A Tribute to Cat Winters

Well, this is a bit of a diversion for me, but I just finished ‘Odd & True’ and felt the need to sing my praises for the author: Cat Winters.

I have never found a Cat Winters book that wasn’t binge-worthy. Granted, I’ve only read 3 of her novels so far, but that’s still really impressive. So I thought I would give you my thoughts on the books I’ve read and introduce everyone to this fabulous author!

In The Shadow of Blackbirds

13112915Description from Goodreads: In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

My Review: This was my first Cat Winters novel and, boy, did it catch me by surprise! The description sounded interesting, but I didn’t realize I’d become enthralled enough to read it in one sitting! The author combines true history (the horror of WWI and the Spanish Influenza outbreak) and a supernatural romance…and manages to come out with a wonderful and completely believable tale.

The Cure for Dreaming

curefordreamingDescription from Goodreads: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. 

My Review: Coming off the Blackbirds book, I had a feeling this one would be better than it sounded, and I was right! It was another single-sitting, page-turner! Once again, the author manages to join together real history and the supernatural into a story that feels completely true to life. She really seems to understand (and explain well) what living in the early 1900s must have been like for a strong-minded young woman.

Odd & True

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

My Review: Sigh, another great one. I love how the author always manages to spin a tale that seems creepy and supernatural, but often has real issues and struggles at the heart of it. This one is more of a coming-of-age tale; that time in everyone’s life when the magic dies and reality sets in…but only if you let it.

Her other books (which my library doesn’t have, darnit) include:

The Uninvited

theuninvitedDescription from Goodreads: Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. But Ivy’s life-long gift—or curse—remains. For she sees the uninvited ones—ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother’s chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy’s older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her ‘uninvited guests’ begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

The Steep & Thorny Way

thesteepandthornywayDescription from Amazon: A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now the killer is out of jail and back in town, and he’s claiming that Hanalee’s father’s death wasn’t an accident at all. Instead, he says that Hank was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who just so happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

In order to get the answers she needs, Hanalee will have to ask a “haint” wandering the roads at night—her father himself.

Yesternight

yesternightDescription from Goodreads: In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys (An Anthology with Several Other Authors)

slashergirlsDescription from Goodreads: A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.


Have you given Cat Winters a try? Read any of the books I haven’t gotten to yet? What did you think?

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Library Haul – Mystery, Fantasy, and Books About Books

Another day, another library haul. 😉

Whose Body? (Dorothy Sayers)

whosebodyDescription from Goodreads: The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder — especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What’s more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Why I Picked It: Ever since I fell in love with Poirot, I’ve been slowly picking my way through the Golden Age mysteries. Having finished Miss Marple, I decided it was time to give another classic author a try. Dorothy Sayers is really well known and her Lord Peter Wimsey books sound right up my alley, so I decided to snag the start of the series.

A Study in Charlotte (Brittany Cavallaro)

astudyincharlotteDescription from Goodreads: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar. 

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Why I Picked It: I love Sherlock in most of his forms, so I’m usually up for ‘descendant’ novels as well. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason seems like it had a similar vibe, if a bit steampunky, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This one sounds kind of fun and the reviews were decent, so I figured I’d give it a go.

Odd & True (Cat Winters)

oddandtrueDescription from Goodreads: Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio. 

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

Why I Picked It: I’ve been wanting to read this one for ages and I’m extremely excited that my library snagged a copy so early! I’m not sure what it is about Cat Winters, but I can’t seem to NOT binge read her books. Fingers crossed that the trend continues!

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

Why I Picked It: Honestly, I was just checking whether or not my library had finally gotten Jenny Lawson’s last book, Furiously Happy, (spoiler: they didn’t) and I happened to notice that the entire shelf above that spot was books about books! This one sounds kind of fun…and like something I would probably do myself. 😉


So what are you currently reading? 🙂

Library Haul – Look What You Made Me Do!

So I got to reading everyone else’s T5W: Books Without Romance lists and I ended up popping over to the library…where I went a little crazy. I came out with five books. FIVE! Which may not sound like a lot until I tell you that my library has a check out period of THREE weeks (Private Library = Weird Rules).

Here’s what I got…

Murder at the Vicarage (Agatha Christie)

murderatthevicarageColonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hates, has been shot through the head. No one heard the shot. There are no leads. Yet, everyone surrounding the vicarage seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead. It is a race against the clock as Miss Marple sets out on the twisted trail of the mysterious killer without so much as a bit of help from the local police.  A couple of years ago, I discovered the Poirot series on Netflix and became instantly infatuated. After that, I kept getting recommendations for Miss Marple, but since that show ISN’T on Netflix, I’ve decided to try out the books. This is the first in the series and I’m enjoying it so far! 🙂

Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)

beautyqueensWhen a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition. Ok, so this one could go either way…it will either be HILARIOUS or completely cheesy and dumb. I’m leaning towards hilarious because it was written by Libba Bray and I’ve really only heard good things about her. Fingers crossed!

The Cure for Dreaming (Cat Winters)

curefordreamingOlivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.  This one actually DOES contain romance, but I was looking up ‘Odd & True’ by Cat Winters and found out that it hasn’t come out yet, so I snagged this one instead. I loved ‘In the Shadow of Blackbirds’, so I’m hoping this one is just as good.

Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein)

codenameverityI have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do. That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again. He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two. We are a sensational team. I’ve had this one in my TBR list for a LONG time, but for some reason thought there was a love triangle. I hate those, so I kept picking up other books instead. Seeing this on someone’s ‘No Romance’ list made me actually giddy! I can finally go ahead and read it without worrying! 🙂

This Savage Song (Victoria Schwab)

thissavagesongKate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.  I’m ecstatic to find out this doesn’t have romance in it, because the description totally makes it sound like it does. I love monster books and I love them even MORE when they focus on the actual fighting of the monsters instead of “I hate this boy but I also love him”. 😉


What books are in YOUR reading piles?

Top 5 Wednesday – Out of the Slump

Hey guys, this week I’m actually going to follow the listed topic! Yea for me! 😉

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic:
Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

Here are five books that reminded me why I love reading. 🙂

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry (Fredrick Backman)

23604559This was a wonderful book that pulled me out of my most recent reading slump. I plan to do a full review at some point, because I absolutely loved it.

Do you remember that movie “Big Fish” starring Ewan McGregor? This story is kind of similar to that, except the main character is still the little girl who believes in her Grandmother’s stories. Over the course of the book, she learns the truth behind the fiction and comes to understand her family and neighbors on a much deeper level. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Cat Winters)

Wow, this book caught me by surprise. I had been interested enough13112915 to buy the book, so I knew that I’d probably like it, but I wasn’t expecting to become enthralled enough to read it in one sitting!

This story follows a 16yo girl in 1918, who is struggling to deal with the Spanish Influenza epidemic and the loss of her sweetheart to WWI. Mary never believed in ghosts, not until her beau returned to her, desperate to tell her his tale.

This one had a nice romance, a good dose of the supernatural, and wonderful world building. Great book!

Weird West Tales (Mike Resnick)

8253037Well, technically this is a series, but it’s my current go-to for when I need something fun to read that I know I’ll enjoy.

Now, normally, I’m not a fan of westerns, but a steampunk western featuring one of my favorite outlaw/lawman Doc Holliday? That also has cameos from Thomas Edison, Ned Buntline, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, and Theodore Roosevelt? Johnny Ringo is a zombie? Bat Masterson gets turned into a real bat?! Geronimo is an actual magic wielding shaman?!? And the next book has a frickin’ DINOSAUR on the cover?!?!? …Count me in!

Cuckoo Song (Francis Hardinge)

This is the book that introduced me to the amazing Francis Hardinge.23344750 I’ve only gotten to read two of her books so far, but both were wonderful.

Yes, the book is as creepy as the cover. 😉 But it’s a fascinating look into what I consider one of the most interesting tales from folklore (no spoilers, I promise; I could see people who are unfamiliar with the lore not figuring it out until pretty far into the book). The author’s world/character building is practically flawless in this one and I could NOT put it down.

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (Allie Brosh)

2D9725260-coverIn all honesty, this is more of a “life slump” book for me than a reading slump. This is one of a handful of books that I turn to when I’m having an awful day, especially if I don’t have a real reason to feel awful.

I’ve done a full review on this book already, but this is honestly one of the most funny, touching, and relatable books I have ever come across. If you are going through a tough time, especially if you are dealing with depression, I highly recommend this book and the website it was based on. The author has hit a rough patch herself at the moment and hasn’t updated in a while, but what IS there is fantastic and I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.