Stay at Home Book Tag

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Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a fabulous week! Today I decided to do a tag I saw floating around the book community amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and this is the Stay at Home Book Tag! This tag was created by Madison Mary over at Princess of Paperback. Definitely check her out since her videos are awesome!

So without further ado, let’s jump right into the prompts!

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*Not going to lie. I have been slouching and just chilling in my bed watching my favorite series for most of the time. #QuarantineLife*

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I would have to go with a classic and say pretty much any one of the Harry Potter novels. Its just something about the world, the magic and the characters which automatically transports you to your second home away from home that is Hogwarts. Who wouldn’t want to experience a bit of magic in a time like this?

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*I will admit my biggest fear with the current state that we are all in is that I will eventually run out of quarantine snacks! But my sister and I are prepared. We managed to save some brownie/cookie recipes that we wanted to try out so in case our pantry does become empty, we have a back up! I have been cooking a lot more too so I guess there is brighter side to all this chaos, right? ūüôā

doon

The Doon series is definitely a guilty pleasure read for me. I remember the first time when I read the first book, I immediately wanted to grab a copy of the second and pretty soon, I finished the entire series! I am grateful for this series since it was one which got me out of a reading slump and become a quick, pick-me-up type of read.

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*OMG the amount of series I started is ridiculous! I mean, we have the time, so what better way to make use of it than to watch some great shows right? I recently started to re-watch Avatar- The Last Airbender and WOW, the amount of nostalgia! There was a reason I loved that show when I was a kid and watching this again makes me love it even more!*

vicious

Vicious is a series I really want to start! I have heard nothing but great things about it. I was always a fan of V.E Schwab ever since I read the ADSOM series and I knew that I wanted to read her other novels. Victoria always comes up with the greatest plot and gray characters which we can’t help but find intriguing. I really hope I have the opportunity to start this soon!

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falling

Honestly, I can’t recall how long I had this book. It must have been on my shelves ever since I started this blog! And what’s crazy is that it is one of the most iconic YA Fantasy out there so you would think that I would have at least picked it up! Who knows? Maybe during this quarantine I actually might have some time to read it. It does seem quite interesting and maybe a fantasy adventure could really help with these times.

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serpent and dove

I’m not going to lie – Ever since I saw the massive reviews on this book all over BookTube and the Book Blogging community, I just had to know what the hype was so I did end up buying it. Plus, take a look at that gorgeous cover! I really hope the story delivers though!

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*I can say that quarantine really did help me dive back into doing the things I enjoy. In way it helped slow down time so we can focus a little bit more on ourselves and I am thankful for that. I started blogging again and this time, I am trying to create more creative post ideas/ graphics, etc. I also started reading again which was great since I have so many books on my TBR! I also started Journaling – something that I missed doing for a long time!*

between shades of gray

I was stunned after reading this novel. I mostly do not reach for historical fiction but this one so intriguing that I could not bring myself to put it down. I love how Ruta Sepetys bases her novels on unheard historical stories that should be brought to the light. Sometimes there are moments in history which we do not talk about and are equally important and Ruta Sepetys was able to give voice to those people. I can definitely appreciate her efforts for writing these stories and I really want to read more of her novels.

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a heart so fierce

Unfortunately, not many people around me are into reading as much as I am which is why I am thankful I have the blogging community to share all my FEELs after finishing a great novel. I don’t believe anyone has gifted me a book but there is one I personally bought – because WHY NOT? And this recent purchase is ¬†A Heart so Fierce and Broken. Let’s face it. After the ending of the first novel, I just had to find out what happens next!

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I would say that Journaling really helps calm my anxiety sometimes. I find it quite relaxing and its interesting to see how my journals spreads grew over the years. What started out as a diary format soon became one that started to look more like an art journal where I created colorful spreads of the events, birthdays, or hangouts I have been to. It’s definitely a creative way to capture moments of your life. Another important piece of self care involves Music – anything from OSTs, Pop/ R&B, BTS – really does help me deal with the situation we are in right now. I know its crazy times we are living in, but we will overcome it!

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the ballad of songbirds

Release Date:  May 19th 2020 

I am pretty sure nearly everyone in the book community knows about the release of this book in May. I am really curious about this Hunger Games prequel. Its been nearly 10 years since the release of the last Hunger Games book which spurred a global sensation with the release of films. But now that we are taking a step back into the past, I am curious as to what stories Suzanne has to offer. It will definitely be interesting to revisit Panem!

And now I nominate anyone else who would like to do this tag! If you do end up completing it, share your link below and I will definitely check it out!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Between Shades of Gray Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.‚ÄĚ

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction, World War II,

Published March 22nd 2011 by Philomel Books

Pages: 344

Rating – 5/5

GoodReads

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Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.¬†Between Shades of Gray¬†is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

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WOW. This was absolutely breathtaking, heartbreaking yet the most alluring read I have read for a long time. I absolutely loved it and I definitely would recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction or just a powerful story. One of my favorite things about Ruta Sepetys is that she writes about historical events which are not commonly studied about and that is what makes her stories so interesting. In terms of World War II, I was definitely aware of Hitler’s regime and his genocide of the Jewish community, but I never knew about Stalin’s crimes against the people of the Baltic region. The title accurately reflects the plot/characters of the novel in which we see that a person’s character is not entirely black and white – there are those who may be on the “wrong” side but are actually kind and there are people who may be on the “right” side and can end up hurting others.

And I’m sure you all may be curious – Did I cry? OH YOU BET I DID!!! OMGGG!

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Lina Vilkas – Outspoken; Courageous; Strong; It was definitely interesting to read through Lina’s perspective. While I will say that she is flawed in the beginning, with less regard for others and a bit defensive, she gradually grows and we see her become someone who uses her voice and provides hope and strength for others.

Jonas Vilkas – Sweet and Cute LOL; Ahhh what can I say about this cutie patootie? I love this kid to bits. He’s just the sweetest little cinnamon roll that you want to protect forever! There were some scenes which described this character so well that you just want to pick him up and give him a hug.

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Elena Vilkas – Warm; Comforting; I will have to say Elena is probably the sweetest and iconic motherly figure I have seen in all YA novels. There is a level of grace, strength and love that she has not only for her family but for the people around her which makes her such a beautiful character. As the mother of Lina and Jonas, she makes it a priority to safeguard and protect her family while simultaneously giving them ample amounts of courage and hope and I loved that about her.

Andrius Arvydas РSmart; Empathetic; While it did take a while for him to grow on  me, I eventually found myself falling hard. I absolutely love the amount of effort he goes through to help others despite his the precarious situation he is in. It shows that he has a lot of courage and a strong desire to help those in need. It was also beautiful to see the relationship between him and Lina grow that it tugged on your heartstrings.

“Don’t give them anything, Lina. Not even your fear”

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Human Spirit. Hope. Love. Courage. 

If I were to tie the themes of the book together, I think those words truly capture the aura of the novel and it is so well done! In a time where the most ugliest parts of humanity were showcased, one may wonder how anyone can survive something like this. And I think Ruta Sepetys showcased this clearly through weaving the theme of love and hope into the storyline. Whether it be love for family and friends or love for your art/music, it served as a focal point which many people used to combat this horrible event in history. I also appreciated how she delineates the strength of the human spirit in this novel.

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Ruta Sepetys writing really helped transport us to 1941 and it is clear that she had done extensive research to showcase the harsh realities of the Baltic Genocide. The World during this time really did strike fear into our hearts and it pains you as a reader to read through the bloodcurdling and terrifying experiences that the people had to go through. Being transported through a cattle car train, being separated from families, forced to work in labor camps and facing the most cruelest abuse from the Soviet guards were only some of the conditions which these people had to face but you end up admiring their resilience through these events. In fact, there were moments which Ruta Sepetys sprinkled throughout the book which warmed your heart – moments with Lina and her family, moments with Lina and Andrius, etc.

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Overall, I absolutely loved this story. I learned so much about a part of history which I never heard before and I am so thankful that Ruta Sepetys shared story like this. Honestly she had now become one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to pick up her other books!

In addition to the storyline, the characters and the world, the writing was also exquisite. It was not super detailed and thorough like something out of a textbook, but it was just enough and to the point which evokes emotion and compassion for the characters’ immense struggles. Ruta Septeys definitely has an addicting quality to her writing. I never wanted to stop reading. I think it helps that the chapters are short but they end with a cliffhanger or an interesting moment which just compels you to keep going. And I was HOOKED! To add on to that, I also noticed how she never shies away from the harsh brutalities that the characters had to face. She keeps it real and I think that is what makes this story so powerful. And not to mention heartbreaking, I lost a bucket of tears!

Have you guys read Between Shades of Gray? What were your thoughts on it? Let me know!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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O.W.L.s Magical Readathon | 2020 TBR

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Hello to the wonderful BookBlogging community! I missed you all so much! Gosh, its been so long!! I know its quite difficult nowadays with everything that is going on in the world but I hope that all of you and your family/friends are safe and well. We will get through this! Let’s stay positive! ‚̧

Can you all believe its April already? And if you are a reader who is active on bookblogging sites or BookTube, then I am sure you all are well aware of the Magical Readathon hosted by G from Book Roast. And this could not have come at a better time! Now that we are practicing social distancing, I found it the perfect opportunity to combat my reading slump and pick up the pile of books I have on my TBR (so seriously. its no joke, I HAVE A BUNCH!)

So here is a quick rundown:

O.W.L.s – Ordinary Wizarding Level Examinations

  • Take place between April 1 – 30
  • 1 book prompt per subject. In order to pass the subject, you would need to read the book associated with the prompt
  • Graded by the exams passed
    • Acceptable¬† – 2 or more exams completed
    • Exceeds Expectations¬† – 6 or more exams completed
    • Outstanding¬† – 9 or more exams completed

N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests)

  • Takes place between August 1-31
  • 3 book prompt per subject. Each book prompt is assigned to a pass grade – A, E, O
  • Reading prompt A, unlocks prompt E which unlocks prompt O; To earn an outstanding, you need to complete the prompts in this order.

G is so amazing since she put so much hard work in creating these beautiful and detailed documents that you can’t help but admire her for it.¬†Recently, there was also an addition added to the challenge which offers a list of careers that we can choose to become if we are able to complete the required subjects needed to take on that career.¬† So for my careers, I narrowed it down to Astronomer and Librarian but it might change depending on what books I manage to get through since I do have some Masters classes and presentations/papers to complete this month.

Since I am not sure which career to pursue at the moment, I decided to compile a TBR of the the subjects required to pass with these two careers: Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Astronomy, History of Magic, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Transfiguration

Now without further ado, let’s get on with the my TBR!

 

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Heart Rune: Heart on the cover or in the title

a heart so fierce

 

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Magical qualities of #2 ‚Äď balance/opposites: Read something outside your favorite genre

For this prompt, I chose historical fiction since this is not the typical genre I reach for. I usually prefer Science Fiction or Fantasy. I actually just finished reading it the first week of APRIL because it was THAT good!!! i can’t wait to do my review on it. I have to share ALL THE FEELS!!

between shades of gray

 

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Night classes: Read majority of this book when it’s dark outside

king

 

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Witch hunts: Book featuring witches/wizards

serpent and dove

 

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Grindylows: Book set at sea/coast

So this book has been on my TBR forever and since I finished reading her other novel, Between Shades of Gray (which was amazing), I just really want to know what the hype on this book is all about.

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Others considerations:

Daughter of a Pirate King, Escaping from Houdini, All the Stars and Teeth

 

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Animagus lecture: Book/series that includes shapeshifting

For this I considered shifting as the manipulation of various elements with the Maji clans in the Children of Blood and Bone. The sequel was what I wanted to read for so long! I loved the first book – I actually devoured it as soon as I started reading and I can’t wait to start this. I hope I get to it!

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So these are the books which I am planning to read this month for the OWLs. I feel like it may be ambition to do all 6 prompts, especially with my classes but since we are remote, maybe it could be done! I will definitely update you all with full reviews for the books I read soon!

Are any of you joining the Magical Readathon? Whats on your TBR? If you guys have a post on it, let me know and I will definitely check it out!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Holiday Reads

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Hello everyone and Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! Can you believe it’s already December? I feel like this year just flew on by! Its crazy! But one of my favorite times of the year is December due to the Holidays! There’s nothing like snuggling up close to the fire and the Christmas tree with some hot cocoa and a book in my hands! It just creates the best ambiance for reading, don’t you think? And so for today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt, I wanted to share with you all my Favorite books I love to read during the Holidays!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

So without further ado, let’s get on with the list!

I love stories which incorporate a bit of magic and fairy tale elements for this time of year! I think these genres perfectly capture the wonder and fantastical aura during the Holiday time. Such book include Fairy Tale retellings like Cinder, Heartless and A Curse so Dark and Lonely. I think re-tellings offer a bit of adventure and comfort when we follow our beloved characters through trials and tribulations. Harry Potter is definitely a classic to read during the Holiday Time and Caraval is a perfect example of escaping into fantastical worlds which is a type of story which is great to read during this time of year.

Another set of genre would be contemporary, middle/grade or whimsical novels and mangas. I think the books seen above perfectly capture these elements. Middle grade novels are absolutely fun to read during the Holiday Time since it has a perfect blend of comedy, adventure and a whole lot of heart! Heartwarming contemporaries are also wonderful to read as well since it provides a bit of comfort within a real life setting. Mangas are another genre I love to read as well since they are often a quick and easy read. Since it can be a pretty hectic time during the Holidays (planning parties, attending parties/ get together, buying gifts, decorating the house etc), I feel as though having a manga is a great way to get a bit of reading done during this crazy yet enjoyable time of the year!

How about you? What are your favorite reads during the Holiday Season?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I am Thankful For

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Hello everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your week! And since it’s Tuesday, I’ve got another Top Ten Tuesday post for you all! This week’s prompt is a thankful freebie due to the Holiday coming up so I thought I could share with you lovelies my top ten books that I am thankful for.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the list!

Harry Potter, Cam Jansen, Fablehaven, Boys Against Girls series, Ella Enchanted

Starting off in my days of being an early reader, I would say I am most thankful to the five books above. This is mostly because it was these books which originally sparked my interest in reading. They also exposed me to various genres such as fantasy, mystery, fairy tale retellings and contemporary/ comedy. Without these books, I would definitely not be the reader I am today!

A Darker Shade of Magic, The Cruel Prince, An Ember in the Ashes, Children of Blood and Bone, Cinder

If I were to introduce someone to reading, I would most likely reach for these books. These novels truly reminded me of why I love reading so much. And now that I am older, I appreciate so many aspects of them which I did not immediately grasp in my early reading days. Such examples would be the unique parallelism to our current world no matter how diverse the setting is, the enlightening and higher themes dispersed throughout the novel, and the appreciation for diversity in setting, characters and storylines. And not to mention, they were super addicting reads which you could not get enough of! ūüôā

How about you all? What books are you most thankful for? Let’s Chat!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Changes In My Reading Life (Nov 19)

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Hey everyone! Hope you all are having a great start to your week! And since it’s Tuesday, its time for another Top Ten Tuesday!! This week’s prompt is all about changes in our reading life. While I did not have a lot of changes to talk about today, I have listed my top 5! And without further ado, let’s get on with the list!

 

Book Collection 

Initially when I first started my blogging/ reading journey, I began to accumulate so many books into my personal library. The rate at which I had to review books and post frequently on my blog pushed me to increase the stock of novels. Nowadays, I am a bit mindful about this habit since I only collect those which I personally enjoyed or hold a strong meaning to me.

Venture to New Genres (Dystopian to Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Thrillers)

Let’s face it. I think a majority of us have been through the time when dystopian novels flooded the YA genre. We must have all read at least one dystopian book during our reading life. I was no different. In the beginning I found them to be super interesting to read from a character’s perspective who endures the most undesirable and frightening societies but over time, I noticed that the plot points grew very similar and my interest slowly faded toward fantasies, science fiction, thrillers, mysteries and historical fiction and I absolutely loved those stories. Ooooo I have also tried Mangas and graphic novels as well! And they are amazing!

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Faster Reader

I’m not sure if I am the only one guilty of this, but I definitely saw an increase in the rate of my reading over time. Sometimes, the time it takes for my peers to read something would take me half the time!¬† Hmm. Maybe that’s why big books don’t stress me out . . .

From Series to Standalones

As much as I love series, I also have an appreciation for standalones. Some examples include books like Heartless, Fangirl, Ella Enchanted, House of Salt and Sorrows and Everything,Everything. While it does take a lot to commit and read through a series (especially if all the books are not released yet), standalones offer a reader a full story within one book and the ability to move to another genre/book quickly.

Reading Goals 

When venturing deep into the various novels that the book community/ authors have shared as well life in general, I found myself growing less adamant to sticking to a reading goal. While it is great to challenge yourself as a reader and try to read as much as you can, I think the reading experience grew important to me than having to complete my goal of books for the year.

How about you guys? How has your reading changed over time?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Thrilling and Scary Reads

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Hello my fellow book lovers! I hope you all are having a wonderful start to the week! Guess what day it is?? TUESDAY! And it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday post!

For this week’s prompt, we were given a Halloween freebie! And since I do not read too many scary novels, I decided to make a post including books which had elements that were both frightening as well as thrilling. So without further ado, let’s get on with the list shall we?

