Spooky Reads: Modern Monsters

When the first hint of autumn hits the air, my reading mind begins to crave the spooky, the eerie, and the downright scary. I love these kinds of stories anytime of the year, but books about witches, ghosts, haunted places, monsters, and monstrous people that chill as much as thrill are the books that dominate my reading list right to the end of October (and often beyond).

For the next few weeks, I will be sharing posts with lists of my favorite spooky books. Each list represents a different category and will be in alphabetical order by author. I’ll include the book’s description (or if it’s a series, the first book’s description), and link each to their entry on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: Spooky is sometimes easy to identify in the main aspects of a story, and then sometimes it’s just a feeling you get when reading. Your spooky and my spooky may not match up, but checking out a few new books is never a bad thing.

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♦ Modern Monsters ♦

Sometimes it doesn’t take the supernatural to creep you out because regular people are scary enough.

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Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Type: young adult Status: standalone

Wake up, Caitlin

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling.

He’s dangerous.

Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else–her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Type: adult Status: standalone

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims–a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

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Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

Type: adult Status: ongoing
Available Books: The Cuckoo’s Calling (#1), The Silkworm (#2), Career of Evil (#3), Lethal White (#4)

(Description for Book 1)

A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.

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Killer Instinct series by S.E. Green

Type: young adult Status: unknown
Available Books: Killer Instinct (#1), Killer Within (#2)

(Description for Book 1)

She’s not evil, but she has certain… urges.

Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.

Why?

Because she might be one herself.

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return… in parts.

When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…

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Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

Type: adult Status: standalone

For thirty years, folks on Little Tall Island have been waiting to find out just what happened on the eerie dark day Dolores Claiborne’s husband died — the day of the total eclipse. Now, the police want to know what happened yesterday when her rich, bedridden employer died suddenly in her care. With no choice but to talk, Dolores gives her compelling confession … of the strange and terrible links forged by hidden intimacies … of the fierceness of a mother’s love and its dreadful consequences … of the silent rage that can turn a woman’s heart to hate.

When Dolores Claiborne is accused of murder, it’s only the beginning of the bad news. For what comes after that is something only Stephen King could imagine … as he rips open the darkest secrets and the most damning sins of men and women in an ingrown Maine town and takes you on a trip below its straitlaced surface.

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Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga

Type: young adult Status: completed series
Available Books: I Hunt Killers (#1), Game (#2), Blood of My Blood (#3), various short stories

(Description for Book 1)

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard

Type: young adult Status: completed series
Available Books: The Lying Game (#1), Never Have I Ever (#2), Two Truths and a Lie (#3), Hide and Seek (#4), Cross My Heart, Hope to Die (#5), Seven Minutes in Heaven (#6), two short stories

(Description for Book 1)

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does–an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me–to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, care-free daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.

Let the lying game begin.

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

Type: young adult Status: standalone

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

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Prep School Confidential series by Kara Taylor (a.k.a. Kara Thomas)

Type: young adult Status: completed series
Available Books: Prep School Confidential (#1), Wicked Little Secrets (#2), Deadly Little Sins (#3)

(Description for Book 1)

In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Type: adult Status: standalone

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful and haunting novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

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Dump the Reading Slump

Reading slumps. They happen to almost every reader at some point. Some come because of a bad book, others because of what is going on in the reader’s life.

I’ve been in a bit of reading slump this year that doesn’t seem to have been caused by any one thing. It just kind of happened. I didn’t even realize I was in one until I took a look at my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge and saw that I am behind. A lot.

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Since I’ve been keeping up with my yearly reading, I’ve only had one really bad year where my depression spiraled out of control. That year I only read 59 books. Normally I can hit 100, no problem. My highest year was last year with 116.

This year, I’m not sure what my deal has been. I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I’m thinking that with everything going on in the world, there’s been more to keep up with so podcasts have just taken precedence. I also sometimes just prefer to listen to people talking to each other (it sometimes helps my anxiety) so that’s another reason I’ve probably been utilizing podcasts more.

I’ve also been watching more television. One of the ways my husband and I spend time together is by watching our favorite shows. We have several (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend…just to name a few) so whenever we get a night in together, we’re usually watching something.

I also have this bit of fear that accompanies starting a new read. I’m finding that more and more I’m having to push myself into taking that first plunge. Once I’ve started, everything is fine and back on track, but getting past each beginning has been difficult.

