Month: October 2015

Chilling Reads for Halloween

It’s almost time for Halloween, bookworms! If you’re stumped and looking for an easy-peasy literary-inpsired costume, look no further than my post from last year.

In case you wanted to make a mad dash to the bookstore or library this weekend, here are some recent reads of mine that amped up the spooky factor. Pro tip: Don’t read these at night if you want to keep the nightmares at bay. Alternatively, read them at night for a really good thrill.

survivethenight

Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

Casey, recently out of rehab, cannot say no to her enabler of a friend, Shana. When Shana wants to tag along with a group to “Survive the Night,” a rave taking place in an abandoned New York City subway tunnel, Casey finds herself along for the ride. But after the rave is broken up, the small group of friends finds themselves trapped in the tunnels. When Casey and Shana’s friend, Julie, is found dead – her body ripped apart and strewn up – the friends realize they may not be alone in the abandoned tunnel. Now they really have to survive the night.

This second novel by the author of The Merciless is full of spine-tingling silences and horrifying moments full of gore.

accidentseason

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were LiarsThe Accident Season is a story of family, connections, and secrets with a frightening twist. Every October for many years, Cara’s family becomes accident-prone during the month. From bruises to minor scrapes, the accidents escalate to broken bones and even – in some cases – death. As readers try to uncover the mystery of the accident season, they must also decipher the meanings behind the strange, intense relationships between the various characters. And what about the classmate who shows up in the edges of all of Cara’s family’s photographs?

With its pivotal scenes taking place on Halloween night in the most beautiful, terrifying haunted house – The Accident Season is a stunning debut that’s sure to make you shiver.

you

You by Caroline Kepnes

If you’re friends with me in real life (or on various social media platforms), you’ve probably heard me swoon over You, the debut novel by Caroline Kepnes. Released in September 2014, You is narrated by Joe Goldberg, an intelligent young man working at a rare bookstore in New York City. Joe becomes obsessed with Guinevere Beck, a wannabe-writer who comes into the shop one day, and he uses his every resource to find out everything he can about her. If he knows everything about her – her likes, her dislikes, where she lives, who she sleeps with – surely he can become the man of her dreams…

Joe’s unreliable narration, paired with memorable scenes and a lot of dark humor, make You a chilling read for any time of the year. I highly suggest reading it NOW, as the sequel, Hidden Bodies, is coming out on February 23, 2016 from Atria.

hiddenbodies

(Spoiler alert: Hidden Bodies is just as creepy and as fun as You. I can’t wait for you all to read it!)

Have you read any of these favorite books of mine? I’d love to know what you think. Be sure to share your favorite scary reads in the comments below. Hope your weekend is full of tricks and treats, BiblioSmilers!

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

Review: Steady is the Fall by Emily Ruth Verona

Steady Is The Fall Cover A few weeks ago, Emily Ruth Verona visited BiblioSmiles to share her thoughts on her first novel, which is set to publish on October 29th.

That first novel is Steady is the Fall, and I was lucky enough to receive an e-copy of Verona’s book in exchange for an honest review.

I’m familiar with Emily’s writing since we took some classes together during our time as undergrads at SUNY Purchase. For those of you who are not familiar with her writing, I find her voice to be accessible, honest, and eloquent. This style carries through the entirety of Steady is the Fall. Every word is important and every sentence is meticulously crafted, making Verona’s work a pleasure to read.

The cover of Verona’s novel evokes feelings of contemplation, and a little bit of unease. I found myself returning to the cover on more than one occasion while reading. (I’m normally all for saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but this cover is really well-matched to its contents.)

Larry used to say death ran in our family. When I would tell him that it ran in everybody’s he’d simply hunch forward, hold up a finger and shake his head. “Not like in ours,” he’d say, “Not like in ours.”

Steady is the Fall follows once-hopeful photographer Holly Dorren in the aftermath of her cousin Larry’s suicide. Larry was Holly’s closest friend, and the two were inseparable since childhood. When the two cousins were young, they were in a severe car accident that caused resentment between their families and ultimately jump-started Larry’s fascination with death. Why had they been spared? What was this thin line that separated living from dead?

