Posted in Recommendations

Samhain Favorites Book List

Happy Halloween/Samhain everyone! Plaid Reader here, I thought I’d give you a little Samhain surprise and do a list of my favorite scary books from the past few years. I’m still held up being sick from the COVID booster so I’m around but not very useful. Shoot me a comment or tweet me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

1) The Cassidy Blake Series by Victoria Schwab

Perfect for the younger set but nice as a comfort read for the older set. Where Cassidy goes ghosts follow or is it the other way around? With a lovely cast of side characters, including a ghost best friend and clueless parents and great black cat. These books are a can’t miss! I imagine Cassidy celebrating Samhain with Grim and Jacob at her parents latest film destination.

City of Ghosts by [Victoria Schwab]

Amazon: City of Ghosts

2) The Contagion Series by Erin Bowman

If you think being stuck on a planet full of zombies during eternal night when people keep turning into zombies isn’t scary enough imagine being the rookie roped into the mission trying to stay alive. Then imagine being the survivor from the previous ship where everyone got zombiefied and you have decide whether or not to trust the current crew. With more action in the second book, Thea, Nova and Coen could all use an escape to a sunny beach for Samhain. I see them lighting candles on Samhain with Thea’s mom and Coen’s sister on some planet with long days and sunny afternoons.

Contagion by [Erin Bowman]

Amazon: Contagion

3)The Darkdeep Series by Allie Condie and Brendan Reichs

The Darkdeep Series follows a group of friends as they become guardians and deal with with the problems of dark puddle in the bottom of an old boat that can conjure your greatest wishes or darkest fears. As the series goes on they learn more about the portal and the portal’s powers. I imagine the group sharing a meal for Samhain on the houseboat, they’ve had a tough time with Halloweens, so I imagine they’d keep things quiet maybe some smores.

The Darkdeep by [Ally Condie, Brendan Reichs]

Amazon:The Darkdeep

4) Before I Let Go-Marie Najkamp

Since the book itself follows Kyra’s suicide, and the town’s frightening attempt to hunt Corey down because she comes looking for knowledge about her friend. I imagine in the future on Samhain she puts up some kind of ofrenda for Kyra to celebrate her life.

Before I Let Go by [Marieke Nijkamp]

Amazon: Before I Let Go

5)The Nightmare Thief

I imagine now that Hallie is awake the Dream Shop is somewhat back to normal. I think Maren has learned her lesson about making nightmares after her adventure with Obscura. I think she and Gran Gran now make only slightly spooky dreams for Samhain and keep it mostly cute. I think she, her parents, Hallie and Gran Gran and maybe Henri are having a dinner at one of the fun magical bake shops of Rockpool Bay.

Amazon: The Nightmare Thief

6) Even If We Break

Five go into a cabin in the woods but who comes out alive? Part RPG mystery part locked room mystery part simply awesome Even If We Break set my standard now for who survives the horror movies. I don’t want to give who survives away. (IT’S TOO GOOD A TWIST). But I imagine they are living out their post high school dreams. I can see them as the type to dress up and give out candy to the little ones and do a display on their apartment door.

Amazon: Even If We Break

7) Willa of Dark Hollow

Willa wouldn’t really celebrate Samhain but she would respect the turning of seasons and like the idea of humans observing and respecting nature. Since she already does that all the time anyway.

Amazon: Willa of Dark Hollow

8) The Companion

Margot and Agatha totally celebrate Samhain and are busy making protection charms just in case Laura ever gets released from the state facility. Margot also has an ofrenda to her family.

The Companion by [Katie Alender]

Amazon: The Companion

9)Dark Waters

This is just the latest outing in the Small Spaces Quartet. I can see each character having different feelings about Samhain, I can see Ollie starting off as suspicious because of everything she’s been through with the Smiling Man. I can see Coco jumping right in because she’s smart but has a gut for what good or bad when it comes to spooky. I can also see Brian being weary because of his Smiling Man experiences but eventually having a good time and the three of them and their parents all having a Samhain dinner at the Egg.