What does all this mean for me? I think it means I have to be more intentional about my reading. I’ve already started challenging myself to read or listen to so much of a book before doing something else. It’s worked well so far, but I am still 23 books behind goal, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. October is often a great month for reading for me because of the fall atmosphere and my love of picking up spooky stories, so hopefully that will give me a nice big push to finish the year strong.

How’s your reading been this year? Any suggestions in how to dump a reading slump?

 

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Six Sad Childhood Books

Recently BuzzFeed published this listicle: 16 Books You Read As A Kid That Were Actual Emotional Torture.

I read the list. Exactly zero books listed match the sad books from my childhood.

Of the sixteen books, three I’ve read as an adult, six I’m aware of but have not read, and seven I’ve never heard of prior to this list. Some of these books weren’t even out when I was kid.

I’m not sure who comprises the BuzzFeed community that submitted those titles, but I’m going to guess millennials. I’m technically a millennial, but an old one, so I decided to share the six saddest books from my (very ’90s) childhood. I know some are still around and read, but I hope I’m not the only one that remembers the others.

Oh yeah, spoilers incoming.

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The Gold Cadillac by Mildred D. Taylor

Reading this book was the first time I learned about and understood racism and injustice. Seeing the family in the book be treated so terribly for being black and driving a fancy car made me so sad and angry as a seven-year-old and I’ve never forgotten it.

 

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A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace

At some point we all read a book or see a movie where the dog dies. This point for me was first or second grade. I remember being really happy that the main character went from being mean to dogs to a dog-lover, but then the dog, Kitty, dies, because elementary school kids need more reasons to cry.

 

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The Christmas Spurs by Bill Wallace

Bill Wallace really had it out for me as a kid. That, or he really thought kids should learn about death and how to deal with it. I don’t remember the exact specifics of the plot, just that there were two brothers, a pair of spurs, and that the younger brother dies from cancer. It has some kind of little twist that made the ending bittersweet.

 

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On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

This book was read to my class during library time by the librarian in fifth or sixth grade. I hated it. And then, when it got to the crux of the story, that one of the two main boys actually dies because they were being silly kids, I hated it even more. Then you have to actually be there when the surviving boy tries, and fails, to tell the other boy’s parents what happened. It’s The Worst.

 

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

My sixth grade reading teacher was a Lowry fan, so we read two of her books that year. This was my first Lowry book and the first time I’d read anything about the Holocaust. The oppression and terror the characters experienced was awful, but at least this story didn’t end too terribly (leaving everything to escape to a different country because your people are being kidnapped and killed is pretty happy, right?).

 

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

This short, simple book is full of terrible things. Infanticide, senicide, forced birth, forced suppression of biologic functions, and a complete and total lack of individualism make up the main character’s world. He doesn’t realize these things are terrible (or even happening) until he meets The Giver and receives the memories of the past before everything changed, and some of those memories are terrible and painful. Then the little kid narrator has to leave everyone and everything he knows to save a baby and escape his controlled existence, only to end the book near death in the snow. Talk about emotional.

 

These books taught me things, the main lesson being I prefer books where the overwhelming feeling at the end isn’t sadness. I’ll still read a sad book from time to time, but they are harder for me to start than most others. Is it because of these early forays into sadness or because currently, the world is sad enough as it is?

I’m going to go with both. Both is good.

What books would make your saddest childhood books list?

 

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I am Kafka’s Bug

James Sutton via Unsplash

I read a lot of books.

In general, I like most of them, and sometimes they even affect me emotionally, though the latter is rare. I can usually tell when a book will make me emotional or cry because I tend to have specific triggers relating to my personal history.

But recently I was surprised. I got emotional about a book that I had no idea would resonate with me so deeply.

On a whim, I had decided to read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. I was in the mood for something short and had access to a copy, so I read it. It’s a classic that I knew little about — a man turns into a bug? — and I knew even less about the author. I had heard lots of things in culture be referred to as ‘Kafkaesque’, meaning they replicated his absurdist style.

But I found The Metamorphosis to be hardly absurd.

Sure, I get why people say that. A guy, Gregor Samsa, wakes up to find that he has transformed into a bug of some kind (though the fact of what Gregor turned in to, and if he did indeed turn into anything, is hotly debated) and the how and why of the event are never explained. That’s all pretty strange.