As they grew up, Larry continued to fixate on the car accident and the fragility of human life. He attempts to take his own life on multiple occasions, which terrifies his friends and family and puts a strain on his relationships with them all. Holly’s loyalty to Larry is fierce, and she tries very hard to keep a grasp on her cousin.

Hence her brokenness at the start of the novel.

Larry is a central character in Steady is the Fall, yet he only lives in flashbacks and memories. We are only able to see Larry as Holly wants us, as the readers, to see him. Because of this, I found the way I connected to Larry to be an incredibly interesting experience. I felt distanced from him as a character, but I also felt Holly’s acute longing for him, and her defeat of having been left alone.

As a narrator, Holly pulled me into her headspace, and I found it very hard to shake her feelings when I would put the book down for the day. She is reflective, and moody, and numb with her grief. She’s having difficulty coping with her loss, and it affects how she interacts with her family, her friends, and her coworkers. She has little interest in her hobbies or in taking care of herself. She chooses to fixate on things that have little do with her life or her situation – she becomes obsessed with a laundromat that closes after a fire – and there’s something incredibly sad about that. There’s something incredibly real about that, too; Holly’s grief is understandable. Verona writes Holly Dorren’s sadness in a way that is startlingly real: it is raw, and it hurts to look at, but at the same time you can’t look away. This experience is further complicated by the fact that Holly’s nickname growing up is “Holly-full-of-holes.” How much of what she says is true, and how much is a fabrication? A lie?

Steady is the Fall has a handful of strong supporting characters. Holly’s relationship with Bryan, one of Larry’s college roommates, is fraught with drama and tension. Her relationship with her own brother, a seemingly-directionless young man taking on a big responsibility, was also incredibly interesting to me. I found Holly’s interactions with others to be intriguing, as they offered a glimpse of Holly outside of her own head: out in the world of the living.

Steady is the Fall is a quiet, yet powerful debut. I urge you to add the novel to your Goodreads list or pre-order it through Black Rose Writing.

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

Mythic Reads for Riordan Lovers

I am a huge mythology fan. Who isn’t? Mythology’s basically fairytales that people believed once upon a time. Rick Riordan’s books on Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myths are some of my favorites (and Logan Lerman is adorable in the movies). They’re about kids who find out they’re demigods… and have to face all the monsters and challenges that come along with the superpowers and godly abilities.

I’m so beyond excited for the latest series by Riordan, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, founded in Norse mythology. Seriously—I spent a few minutes at BookCon pouting I didn’t get the promotional shields they were handing out.

The first book, The Sword of Summer, came out October 6th. After you devour that book, and while you wait for the next in the series to release: I have a long list of books to dive into.

greek myths d'aulaire

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
This is basically the authority on Greek mythology for anyone new to the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece. From the creation of the earth, the seas, and all that inhabit it, to the shenanigans of the gods, and the valiant deeds of the heroes, D’Aulaires’ illustrated book will make you wish we still worshipped these gods.

Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B Cooney
At six years old, Anaxandra is captured and made to be companion to the king’s crippled daughter on the island of Siphnos. But just a few years later, her new life is thrown into chaos when the island is rampaged by pirates, and Anaxandra is the only survivor. To keep herself alive, she takes the identity of the king’s daughter, Callisto, but her new guardian, Helen of Troy doesn’t believe her story. Plus, Anaxandra has to face another challenge—the start of the tumultuous Trojan War.

Graveyard Shift by Angela Roquet
The first in the Reapers Inc series, Graveyard Shift takes us through the whole spectrum of mythology… in the afterlife. Lana Harvey is a reaper, where she has to harvest souls under the management of the legendary Grim Reaper himself. Since she’d rather be hanging out with her favorite archangel Gabriel in Limbo City’s Purgatory Lounge, she’s shocked when she gets a promotion, especially one that could cause all of Eternity to fall apart.

american gods neil gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This story is magic. It’s about the old gods immigrants brought with them to America, and the war they’re waging on the new gods, the gods of television, of technology, of fast food. The book meanders, it marvels, it tricks you up. It’s without a doubt, one of the best pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Afterward your mind is blown, be sure to check out Gaiman’s book set in the same universe, Anansi Boys.

