Friday Fall Book Tag~

I can’t believe we’re more than halfway through fall and I haven’t done a autumn-themed book tag yet! So this is more like a Almost-Done-Autumn tag, ha. This one is going to be more Thanksgiving focused because I’ve got my mom’s vegetarian stuffing on my mind 🙂

BOOK TAG RULES

  • answer the questions 🙂
  • link back to the creator (katieonthecase)
  • anyone who reads this- consider yourself tagged! or tag a few friends at the bottom.

1. THANKSGIVING: What book, series, or author are you most thankful for?

I’m going to go with book here and say Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. This heart-warming and LOL-funny book got me through a rough patch when I first moved to New York and straight up never wanted to leave my apartment. I basically was Bernadette, which was so ridiculous that it was comical. I also read it right after my mom did, and we discussed it together after, so I really felt a mom-daughter connection while reading. We ALSO recently saw the movie together, and I’m just really grateful for these bonding moments, so thank you Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Maria Semple!

2. MAC N CHEESE: What character is the best side kick or best friend?

Mac n cheese is for sure my favorite Thanksgiving side dish, and my favorite side kick characters would have to be Nora and Hopper in Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Discussing Night Film could take multiple blog posts as there are so many layers to the characters and story and and even the physical book itself, but I just want to shoutout Nora and Hopper for being the best surprising sidekicks a guy could have!

3. MULLED WINE: What character would you take out for drinks or dinner?

For sure mother-daughter duo Mia and Pearl Warren from Little Fires Everywhere! I loved the endearing bond these two quirky women shared, and I totally understand why this town felt so obsessed with them. Would love to hang out with these two, maybe do some arts and crafts after dinner!

4. TURKEY DECORATIONS: Do you have any fictional animal characters or pets you love?

If I had to choose a fictional animal friend, I would definitely want my own demon like in the His Dark Materials series. Every time Lyra had Pan by her side, it had me wishing I could have a little demon animal tethered to me!

5. PUMPKIN PIE: What is your favorite spooky book from Halloween?

This is tough because I read a lot of creepy books this year around Halloween! But the scariest one had to be The Whisper Man. This book had me legitimately closing and locking my windows, terrified even when I was safely in my own bed and with the lights on. This book wasn’t all scary though, it had such a great parenting message and the bond between generations. Recommended for anyone who loves fast paced (and I mean REALLY fast paced) creepy thrillers!

6. COMFY PANTS: What is your go-to comfort book?

As the name would imply, any cozy mystery is definitely a comfort/ guilty pleasure for me- ESPECIALLY seasonal ones. I’m on my second read of  The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis, so I’ll go with that one as my comfort book. It centers around a Thanksgiving stuffing competition, rare cats, crazy vlogger-types, and of course, murder. It’s perfect for this time of fall, and it’s not nearly as cheesy as some other cozies out there. My favorite aspect is the silly but cute Pinterest-style ideas at the beginning of every chapter from the crazy vlogger character, Natasha. I recommend for a cutesy and comforting Thanksgiving time read!

7. LEFTOVERS: What book or series could you read over and over again?

I have to be basic and Harry Potter! Anyone who wouldn’t say that is lying 😉

 

Happy Friday fellow bookworms! Don’t forget to tag your book loving friends to pass along the tag 🙂 and remember- if you’re reading this- tag you’re it!

Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

ABOUT:40867676

Name– The Night Before
Author– Wendy Walker
Genre– Mystery/Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Source– St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley
Katie’s case– 3.5/5

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DESCRIPTION:

Twelve hours earlier, she was…
Hopeful.
Excited.
Safe.
 

Now she’s gone. 

REVIEW: 

“If you keep leaving the herd, the wolves will come.”

The premise of Wendy Walker’s The Night Before is certainly a fresh one, diving into the modern world of online dating and its potential scares. I really enjoyed that this book focused on something so common in this day and age, but with more twists and turns as well as deeper issues. The plot starts simple, a blind date and a nervous girl with a damaged, and actually infamous past. The book focuses on more than the blind date, going into the territory of mental health, self awareness, and challenging upbringings. That’s all I really want to say about the plot itself, for fear of giving too much away, but just know its more than just a book about dating.