But despite Gregor’s new bug persona, the feelings, emotions, and tragedy of the story are all human. So human, in fact, I found myself thinking that Kafka had reached into the future, seen the inside of my mind, and used it as a blueprint for Gregor’s struggles.

Absurd? Absolutely. But I related so strongly to what Gregor was feeling, my chest was heavy with the connection. It completely changed my mood and my day.

Because the narrative is so layered, I can see how one could get many different meanings from the text. The book has obviously meant something to many, many people over the years, given how thoroughly it has been discussed and dissected.

But to explain what I got out of it, I’ll have to get into some of the things that happen in the story, so spoilers ahead.

After Gregor realizes what he has become, his family finds out (he lives with his parents and his sister). His parents soundly reject their son, but his sister feeds him and looks in on him and cleans up his room. There are a few occasions where Gregor is beaten or attacked by someone in the house and he is injured and does not really heal from these wounds.

Gregor is trapped in his bedroom and because of his size and the unfamiliarity with his new body, and later, his injuries, he has trouble moving around the space. He can understand his family, but they cannot understand him.

His mother comes around at some point and starts helping his sister take care of him, and they start leaving the bedroom door open for him in the evening so he can see the family at dinner. Through this open door Gregor sees the life he once had, the life that he can no longer participate in.

Because the family now lacks Gregor’s income, the other three reduce their use of paid servants and take jobs. They struggle to support themselves and wish to move to a smaller place, but cannot due to Gregor’s condition. After months of this strained living, they rent some of their space to three men and hide Gregor from them.

In addition to having strangers in the house, Gregor is also more isolated because his sister and mother are so busy all the time that they no longer take care of him like they used to. His room gets dirty and they don’t notice when he stops eating. His sister, in particular, seems to grow bitter at the anchor Gregor has become on her life.

These feelings of being trapped, of not being loved, of worthlessness, of depression and hopelessness, are all things I’ve experienced. My life is difficult in ways that I did not choose and I cannot escape, and I do what I can to make the best out of what I’ve got. But beyond relating to these feelings that Gregor, and to some extent, his family, experience, there were two other aspects that struck me.

The first is that there was no rhyme or reason as to why this happened to Gregor. He didn’t do anything to cause this; it just happened.

I struggle with those bad things in life, minor and major, that just seem to happen, especially when no good comes of them. Sometimes there is not a lesson to be learned or a brighter spot made from dealing with the darkness. Sometimes things just happen to people and they have to deal with them. It’s not fair or just or right, but there’s nothing that can be done about it. I felt this so strongly with Gregor’s situation; he could not stop his transformation or change his situation and it made for a sad and tragic story.

The second aspect of this story that was so moving to me was that there are no villains. Everyone in the story is an imperfect person. Parents reject their son, the sister neglects her brother, Gregor goes a little mad and envisions imprisoning his sister in his room so she can play him the violin forever. But even at their worst, none of these characters are villains or even bad people. They are simply dealing with a difficult situation the best they can.

Gregor wanted certain things to alleviate his great suffering, even understanding they were not good things to want but feeling that getting these things was the only way for him to retain his humanity. His family denied him certain things, not out of malice, but because they didn’t know, and couldn’t know, if he had any humanity left within him.

They all tried their best to handle the crisis. Unfortunately, they all failed. But seeing that they were given an impossible situation to begin with, it is hard to fault them.

My situation may not be as completely impossible as Gregor’s and his family’s, but sometimes it feels that way. Reading Kafka’s words felt like him giving me a nod of recognition and a shrug that simply says, “Well, you may be failing, but who can blame you? At least you’re trying.”

I have kept myself intentionally ignorant of the many examinations of this story until I could write this, so I’m not sure what Kafka intended or what others believe he intended when he wrote The Metamorphosis. Whatever the purpose of the story, the experience of reading this, of having my darkest self feel seen and not judged, is invaluable.

Even if I am just a bug.

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Photo Credit: © 2017 James Sutton via Unsplash

[Review] Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Title: Goodbye Days ~~ Author: Jeff Zentner
Series: None ~~ Release Date: 03/07/2017
Source: ARC Tour
FTC Disclosure: I accepted this ARC free of charge and received no compensation for my fair and honest review.

