Readathon: Gothtober TBR

Hi everyone,

It is SO CLOSE to being October, which is one of my favourite reading months of the year as I love focusing on spooky books. This year, I’m going to be participating in the fantastic Gothtober readathon, which is hosted by LadetteM, Olivia’s Catastrophe and Little Wolf. It’s a readathon to celebrate gothic fiction, although you don’t need to read just gothic books to participate (and I won’t be!) But all the themes and prompts are designed to work well with gothic fiction. So without further ado, here’s my TBR for this readathon!

Disability rep: a book with disability representation

I have been wanting to read Christina Henry’s books for so long, she writes horror retellings of fairytales which sounds very up my street. The Girl in Red is a horror retelling of Red Riding Hood, and it features a main character with a prosthetic leg!

BIPOC author: A book written by a Black, Indigenous, or Author of Colour

In news that made me happy this week, my library reopened its doors for collection orders which meant I could go collect a bunch of reservations I’ve been waiting on, all of which are perfect for Gothtober! White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi is one of these, it’s a modern, queer, gothic horror about a spooky, mysterious house where generations of women inhabit the walls.

LGBTQ+: A book with LGBTQ+ representation

Sarah Waters is the author of one of the biggest lesbian novels of all time, Tipping the Velvet. I haven’t actually read any of her novels, but she writes a lot of gothic, historical, mystery novels which seems perfect for spooky season! Fingersmith is the one I’ll be reading, it’s about a girl from a family of thieves who falls in love with the rich mark she’s trying to steal from.

Bones: A book with Bones either on the front cover or in the title

Okay I really struggled with this prompt, none of my books have bones in the title or on the cover so this connection is tenuous to say the least. My thinking was: bones are dead things; and also the flamingo’s legs are so thin they totally look like bones. Thus, Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett will be my read for this prompt.

Female protagonist: A narrative led by a heroine

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is a spooky (because of the ghosts) historical romance based on Chinese/ Malaysian customs and is about a girl offered to be a ghost bride for a recently decesaed young man (as ghost brides are used to placate angry spirits). She is then drawn into the parallel world of the Chinese afterlife every night.

Oldest purchased: A book that has been on your owned TBR the longest

I have been meaning to read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux for years, it’s one of those classics which has just sat on my shelf and I’ve never gotten time to read. But that changes now! It’s the gothic horror/romance novel which the musical is based on!

Foreign Country: A book that takes place in a country foreign to the one you currently reside in

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi is a retelling of one of the most well known gothic novels of all time! It’s, obviously, set in Baghdad, and follows a scavenger in US occupied Baghdad who collects human body parts to sew together a corpse, to get the government to recognise the parts as people and give them a proper burial. But as we all know, the corpse, Frankenstein, wakes up…

Modern retelling: A modern retelling of a Gothic Classic, or a newer release which is described as ‘gothic’

I am considering rereading Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia for this prompt because it’s my favourite book of the year and I really want to reread it, but I have so many other books I need to read as well…. My other option for this prompt is The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It’s a sapphic retelling about the brides of Dracula.

Red: A book with the colour red on the cover, or in the title

Award for most fucked up book on my TBR goes to this baby! Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica is a fucked up story about a virus that makes animal meat poisonous to humans, so eating human meat is legalised (yeah, I told you it was fucked up). We follow one of the “farmers” of human meat who is given a “special gift” (a woman) that he starts to get to know, even though he isn’t supposed to talk with the specimens. As I’ve said like three times already, this is some fucked up shit.

Grey Morality: A book with character or themes that are morally grey

Back to another classic gothic novel here, with The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I read this years and years ago as a teen and I am very much due a reread as an adult! Dorian Gray is of course the morally grey character, who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty!

Lies: A book where the title has liar, lies or lying it it, or the MC is a liar

Rebecca by Daphne du Marurier is another classic, like The Phantom of the Opera, which has been on my TBR for years and I’ve just never got around to it. But, I’m very excited for the Netflix film adaptation which is releasing near the end of October so I need to read this before then! The husband spends the whole book lying about his first wife, which is why I’m reading it for this prompt!

Undead character: A book which includes an undead character (this can be ghost, zombie, Frankenstein, vampire, wraith, banshee, mummy, skeleton etc)

Another classic gothic novel, Dracula by Bram Stoker is one of my favourite classics and I’m very excited to reread it this month! I first read this when I was in high school, I studied this book and Carmilla for my English dissertation which pretty much talked about queer vampire sex and it was great.

Dark academia: a book set at university/college with dark themes or vintage aesthetic

I have like four different dark academia books sitting on my shelf right now so who knows which one I’ll actually end up reading for this prompt. At the moment, I’m thinking it’ll be The Secret History by Donna Tartt since that’s been on my shelf the longest, and I keep hearing people talk about it. One of my most anticipated books of 2021 (A Lesson in Vengeance) is also described as a sapphic The Secret History meets The Craft so I want to know what I’m in for!

Vampire film/TV: watch your favourite vampire TV show or film

For my film, I’ll be watching my favourite adaptation of Dracula, the 1992 edition with Keanu Reees, Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman! I might also try out the recent BBC Dracula TV show, which was created by the same team behind Dr Who. I’ve heard some mixed feelings so I haven’t yet got around to it, but maybe October is the month!

Finally, because I am EXCEEDINGLY indecisive, I also have some extras here which all fit some of these prompts so I can mix and match depending on my mood.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

I’m so excited for this TBR! All of these books looks so amazing, so spooky, there’s so many gothic novels in there, classics and modern, and I can’t wait to celebrate this genre all month long! I suspect there’s going to be a lot of new favourites in my reads this month. Are you participating in this readathon? Let me know in the comments!

SPOOKTOBER: My favourite creepy books

Hi everyone!

I’ve been a little slow on the blog recently because I’ve recently added a million things to my already hectic life…including writing a novel! This year I am going to be doing NaNoWriMo and starting writing a book! My angsty bisexual pirate fantasy is going to be taking up a lot of my time, and so for the month of November I will be going on a semi blog hiatus, to concentrate on writing as close to 50,000 words as possible!

So to celebrate my renewed desire to write my novel, I decided to tag along for the last week of Blogtober, with 7 spooky (mostly) posts for you! Today we’re starting with my favourite creepy books…

Wilder Girls – Rory Power

This was definitely going to be top of this list, as one of the creepiest books I’ve read all year! Wilder Girls is a psychological horror, with deadly forests, a virus outbreak, and shockingly distubring body horror. I always find myself loving virus outbreak books and I think it’s because they’re always so realistic – it could literally happen to us tomorrow. And so I always find these books even more creepy because its so easy to imagine it happening in real life. Full review here!

Other Words for Smoke – Sarah Maria Griffin

Other Words for Smoke is just as creepy but in a very different way to Wilder Girls. The setting is really what makes this book so creepy to me – set in a small Irish town, there is such a sense of disturbing fairytale in the prose. The way Sweet James can control and twist the minds of those around them just adds to this creepy atmosphere. Full review here!

Missing, Presumed Dead – Emma Berquist

Missing, Presumed Dead was a book that really surprised me this year! It had such an interesting premise, but I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away by this book as I was. IT IS AMAZING! It is so dark (way way more dark than I thought it would be!), so gritty, and there is such a haunting depiction of how magic could impact mental health, it’s just stunning. Also it has terrifying revenge driven ghosts – definitely fits my favourite creepy books… Full review here!

The Grace Year – Kim Liggett

This book only released a few weeks ago, and brings its own unique perspective to feminist dystopia, in the style of books like The Handmaids Tale, or The Natural Way of Things. Set in another creepy forest, where masked killers wait to pick off girls if they escape, a group of girls must live out a year. The insidious way the girls slowly turn on each other is just incredible, and perfectly matches the creepy atmosphere of the forest. Full review here!

Sealed – Naomi Booth

This was probably one of first body horror reads and it is TERRIFYING!! Rumours of an epidemic have started to appear, one in which skin seals over holes…like your mouth….nose….eyes…. This book is so atmospheric, the fear of the main character is so evident on every page as she tries to escape the epidemic. She’s also pregnant which gives everything such a different take as she tries to survive motherhood, and dreams of her baby being sealed inside her. It’s just horrifying and terrifying and so so creepy.

The Natural Way of Things – Charlotte Wood

I mentioned this book above, and like The Grace Year, its another take on that feminist dystopia story, with themes very similar to The Handmaid’s Tale. Set in Australia, a group of women wake up drugged and trapped in the middle of the Australian outback. There they are watched over by three captors, and made to work, and slowly try to discover why they’re there… Again it’s the setting which really makes this so creepy – the Australian outback can be such a terrifying place, as it is for these women, and the emptiness and lonliness of this setting is so fantastic.

All the Things We Never Said – Yasmin Rahman

To turn this list on its head, I’m ending with this brilliant book I read very recently. The creepy, horror aspect doesn’t come from the setting – instead it’s from the terrifying plot. Mehreen, Cara and Olivia want to die. But they need someone’s help to do it. So they join a suicide pact website, which matches you with partners to commit suicide Mehreen, Cara and Olivia are matched, but as they become friends, they begin to regret their decision. But, the website is deadly, and doesn’t want to let them go…. This book was so fantastic, so gutwrenchingly, heartbreakingly emotional and personal. It’s so scary and just a beautiful story. Though, as a note of warning, I wouldn’t advise reading this when going through a rough mental health patch (which is what I did – and I strongly regret it). Absolutely brilliant book – but keep yourselves safe and well first!

That’s it for today’s Spooktober! Check back in tomorrow for another post!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

Top 5 Tuesday: Fall Reading Recommendations

Top 5 Tuesday is created and run by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. You can join the fun by checking out the topics for the month here.

Hello from the land of Spring! Baby lambs are being born, baby birds are a-chirping and the sun is finally beginning to shine again.

Whilst it is absolutely nowhere near the lovely time of Autumn in Australia, I have actually read quite a few books which feel really Autumny recently. To me, the perfect books for Autumn are those quieter, spooky, atmospheric and mysterious books – the ones which might not have as much action and drama, but which still pack the most powerful emotional punch.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Ohmygosh this book is absolutely killer. This quiet horror book tells the tale of Raxter Girls School, where all the students and teachers have come down with a mysterious and deadly virus. Under quarantine, and with girls dying regularly, when Hetty’s best friend Byatt goes missing she vows to break quarantine, threatening everyone at the school for a chance to find her friend. This is a story about frienship and loyalty and giving everything up for the ones you love, no matter the cost. Set in a dark and terrifying forest, with horrors around every tree, Wilder Girls is so perfect for Autumn! I have a full review of this one coming soon!

The Weight of the Stars – K. Ancrum

I was lucky enough to get gifted this book for my birthday from my wonderful partner and I read it on holiday on a beach which I realise doesn’t sound very Autumny. BUT! This is a very quiet and understated contemporary romance, with some light sci-fi. K. Ancrum’s books are so special – from the way they are designed to the beautiful, soft prose. The Weight of the Stars tells such a beautiful story of two girls whose love will take them to the stars. The secondary characters really shine in this one, and I loved the elements of sci-fi and space travel.

The Grace Year – Kim Liggett

And back to the creepy, mysterious, dark Autumny books! The Grace Year publishes on 8 October and I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this title! In a similar vein to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Grace Year is a fiercely feminist story. When girls turn 16, they are sent outside to a camp, forced to survive a year in the haunting wild, to ‘burn off’ their magic, the magic that so tempts men. But in The Grace Year, things happen and the girls change as their magic burns off – and soon they turn against each other. This is a brilliant tale about fighting back – both quietly and loudly. It’s about the bonds between women, and how these bonds can change the world. It’s also set in another terrifying, mysterious forest where the evil Poachers lie, waiting to hunt the girls down – which makes it absolutely perfect for Autumn! Full review to come!

The Wicker King – K. Ancrum

Yes I have another K. Ancrum book on this list because they are AMAZING! Ancrum writes so atmospherically, with so much emotion, they just fit in Autumn! The Wicker King is about Jack and August, their friendship and what happens to them when Jack begins to hallucinate. Their relationship is so fiercely loyal – even when it hurts them both. It’s such an emotional book, with your heart being broken every page. And like The Weight of the Stars, the design is absolutely stunning!

Other Words for Smoke – Sarah Maria Griffin

And finally, another atomspheric, almost fairy-tale like story about a house in Ireland where something lives, and controls. The mysterious, mystical nature of the book is fantastic – the setting so picturesque and perfect for a creepy novel about owls who live in the walls and like to eat people. Not forgetting of course, the giant talking cat, a witch who can control the house, and a coming of age tale as brother and sister fall for the same person. So Autumny in it’s atmosphere and it’s spookiness!

That’s it for this week – I hope everyone enjoys these Autumny reads and I can’t wait to see what books make you think of Autumn!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco