Saturday, October 29, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 29, 2016: One Was Lost (Spotlight)

"If you enjoy fast paced thrillers with a plot line you can really get lost in, then definitely pick up One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards! It comes out in October, just in time for Halloween, so mark it on your calendar and prepare to get lost!"--Under the Book Cover

One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Paperback: $10.99

For fans of In a Dark, Dark Wood and Survive the Night comes a pulse-pounding, psychological thriller from the author of Six Months Later.
Damaged, Deceptive, DangerousDarling. When a group of teens wake up in the woods, these words are inked onto their skin. Are they labels? A warning? They must find the truth before a killer finds them.
While on a mandatory senior field trip, a flash flood cuts off Sera and three classmates from their group with no way to call for help. But they're not as alone as they thought...

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A school hiking trip turns deadly in Richards's dark, contemporary stand-alone thriller. Participation in a hike through the West Virginia woods is mandatory for graduating high school seniors. Sera's misery is compounded by Lucas, the crush she's avoided. A flash flood strands the campers and their teachers Mr. Walker and Ms. Brighton on either side of a river. The next day, Sera wakes up from a drugged sleep, discovering evidence that the campers were attacked. Mr. Walker is found unconscious, and the campers are marked on their wrists: Jude, Deceptive; Emily, Damaged; Lucas, Dangerous; and Sera, Darling. Someone is targeting them for crimes, imagined or real, and they must work together to survive the hunt. Richards delivers a solid page-turner for readers who want to keep the lights on all night. With its predatory atmosphere, this book feels like The Breakfast Club folded into a Christopher Pike novel's fight for survival. The characters' ethnicities are refreshingly inclusive. However, the plot suffers from a weakness that holds it back from rising above average. The backstory behind the attack is based on a ghostly tale that readers are never sufficiently privy to, weakening the tension and at times causing actual confusion. The attacks are quite graphic and may be unsuitable for sensitive readers. VERDICT An enticing thriller that, despite some defects, remains a general purchase recommendation.—Jessica Bushore, formerly at Shelf Awareness, Xenia, OH

Friday, October 28, 2016

Blog Tour: How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington

"Aurora’s indefatigable enthusiasm permeates Eglington’s writing, and keeps every plot twist frothy and fun, whether it involves family, boys, or the production of Much Ado About Nothing Hayden and Aurora star in...Eglington celebrates female friendship and loyalty, too, and Aurora’s sunny outlook will satisfy readers looking for a romantic comedy with a dash of Shakespeare."—Publishers Weekly

"If you've been looking for Clueless: The Next Generation, your search ends here! HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is a candy-coated read with all of the drama and plenty of heart."—Sandy Hall, author of A Little Something Different and Signs Point to Yes

From talented debut YA author Tara Eglington comes a page-turning, funny and delicious romp of a book, HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU (Thomas Dunne Books; October 25, 2016). Tara wonderfully captures the hopes that are so often woven around first kisses. Everybody wants their first kiss to be perfect, and to the delight of readers, the 
vivacious protagonist Aurora goes farther than most to achieve this.

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed—and that’s the way Aurora Skye wants it to be. She’s too busy finding guys for her two best friends, counseling her sensitive New Age dad (the NAD), and dealing with the unexpected return of her long- absent mom. But always in the background there’s Hayden Paris, the boy next door, the bane of Aurora’s existence.

Smart, funny, and always around to see her at her worst, he ‘gets’ her like no-one else... and that’s what makes him so infuriating.

When Aurora and Hayden are coerced into the lead roles in the school production of Much Ado About Nothing, things can only get worse. How is Aurora going to save her first kiss for the secret admirer who wooed her with poetry and a spectacular bunch of flowers on Valentine’s Day if she doesn’t know who he is and she’s obligated to lock lips with Hayden in the play’s final dramatic clinch?

Aurora’s clever maneuvers can keep her away from kisses, but they can’t seem to bring her any closer to her secret admirer – a potential prince. A humorous take on the trials and tribulations of crushes, secret admirers, and first loves, HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU will keep you laughing up until the final page.

About the Author

Tara Eglington grew up in Byron Bay, Australia. Her hobbies when she’s not writing include watching endless cat videos on YouTube, planning pretend holidays to the Maldives, and day-dreaming about who would play Hayden Paris in a film adaptation of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You. The novel’s sequel will be published in 2017.