With that being said, I want to start out my review by saying that this blurb was PERFECT and should be a lesson to the whole thriller genre. The blurb was maybe five sentences, just enough to draw you in without giving a single plot line away. (Side rant: way too often I feel like I can basically guess the whole premise by just reading the long, drawn out blurbs and spoil the whole book for myself. Some blurbs give away the whole twist! OK end rant.)

As I said, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot itself, but I do want to share my thoughts about the other aspects of the book. I’ve actually been pretty torn on how to rate this one, because there were some parts I loved and some parts that I felt had potential but didn’t get all the way there. On one hand, I think the pacing was excellent and constantly kept me on my toes. This is going to be a huge hit this summer for the unique plot line and immersive writing alone. I actually had to force myself to turn off my Kindle and go to sleep- it’s that thrilling. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen, and who the real villains were.

Unfortunately I do think I figured out the plot twist a little too early for my liking, and would like to have been more surprised by the end, but that’s just personal preference. Some readers really love to use their armchair detective skills, so they would probably really enjoy this slow reveal. I think I just felt like the plot was a bit spoon-fed for me and tried to hard to make everything neat and perfect. Another possibility is that I read too much of this genre and can’t be totally shocked by what I read anymore, which is also just a personal issue!

Although I liked the pacing and the alternating perspectives, the other aspects of the writing fell a bit flat for me. I didn’t ever really connect with any of the characters, in fact, I didn’t really like any of them at all. I think they could use some more flushing out, maybe by making the book a bit longer and diving deeper into each of their histories? I don’t necessarily need likable characters, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more character development here. Although I do understand the book takes place in basically one day. Again, I really did love getting multiple perspectives on the same night and getting constant cliffhangers at the end of each chapter!

Overall, I think The Night Before is a fresh idea and I absolutely know it will be a hit this summer, I think it was just kind of middle of the road for me, and that’s ok. It was still a very fun read that I finished in a few sittings and would still most likely recommend to my other thriller friends! I will definitely be checking out Wendy Walker’s previous novels too.

Thank you NetGalley, Wendy Walker, and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of this novel and the opportunity to enjoy early in return for my honest review.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts? Comment below!

Winter Bookworm Bingo: Update 1!

Hello bookies! I hope everyone’s been transitioning smoothly into the New Year so far! Yes, yes, I know we are over a week into 2019 but I’m only just starting to really get back to reality after a very long, but necessary, winter break. My last few weeks have consisted of relaxation, family time, catching up with friends, wedding planning, and even getting a new job! Wooo! So I definitely can say it’s been a little hectic for me, but despite the chaos I’ve still been working on my Winter Bookworm Bingo challenge!

If it’s been so long that you’re thinking to yourself, “bingo? what bingo?” then I definitely wouldn’t blame you. Here’s a refresher for those who want to follow a long and challenge yourselves in the new year with me!

So far, I’ve officially checked off four boxes on my reading challenge, and although I would consider myself being a little behind on my challenge, I had such a lovely time with my family and friends this break, that I will cut myself a little slack for now. With that being said, here are my four boxes I have checked off, the one in progress, and the next two on my list.

DONE!

1. Female lead: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Handa

Winter Bookworm Bingo was off to a phenomenal start with this Christmas Carol hilarious and heartwarming retelling. Everyone knows the story- Scrooge, an old and greedy, uptight man, gets visited by three ghosts and has to promise to become a better person to all of his peers. What Dickens did not necessarily imagine was a seventeen-year-old girl with a massive Instagram following and daddy’s money that has made her a capital B Brat. Cynthia Hand shows us that not just greedy older men are capable of being Scrooges, but so can pretty young women and handsome young men be in serious need of a ghostly wake up call.