AngelFall

With a setting based in an post apocalyptic/ dystopian world besieged by fallen angels, I couldn’t help but have to include this in my list. Although I do not read too many dystopian novels these days, this one really peaked my interest due to the stellar reviews. What I loved most about this book was how thrilling and fast paced it was.¬† There were moments which freaked me out, especially during the end so if you do enjoy reading stories of this nature, then maybe you should give this one a try!

House of Salt and Sorrow

I was so thrilled when I received an e-ARC for this book on NetGalley that I immediately dove right into it. From the very beginning, I was super intrigued; especially since I found out this was a fairy tale re-telling of the 12 dancing princesses. I loved the ambiance the author created throughout the story – a feeling of being in a town by the cold sea. The imagery and experiences which the main character goes through sometimes has you questioning what’s real and what’s not and I found that aspect to be really interesting and at times, utterly terrifying.

172 Hours on the Moon

I think I have mentioned this book a couple of times in my other top ten Tuesday posts but I just had to include it in this one because it messed with my mind. While the whole premise of this novel seems a little far fetched with sending teenagers with NASA scientists to the moon, the cascade of events which take place during the entire expedition had me scared out of my wits! And it did not help that I had an upcoming work trip scheduled where I was traveling solo! I honestly had to chuck the book aside and I did not finish it until I came back from my trip! I know . . . I’m such a scaredy cat! LOL

Dark Inside

Here we have another dystopian book on the list and I was pleasantly surprised by this one! Though there are some scary elements within this book due to the aftermath of an earthquake which causes some people to lose control of their minds and turn on each other, I found the plot to be thrilling from start to finish. It honestly had me on the edge of my seat and at times you would constantly wonder about who is “nothing” and who is not. There were moments where I would be overwhelmed with anxiety since the author is so good in capturing those moments of high tension within those dangerous and horrific scenes.

*sighs* Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with late night reading when I was sure it would disturb my sleep . . . #badchoices

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Well . . . The title is enough to make it a perfect book to include in this list isn’t it? I mean . . . who would ever think of stalking one of the most heinous criminal of all time? I have to say when I first heard the hype about this novel, I seriously wondered whether I would be able to even read it. To my surprise, I found it’s mystery to be quite interesting. I also loved the depiction of the setting in Victorian London and the author was able to capture the haunting and dangerous atmosphere quite well. Since this book also sheds a light on the topic of forensic science, there were a few scenes which scared the living daylights out of me.

(Ahem . . and I would like to thank Thomas Creswell for making this read a bit more manageable)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

I think this novel is a perfect example of showcasing an unreliable narrator. While I cannot recall all the plot details since I did read it a while ago, I do remember some moments which seriously made my blood run cold. There were just so many unexpected moments that were thrown at you and as a reader you were actively trying to figure what were the true moments versus those which were not. That was the major part of the book which I thoroughly enjoyed although it freaked me out at some points!

Hush Hush

This book was also one which I have read awhile ago and it caught my attention since it was about fallen angels which at the time was something that I have never read about so I was eager to pick it up. There is an element of mystery within this novel and you are constantly trying to figure out who to trust. While I wouldn’t say that this novel was scary, I do recall certain scenes which had me quaking in my boots!

Prisoner of Night and Fog

Ok. This one was a seriously well written and well researched historical fiction novel! What I loved most was how the author dove into the psychological aspects of the diverse personalities that people have. What really makes a person good versus bad? She was brilliant in articulating how a person’s mind works and she does so with one of the most notorious historical figures – Adolf Hitler.

An Ember in the Ashes

I absolutely love this series! The best part of it all was the gripping and thrilling plot which had me flying through the pages eagerly anticipating what was going to happen next! I seriously could not put it down. The high stakes, the lurking danger at every corner, the secrecy, the ruthless villains and raw brutality had me shaking!

The Cruel Prince

When it comes to thrilling and captivating reads, I think Cruel Prince would top the list! I am usually quite hesitant to pick up books with a lot of hype since I am worried whether I would enjoy it or not but this one certainly lived up to the hype. The intense politics, the growing tension between characters, the deceptions and secrecy made it so interesting to read. (Let’s not forget all those crazy plot twists!) There was just so much going on that I had a plethora of annotations throughout the book! I can’t wait till I re-read this so I can go through all my reactions!

What about you lovelies? Do you have any scary/ thrilling reads to recommend?¬†Let’s chat!

Until next time, keep on reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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