Halloween Reads

With October approaching and Autumn being one of my favourite seasons of the year, I thought I’d commence this momentous time with a post dedicated to October/Halloween Reads. I have put together a small list of what I think are suitable October/Halloween reads that I hope you will enjoy throughout October which just so happens to be one of my favourite months of the year. Autumn + Halloween = perfect!

Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

The books in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series are one of my favourites. There is the perfect blend of murder and mystery in a historical setting that I just can’t get enough of. There are three books in this series so far.

Features: Murder, Mystery, Romance

The Diviners by Libba Bray

A fairly chunky book but quite fast paced. Set in the 1920s, this book features a ghostly murderer on the loose after some teenagers experiment with a Ouija board. Can be fairly grizzly at some parts and I definitely felt a little spooked reading parts of it.

Features: Ghosts, Murders

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Another historical setting. Deals not just with murder and mystery but also the issues of high society in the historical time period.

Features: Murder, Mystery, Romance, Friendship

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club is set in a historical period. If I could say anything about this book, I would say it’s Pride and Predjudice meets the Shadowhunters series. So if that doesn’t persuade you, I don’t know what will!

Features: Supernatural, Mystery, High Society

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

I’ve only just started this one but it seems as if it would be perfect for Halloween considering the title alone features the word Witch and the cover looks a bit spooky!

Features: Witches, Supernatural

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I haven’t read this series in a while but when I did read it, I absolutely loved it. It was dark and had the supernatural in it – perfect for Halloween.

Features: Supernatural

The Raven Boys  by Maggie Stiefvater

I am yet to finish this series but I have really enjoyed it so far, partially Blue Lily, Lily Blue. This one features an awesome family of girls who have supernatural gifts and a group of private school boys on a quest to find a Welsh King.

Features: Supernatural, Family, Friendship

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

This book has been on the NYT bestseller list for a while now. I thought that it was a decent murder mystery book and I wouldn’t have predicted the ending, had I not have read the last few pages because I’m impatient..

Features: Murder, Friendship, Mystery

City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab

This is a perfectly spooky Children’s book for Halloween. It clocks in at just under 300 pages but it has larger text which makes it a fairly fast read.

Features: Ghosts, Friendship, Family


September Wrap Up

September started off really well in terms of how much I read. I really surprised myself. In fact, I’m really happy with how much I managed to read considering my reading in 2018 could be considered a flop until now.

Not only did I read more books than I have in the last few months, I also went on holiday with my boyfriend and his family. We went to Croyde in Devon in the first week of September. It was really lovely to have some time away from work and really took my mind off upcoming exams and revision.

Other than my holiday at the beginning of the month, I haven’t really done much else other than work and study for exams. I have been able to meet up with some friends though, which has been nice as I haven’t seen some of them in a while! I did also get one of my results back from an exam resit that I did at the end of August. I don’t want to boast but I am super proud of myself – the first time I did the exam, I missed out on a pass by 3/4 marks and got 68%. I managed to change my score to 86% so I am really pleased with that and it’s definitely motivated me more!

Monthly reading total: Books this year: 34

Reading Goals for September:

  1. Finish City of Ghosts by V E Schwab
  2. Read Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager
  3. Read Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Books Read:

  1. City of Ghosts by V.E. Schwab
  2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  3. Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager
  4. PS. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  5. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

I’m fairly impressed by what I managed to read this month although it’s still not as much I would really like to read. I read most of these books within the first week or two of September so if I’d have kept up this pace for the rest of the month (damn you, revision) then I think I would’ve managed to conquer another 5-10 books. Luckily after the 19th November, I (hopefully) don’t have anymore exams for a little while so will be able to read more!

This Months TBR:

  1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  2. The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
  3. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
  4. The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

I’d also like to finish What’s If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silver and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee before the end of October!

Did you manage to finish your September TBR? What was your favourite book you read this month? What’re your goals for October?

Behind the Blog: Lauren aka FictionTea

Behind the Blog is a regular feature where you and I can get to know the person behind the blog a little better! For the month of September (also our guest bloggers birthday month), I got in contact with Lauren of FictionTea! You may know her from her super famous Instagram where she posts gorgeous pictures. I’ve known Lauren for quite a while now, meeting her at YALC 2017 and again at 2018, and she is absolutely lovely. If you haven’t checked out her blog before, then what’re you waiting for?

Hi! Introduce yourself – what’s your name? Where are you from?

Hello! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m Lauren, although you may know me as FictionTea in the book blogger-verse. I reside in Glasgow, Scotland and have lived here my whole life.

Give us one fun fact about you!

I don’t know if this counts as a fact about me, but I’ve met Billy Boyd (Pippin from LotR) in my local grocery shopping store. But not only once, twice. I’ve met him there twice as he only used to live ten minutes from me, but I believe he lives on the other side of the city now. Oh well!

When did you become a reader?

I became a reader from the moment I could hold a book really. In my family baby videos, you can often see me running around in a diaper holding a book. However, my love for reading really started when I was around 6 or 7 when I began reading Jaqueline Wilson books and a book series called My Secret Unicorn by Linda Chapman. I was a reader from then on and I need to thank my Gran who always motivated me to keep reading whenever possible. She’s one of the reasons I’m still a reader today.

What made you decide to start a blog and stick with it?

Back in 2016, I really got tired of the limited word count on Instagram, which is where I usually do my reviews. I always had more to say and I thought starting a book blog would be the perfect way to do that. I will admit, I struggled for a while getting into the habit of posting, but once I did, it became a very fun and rewarding experience.

How would you describe your blog in 4 words?

Bookish, Informative, Anime and Travel.

Which of your posts are you most proud of or one that you wish had gotten a little more love?

Probably my posts based around YALC; My Guide to YALC, YALC 2018 Review, YALC Haul, etc. I work hard on those posts and cram as much useful information as I can into them without being too overwhelming. I really love knowing if the information I’ve gathered has helped readers in any way to prepare them for the event.

What tips would you give to someone looking to start a book blog?

From my experience, the first thing I’d say is, make sure you are determined and motivated to do this, or passionate about it. When I first started, I had no idea how hard blogging would be. I enjoyed it, but it takes a lot of time and effort and you need to be prepared for that, otherwise it will stop being fun very fast.

I’d also say to make sure you have a list of posts that you really want to do. I find having a list of posts that I’m excited to write really helps me stay on track.

What’s your favourite book/series?

If you know me at all, you know my favourite book series is The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon. I’ve often been referred to as ‘Bone Season girl’ which, as you can imagine, I was thrilled about. I couldn’t possibly choose which book is my favourite in this series, because I love them all the most, but for different reasons.

Samantha Shannon also dubbed me as the number one fan, so…that made my life.

Give us a book recommendation based on what you’ve read recently.

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Read it now, have tissues at the ready and prepare to be pulled into the incredible adventure and life story of Achilles and Patroclus. They are two friends, who grow to have feelings for each other as the battle of Troy fast approaches.

If you love Greek mythology at all, or if you’ve just merely been curious about this book. Read it immediately.

Outside of reading and blogging, what do you do in your spare time?

I do quite a lot of freelance Graphic Design work. I studied Product Design in College and University and then went onto study Graphic Design in College again afterward so design is a big part of my life and I do it every day, whether it’s designing a bookmark or an item for a Fairyloot box (Reading Journal, Rune Scarf, etc).

Are there any blogs that you’d recommend?

Blogs I’ve been loving recently are; BooksNest (Beth), ReadingThroughInfinity (Kate), HollieBlog (Hollie), NorthernPlunder (Lauren), and AmyJaneAlice (Amy).

Of course, there are many more I enjoy, like this one!

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco


Title: Escaping from Houdini

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Pages: 416

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Thank you, JP Books!)

Rating: ★★★★★

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

If you know me, you’ll know that I have been a huge fan of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series since I read the first book back in 2016. This book was absolutely no different. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the third instalment, Escaping from Houdini and it’s safe to say that I fell in love all over again with Kerri’s addictive murder mysteries. There’s just something about Kerri’s books that I can’t help but fall in love with.

I am obviously a big fan of history (being a History graduate and all) but I have also discovered in recent times that I also have a thing for murder mysteries. This book has both in the form of a fantastic Victorian-era murder mystery novel.

I would just like to note before going into this review that the ending of the ARC is different to that of the finished copy, so I will try to be relatively vague in my review as I haven’t read the new ending myself and don’t wait to spoil the book for anyone else!

The storyline is enthralling. I cannot help but be sucked in by the story line with these books and this was no different. Continuing almost exactly where Hunting Prince Dracula left off, I was really looking forward to seeing how Audrey’s story developed in the third book. The story follows Audrey as she travels from England to America aboard the RMS Eturia with her uncle and partner, Thomas Cresswell. The trip isn’t as smooth sailing as hoped though and soon enough, dead bodies are showing up with little to no trace of who the killer may be.

The characters are just as wonderful as previous books. I did find myself getting a little frustrated with Audrey Rose at some moments in this book as we saw her being torn by her emotions but other than that, I really enjoyed following her again in this book and seeing things from her perspective. Thomas Cresswell was, of course, charming as always. After the events of Hunting Prince Dracula, the relationship between Audrey and Thomas was different and the difference in their relationship continued throughout this book. I am interested to see where their relationship develops to in the next book. I feel as if I can’t comment too much on their characters due to the change in endings.

There was the addition of new characters in this book, some enchanting and others not so much. There were a few new characters that were added to the mix that I didn’t really like that much. I thought that they were necessary to the book, I just didn’t really like their characters that much. One of the characters that was introduced that I am allowed to mention because Kerri has mentioned his name before is Mephistopheles. He is quite the charmer but not in a Thomas Cresswell kind of way. I’m still undecided on how I feel about his character but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

What I found most interesting is how difficult it was to determine who the killer was. I won’t say much as the killer may have changed between the ARC and finished copy, but I thought it would be really easy to figure out who the murderer was in this book due to the significantly smaller setting but it was almost just as difficult. I did surprise myself though as one of my predictions was, in fact, right! No, I hadn’t guessed everybody as the killer. I had narrowed down my suspects to a couple and for once, one of them was right! But that doesn’t mean this book was predictable. If I’d have had to have picked one suspect, I definitely would have got it wrong.

The setting really gave itself to this book. The whole book was set at sea and the suspense of a killer on the loose in a location where nobody can escape (unless they jump into the Ocean, of course) worked really well in this book. I did wonder before reading this book how this setting would work as I knew there would be several murders and mysteries to be solved and although ships are rather large, it’s not exactly the size of London or Bran, where Hunting Prince Dracula was based in Romania. I knew that Kerri would be able to pull off this setting because she is wonderful at what she does, but she really pulled it out the bag and it was better than I could have hoped for. It actually surprised me at how perfect a setting it was.

The writing of these books is just fantastic. I can never get enough of Kerri’s writing. I feel like her writing really puts you into the story as if you are there and solving murder mysteries with the characters.

I would love to comment on how the book finished however, as mentioned, the ARC does actually have a different ending to the finished copy. Therefore, I will refrain from commenting on it because I know that it is different and it would be unfair to talk about the ending when it’s changed. All I will say is that I am looking forward to reading the finished ending and seeing the differences.

I absolutely loved this book and I’m super excited for it to go out in the world. I’m so happy that we still have another book with these characters as I’m really not ready to leave them yet.

If you want to see my 5 reasons for why you should stop what you’re doing and drop everything for this series, see below the picture!

Five reasons you should pick up Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series:

  1. The Characters – The characters are charming and relatable
  2. The Story Lines – The plot in every book carries you away and is so easy to follow.
  3. Historical – I don’t think there are that many books in the YA historical genre in comparison to Fantasy and Contemporary
  4. Addictive – These books are seriously addictive and you’ll find yourself yearning for the next book before you’ve even finished the one you’re reading!
  5. An Interactive Experience – As our characters try to piece things together, it encourages the reader to form their own theories.

Bonus reason: the series is coming to an end (booooo) which means that you’ll be able to rattle through all three books that are currently out and you won’t have to endure the long wait after each book…I mean, you will have to wait after you’ve read Escaping from Houdini but that’s not so bad. The wait is always worth it for these books!

What Vicky Did: Matilda the Musical

On the 4th August, I went to see Matilda the Musical at the Birmingham Hippodrome with my family. It was a fairly last minute decision to go. My mum booked the tickets on Tuesday night but had only text me on Saturday to say she had been looking at them.

We had decent seats that were on the middle level and third row from the front so I was quite happy with that! Matilda, if you don’t know, is one of my top 3 favourite movies. I used to watch it so much when I was younger and at one point, believed that I basically was Matilda because we looked the same (I had brown hair and a fringe, that was basically the only similarity).

I’ve been wanting to see Matilda the Musical since my family trip to New York in July 2016. It was one of the musical options we had to watch, but we chose to see Aladdin instead.

We got to the theatre and didn’t have a lot of time to chill as we turned up just before the show started but just before we went into the theatre, I noticed these cool pictures that were hung up by the toilets!

The Musical itself was quite good. Obviously, it wasn’t going to be the exact same story as in the movie and there were some parts that followed a little more closely with the book itself (the book and movie do have some differences too). It was really lovely to see the story come to life on the stage this time.

The production featured quite a few children and I thought that they all did so well! The acting was quite good as was the singing. I did feel like there was a lot of singing in this musical. I think I was perhaps expecting it to be a little more like a play but it definitely wasn’t.

The story line was also a little different to both the book and the movie. I won’t say anything because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is going to watch it, but there were some additions to the story.

I enjoyed the Musical, and I know I shouldn’t really compare, but I still prefer the movie. The movie has been a firm favourite of mine for so long and it was nice to see it on stage. I’d recommend the musical if you’re looking to go. We were really lucky that the musical stopped by relatively close to us and that we were able to get tickets at such short notice.

I have seen a few people attend since we went who have all said that they enjoyed it, so definitely check it out!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand


Title: Furyborn

Author: Claire Legrand

Pages: 512

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Published: 2018

Source: ARC (Fairyloot editon)

Rating: ★★★.5

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Furyborn surprised me. I don’t really know what I was expecting, if I’m totally honest. When I went into it, all I knew was that there was hype surrounding it and that was it had fairly decent ratings on Goodreads, which I only noticed when I went to add to my ‘Currently Reading’ shelf. I knew it was a Fantasy but I didn’t actually know what it was about. I felt a little like I was going back to my pre-blogger days when I used to pick out and read books purely based on their blurb rather than reading what others had to say about a book before picking it up.

This book started off with a bit of intrigue to lure you in but honestly? I was a little confused about what was going on. However, once I was reading the main part of the book, it absolutely made sense. The prologues intention to capture attention worked on me as it made me want to understand what was happening.

The story of Furyborn is told with two different PoVs that are set at different times. Both PoVs are set either side of the prologue – that threw me off at first but because both views have a complete different story, it was easy to distinguish between the two…plus the chapter said who’s PoV it was! Bonus points for this as I really don’t like it when books have multiple PoVs but they don’t tell you who’s PoV it is!

The characters were ok. I liked our two main characters, particularly Eliana. I thought that Eliana was much more enjoyable to read about and that it felt like there was a little more going on in her chapters. I thought Rielle’s character was good too but I personally just didn’t enjoy her chapters as much as I enjoyed reading Eliana’s. I liked the accompanying characters in Eliana’s chapters, such as her younger brother, but I didn’t really feel like I got to know the characters in Rielle’s chapters much. I felt that Rielle’s chapters were all about her and that she was quite lonely. There are connections between some characters that I had sort of predicated before we were actually told of the connection. I liked working out the connections but also felt that this was the books first step into the predictable zone.

I thought that the writing was good and felt that it ran at a smooth pace that kept my interest throughout, despite it being just over 500 pages. Sometimes books with longer page counts can feel like they go on forever, but the pacing of this one made me forget that it was even the length that it was. The chapters weren’t too long which made for easy reading too.

I did think that some of the plot twists were sort of predictable and I wasn’t totally taken by surprise by them. I’m usually pretty bad at predicting things, always ending up being miles off but this time, I managed to figure out what was going to happen perhaps before even the characters themselves knew. It wasn’t totally a bad thing. It was nice to have actually figured things out for once, but still. I don’t want predictability in regards to plot twists.

I think that this book wrapped up fairly nicely and left loose ends that are ready to be tied up in the next book. I thought that it was an interesting idea and I’m looking forward to seeing how the plot develops in the next book, although I wouldn’t exactly say this book lived up to the hype. I have given it three and half stars because I enjoyed this book and felt that I was able to move through it relatively quickly (based on my reading speed these days). However, I didn’t feel that it was a completely new fantasy idea and that it hasn’t offered something totally different to what we currently have in the genre. Mostly, I just found this book to be predictable.

August Wrap Up

August was pretty shameful in terms of reading until the last week. I had an exam on the Saturday of bank holiday weekend and now don’t have another until the end of October so I now have a little bit of time to get some reading in if I make sure I manage my time better throughout September. To maximise the time I had to read in August I, of course, spent one evening blogging away and then proceeded to be too tired to actually read much. I accomplished only one of my bank holiday reading goals but I did start one of my most anticipated reads of the year! I also bought two books and that’s only because they were part of Waterstones’ Buy One, Get One Half Price deal. Those books are City of Ghosts by V.E. Schwab and It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne.

Despite not reading loads until the last week of the month, after spending all of 2018 reading very little, I’d call this month a success!

Monthly reading total: Books this year: 28

Reading Goals for Last Month:

  1. Finish Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
  2. Read Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Books Read:

  1. Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chang
  2. Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
  3. Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

It’s safe to say I’m pretty happy with my August wrap up. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot and I do wish I had managed to read 6 (or if I could, all 200+ books on my TBR) but at least I’m making a slight dent into my books. I met both of my goals so that’s the main thing for me.

I think what I really need is to stop acquiring so many books and to actually make it my aim to read at least two books a month that have been on my shelves for over a year already. I know that there are plenty of books that fit into that category resting on my shelves!

This Months TBR:

  1. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  2. The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
  3. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

I picked up all three of these at YALC this year and they’re all releasing in Autumn this year so I would like to get ahead and read these before they get released. I am hoping I can manage to read these three books in September at the very least. I’d also like to read What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera.

Did you manage to finish your August TBR? What was your favourite book you read this month? What’re your goals for September?