I might have a different spin on this one too, I listened to it as an audiobook, which I highly, HIGHLY recommend. The voice acting for Holly was spot. on. As a California girl myself, I’m pretty used to the dramatized valley girl vocal fry, but Holly’s was excellent. I truly believed this actress was Holly Chase, a former brat turned ghost, living out her days at a secret organization for other Scrooges. Please do yourself a favor and listen to this hilarious treat of a narration.

All in all, the Afterlife of Holly Chase warmed by heart, broke it, and then warmed it up again. I didn’t expect myself to be rooting for this comedically awful teenager and her crush, but boy was I wrong. Cynthia Hand has the perfect teenage voice down to a science, along with the angst, love, and uncertainty that comes with being on the brink of adulthood. What I’m saying is- this is not just a book about ghosts and Scrooges- it’s about second changes, forgiveness, compassion, coming of age, and love. Did I also mention it’s also hilarious?! Seriously. I was laughing out loud. Five riveting magnifying glasses for my first Winter Bookworm Bingo square.

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2. Recipe: traditional Christmas fettuccine!fet

Ok so obviously this wasn’t a book to be read and checked off, buuuut I wanted to challenge myself to read and perfect a recipe for Christmas dinner. I made my family’s traditional fettuccine like all good Italians eat on Christmas, and it was a hit! I even made it again for my family’s New Year’s Eve dinner. Yes I am definitely giving five stars (magnifying glasses) for the classic fettuccine recipe!!!

Anyone else have a cultural dish you like to make around the holidays?

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3. Heartwarming read: One Day in December by Josie Silverdec

I had a whole different kind of review planned out for One Day in December, but I really feel like it is a hard book for me to review. Yeah, I read it in two days. Yes, it was compulsive. Yep, I needed to know the ending. But did I genuinely, truly enjoy it? The jury is still out on that one, folks.

Half of my mixed feelings come from the fact that I’ve never read a romance novel and I don’t usually read “chick-lit” or heartwarming stories. I prefer my romance to be in Hallmark movies and Lifetime originals, but I think I’ve learned that’s the only place I really like to be entertained with sappy love stories with predictable endings- on TV.

The other half of mixed feelings come from the content itself. I found this book to be a compulsively readable and entertaining character study. I loved how the book spanned 10 years of friendship, relationships, family issues, and of course love. I thought this time line worked especially well in this book, and genuinely was touched by some events within this passage of time. I also laughed out loud a few times, which never hurts either!

On the other hand, this book was predictable and sappy. I know that works for a lot of people, and I LOVE predictable and sappy Lifetime movies, so I totally understand the draw. Like, I don’t watch Hallmark or Lifetime to have my heartbroken and the couple not actually get together in the end. So I respect the need for this in a book too, just maybe not my personal cup of tea. Or as the British say, “cuppa.” I also felt this book was a little problematic, and I don’t want to get too into spoiler territory here, but I definitely had to knock off a star from my enjoyment level on this one. I’ll stick to thrillers!

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4. Cover with mainly blue, white, or silver: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Oof, this most recent book in my challenge thus far was a little rough for me. I’ve othhonestly been avoiding reviewing it because it’s been days and I still can’t gather my thoughts on this one. A couple chapters in, I definitely knew what would happen. Halfway through, I knew what would happen AND I hated the main character, Emily. I’m not really one to DNF, but I’ll be honest, this time I solely didn’t DNF because I needed to know if I was right from the beginning, despite how much I loathed Emily.

I was right, by the way. But I guess I shouldn’t blame the author for me being too addicted to thrillers that I can spot hidden foreshadowing a mile away. I actually did like the authors writing style, and I didn’t think the plot or ending was horrible. I just simply could not stand another minute of Emily’s pathetic and pitiful inner monologue. I screamed more than once reading this, and mind you, this is coming from someone who has yet to hate even the most awful of main characters in my reading career thus far. I will say though that I was really desperate to know what happened, so I can’t lie that it definitely captivated me for awhile. I think this is why I had a hard time reviewing this one, it’s such a touch balancing act of weighing my intrigue vs. my hatred to result in an appropriate rating.

With that being said, I really do give Sandie Jones credit for making me SO passionately angry at a book. I didn’t rate this one low because I thought it was boring and forgettable, I rated it low because I was so mad at the main character for such being a pushover, wishy-washy, doormat of a woman. So in that regard, an infuriating low rating > boring low rating, in my opinion. So congrats on the two magnifying glasses for making me utterly pissed off for a week, but I guess that’s still better than making me utterly bored.

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In progress:

5. Summer setting: Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoardhere

You know when you start a book and immediately know you’re going to love it, no matter what the ending? That’s a rare feeling for me, but I’m definitely feeling that way about a third through. I’m absolutely enthralled by the characterization and writing style, but I won’t get too ahead of myself. More to come on my next update!

Next up on my list:

6. Book gifted: Nightfilm by Marisha Pessl

Thanks Emily! So excited to read this one!

7. One word title: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

My fiance has been begging me to read it for months- it’s up next I promise!

 

How are you all doing with your winter or 2019 reading challenges so far? Have any books you recommend that also check off these boxes? Let me know below! 

Loved That? Look Into This! Part I

Afternoon bookworms! My mood today can pretty much be summed up by one of my favorite 30 Rock scenes:

Image result for lemon it's wednesday

But at least that means it’s now officially halfway through the week! Yay! On this fine Hump Day I wanted to do a Part I of my new “Loved that? Try this!” series where I will be giving my recommendations based on books with similar themes, characters, or plots.

I’m going to start off my first edition by featuring some of my favorite thrillers from the last year or so. And with that, let’s begin!

LOVED All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda? LOOK INTO The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok I know, I know I’m kind of cheating with this pick here since it’s the same author, BUT hear me out and cut me some slack because it’s the first recommendation on this list 🙂 What I loved the most about All the Missing Girls was the ever-present sinister and creepy am-I-being-watched undertones throughout the novel. Megan Miranda does a phenomenal job of writing eerie and atmospheric scenes that make your skin crawl. It’s not even that the plot should be considered horror, but the way she describes the woods, the caves, and even the old creaky house, is truly something horrific.

Although I loved the plot too, and loved how the novel was uniquely set backward, it was this atmospheric aspect that truly captivated me in just one or two sittings. If this aspect is what drew you too, that’s why I recommend reading more of her work. It’s not because story lines for All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger are similar. Instead, the tone of being watched and that increasing paranoia and anxiety is skillfully done in both books.

There are definitely a few similar themes in the novels, and themes I typically gravitate toward- the mysterious and enigmatic best girl friend. I love books that focus on a mystery surrounding one person’s secrets and the main character having to uncover who they really were. Miranda definitely seems to like this theme too, as it’s present in both novels, and another reason why if you liked All The Missing Girls you eat up The Perfect Stranger too.

One last aspect that I really love about these books- and please don’t laugh or judge- the covers of these books are so soft and I just love holding them while I read. If you read this in print, you must know what I mean!

And one more last, LAST thing. She has a new book coming out Jan 29, 2019! I can’t wait!!

LOVED The Memory Watcher by Minka Kent? LOOK INTO Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

memory  29095402

I’ve previously written about these two in short, but never explicitly connected why they are so perfect for readers of a very specific theme. When you break it down, The Memory Watcher and Only Daughter both focus on someone lying or putting on an act of someone different than who they really are for their own benefit. I don’t want to get too deep into spoiler territory on either of these, but that’s basically what you need to know about both books.

If you were entranced in how the narrator in The Memory Watcher assumed her role as a nanny to watch over the neighbor’s baby, you will just as much love how the woman in Only Daughter assumes her role as a girl missing years prior. Both books share webs of family secrets, deception, and twisty climaxes. And when it comes down to it, I could just really see both main characters in each book getting along. Maaaaybe it’s because they both have a knack for manipulating and deceiving, but hey I never said it would be a healthy friendship.

Similarly to my recommendation for All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger for their tones, The Memory Watcher and Only Daughter had the same undercurrents of lying, as well as very flawed main characters and very flawed family relations. Both of these books surprised me by how much they, well, surprised me- both incredibly underrated twisty page-turners that I recommend to all psycho-thriller-lovers, and especially for fans of each respective book.

LOVED The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager? LOOK INTO Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

thelasttime  LITTLE

At first glance, or first back-of-the-book-synopsis, these two books may seem like they have nothing in common. The Last Time I Lied is about a woman returning to her childhood summer camp and reliving the lies, terrors, and traumas of her past the night her friends disappeared. Little Monsters, on the other hand, is about a small town struck by tragedy and unanswerable questions when an average high school student goes missing after a party. One obvious similarity here is the disappearance and search for a missing high schooler, but the themes go so much deeper than that; because let’s face it, most all thrillers these days have a missing girl. However, these are not just stories of a missing girl- they’re stories of past trauma, teenage angst, young bullies, and childish nostalgia- and the missing girls are honestly just a coincidence in this case.

While reading both of these novels, I felt a creeping nostalgia and attachment for aspects of my younger self in a way I haven’t before. Both have all of the usual teenage suspects: angst, crushes, cattiness, and lying. It’s not exactly a positive nostalgia that I feel for these situations, but more of an emotional familiarity to these forgotten feelings. In The Last Time I Lied, I felt like I was traveling through space and time to my own camp days where all kids want to do is hang out with the older, cooler kids. The main character gets assigned a cabin of older girls who quickly show her the ways of the camp while also quickly losing some innocence. Just like in All The Missing Girls, I love the stories where there are enigmatic and flawed friends who you just can’t help but be drawn too. In the same way, The Last Time I Lied draws you into these older girls, make you want to be a part of the group, and most importantly know their secrets, all while feeling an odd sense of familiarity for teenage years as a girl. Plus there is a good ol’ mystery of what was the fate of these teenagers, and you know I was on the case for that part too, of course.

So yes, there is also the disappearance of a teenager in Little Monsters, but again it’s not just solving a mystery that’s important in this one. If you liked that sense of nostalgia for being a teenager with secrets and lies then Little Monsters is also a must-read. Instead of being taken back to my camp days in this one, I was taken back to those high school student-packed hallways, parties, and sneaking around. (I promise Mom I only snuck out once! I honestly think I was so un-sneaky that you even knew too!) The  familiar feeling of being a teenager who just wants to make friends, get your crush to notice you, and deal with rumors was all too real in this one. Don’t get me wrong, even though it’s YA, it’s not some vapid high school story. It is a story of grief, trauma, and growing up. And yes! A nice twisty and shocking mystery!

In both books, you really get a deep understanding of the inside of a teenage girl’s mind, and really see what teenagers can be capable of amidst the lies and hardships of growing up. There is also a fun sense of a creepy and foreboding force, but I promise it’s all still realistic! So if you enjoyed these themes in The Last Time I Lied, you will devour Little Monsters just as eagerly!

That’s a wrap for Part I of “Loved this? Look into that!” I swear I don’t only read books about missing girls, but would it be so bad if I did?!

Have you loved any of these and recommend looking into something else? I always want to hear from you guys! Comment below!

Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

ABOUT:LITTLE

Name– Little Monsters
Author– Kara Thomas
Genre– YA Thriller, Mystery Thriller
Source– Purchased
Katie’s case– 5/5

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DESCRIPTION:

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

REVIEW:

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas hooked me before I even opened it, when I read that it was a high school drama that could be compared to Pretty Little Liars. I will (not so) shamelessly admit that I stuck through almost a decade of that show’s ridiculous twists, turns, cheesy writing, and plot holes galore. Although I loved every second of it, I can still admit that it maaaaybe wasn’t the best quality television out there. When I read that Little Monsters had the same feel as PLL, I was eager to get my hands on it right away, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also a little hesitant; like I said, I know PLL wasn’t great quality.

Well, Little Monsters completely exceeded my expectations of a high school-centered YA mystery novel. I would say the only real similarity between Little Monsters and PLL is the high school setting. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic- Little Monsters definitely serves up some sinister high schoolers like in PLL, but I don’t want to get too deep into spoiler territory there. All I will really say is that just like in PLL, you will have no idea what these characters are capable of, and you will be on your toes until the very. last. line.

So yes, Little Monsters is absolutely a dark and twisted high school thriller, but it’s also much more than that. I was actually moved to tears at one point in the novel. The characters were written so beautifully with their own unique voices, I actually felt like they were real people. They were complex and interesting, and very different from other YA high schoolers. Kacey is such a little gem, I wish I knew her when I was in school. She’s smart and driven, with some added spunk under her brooding appearance. And Bailey! I absolute ate up her diary entries. That was a lovely addition and I found myself hoping, “please let the next chapter be a Bailey chapter!!” I loved reading her unfiltered perspective, and it was perfectly executed.

I still haven’t even touched upon the writing in general! Kara Thomas has such a wonderful way with words, such vivid descriptions and brilliant metaphors that sound like a teenager could have actually thought them. Now, don’t take that to mean her writing is simple or juvenile, she just captures the mind of a young person so well, and it even brought me back to my own teenage years. The lying, rumors, sneaking out- and internal monologue about the aforementioned- is spot on with these teenagers. It’s not easy to master this level of writing while maintaining a childlike voice, and this is coming from someone who is really harsh while reading YA books. I’m always nit-picking what the narrator says and I think to myself, “ok would a teenager REALLY think that?!” but Thomas completely nailed it. She knows her audience, captures them, shocks them, and then does it all over again with her adult readers too.

If you want a stroll down your high school memory lane, with a hint of added small town mythology, dark secrets, and crime, this one’s for you. I’m rating Little Monsters 5/5 because I want to live in Broken Falls and just insert myself into this small town and their mysteries. I guess I will just have to keep reading Kara Thomas’ books to fill the Little Monsters, and PLL-esque high school drama, shaped void in my heart now!

Next book by her: The Cheerleaders! Already included it as a space on my Winter Bookworm Bingo card. If you haven’t already checked that out, see my last post for details!

 

Introducing: Winter Bookworm Bingo!

Happy Tuesday my fellow bookworms! Winter is beginning to show herself early here in (Northern) California in the form of rain, rain, and more rain. But being the bi-coastal dweller I am, I’m getting ready to go back to NYC this week and know I will be in for a chilly awakening! I was completely devastated that I missed the first snow of the season there, because it’s by far the most magical day of the year in New York. Everyone in the city has this collective childlike-joy that’s vibrant and completely contagious. Even though I missed that day, I’m eager for the inevitable holiday excitement that happens in NYC in December like Christmas markets and snow days.

So in anticipation of that excitement, I would like to introduce a new section I’ve been planning: a winter edition of Bookworm Bingo! I’m going to be making my own Bingo cards at the beginning of each new season that can act as a guide, challenge, or just inspiration for your next book choice. If you’re anything like me and can read the same genre for 10 books in a row, it’s a good way to branch out of a cycle and dip your toes into something new. And what better way to try something new than by doing it as a part of a game?!

My rules are:

+ you’re not allowed to use the same book for two spaces
+ you can use one dnf book
+ you can do a reread, of course!

Aaaaand here it is… Bookworm Bingo: Winter Edition!

BINGO

Before I even thought about making this a blog section, I made this as a way to challenge myself to get into more genres. Since I am now sharing it with y’all, I figured it’s also a good way to introduce some books on my TBR for winter! Because I’m incredibly indecisive, I’m sure this list will change 100 times by the end of winter, but here is just a little taste:

+ Holiday-themed cozy: In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon (Netgalley read), ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost (Netgalley read), Slay Bells by TC Wesscott (Netgally read)
+ Cabin setting: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
+ Snow on the cover: The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden
+ 2018 winter release: The Anonymous Girl, technically to be released January 2019.
+ Compilation of short stories: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories by Raymond Carver, A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin
+ Blue, white, silver cover: Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter, The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
+ Book then movie: You by Caroline Kepnes, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
+ LGBT+: This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel, Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
+ Retelling: Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
+ Book in Europe: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Amsterdam)
+ Funny book: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
+ Memoir/biography: I’ll Be There for You: The One about Friends (YES I’m letting a biography about a show or fictional characters count!), Becoming by Michelle Obama
+ Recipe: Probably going to do a lot of these! Probably a lot of macaroni and cheese ones, specifically….
+ Female lead: The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn, The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
+ Book you own but never read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
+ Gift book: Nightfilm by Marisha Pessl (thanks Emily!!)
+ Heartwarming or feel-good: One Day in December by Josie Silver
+ Published year you were born: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
+ Thriller you can finish in one day: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (hopefully one day?!)
+ POC lead: An American Marriage by Tarayi Jones, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
+ Banned book for winter: The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman (is this in winter?? Are there bears again?!)
+ Summer/hot setting: Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard, In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
+ One word title: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
+ Goodreads choice: The Outsider by Stephen King

Have you read anything on this list that you recommend or don’t recommend? Anything you loved or anything that you read and have already forgotten about? What about any ideas that you have for me for these spaces? Let me know in the comments! I want opinions since I haven’t read anything on this list yet and am curious what y’all think.

Good luck with Bookworm Bingo and HAPPY READING!

Gift Guide for the Thriller-Lover in Your Life

I don’t know about you guys, but when I was a kid, I always got socks for Christmas. You know what I hated getting for Christmas? Socks. You know what I secretly hope everyone gets me for Christmas now? Socks. Socks and books. Now my holidays are spent in my warm, cozy Christmas socks snuggled up with the newest thriller or a classic mystery, and I know I’m not the only one. If you’re like me, or your loved one is like me, you’re always on the hunt for one of these types of books. Well, look no further, because I have the perfect book gift guide for every thriller-lover in your life. Or for yourself if you like to spoil yourself with new books as much as I do. 

FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO EMBRACE THE WINTER COLD: 

An Unwanted Guest By Shari Lapenaunwantedguest

I’m originally from California, where the winter is maybe 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the year. During this time, I like to pretend I understand what a “white Christmas” is and read books that will give me the chills- both in the weather and the thrill. And is there a better way to welcome the chilly weather than by murder(s) in a winter resort that’s freezing cold and the guests are even colder? Maybe even cold blooded? This who-done-it is an atmospheric page turner that would make anyone stay up late in their fuzzy socks just to figure out what happens next. A quick read that I devoured in one day would be sure to be perfect for anyone craving a cold case. Grab your blankets and hot chocolate for this one!

Goodreads Description:

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up. It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm. 

FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO ESCAPE THE WINTER COLD:

The Dry by Jane Harperthedry

Maybe you’ve had enough of the cold cases? Both with the weather AND in your books? Maybe you need a warmer book, but certainly not warm-hearted in this thriller! Set during a drought in Australia, you might almost forget it’s winter here because you will practically hear the dry grass in the hot air, see the falling flies, and feel sweat drip down your face as you read this incredibly descriptive page-turner. I read this book last winter and not only is it beautifully written, it’s a great mystery and a touching story. The book hooked me from the first chapter and kept me guessing until the very end. Now excuse me while I impatiently wait for Harper’s third book in the Aaron Falk series to come out.

Goodreads Description:

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier. 
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds in bleed into new ones.

FOR THE PERSON WHO MISSES CHILDHOOD SUMMER CAMP:

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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Ah, summer camp as a kid: swimming in the lake, taking art classes, your friends go missing in the night never to be seen again… wait what? That last one didn’t happen to you? Well it does to Emma in this creepy mystery-thriller by Riley Sager. What can I say, I love creepy, atmospheric, descriptive novels that make me feel like I’m at the scene of the crime, and this book does not disappoint. I felt like I was returning to a childhood summer camp, but with less missing persons for me. I got this book when it first came out because I love campy stuff, and I ate this book up in a matter of days. This hit all my boxes: teenage secrets, spooky cabins, weird families, dark histories, and a haunted heroine. Just be sure not to check your kids into any Camp Nightingales this winter.

Goodreads Description:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

FOR THE PERSON ANXIOUS TO RETURN TO THEIR CREEPY, SMALL HOME TOWN:

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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Maybe you don’t want to return to your childhood summer camp, but what about your dreaded hometown that was once the place of your best friend’s disappearance? Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls was my top read for 2018, a novel told in reverse about two disappearances that shake a small town. This book is creepy. Maybe you want a chilling read for the chilly weather, but I personally couldn’t read this alone or in the dark, it’s that good at creeping me out. I say that with the highest praise because I don’t get scared of mysteries easily, but this one was so atmospheric in a way that I had never read before, and I savored every second of it. This book made me want to hug the main character and be her friend. If you can scare me AND make me feel every human emotion, it’s a pretty good book.

Goodreads Description:

Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

FOR THE PERSON A LITTLE TOO OBSESSED WITH SOCIAL MEDIA:

The Memory Watcher by Minka Kent

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We all know that person, the person who spends all day checking their Instagram or blog obsessively. Ok maybe I’m sometimes that person… But what about when your constant blog scrolling leads you to your daughter who you had to give up for adoption years earlier? The Memory Watcher introduces us to Autumn, whose social media scrolling does just this. I loved Autumn, she was such a fun character for me to read, and completely unlike any other narrator I’ve met. Minka Kent paints a very unique picture of the connections between social media, lies, family secrets, and the lengths we go for the people we love. This book took me maybe two days to finish, because I was so eager to get the truth. Give this as a hint to someone to maybe get off social media every now and then, you never know what you’ll stumble upon!

Goodreads Description:

When Autumn Carpenter stumbles upon the social media account of the family who adopted her infant daughter years ago, she finds herself instantly drawn into their picture-perfect existence. 
 
From behind a computer screen, Autumn watches Grace’s every memory, from birthdays to holidays to bedtime snuggles. But what starts as an innocent fascination spirals into an addictive obsession met with a screeching halt the day the McMullen family closes their Instaface account without so much as a warning. 
 
Frantic and desperate to reconnect with her daughter, Autumn applies for a nanny position with the McMullens, manipulating herself into Grace’s life under false pretenses. And it’s only then that Autumn discovers pictures lie, the perfect family doesn’t exist, and beautiful people? They have the ugliest secrets.

FOR THE PERSON SECRETLY CURIOUS WHAT A CULT WITH THEIR SPOUSE WOULD BE LIKE:

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

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I should have titled this: “For the person who secretly curious what a cult with their spouse would be like, wants a wild switch up from the average domestic thriller, and just craves a fun, completely insane roller coaster of a book” buuuut that might have been too long of a title perhaps. My alternate title completely sums it up: the is a wild ride and quite the stray from the other domestic thrillers that are popular right now. This book somehow manages to be one of the darkest I read this year, but also one of the most fun. Does that make me sound twisted?! This book asks you to suspend a bit of belief, but after all of the cheating husbands and crazy children in the recent domestic dramas I’ve read, I was happy for a weird little change. If you’re like me and want to laugh, get creeped out, and scream at the characters: this is the ultimate read.

Goodreads Description:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . 

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS A LITTLE LESS MYSTERY, A LITTLE MORE SPUNK THIS WINTER:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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If you haven’t gotten the chance to read this one, RUN do not walk to your nearest bookseller, and do yourself a huge favor this winter. This book is a little different from the others on my list, but that’s not to say I wasn’t thrilled and terrified while reading it. The Bear and the Nightingale is a dark retelling of an ancient Russian fairy tale, filled with demons, magic, and of course, a spunky and strong heroine. If you couldn’t already tell, I read a lot of thrillers, but this was such a magical stray for me. This book actually thrilled me in a way other books this year hadn’t. Above all, this book was just a work of art both in the writing and in the story. For this reason, it is the ultimate winter read and the perfect gift for a lover of all things thrills, magic, and a little chill.

Goodreads Description:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Have you read any of these thrilling novels this year? Are there any books you are hoping to give or receive this holiday season? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your wish lists for this year!