The Odyssey and the Iliad by Homer
Go right to the source with these classical tales written by Homer. Standing the test of time, the Odyssey and the Iliad are both still read today, thousands of years after the epic poet penned them.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Let’s take a journey away from Greece and to the realm of Jewish mythicism and Arabic mythology. Chava is a golem, created by a disgraced, dark-magic rabbi, and Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire from the Syrian desert. Their paths cross in 1900s New York, where they are both trapped in different circumstances. Though unlikely friends, they find themselves caught in this whimsical, exciting tale that also touches on the convergence of cultures and the meeting of the old world with the new.

the golem and the jinni

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
While we’re touring different mythologies, we can take a stop in Arthurian legend with the Avalon series. The tale of King Arthur is retold through the eyes of the women who were behind the throne. An inspiring and empowering series, these books will make any outcast girl feel like they can kick some butt.

Any must-reads missing from my list? I need to delve more into non-Western mythologies, I know. So many gods to learn about! (And wish that I had their powers). Do you have a favorite mythology from a specific culture, or favorite god?

 

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at her website.

My First Novel: Steady is the Fall

[Editor’s Note: Readers! I’m so excited to share that Emily, a BiblioSmiles contributor and a fellow Purchase creative writing alum, has a novel coming out on October 29th from Black Rose Writing! She’s here to talk about her experience. I’ll be sharing my review of her novel closer to the release date, so keep watch!]

Steady Is The Fall Cover You never know which will be the one. The thing which takes all those whens and maybes and transforms them into something tangible. Something outside of your dear and tender imagination. Over the last nineteen years I began writing dozens of novels and completed three of them before beginning the one. The first to be published. The first to change everything.

I began writing when I was very small. I don’t know a life without stories. I wouldn’t want to really. I treated each book I wrote carefully. They were all different genres with different virtues and flaws, but the only really difference between them was the evolution in quality with the passage of time. Stories from a child. Stories from a teenager. Stories from a writer.

The book which will be published this year is called Steady is the Fall and while I may not have known at the time that it would be the one, I do remember the start of it. I wrote a majority of the first draft in a small three-person room in college with no air conditioning. It was on the first floor and bigger than most rooms, though the building itself was nothing remarkable. I had always dreamed of going somewhere with historic stone buildings and breathtaking architecture, but that never happened. Instead I attended a small, strange, beautiful college at the edge of New York state. It was there that I wrote most of this book, first in the hot first floor room and the following year in a third story paradise in one of the newest buildings. Private bathroom. Real light fixtures. Air conditioning. Beautiful view of the forest right outside my window.

It was in this room where I read The Bell Jar and Ordinary People, two books which made me realize that my own novel did have a place after all. It is hard to get people to read bleak literary fiction, let alone want to bother with the money to buy it. I’m not saying that I’m Sylvia Plath or Judith Guest. I would never dream it. Their books did, however, prove that it is possible and that devastating, beautiful tales could stand against the brutality of time. They could be heard and treasured and matter in a world which thrives on flashiness and high-octane thrill rides.

Steady is the Fall will always be important to me, not just because it will be “my first” but because it was the book which bridged childhood and adulthood for me. When I started writing it I possessed all the naivety and insecurities of a teenager. Of course those attributes haven’t just disappeared, but so much has changed. Evolved. To undergo such a transformation during the course of one novel is a unique thing and for that I will always look at this story as the one which grew me up.

You never now which will be the one and I hope, as all writers hope, that this book will be worthy of such a landmark. Such a title. Such a truth.

It is the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another.

[Add Steady is the Fall on Goodreads here!]

Emily Ruth Verona is the author of the novel Steady Is The Fall. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Cinema Studies from The State University of New York at Purchase. She is a recipient of the Pinch Literary Award in Fiction, a Jane Austen Short Story Award Finalist, and Luke Bitmead Bursary Finalist. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Galtelli Literary Prize. Her work has been featured in The Pinch Literary Journal, The Lost Country, The Toast, and Indigo Rising. She lives in New Jersey with a very small dog.