From Goodreads:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

When I read a contemporary YA novel, I usually go into it with mild expectations because contemporary is such a broad category, and each book can be completely different from the next. If anyone follows me on Twitter or Goodreads, you probably saw me freakout over Jeff Zentner’s debut novel The Serpent King. It was set near my hometown in Tennessee (with a few mentions of my hometown, no less), and it was hopeful, tragic, atmospheric, and I loved every minute of it. It also made me cry, which is a feat for any book to accomplish. It easily became one of my favorite contemporary YA novels of all time.

So when Stefani of Caught Read Handed sent out a general invitation to join an ARC tour for Zentner’s next book, Goodbye Days, on her Twitter (thank you Stefani!!!), I jumped at the chance to read it. Like TSK, Goodbye Days is set in Tennessee and sounded even more tragic. Now knowing the quality of Zenter’s writing and storytelling abilities, I knew that even if it didn’t reach instant-favorite level, it would still be a good read.

But Zentner delivered again. I honestly don’t know which book of his two I prefer more. Goodbye Days didn’t make me cry, though it came close, and it book spoke to me in a different way than TSK. The Serpent King had a distinct, almost claustrophobic atmosphere made up of small-town life, the weight of hopes and dreams, the potential to live beyond the life we are born into, and senseless loss. All of those factors made the otherwise completely realistic story feel ethereal at times.

Goodbye Days differs in that there is no hazy distance between you and the stark reality of the tragedy in the book. The reality of heavy emotions starts on page one and never lets up. While grief and loss fill each chapter, Zentner also skillfully layers in laughter and hope. As we follow Carver through his coping, and not coping, with the loss of his best friends, we get to see flashbacks of him with the boys. Those moments were electric and alive, and even more than that, they were raw and mesmerizing in their simplicity and joy.

Just like in The Serpent King, Zentner’s writing feels effortless but makes an impact. I flagged several lines in the text, many feeling like gut punches. The dialogue is on-point, and I loved how he integrated the setting of Nashville into the story. One of my favorite things about this book is how well Zentner represents what grief, anxiety, and panic attacks can feel like. Some of Carver’s thoughts felt like they were pulled out of my own head, and his experience with panic attacks mirrored my own. Zentner also shows that getting professional help for mental issues can be helpful and useful, not stupid and pointless like a lot of YA books posit, and I’m glad Zentner included this purely positive representation.

When it came to the characters, I felt like I could relate to almost every one of them in some way or another. I highly identified with Carver and his struggles with mental health in the face of grief. All of the main characters and many of the side characters felt fully formed. The only exception for me was Jesmyn because she just didn’t stick with me the way all the others did. Carver was definitely the closest to my heart, but my favorite character was his sister, Georgia. Some of her lines were laugh-out-loud worthy, and I loved her fierce love for her family and her confidence and wisdom. She is who I wish I was back when I was in college.

The only slight drawback of the book was a subplot revolving around Carver and Jesmyn. It wasn’t bad, I just didn’t feel that it fit perfectly into the story, and the resolution of it wasn’t as satisfying as the emotional journey Carver experiences with the other characters and with himself. But due to the many, many wonderful lines and feelings-inducing scenes, this was just a blip in an overall amazing story.

My words do barely any justice in describing the experience of reading Goodbye Days. I can’t express how much this book made me feel, and I’m not a re-reader, but I’ll be picking this up again and again because it is that wonderful. Goodbye Days is an experience unto itself, and despite it being all about tragedy and grief, the ultimate feeling of hope and recovery make every potential tear worth it.

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[Review] Andromeda (God-Haunted #1) by Meg Trotter

Title: Andromeda ~~ Author: Meg Trotter
Series: God-Haunted ~~ Release Date: 07/12/2016
Source: publicist
FTC Disclosure: I accepted this review copy free of charge and received no compensation for my fair and honest review.

From Goodreads:

For as long as she can remember, seventeen-year-old Princess Andromeda has done what was expected of her. She consented to a political marriage to a hateful older man. She became a quiet, obedient housewife. After her husband’s death, she agreed to be united in yet another political marriage for the sake of her country’s stability.

However, when the Greek goddess of the sea disrupts this second wedding ceremony, jealous of the pomp of the celebration, she places a curse on Andromeda and her home: either sacrifice the princess to a sea beast or let the creature destroy her country. A visit to the Oracle reveals that Andromeda needs four ancient weapons of the Greek gods to fight off the beast and the goddess who controls it.

Now Andromeda must find the strength and the cunning to do what she has never done before — to fight for her own life — while keeping the well-meaning “hero” Perseus out of her way.

PREFACE:
I am extremely excited to be writing this review. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ve seen many mentions of my bestie Meg of Myth-illogical. This is her book! Yay! I’m so glad to be able to share with you all my love of this book. I’ve loved it for years, but next month it will finally be available for all to read. Meg isn’t my friend that just happened to write a book – she is a (great!) writer that became my friend (we met at a creative writing group of which we two were the youngest and instantly bonded over our love of Harry Potter and love/hate of Twilight).

So let’s get to the business where I tell you how awesome Andromeda is!

WRITING:
From the get-go, information, description, dialogue, and voice are all balanced to paint a vivid picture of every scene. It felt like I had a movie playing in my head, a movie that was funny, interesting, and exciting. No dialogue or description felt extraneous, I felt the tension of the action scenes, and I simply did not want to put it down (and considering I had read many previous versions, that’s saying something!).

SETTING:
There is a lot of YA involving Greek mythology out there, but I’ve not come across many that are set in the original time period, probably because it’s hard to get right. I know how much research went in to this novel because of this, and it was 100% worth it. I was blown away by how easily I could imagine every place.

A lot of the time, setting is something that is just in the background that I don’t pay much attention to, but in Andromeda the settings almost felt alive. As I mentioned before, the amount of description was just right and made me feel like I was right there with the characters. I have a hard time picking which setting was my favorite, but it’s probably between the Underworld, Medusa’s island, Delphi. I also loved the scenes at the Parthenon, but I’ve been to the replica Parthenon in Nashville many times so I feel like it has an unfair advantage.

CHARACTERS:
Speaking of characters, I love this cast so much. Andromeda is right at the top of favorite YA heroines for me. She is stuck in a terrible situation, and once she breaks free of it, she does absolutely everything in her power to keep that freedom. She refuses to wait around on the “heroes” to save or help her. I loved every moment when she gave a man what-for because she wasn’t being proper, pointing out that she had bigger things to worry about than proprieties. And while being a grade-A bad-ass, she is also caring and compassionate.

Perseus is a character made of more quiet strength than Andromeda. He tries to do what is right, is respectful and sensitive, but when someone he cares for is hurt, watch out! I loved how ready he was to jump into any fray and how, despite being doubted by everyone around him, rose to each occasion. I loved that he was both physically and morally strong without being a macho-tough-guy.

Zeth was probably the most surprising character for me. He comes across as typical of the time-period, valuing heroes and dismissive of anything a woman could offer on something like a dangerous quest. He’s also a poet and his attempts at recording the trio’s adventures were hilarious and so very wrong. I loved his buddy relationship with Perseus and how he and Andromeda bickered every chance they got. He also had the most growth of the characters, and that was really nice to see.

The villain of the story, Amphitrite, is a little on the typical side for a bad guy, but considering she is a Greek goddess, she was right on par for what you’d expect of that lot. But my favorite thing about her was her physical description, which sounds weird, but it was one of the coolest ways to present a character that I’ve ever seen and I loved it.

Beyond the main cast, all of the other characters felt fully-formed, from Andromeda’s friends and family to the various gods and goddesses and monsters. But there is one other character that I can’t go without mentioning because my love for him knows no bounds: Hades. He only has a very small part in this story, but from my very first glimpse of this novel, I have loved Hades. I’ve literally been saying I HEART HADES for years because of this book. I cannot wait to read more of his snarky wit in future novels.

DOWNSIDE:
The only minor thing I found while reading this is that Andromeda gets hurt. A lot. Granted, a lot of the injuries happen while she is fighting or something like that, but she’s also very jumpy. Thinking a bit more on it now, it could be because of her life with her first husband, which if so, is really sad and further goes to show how strong she is.

COOL STUFF:
Beyond Hades being the coolest of the cool, I absolutely loved every little wink to Greek mythology, especially when the characters would say something off-hand that referenced the original Perseus myth. Between that, the humor, and the many well-thought out actions scenes, I was giddy while reading this book. It was just so much fun while still being surprising in how it differed from the source material.

VERDICT:
If you couldn’t tell by my gushing all over this review, I love this book. The great writing, fantastic settings, action aplenty, and fun twists make this a book not to miss. Andromeda is the epitome of an amazing heroine, being cunning, kind, and feisty simultaneously, and the dynamics between her, Perseus, and Zeth make them a trio I want to adventure with again and again and again.

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