By Tara Eglington

Published by Thomas Dunne Books

**On Sale October 25, 2016**

Hardcover | $18.99

ISBN: 9781250049537| Ebook ISBN: 9781466850538

Hit the Jump for an Exclusive Excerpt

Thursday, October 27, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!): October 27, 2016 BLOG TOUR Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Atl herself is a vicious yet still appealing heroine to root for as cops, crooks, and vampires hunt her across the steamy
streets of the capital. The Mexican setting is a huge part of the allure of this new novel from Moreno-Garcia (Signal to
Noise), as are the fascinating varieties of vampires she sets forth.” --—Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Moreno-Garcia’s action-packed second standalone novel (after Signal to Noise) brings myths from multiple cultures
into focus as different, coexisting types of vampires get tangled up in the drug wars of near-future Mexico, setting the stage for a bloody and engrossing story of rival families... A bittersweet, satisfying ending confirms that Moreno-Garcia is an author to watch.”--Publishers Weekly

Certain Dark Things: A Novel By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

In 2015, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut, SIGNAL TO NOISE, jump started her writing career as one of the best of the year on seven lists including RT, BookRiot, Buzzfeed, io9, Vice, and The debut was also was finalist for the 2016 Aurora Awards, Sunburst Award, and the 2016 Locus Awards. Already highly anticipated, her sophomore book, CERTAIN DARK THINGS (Thomas Dunne Books; October 25, 2016), adds to this emerging talent’s buzz. Set in the dark underworld of Mexico City, Moreno-Garcia spins a fast paced story based on Latin American myth about a dark vampire drug war.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Here in the city, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay, Domingo is another trash-picking street kid, just hoping to make enough to survive. Then he meets Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers running from a rival band of vampires, and is smitten. But Atl’s problems in a deeply.

About the Author

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Signal to Noise and the short story collection This Strange Way of Dying, which was a finalist for the Sunburst Award in Canada. She was a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize, and a recipient of the Gloria Vanderbilt/Exile Award for Best Emerging Writer.


A Novel

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published by Thomas Dunne Books

**On Sale October 25, 2016**

Hardcover | $25.99

ISBN: 9781250099082| Ebook ISBN: 9781250099099

Hit the Jump for An Exclusive Excerpt

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) Midnight Hour Blog Tour (Excerpt)

“Ms. Hunter handles this series with such deftness, crafting a wonderful tale. I highly recommend this series filled with
darkness and light, hope and danger, friendship and romance.”

—Night Owl Reviews (Top Pick) on the Shadow Falls series

“Jam-packed with action and romance . . . Hunter’s lifelike characters and paranormal creatures populate a plot that will
keep you guessing till the very end. A perfect mesh of mystery, thriller, and romance. Vampires, weres and fae, oh my!”

—Romantic Times on the Shadow Falls series

“The newest in the super-popular teen paranormal genre, this book is one of the best. This one is going on the keeper

—Fresh Fiction on the Shadow Falls series

Over one million readers have already fallen in love with CC Hunter’s Camp Shadow Falls between the Shadow Falls series and the After Dark series. Now comes the conclusion of Hunter’s massive saga MIDNIGHT HOUR (St. Martin’s Griffin; October 25, 2016), a thrilling finale involving a missing sister, a heart in quandary, and a growing tattoo no one understands. Whether you are discovering Shadow Falls for the first time or have been following the series all along, this young adult novel will draw you into its otherworldly plot.

Being a dyslexic witch is a curse in itself, but Miranda Kane’s time at Shadow Falls has helped her harness her magical powers. Now, just as she’s finally mastered them and is preparing to graduate with her friends, a near-death experience threatens to ruin it all.

Miranda awakens in the hospital with a mysterious tattoo that no one can explain. As she 
struggles to make sense of it – and questions her feelings for a certain irresistible shape-shifter and a hot new guy – the strange markings begin to spread all over her body, leaving her desperate to find answers. But before she can solve that problem, a new one arises: her sister is missing. Has her sister been kidnapped? Miranda will risk her life to find out. Will she live to share the day she’s worked so hard for with her friends? When the clock strikes midnight, will Miranda make it to her graduation at Shadow Falls?

MIDNIGHT HOUR can be read as a standalone novel or as the satisfying ending to a fan favorite series. A coming of age and sister story, Hunter’s conclusion will captivate the young adult audience.

