Halloween Nonfiction and a Giveaway!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again!!

Most of you know that Halloween tops my list of holidays. Last year, I did a list of books and cocktail suggestions to make your Halloween a little better (you can read that here). This year, I’ve decided to go a slightly different route and share with you my favorite nonfiction works with a more macabre theme.

  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty

Let’s get death positive for Halloween! Caitlin Doughty helps to bring a refreshing dose of humor to death. Her video series Ask a Mortician has long been a favorite of mine and her books are filled with fascinating anecdotes and her signature irreverence. She somehow helps make death a more approachable experience.

  • The Great Mortality by John Kelly

An engrossing and often heart-wrenching history of the black death, which decimated Europe in the Middle Ages. It’s educational, obviously, but it definitely has moments that help to convey the more human aspects of a tragedy that may seem very distant to us now.

  • Death’s Acre by Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson

Dr. Bass is probably THE leading pioneer in the field of forensic anthropology. This book discusses how he helped develop the field as well as offering intriguing looks into actual cases and giving readers a peek into the Body Farm.

  • Beyond the Dark Veil

If you have ever seen The Others, then you are familiar with the Victorian practice of post-mortem photography. This book takes an look at the practice in an intimate, often poignant manner.

  • Empire of Death, Memento Mori and Heavenly Bodies by Paul Koudounaris

If you like skeletons, you will love Paul Koudounaris’ work. Whether he’s exploring medieval ossuaries or taking in bedazzled saints, his work is visually stunning and endlessly fascinating. These books are probably my favorites on this list, and that’s saying something.

NOW… giveaway time!! For quite awhile now, I have been following The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, a fantastic blog on medical history from Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris. She recently published The Butchering Art. I have not read it yet, but, having read her blog, I can’t imagine that it’s not fantastic. Long story short (basically, awesome boyfriend), I have an extra copy and I’m giving it away!

Sorry, this one is also US only and will stay open through midnight on Halloween!

The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris

Lord of Shadows Giveaway!

So… because its a holiday weekend (and because I somehow managed to pre-order two copies) I think it’s time for a giveaway. Last year I fell in love with Cassandra Clare’s books, so I’m happy to continue that obsession into this year.

If you haven’t read them yet, there are now three series featuring the Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and now The Dark Artifices. There are also several other books that relate to the series: The Bane Chronicles, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, The Shadowhunter Codex, a coloring book and probably some other things I have forgotten to mention.

Lord of Shadows is the second book in The Dark Artifices series.

 

 

Lord of Shadows Giveaway

The Last of August (Brittany Cavallaro)

I know I have mentioned before that I have a definite fondness for things relating to Sherlock Holmes. It was this fondness and a really good deal on an ebook that led me to buying A Study in Charlotte, Brittany Cavallaro’s first book in this series. I read the book during my recent vacation and was so enthralled that it largely took my mind off the searing pain from sore muscles and blisters on my feet.

While I have read a few very good homages to the great fictional detective this year (see my post on The Daemoniac and The Lost Property Office), this series might be my favorite. In the first book we are introduced to Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, descendants of the original Watson and Holmes who just so happen to be attending the same boarding school. There is plenty of mystery, mayhem and a Moriarty. Bloody brilliant. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for the next book. Sometimes, there are advantages to being late to the game.

In The Last of August we join our dynamic duo as they are spending their Christmas holidays together, first with Watson’s mother and sister and then with Holmes’ parents. Both are working through messy emotional situations (particularly their feelings for one another) when Charlotte’s uncle Leander goes missing while working on a mystery involving an art forgery ring. They head across Europe to search for clues and find a mystery deeper and more dangerous than they could have imagined.

I definitely found this book to be more tangled than the first in the series. I’m going to have to give the ending a more thorough read because there was a lot going on. Still, I loved it.

Not only do you get a better glimpse into the messy lives of the Holmes and Moriarty clans, but there were a few chapters narrated by Charlotte herself. I really found this helped shine some insight into her typically sphinxian character. It makes Watson’s fascination with her seem much more understandable. Plus, it was fun to see more of Milo Holmes and the (mostly) villainous Moriarty siblings.

So, since it’s been awhile since I’ve done a giveaway, I’ve decided that one lucky winner will receive copies of both A Study in Charlotte AND The Last of August!! Giveaway ends March 3, so get your entries in!!

A Study in Charlotte and The Last of August Giveaway!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Giveaway!

I’ll be totally honest: I have been working a bunch of extra hours at my day job, so I have been slacking off a little bit on reading and writing posts.

img_20161021_061258

BUT I’m willing to make the lack of a review up to you buy giving away one of my favorite books of all time… with the original Stephen Gammell illustrations. I can’t promise it to you by Halloween, but if you’re anything like me, it’s good all year round.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Treasury Giveaway

The Line Between Us (Kate Dunn) + Giveaway!

I received a copy of The Line Between Us for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not change my opinion of the book.

Image via Endeavour Press

Ifor Griffith lost both his father and older brother to the Great War. In time, his mother soon convinces him to give up his grammar school education to take a job as a gardener’s boy on the large estate near his Welsh village, where his father used to work as gardener. It is there that he meets and falls in love with Ella, the daughter of the house. This is at a time when status carries great meaning and Ifor knows that nothing can come of their mutual affection. While Ella is away on the continent, he eventually marries Jenny, a librarian.

It’s far from smooth sailing after that, with his longing for Ella a constant in his mind. In time, Ifor enlists to fight in World War II. When the ship requisitioned to rescue him and others from France is bombed by the Germans, it’s his determination to see Ella again that keeps him alive. Will he make it home and tell Ella how he really feels after all these years? Will they life happily ever after?

For starters, this is not a happy book. It’s pretty spectacularly depressing.  I know it sounds strange, but that’s a good thing, in this case. Sometimes a girl just needs a good tear jerker.

It took me a little bit to get used to the writing style. It’s almost as if Ifor is writing a letter to Ella, detailing his life. Once I got used to it, the writing is very evocative. The opening scene, in particular, is amazingly described.  The entire book is just lovely. Sad, but beautifully told.

Ifor himself is a wonderful character. It was impossible for me not to feel for him with everything he goes through in his life. Ella was harder for me to get attached to. She came over as spoiled. It was only through Ifor’s longing for her that I developed any real warmth for her. I liked him, so therefore, I liked her a little more. The supporting characters are great and really helped to fully flesh out the story for me. Mr Brown was a particular favorite, one sure to hit you right in the feels, too.

This story is inspired by the sinking of the Lancastria. This was a story I was unfamiliar with until I read this. It’s only been fairly recently that the story has really been told and I really suggest reading about it. It’s sad and fascinating.

I wasn’t sure going in that I would enjoy this book. Unrequited romances aren’t really my usual thing. But, I am very pleased to say that despite it’s melancholy subject matter, it was very enjoyable. If you need a beautifully written tale with a healthy dose of mournful, you should definitely check out The Line Between Us.

Almost as awesome? A free ebook from Endeavour Press for five lucky winners! They are the very cool publishers of not only The Line Between Us, but also of Busted Flush (which I reviewed a few weeks ago) and many others.

Free ebook from Endeavor press!

Labyrinth Lost (Zoraida Cordova) + Giveaway!!

As usual, I will mention that I received a free copy of Labyrinth Lost from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review. That fact did not affect my opinions.

9781492620945-PR
Sourcebooks

For Alex and her family, magic is part of life. She is a bruja and the most powerful witch in her family for generations, but she would give it all up to be normal. When she attempts to banish her powers during her Death Day ceremony, things go terribly wrong and her entire family vanishes.  She is forced to travel to Los Lagos, a realm in-between with handsome and complicated brujo Nova who has an agenda all his own, in order to get them back.

Anyone who knows me well could have told you I would have picked up this book initially just on the cover alone. I love sugar skulls. Again, I know, I should probably not pick books based on the cover. I can’t help it, I pick wine the same way. Fortunately, Labyrinth Lost really delivers.

I think that it’s not much of a stretch for many of us to identify with Alex’s desire to be normal. She is different in a world that doesn’t always value the unusual. Being unusual myself, I find her very relatable, except for the whole magic thing. I, much to my chagrin, have yet to discover my magical powers. I liked that it was clear from the beginning, even though she didn’t always appreciate it, that she had the love and support of her family. It was easy to see why she would risk her life to save them.

And what is a book about a journey with out good traveling companions? I think that both Rishi’s unwavering friendship and Nova’s dark mysteriousness and strength helped ultimately shape Alex into someone confident and powerful. Rishi is a great character, but I like complex and mysterious, so Nova really appealed to me. Is he good or bad? Is he some combination of both? Read and see.

Los Lagos is suitably creepy and full of mystery and magic. It’s like a combination Limbo and Wonderland. On Zoraida Cordova’s website there is a map, if you’re into that sort of thing. I am. It also will tell you more about her other books… but that’s another post. I’ll be reading them all, soon I hope.

For me, this reminded me quite a bit of the Beautiful Creatures series, the last book in particular. For those keeping score, that’s a good thing. I loved those books.

In even better news, this is only the first in the Brooklyn Brujas series, so there will be more! More Alex and Rishi! Hopefully we’ll find out even more about Nova! Yay! I know I needed another series to read like a hole in the head, but I just can’t seem to stay away from them.

Labyrinth Lost comes out September 6, and I definitely recommend pre-ordering a copy. For fans of Beautiful Creatures, or  just YA in general, I think it’s one you won’t want to miss.

Finally, to get a little extra into the spirit of Labyrinth Lost, I created a wreath based on the book!

0825161829b_HDR~2

Want to win the wreath? Enter the giveaway below!

Labyrinth Lost Wreath Giveaway