and Wonderland. The idea that someone falls down a “rabbit hole” of sorts and experiences otherworldly things that they have to figure out along the way is not a “new idea,” but Morgenstern’s execution of this trope was unique. While the setup was familiar, nothing else about the story was. I really loved the setting of this novel which was so book-focused and centered on literature. Despite the high level of adventure, there was comfort and a sense of “home” that made you desperate to visit the underground library/world in which it takes place.

In addition to the overall richness of the story, I was constantly highlighting quotes throughout the entire novel. There were so many hard-hitting (in a good way) nuggets of beautiful prose that resonated with me so fully. Here are a few of my favorites:

“”You’re not wearing shoes.” “I hate shoes.” “Hate is a strong emotion for footwear,” Zachary observes. “Most of my emotions are strong,” Dorian responds.”

“We’re here to wander through other people’s stories, searching for our own. To seeking,” Dorian says, tilting the bottle toward Zachary.”

“No, each one’s different. They have similar elements, though. All stories do, no matter what form they take. Something was, and then something changed. Change is what a story is, after all.”

 

What Did Not Work for Me About the Novel:

The characters in this book are, in my opinion, definitely not the main focus of this story. You hear their stories, follow their perspectives, but the world building of the story and the “once upon a time” setup leaves little room for “who are these characters” and “what motivates them.” While this is something that a lot of readers don’t mind, I find that, especially with fantasy novels, I need to have more character development to be able to really connect with the fantastic themes. Even character physical descriptions would have been nice just to be able to picture them in your mind. Some authors leave out descriptions on purpose so the reader can form them in their minds, so maybe that was a purposeful omission, but I would have liked even small hints.

While I enjoyed the interwoven stories from the magical books featured within the worlds of this story, I felt distracted by the fact that I was required to remember themes, characters, and storylines I was told hundreds of pages ago to be able to connect them to things that were currently happening in the main plot. If you did not remember the importance or finer details of those side stories, you would miss them and quickly become lost. Because I read the book so slowly over a few weeks, I think I shot myself in the foot in this regard. I should have taken notes or added bookmarks with markers of those side stories so I could revisit them when the context popped up later on, but I didn’t and found myself having to flip back and forth for reminders. This hurt my understanding especially when characters in the “now plot” ended up being one or two different characters with one or two different connections in the “side story plots.”

The last thing I felt could have been better executed in this book were the romantic themes. Because this is intended to be a spoiler-free review, I won’t mention whose romance arc I wasn’t convinced of, but for those who have read it, as a hint, it is the romance of those who travel into a wardrobe together (amidst Narnia jokes) and attend a ball. I really wish there would have been a more natural progression of the romance between them so we could see it flower and feel more connected to their love as an observer.

 

Overall Thoughts:

As I mentioned, I did enjoy this story. I do think I could have been a better reader of this book and I feel my slow reading and lack of attentiveness may have contributed to my enjoying it maybe a bit less than others.

For those who like star ratings, I give this novel a  3.5/5 stars with a caveat that “it’s not you… it’s me, The Starless Sea.”

 

 

 

My Absolute Favorite Bookish Things

My Absolute Favorite Bookish Things

The thing about being a hardcore bookworm is that, somewhere in the midst of constant Google searches and talking for hours to your bookish friends, you find a plethora of bookish resources and tools that help you be the #bookwormgoals of your dreams!

Thankfully, my 2+ years book blogging has meant that I have had ample time to discover the best of the best bookish resources. From apps, to podcasts, to email newsletters, I am constantly surrounded by bookish content, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I wanted to share with you some of my very favorite resources for finding new books, new recommendations, or just enjoying some bookish content. Once you take a look at my favorite picks, let me know if you have any recommendations I should add to my list!

The Best Book Podcasts You Should Listen To

All the Books by Book Riot
All The Books
LISTEN HERE>

If you are looking for a podcast to listen to that will keep you in the know of new book releases happening each week, All the Books should be your go to. Liberty Hardy (aka who I want to be when I grow up) is one of the hosts of this stellar podcast and I always trust her commentary and reviews on books of all genres. I also particularly love Liberty’s All the Backlist episodes where she talks about her favorite backlist titles, usually following a particular theme. It also helps that she opens each episode with “I’m little in the middle, but I’ve got much backlist.” I never fail to smile at that one.

He Read She Read Podcast
HRSR
LISTEN HERE>

I may be a liiiiittle biased here in listing the He Read She Read podcast, I will admit that upfront. This podcast is SOOO much fun and is hosted by a sweet friend of mine, Chelsey, and her husband Curtis. What I love about this podcast is that Chelsey and Curtis bring their relationship, and marriage as a whole, into the forefront of a lot of their discussions. As someone who is also married to a bookworm, I love listening to Chelsey and Curtis chat about books and using what they’re talking about as conversation starters for me and my husband. I also love that my reading tastes are a good blend of both Chelsey’s AND Curtis’ picks. Chelsey, if you’re reading this, I love your love for historical romance and fantasy, meaning you probably would accept my love of Outlander with open arms! Curtis, if you’re reading this, I see your love for Patrick Rothfuss and I would gladly buy you a drink at the Eolian if I could!

What Should I Read Next?

LISTEN HERE>

I think I would be messing up BIG time if I didn’t mention “What Should I Read Next?” in this list. Anne Bogel is a literary legend/superstar and many book bloggers look to her as the pioneer of bookish content online. What I like about Anne’s podcast is that she frequently introduces topics that are outside of the norm of what we tend to see on other podcasts. You can tell that Anne works really hard on creating content that will entice people to listen and think about their bookish lives in a whole new way. I also really enjoy that Anne features TONS of different special guests on her show. It’s always refreshing to hear so many different perspectives!

The Stacks Podcast

LISTEN HERE>

The Stacks Podcast’s “About” page on their website describes why I love this podcast better than I probably could on my own: “Listening to The Stacks is like a smart, bookish brunch with the literary pals you’ve been waiting for.” This podcast completely transports me into intelligent book chat that always leaves me feeling full of questions and self reflection. Traci, the podcast host, is, in my opinion, one of the most well-spoken, well read, and intentional podcasters in the game. What I appreciate about Traci, in addition to the aforementioned, is her fierce dedication to reading, promoting, and discussing diverse literature and having conversations that don’t shy away from addressing societal bullshit like racism, sexism, and homophobia. My favorite recent episode of Traci’s is her episode featuring another dear friend of mine, Allison from @allisonreadsdc. Make sure you check it out!

 

The Best Book Newsletters You Should Subscribe To

Book Riot

BOOK RIOT

Book Riot is the BOSS of the newsletter world. What I love about Book Riot newsletters is that, no matter what genre you are into or what kind of content you are looking for, Book Riot has a newsletter for you. I personally enjoy their Science Fiction and Fantasy newsletter!

Check out the newsletter picks here>

Girls Night In

Girls Night In

While this newsletter isn’t ONLY about books, it’s deeply centered on the idea that reading great books can be an integral part of your self care routine. If you are looking for a female-focused, empowering weekly newsletter that asks you to take a step back and take care of yourself, this newsletter might be a good fit for your inbox!

Check out the newsletter here>

Literary Hub

Literary Hub

The Literary Hub is one of THE most conclusive book blogs and newsletters I have ever seen. Truly. If you are looking for an article about books OR are not even really sure what you are looking for, Literary Hub has it. Reviews, comparison posts, author interviews, staff picks, listicles as far as the eye can see, and etc etc etc etc. Trust me. you will find what you never knew you needed!

Check out the newsletter here> 

 

The Best Bookish Merchandise Stores You Should Buy From

Melvis Makes

Melvis Makes

There are a LOT of book sleeve makers out there nowadays, but I stand by the fact that Melanie of Melvis Makes sews THE most high quality book sleeves (or, Book Buddy as she calls them) I have ever purchased in my life. I also love that she adds unique elements to her sleeves including front pockets, snaps, and, more recently, a strap so you can wear your book sleeve like a cute little purse! My most recent Book Buddy purchase from Melanie was this PHENOMENALLY cute Wizard of Oz booksleeve!

Check out the shop here>

Ink & Wonder Woodmarks

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There is something SO cool about the idea of a wooden bookmark (aka “woodmark”) to keep your spot in your current read. Ink & Wonder Designs has SUCH cool options to choose from including designs based on some bookstagram faves! I love their Game of Thrones woodmarks SO much. Crap… now I feel like I need to go look and see what’s new lol. They also sell a few different other types of products, so feel free to take a peek!

Check out the shop here>

Out of Print

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I am sure that about 90% of you have already heard of Out of Print, but hey, I can’t not mention them here. I LOVE Out of Print and have quite a few different products from them. I am not really sure what they make their sweaters out of, but it’s the SOFTEST fuzziest coziest material EVER. Love. Big love.

Check out the shop here>

Frostbeard Studio

Frost Beard

Have you ever wanted to take a big freaking whiff of what your favorite book might smell like? Or even the very IDEA of a bookish concept such as “Sherlock’s Study” or “Beach & Books”? Then Frostbeard Studio may have what you are looking for! This is also a great idea for anyone who is looking for a holiday gift idea for their favorite bookworm.

Check out the shop here>
Well, those are a few of my favorite (bookish) things! I hope I listed something new to you that maybe you’ll get just as excited about as I have been. Like I said above, if you have any recommendations that I should add to my list, please let me know and I will check it out! 🙂

Happy reading, bookworms!!

 

*Note: All company logos are the property of the accompanied website/podcast/etc. owner which I found on their respective websites. Please do not distribute these images in any way without crediting the owner.*

Coping with Bookstagram Frustration

Coping with Bookstagram Frustration

I’m writing this post at a time when my frustration is fresh. In fact, I’m frustrated right now. My engagement over the last two weeks on bookstagram has been incredibly low compared to what it normally is. I’ve tried posting popular books, unpopular books, staged photos, casual photos, indoor photos, outdoor photos… and nothing has performed in my favor. My follower growth has also all but become stagnant and, admittedly, sometimes I really let it get to me.

When times like these come around, and they do fairly frequently, it’s really hard for me to not take it personally. I’ve gotten better at it in my 2 years on bookstagram, but it’s still incredibly easy to fall into that mind vortex of thinking you’ve lost your touch or people no longer care what you post or have to say.

I wanted to write this post for those of you who also struggle with this frustration and as a reminder to myself now and in the future. I am hopeful that this post will help more than just me when the bookstagram frustration sets in. So, here are a few reminders and lessons learned that I hope we can all use as a source of comfort:

This too shall pass.

The truth is that this time of poor engagement will pass. There have been endless cycles of poor engagement to stellar engagement for me. It’s the bookstagram “circle of life.” We can’t pressure ourselves to fight against it because it’s out of our control. Hang tight, the circle is on the upswing, love.

Bookstagram is for fun. Nobody else is judging you.

One thing I’ve been trying to come to terms with is that there is no one out there keeping an eye on how many likes or comments your posts get except you. Nobody is judging you for that post that is totally bombing. It’s frustrating for us, but we’ve all had bad days on bookstagram. We don’t judge you!

Posting what makes you happy is more important than likes.

Me posting a book that made me smile or even just posting book photos that feature my dogs, places I’ve traveled, and yummy food I am eating is fun for me and makes me smile when I look back on the photos after posting. Curating a space that fills me with joy is more important to me than the less than ONE second it takes someone to double click on my photo to pop up that heart icon and add another tic mark to the  number below my photo. This is really hard for me to remember. You want people to care about what you’re posting and find what you are doing entertaining enough to engage and keep following. But imagine that, in 30+ years from now, one of your loved ones (or even your older self) finds your account. What would your account say about you? Is it filled with what you love and does it stay true to who you are? Does it contain memories of the reality of things that were going on in your life? Being able to get a clear picture of YOU during this time in your life is going to mean more than how many likes your posts got.

Book popularity falters and what’s popular changes faster than light.

Trying to keep up with the newest releases and posting the latest books people are talking about is impossible. Like with most things in life, things move fast, especially trends and what’s hot on social media. Staying true to your reading taste and what you want to read is so much easier. Not to mention, it will make you feel more genuine and connecting with your followers and friends will be easier and more natural because they will know exactly who you are!

Being genuine and kind is more important than being popular.

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Life is more meaningful in the land of kindness!

I know a lot of this stuff is kind of easier said than done. Like I said, this is supposed to act as a reminder to you AND to me. But maybe, as we spend more time on this platform, we will get better and better at remembering them, allowing them to become a natural habit and state of mind. We got this!

Do you get frustrated every once in awhile when it comes to social media/bookstagram? What helps you feel more positive? Let me know and I will add it to the list! 🙂

Oh! And don’t forget to follow me on @worldswithinpages on Instagram! 🙂

Exciting Reading for October!

Exciting Reading for October!

Hey friends!

This may be a bit premature, but I’m getting extremely excited for October. Despite the fact that it’s only August, I’m already incredibly excited to pick out spooky horror reads and deeply sink into the excitement of Halloween and crispy leaves.

If you follow me on Instagram (@worldswithinpages), you’ll maybe know that I’ve decided to use October as an excuse to host a month-long readalong of various horror novels. I always keep readalongs super laid back, so I’m really excited to introduce this new format! I’ll be using the hashtag #WorldsWithinSpooktober to track both my and posts and the posts of those who would like yo join in with me.

I’m going to choose 4 books and everyone will be welcome to pick however many they’d like to read along with me. I’m still deciding on how to set up discussion posts, but I’m hoping that by hosting this readalong, people will be more open to experiencing the horror genre. It’s so underrated, in my opinion, and I hope more people can fall in love with it.

Curious which books I might pick? Like I said, I am going to choose four, but here are a few on my list at the moment which I will narrow down in September:

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  2. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  3. Macbeth by Jo Nesbø
  4. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
  5. The Good House by Tananarive Due
  6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  8. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Bag of Bones by Stephen King

See any you’ve read and loved? Any you’re dying for me to include? Let me know, and let’s get SPOOKY! 👻

The Major Do’s and Don’ts of Bookstagram

The Major Do’s and Don’ts of Bookstagram

We’ve all been there, right? Someone on bookstagram does or says something that makes you roll your eyes to the back of your head and say “How did they not know that doing this was a faux pas?! So rude! Ugh!” If I had a dollar for every single time I got that overwhelming feeling, I would have many dollars.

In the grand scheme of things, there are worse things going on in the world than people doing or saying relatively harmless things on bookstagram. Truly, it’s just an app that features “fake” realities. However, because I spend so much time on bookstagram, as a lot of us do, I feel like we owe it to one another to be honest about the things we are saying behind closed doors about things within the community that just aren’t working and that drive us BONKERS (and in some cases, drive us to quit the app all together).

With that in mind, I wanted to put together a list of a few Do’s and Don’ts that I personally adhere to and I would hope that others would adhere to as well so that we can all live in bookish harmony and happiness. As a disclaimer, doing or not doing any of these things doesn’t make you a bad person, these are all just topics we can use to start a discussion about how we interact with one another on the bookstagram platform.

Let’s start with the Do’s!

Do…

  • Treat people on the platform how you would treat a stranger standing in front of you. Would you ask intrusive, overly personal questions to someone you just happened to run into on the sidewalk? Hopefully not. Even though we internet folks share a lot of our lives with you, that doesn’t mean that you have unlimited access to poke and prod at us like science experiments. Basically, don’t make this weird by asking really personal questions to people you don’t know and who do not know you!
  • Make time to support other creators. It’s hard to look away from your own content sometimes to take a step back, scroll through your feed/stories, and interact with others. But supporting other people by commenting, liking, and replying to stories in a genuine way is what makes an online community a COMMUNITY. Sure, you answer comments on your own posts and reply to DM’s, but that isn’t the same as giving other people “snaps” for the hard work they are putting into their content.
  • Read what brings you joy. It can be easy to fall into the hurricane of wanting to read what everyone else is reading and posting about. But for me, personally, I find more joy in reading whatever I want based on my own personal moods and interests. It also shows in my content when I feel passionate about a book/genre and when I don’t. People can tell when you’re not being genuine about a book and that usually hurts you more than not reading the hottest and latest titles. Trust me!
  • Follow people whose feeds and lives don’t look like yours. There is more strength in the community you build if it is dedicated to being a diverse platform of incredible people who can learn from and support one another versus a totally monotone grouping of people.
  • Tag authors and publishers in reviews of books you loved! It seems like an easy and no-brainer thing to do, but I can’t tell you how many times an author has thanked me for a positive review on my feed. It means more to them than you know!
  • Feel free to reach out to people, regardless of following size, and tell them you appreciate their work/love their feed, want to talk about a book they read that you also loved, or to share something with them that made you think of them. A lot of people feel intimidated by people with large followings, but they are just people who love talking about books, just like you. Starting conversations can be awkward, but the friendships you form because of the awkwardness are so worth it!

And now, for a list of the Don’ts… buckle up people, it’s a long one!

Don’t…

  • Message someone asking them something you are physically capable of finding the answer for on Google/Goodreads/etc. I know that it’s super easy just to ask someone for an answer to something. It’s less work for you to do so, I assume. But there is so much information out there already available to you for free. If you’re already great friends with the person you’re asking OR if you are truly incapable of Googling it yourself, I totally understand. However, for those of us privileged enough to be able to do our own research, stretch those Google muscles and do it up!
  • A few examples of these types of questions (which I have received multiples times each) are:
    • “Hey, is that book a part of a series?”
  • Message someone with spoilers for a book they haven’t even started yet OR tell them “oh my gosh I hated that book/it was so bad/it’s garbage.” People get really excited about the books they want to read and/or just bought and it can be really disheartening to have someone barge in and say negative things about it before you even have the chance to form your own opinion. Once they have read it, sure, feel free to discuss if the person you are messaging is willing. But don’t be mean and make someone feel disappointed about something they were excited for.
  • Ask for shout outs. Oh my goodness, just please don’t do it. It’s never going to go over well and you will look greedy and like a follower leech. Just. Don’t. Do it.
  • Ask someone to send you free books (even if you offer to pay for shipping). Again, treat people on the internet like strangers. Would you ask a stranger on a bus to give you something of theirs they had in their hands for free? Probably (hopefully) not! Again, if you have a good relationship with that person, they may be more open to it and probably won’t take it poorly, but be respectful of the fact that people may not be willing to give their book away (and that is okay).
  • Steal other people’s photos or photo ideas without their consent. It’s hard to take TRULY original photos of books (I mean, how many books and coffee mug pictures are out there?! I have at least 57 on my own feed lol). But, it’s not okay to totally ripoff someone’s work without prior permission OR without recreating it to be totally your own and tagging them to let them know they inspired you. Just be kind and respectful!
  • Get discouraged on bad engagement days. They’re tough. They make you question yourself and your platform’s worth like no other. But those days will come and go in a cyclical fashion and no matter what, you can’t always win. There’s no way to guarantee that every post you make is going to absolutely kill it. We are not Beyonce, we are going to have bad days on instagram and they will pass. And then they will come back… and then they will pass… and then they will come back… and then they…

 

All of these Do’s and Don’ts are, of course, my opinions, but I think that I speak for a lot of us on most of these. This platform is “what we make it, so let’s make it rock!” – Hannah Montana.

What are some of your Do’s and Don’ts? Do you have any you agree with or disagree with me about? Let me know!

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on instagram @worldswithinpages… but make sure you ACT RIGHT, OKAY??? NO NONSENSE!!!!! 😉

5 Horror Recommendations for “Wimps”

5 Horror Recommendations for “Wimps”

*Sits down to type this post in my Haunted Mansion shirt from Disney World*

Hello, foolish mortals, and welcome to one of the THE most requested post/list I get from people on the reg over on Bookstagram (shameless plug, go follow me on insta @worldswithinpages).

 

Over the last few months on bookstagram, it seems like I have developed a bit of a reputation. That reputation has been based on my newly found love of Stephen King as well as the endless number of books I have picked up in the last few months that fall under a genre that is often avoided at all costs: horror.

Let me put this out there, I used to think I would hate horror novels! I thought I would get way too scared and would have nightmares and spend hours at night peering around at the shadows in my room, just waiting for a murdery ghost to try and kill me. BUT… I have since learned that, not only can I handle horror novels way better than I thought I would (better than scary movies, for sure), but I LOVE them and I can’t seem to get enough!!

So, the question you all came here to have answered, if you are a wimp and normally hate scary things, where should you start if you’re feeling just a little brave and want to dip your toe into the “horror” genre? I have five suggestions for you, but first, a big fat disclaimer:

*Horror novels, including the ones I am about to mention, often have very graphic scenes varying from general blood and gore to psychologically disturbing content. I will tag TW’s down below along with the titles, but please be warned that I do not recommend the horror genre for those who are unable to process disturbing themes safely.*

Here we go…

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Bird Box was actually the very first horror book I read that made me realize “hey, I actually like this stuff!” If you’re into atmospheric stories that contain an air of supernatural mystery, this book is for you!Bird Box follows a woman named Malorie and her two children (called Boy and Girl) as they struggle to navigate life in a post-apocalyptic world where ~something~ is lurking. Seeing this ~something~ causes extremely gruesome acts of violence against others, and/or against yourself, which means closed eyes and blindfolds are mandatory at all times. This is the life that Malorie has been forced to raise her children in since the moment they were born, and one that she has suffered to survive while everyone else around her is dead. If there is ANY good news in this situation, or even a glimmer of hope, Malorie has become aware of a location where she and her children can maybe find safety and protection from the “monster.” The only problem? She isn’t positive where it’s located and, obviously, she will have to be blindfolded the entire way.Side note: The book is 400x better than the movie, so if you have seen the movie and were “meh” on it, don’t hesitate to give this one a go!

 

*TW for gore, suicide, and intense descriptions of disturbing things*

 

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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The Winter People would be a PERFECT introductory read to the horror newbie. While there are *~spooky~* things that are happening, it is the atmosphere of the setting that McMahon builds that really gives you the creeps. If you’re into books that suspend your satisfaction until the very end, this is a GREAT choice for you.

Description via Amazon (because it’s hard to describe on my own lols):

“West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.”

*TW for very mild gore and violence*

 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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It’s fairly likely that you have heard of this book, or the show that was inspired by it that had everyone sleeping with the light on during the winter months after it aired on Netflix. The funny thing is, this book is NOWHERE near as scary as the show. Not even close. Does it give you all the ghosty goodness that a haunted house story should? Of course! But don’t use the show as a barometer of how badly this book will scare you because the book and the movie are like your eyebrows should be: Sisters, but not twins.

In case you’re not up to speed on what this book is about, it’s basically your formulaic haunted house story. A group of people are invited to stay at a mansion with a mysterious past and haunting ensues. What makes this book slightly more disturbing than most is that it combines external ghosty hauntings with internal mental hauntings (I don’t know what else to call it, okay? You’ll see…). This book would also be a good choice if you are trying to read more classics this year, but you don’t want to get bogged down by “ye olden tyme” syntax.

Carrie by Stephen King
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Despite the fact that Stephen King is known for his unstoppable and uniquely disturbing prowess in horror, a few of his books sit very comfortably on the “mild side” when it comes to really getting under your skin. Carrie is one of those books. As King’s first novel, Carrie serves as a pinky toe dip into the cold pool of horror novels for his readers AND his own artistry.

This book, in true King fashion, reveals creepy themes in multiple layers. It’s like an onion of fear (or an ogre). You’ll get unsettling flashbacks of teenage high school bullying, telekinetic violence, extreme religion-based manipulation and abuse, and disturbing scenes that bring you into the moment and inside the mind of Carrie as she deals with some pretty rough things.

  *TW for very mild gore and violence*

 

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

If you want to dive into more of a spooky haunted house setting that’s just slightly more brave than The Haunting of Hill House, The Grip of It by Jac Jemc will deliver. The cover art alone is a bit unsettling, and sets the tone for the entire novel.

A young married couple, Julie and James, decide to leave the “big city” behind and settle into a house in a secluded wood that will allow them to focus on mending their tumultuous relationship and have a fresh start toward a new life. Little do they know, the house they move into has other plans, which makes sense, as it becomes very clear that it has a true mind of its own. Rooms disappear, disturbing smells and stains drift in and out of focus, bruises appear overnight on Julie’s body, and their off putting next door neighbor is just the icing on the creepy cake. When the pieces of the puzzle start to come together for what happened in the house that caused such unrest within, Julie and James, and their sanity, begin to unravel. What really happened in this house? Are the random labyrinth of rooms that appear and then decay really there or just a hallucination? Who is the next door neighbor and why does he keep watching their every move?

 

 

Hopefully this list gives you a good place to start on your spooky horror journey! As someone who has been getting deeper and deeper into the horror genre, I will definitely be offering up more recommendations and reviews in the future, so be sure to keep an eye out for that post if you’re interested!

In the meantime, be sure to follow me on instagram at @worldswithinpages to keep up with what I am reading and all my random adventures! 🙂

Ta ta for now!

 

Why I Am Ditching the TBR Pile Concept This Month

Why I Am Ditching the TBR Pile Concept This Month

Hello fellow readers and friends, how are you?! I wanted to do a quick chatty post since it has been a little bit since I last talked to you guys about what I am reading and what I am up to.

You may have noticed that I didn’t post a TBR pile this month on my bookstagram (@worldswithinpages) or here on my blog and there’s a reason for that. These past few weeks have been super weird for me when it comes to reading. I am not in a reading SLUMP per se, but I am definitely going through a weird spot in my reading habits. Let me explain…

Before April, if you would have asked me to read a thriller novel, I would have told you I was not interested. Thriller/mystery used to be my LEAST favorite genre for various reasons and I would avoid them at all costs. However, during April, I completely abandoned that notion and I read almost nothing BUT thrillers back-to-back. I have NO idea what happened, it just did.

It all started when I read The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell. I picked it up randomly and after realizing that it had been on my shelf for quite some time and had not yet been read. I figured, after hearing some amazing reviews for it, that it would be a good bet. It was! I really enjoyed it and I am glad that my whims lead me to want to read it. However, it started a snowball effect of ONLY wanting to read thrillers. I didn’t want to read regular fiction, I didn’t want to read anything YA, and I didn’t want to read fantasy (my long-standing favorite genre). For some reason, all my brain wants right now is thrillers, thrillers, thrillers. Since then, I have read a total of 4 thriller/mystery/horror-type books… and I don’t see myself slowing down or changing course.

I started to fight this feeling for a little while when it first started creeping in, but I realized a few things. The first and most important thing I realized was that I read for fun! I don’t get paid to read and I don’t read for anyone else’s benefit but my own. Why pressure myself to read anything other than EXACTLY what I want to read, when I want to read it? The second thing I realized was that I have been blocked out SO many books by being exclusionary to the thriller genre. I am YEARS behind on reading what thriller fans have been loving and I have so much to catch up on! I will never run out of books to read now haha!

Another reason why I am not setting up a TBR pile this month is because I ALWAYS deviate from it. Every single time I set up a stack of 10+ books, I read maybe 3 from that pile. That’s always okay by me, but then I feel like there’s a feeling of guilt that I put on myself for not acheiving some sort of goal. I also have this weird thing that happens where, as soon as I say I am going to read a book by x date, I don’t want to read it anymore because it feels like a homework assignment (gross). Sitting and thinking about this more makes me wonder if I should never go back to a TBR pile again… time will tell!

Because of my weird reading mood I am currently in, I will not be setting up a TBR pile this month. I am going to read exactly what I want to read, when I want to read it. If that means that I divert away from thrillers to read something else, that’s fine by me! I think my brain is trying to teach me that I need to get back to reading what I love and not what I feel obligated to read and I am going to ride that wave as long as I can! Like I said, I read because I love books and I can’t wait to read more of the books that remind me of that!

I will say that I do have two hopefuls for this month that I would like to read: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and Final Girls by Riley Sagar. I have heard INCREDIBLE things about both books and I am excited to dive into both of them!

I know this was a bit of a rambly post, but I am still trying to figure out what the heck is happening to my reading mood and feelings lately. I have no explanation for it, so I am just taking it book by book haha!

How do you feel about TBRs? Are you good at adhering to them or do you always deviate like I do?

 

Fantasy in February

Fantasy in February

Hellooo and happy February, my loves! January was a doozy for a lot of us, so I am sure that many of you are breathing sighs of relief that it is FINALLY February.

If you follow me on Instagram (@worldswithinpages), you may already know that I am doing something pretty fun in the month of February. After looking at my bookshelves full of the books that I can’t WAIT to get to, I realized that many of the books I had been excited to read but hadn’t made time for yet were in the fantasy genre. That is why I made the exciting decision to ONLY read fantasy/sci-fi books during the month of February. Because it is my favorite genre to read, I have a feeling this may become my best reading month of the year!

When picking out which books I wanted to read, I took into account the ones that had been sitting on my shelves the longest and the new releases that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. What I came up with was a list of hopefuls as long as my arm and an excitement to read that I hadn’t felt in such a long time. Wanna know which books I chose? Keep reading!

  1. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
    This book was released on Tuesday, January 30th and you bet your bottom dollar I went out to buy it that same weekend. I ended up finishing it already because I just couldn’t wait any longer to dive in (review to come).The book follows the story of a girl named Alice whose grandmother is a famous fairytale author who lives in a secluded mansion named “The Hazel Wood.” The problem is that Alice has never read any of her grandmother’s stories and getting her hands on a copy of the novel is impossible (literally). However, strange things start to happen and her Mom disappears mysteriously, leaving her behind with only one message: “Stay away from The Hazel Wood.” Alice begins to suspect that her grandmother’s fairy tale stories may be MORE than just stories after all. With the help of her classmate Ellery Finch (who has read her grandmother’s book but had it stolen from him years ago), Alice must find a place she has never been to rescue her mother from danger. But all is not what it seems…
  2. Scythe by Neal Schusterman
    Scythe by Neal Schusterman is one of the novels that has been waiting patiently on my shelves the longest. I actually bought it last year out of excitement that the author of Challenger Deep (one of my favorite reads centered on mental illness) had released a new novel. But now, with the release of the second book in the series (Thunderhead), it is finally time for me to pick up the book and give it a go! I am also doing a buddy read for this novel, so being able to experience it with a friend will be very exciting!Scythe centers on two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, who are chosen to act as apprentices under a scythe. During their apprenticeship, the teens will be instructed on how to take people’s lives without endangering their own. Scythes are necessary for the world they live in, as humanity has learned to conquer disease, hunger, and war meaning that they have also conquered death. But Citra and Rowan do not want to fit into this role that society has set aside for them (can’t really say I blame them…). What will be the cost of a perfect world? Is it so perfect after all?
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
    So, the sad thing about this book is that I was really looking forward to it. It had been calling my name since March of 2017 and I was finally ready to take the plunge and see what the fuss was about. Truthfully? I didn’t like it. I read about 50 pages in earlier this week and realized that Laini Taylor’s writing style may just not be for me. It’s very lyrical and poetic and was definitely not the feeling that I expect to get from YA fantasy. I am really sad that this didn’t turn out better for me this month, but I am hoping to maybe revisit it sometime in the future when I have more patience for it.Strange the Dreamer is about a young boy named Lazlo Strange who is an orphan and junior librarian with big dreams of discovering the secrets buried within the mystical lost city of Weep. He longs to discover why it was cut off from the rest of the world long ago, but knows that he can’t do it alone. When a band of legendary warriors lead by a hero called the “Godslayer” crosses paths with Lazlo, he seizes the opportunity to travel with them to find the answers he’s been looking for.
  4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
    The Grishaverse world is one that I have been waiting to dive into for so long! I purchased the box set last summer and even though I have read most of the first book, I am ready to pick it up again and finish strong with the entire trilogy.Shadow and Bone is the first book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and centers on a young girl named Alina Starkov. Alina is a soldier in an army that travels across a section of her country called The Shadow Fold. The Shadow Fold is full of monsters and dark magic and threatens the lives of the soldiers with every step. One day, when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes magic within herself that she never knew she had. This discovery leads to her life changing drastically, as she is sent to train with the Grisha, a group of military elite who have magical abilities like hers. But do Alina’s powers hold more than just simple abilities?
  5. The Diviners by Libba Bray
    The Diviners is an older release, but one of my newer discoveries for books I want to read. I originally started listening to this book on audiobook and didn’t enjoy the narrator’s portrayal of the characters and really didn’t want to finish the book because of that. However, after seeing one of my favorite Booktubers rave about the book and how much she liked it, I decided to give it another chance and read it in my own voice in hopes that I will like it a bit better that way.The Diviners takes place in 1926 and follows the journey of Evangeline (Evie) O’Neill from her boring hometown to the thriving streets of New York City. While there, Evangeline is forced to live with her uncle Will who is a little bit eccentric, specifically, he has an obsession with the occult and knows how to spot sneaky paranormal activity and objects. The catch? Evie has a secret ability that she is desperate to keep from him, powers that she would rather he not know about. But when a local citizen winds up dead with a suspicious symbol branded into her skin, Evie knows that her secret abilities may be the only chance the city has at catching the killer.
  6. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
    To be honest, this is the book on my TBR that I know the least about. I am just going to put it out there that I was attracted to the cover last year and that’s why I got it and DO NOT JUDGE ME OKAY? But I do know that the sequel was just released on the day that I am writing this post, so that’s as good a reason as any to try out the first book this month, right?!Wintersong originally snagged my attention with the Amazon description that claims that it is “an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and Beauty and the Beast.” As a lover of both of those, I am HERE for this. Here is the rest of the description from Amazon:

    The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.
    But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds―and the mysterious man who rules it―she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.”

  7. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    As one of the BIGGEST Disney fans on the planet, I am hoping to read more of the books behind the movies this year. First stop? Peter Pan! While Peter Pan isn’t my favorite Disney story (and, let’s be honest, it’s PRETTY problematic), I do enjoy the ideals it embodies of adventure and childhood being a state of mind. I can’t wait to read it!
  8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer 
    Another series that has been patiently waiting for me to read it is the Lunar Chronicles series! Cinder is the first book in this series that seems to have the hearts of so many YA fantasy readers and I can’t wait to see if this modern spin on some of my favorite Disney stories warms my heart as much as they seem to warm others’.Here is the Amazon description for Cinder:
    “Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.”

In addition to the incredible fantasy reads I have lined up, I also have a handful of non-fantasy books I will be reading for pre-planned buddy reads and review request for publishers. I will also be reading:

I am also currently rereading A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab because what is a month of fantasy without a reread of one of my favorite fantasy series of all time?! I will carry on with the reread of the rest of the series in March as a fun way to celebrate my birthday!

I am so excited about the number of friends I have on instagram who are participating in #FantasyinFebruary! I am looking forward to seeing the incredible recommendations that everyone has to offer and I can’t wait to dive into the books on my list.

Thank you so much for reading and if you have an instagram account, feel free to follow along with me this month!

Lots of hugs,

-Alisa

Braving the Wilderness: The Book That Healed Me

Braving the Wilderness: The Book That Healed Me

In September of 2016, I had the absolute honor of seeing Brené Brown speak at a conference. While I had heard of Brené before and had many bookworms telling me how much her books meant to them, it never really stuck to me that she was someone who was on a “need-to-read-basis.”

When I saw Brené speak that day in September, my mind drastically changed. Not just my mind, but something deeper within me. Something that clicked itself into place in the fiber of my being and changed the way I viewed people I interacted with forever. Because of this drastic change, I made the not-so-difficult decision to research and find every single book Brené has written and acquire the ones that spoke to me.

Braving the Wilderness, Brené’s newest novel, was one she made references to throughout multiple points in her presentation. When I heard the basic message behind the novel, I knew I had to buy it. This month, I finally sat down and read it, deciding that I was READY for it. You can’t just pick up life-changing novels on a whim, your heart and soul must decide the timeline for you. Ironically, this was the pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club this month, so really, how could I have timed that any better?

While many of the points Brené makes in the book hit me to my core, forcing literal tears from my eyes and drowning me in “aha!” moments, there was one theme in Braving the Wilderness that stood out among the rest: Compassion for our fellow human beings.

At a time where political polarization is running rampant in our country, spreading us further apart morally and in some cases physically, this book challenged me to think of why. Why is this phenomenon happening? It’s not hard to conclude that it’s happening because differences in opinion leading to a “them versus us” mentality are sown into the fabric of our nation. But what is the cost of all of this discourse? What is the end result? At the end of the day, the end result is a lack of compassion and complete dehumanization.

I will be the first to admit that I am someone who will stand by their beliefs and cast stones at individuals who disagree with me. Under the guise of social justice, I have dehumanized people in my mind. I have funneled an enormous amount of hatred toward Trump supporters. I have belittled people online for their opposing beliefs. I have sought opportunities to argue with people when I know it will just anger them. I have called people names. I have accused them of things they “must be” without truly knowing who they are and what lies at the center of their reasons for acting and saying the things they do. I have done that. And I am tired of carrying around hate if it costs me my compassion and kindness.

I want to make something clear: I am not sorry for fighting against injustices and I do not regret standing up for my beliefs and speaking out against hatred. I believe in myself and my stance on the topics I’m passionate about and I will never falter on them. However, most of my outward actions which put my morals into practice went against my own code of ethics. I need to be better at staying true to who I am regardless of how I feel at the “heat of the moment.” I need to be better so that I can be more effective with my message and so that others can hear what I have to say.

My most important trait I possess is my ability to put kindness into action. That doesn’t mean that I will let people walk all over me. If I feel disrespected, I’ll bite back. BUT… above all, what’s most important to me is that I maintain a level of compassion that speaks volumes to what I stand for regardless of how others treat me.

In the past few months, life circumstances have forced me to take a look at myself and evaluate WHO I want to be and WHAT I want to do about it. Reading Braving the Wilderness was a breath of much needed fresh air, pointing me toward my True North. I was feeling so lost in the “Wilderness”, wondering what my next step would be. But as long as I keep stepping toward kindness and compassion, I know that I will always be on the path I’m meant to travel. Whatever is on that path will challenge me every single day, but the reward will be great.

Thank you, Brené, for getting me through an incredibly hard time in my life. Your voice while I was listening to you narrate your audiobook healed my soul. I felt like you were listening to ME rather than vice versa and I can’t tell you how much that means to me to be heard. Standing in the wilderness won’t be fun and I am standing here alone. But I’m here, I’m present, I showed up, and I’m ready for the adventure.

5/5 stars for this book.