Dark Waters (Small Spaces Quartet Book 3) by [Katherine Arden]

Amazon: Dark Waters

10) Ghost Girl

Since Zee is totally a young witch I can totally see her in a crystal shop on Samhain then hanging out with Elijah, and Nellie and her father and sister over some sort of meal and maybe sharing one of her ghost stories.

Amazon: Ghost Girl

11) What Lives In The Woods

After the summer she had in the woods of Michigan, I can see Ginny spend Samhain maybe helping her mom bake a cake to celebrate Samhain, and remembering one spirit in particular. I can see her trying to solve another mystery and maybe helping the dead.

Amazon: What Lives In the Woods

Posted in Uncategorized

A Kind of Spark

I read this for the Halloweenathon challenge while at first I didn’t think it have anything to do with Halloween it had a real spark of the holiday in there. It also has a OwnVoice neurodivergent protagonist whom I found very engaging so I present to you.

A Kind of Spark

A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old autistic Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie feels a deep bond with this witches and they become one of her special interest. She knows how easily people can turn on you when you are different and expect these women were just scared and different women, who were a lot like her. Addie is willing to challenge some of the social issues autism presents if she can get this memorial made, for example she has to speak in front of the town council multiple times. Something that would be difficult for anyone. She also has to change how they see her, as more than just a disabled girl who can’t do anything? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief, perfect for fans of The Goldfish Boy

Review

What did I not like about this book? Umm nothing. It features one of the most realistic (perhaps because it is written by a wonderful #OwnVoices author) stories of a middle grade autistic girl that I’ve seen. They even got the language right. Addie becomes better about being her own advocate throughout the book. She is also good at a key point to draw historical parallels of her condition and the so called witches to help convince the town of something. I love the book showing her special interests, her need to stim, her getting overwhelmed, masking and especially her relationship with her sister Keedie who is also autistic. Her friend Audrey who asks about her special intrests is also a highlight. As is the portrayal of autistic burnout. Overall a standout book about autism and witchcraft, perfect for Halloween.

Amazon: A Kind of Spark

Posted in monthly goals

November Goals

I’m excited for November, firstly because its Native American People’s Month and I plan to read/watch/listen to as much OwnVoices Native Content as I can find. Secondly and much less importantly my ankle is finally getting stronger, was weak weak after I broke it.

And has been weak in the months since but at 9 1/2 months recovery I’m starting to feel like I could stand long enough to bake again. November being the perfect time with fall and winter being literal the only time where I live where you can bake without needing a fan. Finally there are so many great fall and winter releases I can’t wait for. Now for my goals.

November

1) Read Down My NetGalley TBR

I like many people love NetGalley. I also like many people let my list build up too high. I want to work on reading and reviewing some of the books I’ve let build up on my list and try to whittle it down to get my percentage up so I can get more books and do the same thing again. Oh well, but ARCs.

2) Try and Post 3 Times a Week in November

I think I’m in a better space to posting more plus I want to get my metrics up so I’m going to try to be consistent and be on here a good deal. I’m also going to try and find more creative ways to post tags, readathons etc.

3) Engage on Twitter More in November

Last week was my two year Twitter Anniversary, but I realize I’m not engaging as much with the platform as I’d like. I’d like to start preplanning my tweets, which I know, how am I not doing that already but I just never got around to it. I mean I’ll still hop on and make fun Tweets but I want to engage with my followers/get more followers.

4) Bake More

Though not specifically blog related I’ve been wanting to do it for months but haven’t been able to just because I haven’t been recovering long enough but now that it’s cooler and my recovery is further along I should be able to go back to doing a little of the hobby that I love done.

Stay tuned for my Halloween/Samhain surprise this weekend! And enjoy your weekend.

Posted in backlog reviews

Bridge of Souls

I’ve been a fan of the Cassidy Blake series since the beginning. I overall haven’t found it particularly scary but there have been moments in each book that had me on the edge of my seat. This book there was a particular scene towards the end of the book on a bridge that had me questioning how the book would go.

Bridge of Souls

Summary

Where there are ghosts, Cassidy Blake follows . . .

Unless it’s the other way around?

Cass thinks she might have this ghost-hunting thing down. After all, she and her ghost best friend, Jacob, have survived two haunted cities while traveling for her parents’ TV show.

But nothing can prepare Cass for New Orleans, which wears all of its hauntings on its sleeve. In a city of ghost tours and tombs, raucous music and all kinds of magic, Cass could get lost in all the colorful, grisly local legends. And the city’s biggest surprise is a foe Cass never expected to face: a servant of Death itself.

Review

Okay there were so many favorite things from this book Lara is back for one and her and Jacob’s banter always makes things ten times more fun. The Society of the Black Cat is amazing and reminds me of paranormal fighting D&D group. Then the guardian of death that Cassidy has to deal with itself, like I said few things have creeped me out throughout the series. It’s creepy, one because it’s powers are never really defined. Like when can it get you and when can it not, as a result Cassidy and Lara are always on edge that leads to a high key feeling that works perfect for the confrontation. Some people might not have liked the ending with Jacob but I found it sweet, a great finale to a very sweet and spooky series.

Amazon: Bridge of Souls

Posted in monthly goals

Completed? How My October Goals Went

Did I get my goals completed, have I actually done any work this month? Was I really just on Twitter the whole month? Lets look at the goals for the month and see how much I was working and how much I was doom scrolling.

1) Try to get my reading up again.

Well this wasn’t where I thought it was because of me waiting on and worrying about my disability claims, I DNF a few things so I’m never sure whether to count them. The next thing I have to worry about getting complete is my growing TBR from NetGalley.

2) Post twice a week.

I wasn’t good at posting the first half of the month, honestly due to worries about another disability hearing and trying to get paperwork together. But now that I’ve gotten back to it I feel much more dialed in to the book twitter community and am ready to do Readathons for November.

3) Post more of my old reviews

This I’ve been good about doing I’ve gotten at least 5 reviews up and am currently getting more reviews as we speak. This has been a pretty easy task and I keep planning to be diligent about this as I still have plenty of books I need to review, hopefully I’ll complete this next month.

4) Get metrics up on the website

This one I just need to post and post consistently and the metrics will fall in. I think I’ll see this working out if I keep myself posting regularly through November, then I’ll see it in my November numbers.

So was it good month? Yes and no. I had some real life stuff that overshadowed the blog, so I couldn’t really help that. I sort of fell like I’ve missed the past few months for worrying about how disability is going to turn out. But things are looking in the right direction and hopefully things will be decided soon and I can enjoy the holidays. Disability stuff completed and behind me.

Posted in backlog reviews

Dark Waters-Spooky Reviews

I think it’s fair to say I’m a huge fan of Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces Quartet. Her latest outing Dark Waters representing the season of summer, doesn’t let down with the scares and sets up for a very interesting finale set in spring. I can’t wait to see how Arden makes spring creepy but I wasn’t there is some precedent for creepy summer stuff but I don’t know anything creepy spring, anyway I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Dark Waters Summary

Until next time. That was chilling promise made to Ollie, Coco and Brian after they outsmarted the smiling man at Mount Hemlock Resort. And as the trio knows, the smiling man always keeps his promises. So when the lights flicker on and off at Brian’s family’s inn and a boom sounds at the door, there’s just one visitor it could be. Only, there’s no one there, just a cryptic note left outside signed simply as —S.

The smiling man loves his games and it seems a new one is afoot. But first, the three friends will have to survive a group trip to Lake Champlain where it’s said Vermont’s very own Loch Ness monster lives. When they’re left shipwrecked on an island haunted by a monster on both land and sea, Brian’s survival instincts kick in and it’s up to him to help everyone work together and find a way to escape.

One thing is for sure, the smiling man is back and he wants a rematch. And this time Brian is ready to play.

Review

The group’s relationship with the Smiling Man is evolving, which isn’t good for Brian, Coco, and Ollie. The first two books were direct monster encounters in this book they had to avoid the monster and then get a few messages from helpful ghosts to save them. Also the Captain and the man on the island, tears right here. They were working in a situation where the Smiling Man had all the advantages and I fear that the finale book will be a lot like this as well. Smiling Man with the upper hand, the group having to fight against bad odds so great for reading but not great for my anxiety. Dark Waters was wonderful and scary and suspenseful in a way that I couldn’t see the end all the things you need for great horror/mystery.

Amazon: Dark Waters

Posted in new releases, Recommendations

Wizardry of New Releases

It’s the week before Halloween so expect a few magical books to come out this week. Watch the authors use their wizardry as we see some new great books.

The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams

It’s 1944 Sutton, NY, and Poppy’s family owns and runs, Rhyme and Reason, a magical bookshop that caters to people from all different places and time periods. Though her world is ravaged by World War II, customers hail from the past and the future, infusing the shop with a delightful mix of ideas and experiences.
 
Poppy dreams of someday becoming shopkeeper like her father, though her older brother, Al, is technically next in line for the job. She knows all of the rules handed down from one generation of Bookseller to the next, especially their most important one: shopkeepers must never use the magic for themselves.
 
But then Al’s best friend is killed in the war and her brother wants to use the magic of the shop to save him. With her father in the hospital suffering from a mysterious illness, the only one standing between Al and the bookstore is Poppy. Caught between her love for her brother and loyalty to her family, she knows her brother’s actions could have devastating consequences that reach far beyond the bookshop as an insidious, growing Darkness looms. This decision is bigger than Poppy ever dreamed, and the fate of the bookshops hangs in the balance.

Come check out the wizardry of this book:

Amazon: The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams

Frankie and Amelia

I’m interested in this book for several reasons. One I love the relationship between cats and people, two I want to read anything with autism in it and three this just sounds like a good book.

Frankie and Amelia by [Cammie McGovern]

After being separated from his family, Franklin becomes an independent cat, until he meets a goofy dog named Chester. Chester is a service dog to his person, a boy named Gus, and Chester knows just the girl to be Franklin’s person—Gus’s classmate, Amelia.

Amelia loves cats, but has a harder time with people. Franklin understands her, though, and sees how much they have in common. When Amelia gets into some trouble at school, Franklin wants to help the girl who’s done so much to help him. He’s not sure how, yet, but he’s determined to try.

This sweet and moving novel demonstrates how powerful the bond between pets and people can be, while thoughtfully depicting a neurodivergent tween’s experience.

Find your copy here at:

Amazon: Frankie and Amelia

What Will My Story Be? 

From the creator of Pashmina, its a lovely new picture book.

From the creator of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Pashmina, comes a new picture book that encourages kids to be their most creative selves and to imagine all the places that their stories can take them.

After spending an afternoon listening to her aunties tell her stories from their pasts, a young girl ruminates on all of the tales that she can create using her imagination and begins to feel as if the possibilities for her future are endless. Filled with Nidhi Chanani’s signature vibrant illustrations, What Will My Story Be? is for anyone who finds inspiration in the quiet moments and cherishes the wisdom of the generations that came before them. Perfect for fans of Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat, and You Matter by Christian Robinson. It has the wizardry of figuring out your own story.

You can find it here at

Amazon: What Will My Story Be

Keep your eye out this week for some spooky book reviews and a special surprise on Halloween!

Posted in Uncategorized

Samhain Coming Up

Happy early Samhain/Halloween/whatever you celebrate on the 31 or Nov 1. I have spent the last week looking for files for the government that the government already had, so it was a week. I haven’t gotten hardly anything read during October due to worrying and things being up in the air about disability.

However I’m trying to relax a little before Samhain, embrace the spirit of a new year. Enjoy the spooky a bit and the changing of changing of seasons. It’s finally starting to get nice here so we have the windows open and I can enjoy the outdoors a little bit for the first time really this year.

I plan to try to be more productive in November, I’m doing two readathons, and am always willing to add another. I think I do best when I’m on a schedule. A this time I’m doing IndigAThon who’s present on Instagram, and Royal Readathon-Fairies.

I’m working on the TBR’s for both of these readathons right now and they should be up the first week of November. I excited to fulfill some of the challenges and there is some crossover, so that makes things easier.

The only problem with IndigAThon is I’ve read some of the great Native books this year already, but you can never read too much indigenous literature. And it also point out that it’s important to read Native stories all year long not just the month put out for people to think about them.

When I haven’t been preparing for Samhain or trying to get paperwork for the government I’ve been enjoying my PS5’s right now I’m playing Scarlet Nexus. I’ve never played a Bandi game before, but I like the battle system and the character’s powers. I’m also going to get play back to where I was with Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn to get ready for the February new release of the next part of the Horizon story.

Readathon Challenges

IndigAThon

Royal Readathon

Hope I to be up on the blog more than usual this week. I can’t wait to have time for seriously focusing on the blog. Hope ya’ll are having a good week

Solara.

Posted in backlog reviews

Dragon Egg Princess Review

The Dragon Egg Princess was a lighthearted fantasy with important messages about the importance of nature over progress.

The Dragon Egg Princess by [Ellen Oh]

Summary

Jiho comes from a long line of forest rangers who protect the Kidahara—an ancient and mysterious wood that is home to powerful supernatural creatures. But Jiho wants nothing to do with the dangerous forest.

Five years ago, his father walked into the Kidahara and disappeared. Just like the young Princess Koko, the only daughter of the kingdom’s royal family. Jiho knows better than anyone else the horrors that live deep in the magical forest and how those who go in never come back.

Now the forest is in danger from foreign forces that want to destroy it, and a long-forgotten evil that’s been lurking deep in the Kidahara for centuries finally begins to awaken. Can a magic-less boy, a fierce bandit leader, and a lost princess join forces and save their worlds before it’s too late?

Review

This is a perfect book for young middle graders. It’s got adventure, good heroes and heroines, a wonderful cast of side characters. There are also awesome monsters and other good creatures represented throughout the book and the villain is extremely cool. I would love a sequel to this book as it felt like it ended in a way were there could be more story but that just could be me. I especially loved Kiko as a character, along with the main villain. I also loved the dragon lessons that a certain character receives and the wizard giving them.

Author

The book is written by Ellen Oh who is the co-founder of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Potomac, Maryland, with her husband and three children and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

Posted in backlog reviews

Tea Dragon Tapestry Review

The whole Tea Dragon Series is a beautiful tale of love and friendship, so it would only make sense that its ending volume would be the same. The finale of the series shows the growth of the characters from the first book, and brings in old friends so we can enjoy seeing them again.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry

Summary

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.

Amazon: The Tea Dragon Tapestry

K. O’Neil

K. O’Neill is an Eisner and Harvey Award-winning illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. They are the author of Princess Princess Ever AfterAquicorn Cove, The Tea Dragon seriesand Dewdrop, all from Oni Press. Their books reflect their interest in tea, creatures, things that grow, and the magic of everyday life. Also look at the way O’Neil’s art style has improved since the first book isn’t this beautiful.

Review

This book was just a joy to read. I read it quickly. O’Neil’s books are always like pieces of candy something you finish quickly and is beautiful and shiny. But in another way they are like a cup of tea, you have to read it again and go back for a second slow look at all the details you missed. The plot itself was great Minette dealt with her past in a way she’s been needing to since book 1 and Greta found some confidence in herself she’s been needing since book one. Also I loved the surprise visitors and their relation with everyone. Overall, this book was great but then again I’m a huge K. O’Neil fan so I may be biased. I can’t wait to see more of their work.