Welcome back to another month of monthly reads! As fall is settling in, there’s no better time than to cozy up with a new read. Check out what I’ve been reading lately and if it’s worth a shot or not!

*Links go to Goodreads and Amazon CA.

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

To survive they must evolve. A virus tears across the globe, transforming its victims in nightmarish ways. As the world collapses, dark forces pull a small group of women together. Erin, once quiet and closeted, acquires an appetite for a woman and her brain. Why does forbidden fruit taste so good? Savannah, a professional BDSM switch, discovers a new turn-on: committing brutal murders for her eldritch masters. Mareva, plagued with chronic tumours, is too horrified to acknowledge her divine role in the coming apocalypse, and as her growths multiply, so too does her desperation.

Rating: 4/5. Not what I was expecting! Started strong as your typical post-apocalyptic virus world but then turned into something wildly sexual and odd. There’s a lot of great descriptive monsters and disturbing scenes. What I enjoy most is the accurate biblical descriptions of these monsters (seriously, check out what biblically accurate angels look like on Reddit).

The Residence by Andrew Pyper

The year is 1853. President-elect Franklin Pierce is traveling with his family to Washington, DC, when tragedy strikes. In an instant, their train runs off the rails, violently flinging passengers about the cabin. When the great iron machine finally comes to rest, the only casualty is the Pierces’ son, Bennie. The loss sends First Lady Jane Pierce into mourning, and casts Franklin’s presidency under a pall of sorrow and grief. As the Pierces move into the White House, they are soon plagued by events both bizarre and disturbing. Strange sounds seem to come from the walls and ceiling, ghostly voices echo out of time itself, and visions of spirits crushed under the weight of American history pass through empty hallways. But when Jane orchestrates a séance with the infamous Fox Sisters—the most noted Spiritualists of the day—the barrier between this world and the next is torn asunder. Something horrific comes through and takes up residence alongside Franklin and Jane in the very walls of the mansion itself. Only by overcoming their grief and confronting their darkest secrets can Jane and Franklin hope to rid themselves—and America—of the entity that seeks to make the White House its permanent home.

Rating: 3/5. It’s a decent read; enough to turn the pages. Inspired by true events, although, of course, only about 1% of the actual book contains true events revolving around (basically, any political and non-spiritual scenes). It gave me the chills a few times when I was reading in the dark. However, it’s nothing to write home about… a nice pick me up if you have nothing else to read and want a horror book (read: you forgot your book at home and need to catch a flight in 30 minutes).

Spare by Prince Harry

It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on. For Harry, this is that story at last. Before losing his mother, twelve-year-old Prince Harry was known as the carefree one, the happy-go-lucky Spare to the more serious Heir. Grief changed everything. He struggled at school, struggled with anger, with loneliness—and, because he blamed the press for his mother’s death, he struggled to accept life in the spotlight. At twenty-one, he joined the British Army. The discipline gave him structure, and two combat tours made him a hero at home. But he soon felt more lost than ever, suffering from post-traumatic stress and prone to crippling panic attacks. Above all, he couldn’t find true love. Then he met Meghan. The world was swept away by the couple’s cinematic romance and rejoiced in their fairy-tale wedding. But from the beginning, Harry and Meghan were preyed upon by the press, subjected to waves of abuse, racism, and lies. Watching his wife suffer, their safety and mental health at risk, Harry saw no other way to prevent the tragedy of history repeating itself but to flee his mother country. Over the centuries, leaving the Royal Family was an act few had dared. The last to try, in fact, had been his mother. . . . For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

Rating: 2/5. I sympathize with his unique situation of being forced into a role he’s not into, and being in the public eye since he was born, but overall, still has a very whiney tone throughout the book. I did enjoy the nice little insider tidbits about how the royal family works and what it’s like having QE2 as your granny. I felt it was unnecessarily long as well with the majority of the book being dedicated to his military career and how he wants to go back into war.

Paris: The Memoir by Paris Hilton

A MILLION MEANINGS IN A SINGLE NAME… Heiress. Party girl. Problem child. Selfie taker. Model. Cover girl. Reality star. These are labels that have been attached to Paris Hilton by others. Founder. Entrepreneur. Pop Culture Maker. Innovator. Survivor. Activist. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mom. These are roles Paris Hilton embraces now as a fully realized woman. Paris rose to prominence as an heiress to the Hilton Hotels empire, but cultivated her fame and fortune as the It Girl of the aughts, a time marked by the burgeoning twenty-four-hour entertainment news cycle and the advent of the celebrity blog. Using her celebrity brand, Paris set in motion her innovative business ventures, while being the constant target of tabloid culture that dismissively wrote her off as “famous for being famous.” With tenacity, sharp business acumen, and grit, she built a global empire and, in the process, became a truly modern icon beloved around the world. Now, with courage, honesty, and humor, Paris Hilton is ready to take stock, place it all in context, and share her story with the world. Separating the creation from the creator, the brand from the ambassador, Paris: The Memoir strips away all we thought we knew about a celebrity icon, taking us back to a privileged childhood lived through the lens of undiagnosed ADHD and teenage rebellion that triggered a panicked–and perilous–decision by her parents. Led to believe they were saving their child’s life, Paris’s mother and father had her kidnapped and sent to a series of “emotional growth boarding schools,” where she survived almost two years of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. In the midst of a hell we now call the “troubled teen industry,” Paris created a beautiful inner world where the ugliness couldn’t touch her. She came out, resolving to trust no one but herself as she transformed that fantasy world into a multibillion-dollar reality. Recounting her perilous journey through pre-#MeToo sexual politics with grace, dignity, and just the right amount of sass, Paris: The Memoir tracks the evolution of celebrity culture through the story of the figure at its leading edge, full of defining moments and marquee names. Most important, Paris shows us her path to peace while she challenges us to question our role in her story and in our own. Welcome to Paris.

Rating: 2/5. Mostly revolved around her teen years when she was sent to CEDU/Provo (which is astonishing that these schools even existed!) and how she got into the entertainment scene in the early 2000s. Then it rushed her adult life. It’s alright – interesting to learn a bit more about Paris (definitely more than what meets the eyes) but nothing really entertaining in the book. It got a bit too braggy when she kept talking about her family, living up to the Hilton name, fortune, and how to be a lady.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there. Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures. Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania. Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver. And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic. This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

Rating: 4/5. A great page-turner! Personally, I wouldn’t classify this as horror; it didn’t give me the chills one bit. If you like Hermione’s Time Turner or the movie Tenant, this book could be of interest. It’s thrilling, and suspenseful, has some good plot twists, and keeps you on edge for wanting a bit more. Characters are great, especially the teenager – normally, kids/teens are awful in books.

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (as “Anonymous”)

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth — and ultimately her life. Read her diary. Enter her world. You will never forget her.

Rating: 2/5. Not sure what the hype is about. It’s clear that it’s written by an adult pretending to be a teenager but aside from that, the main topic was drug use and LSD. I felt like it only covered 40% of the book and the rest was just Alice trying to stay off drugs and be a better person. It didn’t give the nitty-gritty that most drug memoirs/diaries have. I also didn’t like the ending – personally, it felt a little unrealistic that she stopped writing her diary and that was it.

Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls by Kathleen Hale

The Slenderman stabbing of May 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, shocked the local community and the world. The violence of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, two twelve-year-old girls who attempted to stab their classmate to death, was extreme, but what seemed even more frightening was that they had done so under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called “Slenderman.” Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved were suffering from undiagnosed mental illness, was often overlooked in coverage of the case. Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls tells that full story for the first time in deeply researched detail, using court transcripts, police reports, individual reporting, and exclusive interviews. Morgan and Anissa were bound together by their shared love of geeky television shows and animals, and their discovery of the user-uploaded scary stories on the Creepypasta website could have been nothing more than a brief phase. But Morgan was suffering from early-onset childhood schizophrenia. She believed that she had been seeing Slenderman for many years, and the only way to stop him from killing her family was to bring him a sacrifice: Morgan’s best friend Payton “Bella” Leutner, whom Morgan and Anissa planned to stab to death on the night of Morgan’s twelfth birthday. Bella survived the attack, but was deeply traumatized, while Morgan and Anissa were immediately remanded into jail, and the severity of their crime meant that they would be prosecuted as adults. There, as Morgan continued to suffer from worsening mental illness after being denied antipsychotics, her life became more and more surreal. Slenderman is both a page-turning true crime story and a search for justice.

Rating: 5/5. This is a fantastic read! I could not get enough of it. If you’re a true crime lover, this one is for you. I appreciate Kathleen Hale exploring the present, past, and future of those involved in the case, and explaining the mental illness presented. Overall, I felt it was a well-rounded book exploring the Slenderman case from start to finish, with no stones unturned.

Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson

Two teens. Two diaries. Two social panics. One incredible fraud. In 1971, