#23in23 – Mini Reviews

While I want to do full, in depth reviews for all of my books, that isn’t always possible at the time. I do, on occasion, go back and add more to my reviews when I get the time, but I won’t let the length of review stop me from sharing right away!

This month I’ve done really well with chipping away at the #23in23 challenge. Four finished this month, so far. You can see the full review and post for THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD but I needed to get these condensed here so I don’t forget.

MISTRESS OF ALL EVIL – Serena Valentino (Released October 3rd, 2017)

The tale is told as if it’s happening once upon a dream: the lovely maiden meets her handsome prince in the woods. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the maiden finds out that she is a princess—a princess who has been cursed by a dark fairy to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into an eternal sleep. Though her three good fairies try to protect her, the princess succumbs to the curse. But the power of good endures, as her true love defeats the fire-breathing dragon and awakens the princess with true love’s first kiss. The two live happily ever after. And yet this is only half the story. So what of the Dark Fairy, Maleficent? Why does she curse the innocent princess? What led to her becoming so filled with malice, anger, and hatred? Many tales have tried to explain her motives. Here is one account, pulled down from the many passed down through the ages. It is a tale of love and betrayal, of magic and reveries. It is a tale of the Mistress of All Evil.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Who is your favorite Disney villain? Maleficent is one of mine, and I’ve said it many times. I had this on my #23in23 list and I was in the right mood for it. This was a super quick read and I’m LOVING this series from Serena Valentino (super excited for her new one about Hades).

Sometimes there are villains that you just want to be evil and not humanize them, but I couldn’t help but just feel for her. I’m not shocked she’s the Mistress of All Evil after what she’s endured and been through. I’m all for these types of expansions on these fairytales we all know and enjoy. Give me all the villain stories!

THE HONEYS – Ryan La Sala (Released August 16th, 2022)

Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant.

Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.

What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death.

But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars – Read for #TransRightsReadathon

Another YA? What going on here? Well, I bought this after seeing @scaredstraightreads review last year and it was on my #23in23 reading list. The beginning was intense and really set the tone for the rest of the book. Mars goes to the Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy after the death of his sister – hoping to learn more about what could have lead to her death. The twists in this book had me going and I finished this in two sittings. The author covers a lot of important themes throughout the book – gender, bullying, sexuality – and I personally think that Dennis did a phenomenal job laying this all out in his review, so definitely go check it out! While it has some horror feels, I’d probably classify this as more of a thriller!

Bonus Review (also from #TransRightsReadathon)

TELL ME I’M WORTHLESS – Alison Rumfitt (Released January 17th, 2023)

Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends, Ila and Hannah. Since then, Alice’s life has spiraled. She lives a haunted existence, selling videos of herself for money, going to parties she hates, drinking herself to sleep.

Memories of that night torment Alice, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, to go past the KEEP OUT sign and over the sick earth where teenagers dare each other to venture, Alice knows she must go.

Together, Alice and Ila must face the horrors that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, whom the House has chosen to make its own.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Talk about a small book packing quite the punch. This is a haunted house story unlike anything else you’ve read. Things are twisted, gory, disturbing, and I’m glad the author includes the trigger warnings in the book. This won’t be for everyone but I’m so glad I read it. There are some visceral and vivid scenes in the book and a few that’ll probably stick in your mind after you’ve finished. It’s an overall thought-provoking book that gets its message across in a very graphic and intense way and I strongly recommend checking over the trigger warnings prior to starting.

NIGHTMARE FUEL: THE SCIENCE OF HORROR FILMS – Nina Nesseth (Released July 26th, 2022)

Do you like scary movies?

Have you ever wondered why?

Nina Nesseth knows what scares you. She also knows why.

In Nightmare Fuel, Nesseth explores the strange and often unexpected science of fear through the lenses of psychology and physiology. How do horror films get under our skin? What about them keeps us up at night, even days later? And why do we keep coming back for more?

Horror films promise an experience: fear. From monsters that hide in plain sight to tension-building scores, every aspect of a horror film is crafted to make your skin crawl. But how exactly do filmmakers pull this off? The truth is, there’s more to it than just loud noises and creepy images.

With the affection of a true horror fan and the critical analysis of a scientist, Nesseth explains how audiences engage horror with both their brains and bodies, and teases apart the elements that make horror films tick. Nightmare Fuel covers everything from jump scares to creature features, serial killers to the undead, and the fears that stick around to those that fade over time.

With in-depth discussions and spotlight features of some of horror’s most popular films—from classics like The Exorcist to modern hits like Hereditary—and interviews with directors, film editors, composers, and horror academics, Nightmare Fuel is a deep dive into the science of fear, a celebration of the genre, and a survival guide for going to bed after the credits roll.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

Do you like scary movies? Have you ever wondered why? Well, I recommend picking this one up if you’re a diehard horror movie fan!

I loved this book. It’s not just dissecting scenes and horror movies, it’s the history of horror, the science behind why we enjoy these types of films and across all genres within the horror movie umbrella.

What are your top 10? (I’m almost positive I’ll think of other ones as soon as I post this) 💀Scream💀The Babysitter💀Urban Legend💀Halloween 💀American Mary💀Haunt 💀Vampires vs the Bronx💀Trailer Park of Terror 💀Friday the 13th Pt 2💀Saw

Honorable Mentions: 💀Ready or Not💀Initiation 💀The Bye Bye Man 💀The Black Phone 💀The Craft 💀Black Christmas💀I Know What You Did Last Summer


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