About the Author

C.C. HUNTER is the author of the New York Times bestselling Shadow Falls series. She lives in Spring, Texas where she's at work on her next novel.


A Shadow Falls Novel

By C.C. Hunter

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin

**On Sale October 25, 2016**

Trade Paperback | $10.99

ISBN: 9781250035882| Ebook ISBN: 9781250035875


Hit the Jump for the Exclusive Excerpt

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 24, 2016: The Women in the Walls (Spotlight)

"Horror for romance fans."--Kirkus Reviews

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Paperback: $18.99

Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

Kirkus Review:

A girl becomes certain that the ghosts of her mother and other female relatives inhabit the walls of her family mansion.
Lucy Acosta loves her aunt Penelope and her best friend, Penelope’s daughter and her cousin Margaret. One evening Penelope simply walks into the woods and disappears. Margaret believes she hears her mother’s voice coming from the walls, especially in the attic. Investigating, Lucy finds signs that Penelope may have been practicing witchcraft. When another disappearance occurs, Lucy herself begins to hear the voices. Meanwhile, Lucy’s father remains cold and distant, and the family continues to host lavish dinners for the country club that appears somehow to be tied into the family fortune. This rests so strongly on the female family members that Lucy’s father changed his own name to Acosta when he married Lucy’s mother. (Aside from the Latino name, there is no evidence that this family is other than rich and white.) Lucy herself can make no claim to being normal; she finds relief from stress by cutting herself with razors she keeps in an elaborately decorated box. Writing in Lucy’s voice, Lukavics drives the story through sudden hyperbolic statements rather than by building suspense, and the gothic horror, complete with some extremely gruesome scenes, often feels improvised. Eventually readers will find a resolution appropriate to the horror genre.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 23, 2016: The Mark of Cain (Spotlight)

"Literary, scary, and made to read with all the lights on."--Kirkus Reviews

The Mark of Cain by Lindsey Barraclough

Release Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
Paperback: $11.99

In 1567, baby Aphra is found among the reeds and rushes by two outcast witches. Even as an infant, her gifts in the dark craft are clear. But when her guardians succumb to an angry mob, Aphra is left to fend for herself. She is shunned and feared by all but one man, the leper known as Long Lankin. Hounded and ostracized, the two find solace only in each other, but even this respite is doomed, and Aphra’s bitterness poisons her entire being. Afflicted with leprosy, tortured and about to be burned as a witch, she manages one final enchantment—a curse on her tormentor’s heirs. Now, in 1962, Cora and Mimi, the last of a cursed line, are trapped in an ancient home on a crumbling estate in deepest winter, menaced by a spirit bent on revenge. Are their lives and souls forfeit forever?
A spine-chilling companion to Long Lankin, here is the story of a wronged witch’s revenge, spanning generations and crossing the shadowy line between life and death.

Review from Kirkus:

Cora, Mimi, and Roger are back—back at Bryers Guerdon and in for another dose of mysterious, creeping horror in Barraclough’s follow-up to Long Lankin (2012).
Four years after the defeat of the centuries-old monster Cain Lankin, Cora and Mimi’s dad has finally gotten them their inheritance: Auntie Ida’s ramshackle mansion, their ancestral home. He’s moved the girls and his girlfriend in before taking off back to what seems to be a life of petty crime. But nearly 400 years earlier, the witch Aphra Rushes cursed the Guerdons, and the return of the girls, the last of the family line, has awakened her malevolent spirit. Barraclough’s writing crackles with tension, horror eked out amid dozens of period details vividly evoking rural 1960s England. Cora, now 15, is again the main character, sharing first-person narration with Aphra’s spirit (whose back story fills the first 70 pages) and still-stalwart Roger. A true sequel, written for the already initiated, this never truly recaps the first volume but instead builds on it, even acknowledging the way the experience with Cain Lankin changed the children, particularly Mimi and Pete, Roger’s nightmare-plagued brother. Convenient adults with stores of mystical knowledge and some inconsistencies of pacing can’t detract from the creeping need to stay up all night hoping for a happy end.
Literary, scary, and made to read with all the lights on.”

Read an excerpt here!

Also by Barraclough:

When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less-than-warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries — before it’s too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.
In an exquisitely chilling debut novel, four children unravel the mystery of a family curse — and a ghostly creature known in folklore as Long Lankin.

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 22, 2016: The House (Spotlight)

"Don't read it at night."--Kirkus Reviews

The House by Christina Lauren

Release Date: October 6, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Paperback: $8.44

After seven years tucked away at an East coast boarding school, Delilah Blue returns to her small Kansas hometown to find that not much has changed. Her parents are still uptight and disinterested, her bedroom is exactly the way she left it, and the outcast Gavin Timothy still looks like he’s crawled out of one of her dark, twisted drawings.
Delilah is instantly smitten.
Gavin has always lived in the strange house: an odd building isolated in a stand of trees where the town gives in to mild wilderness.  The house is an irresistible lure for Delilah, but the tall fence surrounding it exists for good reason, and Gavin urges Delilah to be careful. Whatever lives with him there isn’t human, and isn’t afraid of hurting her to keep her away.

Review from Kirkus:

“A rebellious girl falls for a strange boy who lives in an even stranger house. This superior and unusual horror story opens with Delilah, who feels neglected by her unfeeling parents. She’s attracted to Gavin, who has lived quite differently: he was raised by the house he dwells in, a living being that loves him and cares for him. He communicates with House and its various parts, such as Fireplace, which tends its own fire, Bed, which stretches at his request, and Piano, which taught him how to play music. He has no idea what happened to his mother, only that House has always cared for him, serving him abundant food and giving him toys. When he brings Delilah home, and she asks where he wants to go to college, the room becomes colder. House clearly doesn’t like Delilah, but leaving it isn’t going to be so easy. With great secrecy, they begin to plan their escape. Things will, of course, go horribly wrong. Lauren (a joint pen name for Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) taps into classic haunted-house memes, drawing those ideas to the max as they imbue House with a distinct, sinister personality. Intrigue builds, and suspense slowly creeps in as readers begin to realize the extent to which House can control events, and the real danger in which the teens find themselves constantly ratchets up.”

From the Christina Lauren website: Yes, there are two of us! Lauren (on the left) and Christina (on the right).
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. They are published in over 31 languages, have received starred reviews from Kirkus, been selected as one of NPR’s Top 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances, and won both the Seal of Excellence award and Book of the Year from RT Magazine.

Friday, October 21, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 21, 2016: A Monster Calls (Spotlight)

"A poignant tribute to the life and talent of Siobhan Dowd and an astonishing exploration of fear."--Kirkus Reviews

Half a Creature by the Sea by David Almond

Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
Paperback: $9.99 (Paperback)

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

View the WEbsite Here.



31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 21, 2016: Half a Creature from the Sea

"fluidly blends past and future, the living and the dead, the ordinary and the transcendent."--Kirkus Reviews

Half a Creature by the Sea by David Almond

Release Date: April 7, 2016 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Candlewick
Paperback: $11.27

May Malone is said to have a monster in her house, but what Norman finds there may just be the angel he needs. Joe Quinn’s house is noisy with poltergeists, or could it be Davie’s raging causing the disturbance? Fragile Annie learns the truth about herself in a photograph taken by a traveling man near the sea. Set in the northern English Tyneside country of the author’s childhood, these eight short stories by the incomparable David Almond evoke gritty realities and ineffable longings, experiences both ordinary and magical. In autobiographical preludes to each story, the writer shows how all things can be turned into tales, reflecting on a time of wonder, tenderness, and joy.

I'm a big fan of the creative--being an English teacher, I often encourage my students to think outside of the box, to do what has never been done, to write in a way that blends genres. That is exactly Almond's strength in this book. Almond blends non-fiction with fiction and fantasy against a backdrop of illustrations. The very first page is poetry which moves into autobiography which then moves into fiction. Very clever and refreshing, and the short stories are more accessible to a wider audience. Let's face it--in today's technological world, our attention spans are pretty short; therefore, short stories (and beautiful ones at that) are perfectly appropriate.

I've already decided to use the book in my classroom the next time that I teach autobiographical writing as Almond excels at displaying the writing process. The multigenre approach highlights the poetry and prose after each autobiographical forward. There's monsters, magic, and adventure wrapped into eight masterfully told stories.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!) October 19, 2016: Spotlight of A Darkly Beating Heart

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Release Date: October 25, 2016 
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan
Paperback: $17.99 

A troubled girl confronts her personal demons in this time-travel thriller alternating between present day and 19th century Japan.

No one knows how to handle Reiko. She is full of hatred; all she can think about is how to best hurt herself and those people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt at her home in Seattle, Reiko's parents send her to spend the summer with family in Japan, hoping she will learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping backward in time into the nineteenth-century life of Miyu, a young woman even more vengeful than Reiko herself. Reiko loves escaping into Miyu's life . . . until she discovers Kuramagi's dark secret and must face down Miyu's demons as well as her own.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. The story is that Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his revolver, but the more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.
The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
AmazonBarnes & Noble
The Book Depository

Publishers Weekly

Seattle teen Reiko is “mastering a path of hatred” in order to exact revenge for the betrayal, abuse, and humiliation she has suffered at the hands of those closest to her. She travels to Japan before college to live with her uncle’s family in Tokyo, where she finds another target: her self-absorbed, fame-seeking cousin, Akiko. While unhappily photographing Akiko during a shoot in a small town, Reiko finds a stone that transports her from present-day Japan into the life of an Edo-period girl named Miyu. Though Reiko loves escaping into Miyu’s world at first, she eventually uncovers—and must foil—Miyu’s own plan for vengeance. Smith’s (Dreamstrider) detailed descriptions of Japanese culture and the time travel element are the highlights of this novel. Reiko and Miyu come across as angry caricatures; Smith slowly and cryptically teases out their traumatic pasts, making it difficult to empathize with either of them. Beyond the “why,” Smith also does little to elaborate on the “how” of Reiko’s plot, and the conclusion is too neatly and unrealistically resolved given Reiko’s previous mental state. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Oct.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books) October 18, 2016--The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe

"An excellent Halloween read."--Booklist 

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki

Release Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
Paperback: $16.99 (Hardcover)

Has Gabriel created a monster?
Something sinister lurks in the woods outside of Slade.
Gabe has seen it, or he thinks he has - a shadow standing at the tree line, watching Gabe's house with faintly glowing eyes.
Despite Gabe's misgivings, his new friend, Seth, relishes the creepy atmosphere of the forest. It's the perfect setting for his imaginary struggle against the Hunter, a deformed child-eating creature said to leave the bones of his victims in his wake. It's just a game, but it's all a bit much for Gabe, who quickly loses interest as summer ends and the days grow shorter.
But then strange things start to happen. Frightening things. And Gabe knows it has to do with the dark figure watching him from the edge of the woods.
Is Seth out to teach Gabe a lesson? Or is the Hunter more than just a myth? Gabe isn't sure which option is more horrifying, but he's determined to learn the truth before someone gets hurt . . . or worse.

The perfect ghost story for Halloween, Poblocki delivers a frightening tale of the imaginary vs. the real. Which defines Gabriel Ashe's current situation?

It's never easy to move as a teenager, but sometimes, it's the best thing for a family. For Gabriel, he and his family must move to Massachusetts. The hardest part about moving? Making new friends. Gabriel quickly befriends his neighbor Seth, and the two seem to be bonding well. As most middle school boys do, Gabriel and Seth create a fantasy world much different from their realities. Deep in the woods, Gabriel and Seth take on new personas. 

The second hardest part about moving? Going to a new school; however, most of the students seem to be taking well to Gabriel. Unfortunately, they don't care so much for Seth. Becoming a little like Nightmare on Elm Street, the lines between reality and fiction begin to blur, as the creature the boys created in the woods, the Hunter, seems to be real, or at least something is tormenting their classmates. 

A non-stop thriller that doesn't lose its punch after the climax leaving the reader with an ending that is utterly shocking.

Monday, October 17, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!): October 17, 2016--These Shallow Graves (Paperback)

"Action-packed chapters propel this compelling mystery...[and] the injustices Donnelly highlights remain all too relevant."--Publisher's Weekly 

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Release Date: October 25, 2016 (Paperback release)
Publisher: Random House
Paperback: $10.99 

From the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a thrilling mystery that’s perfect for fans of The Cellar and Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls. This is a story of dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge.

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. The story is that Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his revolver, but the more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.
The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

It's difficult to be raised in a wealthy family where certain expectations hinder one's desire find one's true identity. It's even more difficult to find one's identity after the loss of a loved one. Seventeen year old Jo loses her father at the beginning of the book and begins an important adventure in her life.

Named for the classic character Jo in Little Women, Jo has literary aspirations of her own; however, because of her family's expectations of her, Jo is unsure of her ability to make writing her career as long as every move she makes is watched and criticized. Her family even has plans for her to marry. I haven't mentioned it until now, but it's the 1800s Manhattan, and the expectations I just mentioned are even more unrealistic for Jo in this time period. 

Letting her curiosity and passion for writing get the better of her judgment, Jo embarks on a journey to solve her father's tragic death. The book was a lot more of a mystery novel that I first thought, and I enjoyed following Jo through the nineteenth century, though her young age really showed at times in the decision she makes.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!): October 16, 2016--Haunted Horror

Haunted Horror, Vol. 4: Candles for the Undead and More! 

Release Date: October 25, 2016
Publisher: IDW
Paperback: $24.95 

In this bizarre, lawless, ghoulish, gruesome, terrifying frightfest of a book you’ll read: “Candles for the Undead,” “The Monster’s Ghost,” “Pray for the Vampire Horde,” “The Witches Come at Midnight,” “Your Head for Mine” and many more mind-rotting comics!

When I first opened this book in the mail, my husband, who is a horror film reviewer, was ecstatic and couldn't wait to look through it. With artists like Bob Powell, Joe Orlando, Warren Kremer, Howard Nostrand, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Rudy Palais, Lee  Elias, Lou Cameron, and Jack Katz, there's no way this book will disappoint.

In the opening pages, Artie Delmar provides the reader with instructions for the reading the comics within. In seven steps, Delmar suggests that the reader: wait until dark to read (this reminds me of Corey Haim reading comics at night in The Lost Boys), find a nice, dark place to read, play some scary music if you can't conjure up a storm, read the book from cover to cover in its natural order, read left to right and down, continue reading all of the comics (I mean, why you would stop halfway through?), and finally, celebrate because you have "successfully read" the book which Delmar describes as a "collection of classic comics about ghouls, ghosts, graves, death, dismemberment, murder, mayhem, demons, devils, witches, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and various things that go bump in the night." 

Overall, the comics are gorgeous, especially the covers. Deep reds and greens explode on the pages in rich, bloody, slimy tones. The stories are equally compelling and frightening. When I first read through the first comic "The Cult of 13 Ghosts," I was by myself in the bedroom with the lamp on low (as instructed). About halfway through, I made my way to the living room where my husband was in the adjacent room so I wouldn't be alone. Once I was comfortable (and less afraid), I was completely absorbed until I reached the end. 

If you love horror and/or comics, there's no way you walk past this book on the shelf next week. Check it out at the library, buy it on Amazon; either way, get this book before Halloween and settle in for a spine-tingling journey through mystery and mayhem.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!): October 15, 2016

"[A] lively chronicle―part travel guide, part history lesson…Ocker moves easily among the archivists, historians, and performers he interviews, and he describes the carnival atmosphere that descends upon “Witch City” with enthusiasm and vividness."--Publisher's Weekly 

A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts by J.W. Ocker

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Countryman Press
Paperback: $18.95 

Edgar Award-winning travel writer spends an autumn living in one of America's spookiest tourist destinations: Salem, Massachusetts.
Salem, Massachusetts, may be the strangest city on the planet. A single event in its 400 years of history—the Salem Witch Trials of 1692—transformed it into the Capital of Creepy in America. But Salem is a seasonal town—and its season happens to be Halloween. Every October, this small city of 40,000 swells to close to half a million as witches, goblins, ghouls, and ghosts (and their admirers) descend on Essex Street. For the fall of 2015, occult enthusiast and Edgar Award–winning writer J.W. Ocker moved his family of four to downtown Salem to experience firsthand a season with the witch, visiting all of its historical sites and macabre attractions. In between, he interviews its leaders and citizens, its entrepreneurs and visitors, its street performers and Wiccans, its psychics and critics, creating a picture of this unique place and the people who revel in, or merely weather, its witchiness.

I have always been fascinated with Salem. Being an English teacher, The Crucible is high on my list of works to teach, especially around Halloween. I think I've researched as much about Salem without actually going there as possible, so I was beyond excited when I saw the listing for this book. Reading a first hand account of living in Salem, following the history, the lore, the Halloween season: sign me up! What a dream to be able to live in Salem for the entire month of October!! And what an awesome and supportive family to make the move with Ocker for this once in a lifetime experience. 

What I appreciate the most about the book is that Ocker's experiences are so far-reaching. Not only does Ocker explore the historical aspect of Salem (how could you not?), but he also interviews lifelong citizens of Salem as well as the more eccentric (and twice as interesting) people of Salem. Of course there would be psychics and Wiccans in Salem, so why not take the opportunity to explore everything they have experienced in this historic and notorious place.

Ocker covers every piece of ground in Salem, highlighting key geographical areas and stories surrounding a particular place (with photos!). The book is successful at not reading like a history book but creating a narrative that explores history but maintains a creative prose. 

If anything, Ocker makes me want to visit Salem even more. But how to visit in October when I teach in South Carolina? Maybe one day! Until then, I'll keep re-reading and live vicariously through Ocker's accounts.

Friday, October 14, 2016

31 Days of Halloween (Books!): October 14, 2016--A Teeny Tiny Halloween

Sure to be a perennial holiday favorite, like The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything," a book that makes the bestseller list every single Halloween!

A Teeny Tiny Halloween by Lauren L. Wohl

Release Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Persnickety Press
ISBN: 9781943978021
Paperback: $15.95 * 32 pages 

It happens every fall. The leaves from the tall trees that surround her house drift down until the teeny tiny woman’s teeny tiny house is buried completely. Inside it’s dark and a teeny tiny bit scary, but the resourceful woman has a plan and a few surprises up her teeny tiny sleeve. 

Written to be shared through read-aloud or story-telling, the type face indicates where the teller should be whispering and when suddenly s/he should shout – surprising the listeners, even causing them to jump, which puts this book in the realm of jump-tales, so popular at spooky-story times like Halloween and around the campfire on summer evenings. Short enough for even young children to remember after reading or hearing the story a few times, the book encourages children themselves to tell the tale themselves, making a family tradition.

Former Disney Publishing executive, Lauren L. Wohl, tells an all-new story starring a favorite character from folklore with an autumnal chill and a special treat that brings the book to a perfect-for-Halloween ending. Children will want to return to the teeny tiny house again and again to enjoy Henry Cole’s illustrations that capture the mood and the humor of the tale.

Anything tiny is bound to be adorable (tiny animals, tiny babies, etc.), so it goes without saying that a teeny, tiny woman on a teeny, tiny Halloween is guaranteed to delight. Children will love the imagery of the tiny house and the tiny woman as she lives in a great big forest. Unfortunately for the tiny woman, her tiny house is buried within mountains of Autumn leaves illustrated in beautiful oranges and reds. 

Every year when her house is buried, the tiny woman screams out for help, but to no avail. Eventually, she has the idea to bake cookies, hoping the delicious smell of warm cookie dough will bring someone who can help her. And she's right. Since it's Halloween, three friends are roaming the woods and smell the delicious cookies. They find the tiny house and are able to enjoy the cookies while helping the woman with the leaves.

While I think most children are taught not to go inside a house when trick-or-treating, parents may need to clarify this to their children when the cat, the witch, and the ghost enter to eat cookies. It wouldn't hurt to reiterate "stranger danger" at this point. However, the overall plot is not hurt by this at all. In fact, it gives parents an opportunity to discuss this with their children. 

Perfectly appropriate for the season, there's nothing teeny or tiny about how great this book is for kids!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

31 Days of Halloween: October 13, 2016-- Spotlight Tour for One Was Lost

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

While on a mandatory senior field trip, a flash flood cuts off Sera and three classmates from their group with no way to call for help. But they’re not as alone as they thought…

Someone is stalking them through the woods. Someone who drugged them, stole their supplies, and wrote on their skin. Is it a judgement? A warning? If Sera doesn’t uncover the truth, it’s only a matter of time before the hunter finds her.

After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her third novel. Visit her on Twitter @natdrichards or at

Twitter: @NatDRichards
Instagram: @NatDRichards

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A Letter from the Author

Dear Reader,
It’s hard to believe One Was Lost is finally here.  It feels weird to admit that I’ve been desperately looking forward to scaring you all and keeping you up way past your bedtimes, but it’s the truth.  And now that it’s finally out in the world, I just can’t wait to hear what you all think!  I mean, after you get some sleep of course.  I’m not that impatient.
As a writer with my fourth book hitting the shelves, I can say each new release has its own special brand of excitement.  Each story has elements that you cherish and characters you love.  But One Was Lost wasn’t like any of my other books.  Writing this book was a whole new ball game.
The truth behind One Was Lost is that my father died a few months before I started writing it. He was my inspiration for writing as a child and easily one of my closest friends throughout my life.  Losing him was like having my foundation knocked sideways.  My grief felt oceans deep and I was lost in the roll of every wave. It was brutally difficult.
For anyone who’s met me and knows what a class clown I am, I’ll confess 2015 was one of the least funny years of my life.  Still, when I sat down to write One Was Lost, I knew I had something special.  These characters were speaking to me like characters never had.  This story was at a roiling boil in my head—but, could I really write it?
Doubt plagued me in those first days. Could I still remember how to get lost in a story? Could I get it right when I was still struggling so much? Most importantly, could I still be the writer I used to be?
The answer was quick and a little terrifying.  No.  
I couldn’t go back to the writer I was before.  Losing someone incredibly important to you changes you.  There is a new normal you must adjust to, and that new normal doesn’t fade away after the funeral is done and over.
My new normal proved to be a very powerful force in my writing life.  One Was Lost forced me to face fears I might have danced around in other books. I had no choice but to dive more deeply than ever before. My new perspective had me spend more time than usual learning about these new characters.  Trying to understand them.  Hurting with them and fearing with them.
I didn’t just lose myself in One Was Lost, I drowned in it.  I fell so deeply into this book that at times it was difficult to resurface to do normal, mundane not-lost-and-terrified-in-the-forest things.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been more in love with characters in any of my stories, and I’m absolutely sure I’ve never been happier with the way a book has turned out.
It is my dearest hope that you’ll all get a little lost in this book too. Sometimes even the scariest things can bring out strength and goodness we never believed possible. And it is just that reason that One Was Lost is a book I’m so particularly proud of and excited to share with you.
Happy Reading!


An Exclusive Excerpt

I shriek as the frigid water laps up my thighs. Then—Snap! Pop!—off to my right. Dread spikes through me. Something’s coming downstream. I have to go. Right now.
“Come on, Sera,” Mr. Walker says, sounding breathless.
I rush, feet lurching. Almost there. So close now. I stumble. Lucas grabs my pack and hauls me up, and then I’m snarling at him—“Don’t touch me!”—while Mr. Walker snags one of my straps and half drags me out. Water pours down my pant legs. I’m soaked and freezing.
I take a soggy step, and my boot slips on the muddy bank. Lucas is out too, swearing and scrambling up while Mr. Walker stares across at the girls, hands in his hair, eyes wide with terror.
My knees are buckling, but I grab branches and exposed roots and, finally, Jude’s smooth, dark hand. Once I’m up, I follow him past brambles that snag my poncho. My hair.
“Over here.” Jude points to a vantage point near the path. No earbuds now. He’s wide-eyed and utterly focused on the stream fifteen feet below us. Emily and Lucas are beside him, both shaking.
There’s a tree wedged across the stream. That must have been what I heard. The water is rushing under and over it, pushing it harder and harder. And then it’s loose. I hold my breath as it rolls with the mud-brown river, snapping any­thing in its path.
“The others,” Emily says softly.
They’re lined up on the other side, mud-spattered and white with fear as the log hurtles past, ripping its way through the streambed and releasing a wall of sludgy brown water in its wake. The current surges up the banks behind it, littered with smaller branches and clumps of vegetation. Madison’s eyes track us across the water, finding Lucas and then me.
“They’re stuck over there.” I know it’s obvious, but I say it anyway.
Mr. Walker barks instructions at the edge of the stream. Ms. Brighton nods along, one arm wrapped around each girl, her dark braid coiled around her pale neck like a snake.
“What’s he going to do?” Jude asks.
“Nothing, rich boy,” Lucas says. “There’s not a damn thing he can do tonight. Can’t even call for help because there’s no signal anywhere with this rain.”
“What will happen to them?” I ask.
“If they listen to Mr. Walker, they’ll go set up camp on that ridge. We’ll stay here for the night, probably farther up the path. Us here, them there. Regroup in the morning if we can.”
I whirl on Lucas. “What do you mean if?”
“You expect us to believe he’s just going to leave them?” Jude asks.
“That flood isn’t going anywhere soon. And I don’t give a shit what you believe,” Lucas says to him. “Since someone has to set up our tent again, I need to find a clearing.”
Lucas storms away, and my eyes drag back to the stream. Three girls with arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. The river gushes along, a monstrous evolution of what I just crossed, swallowing the bridge inch by inch.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Not like this at all.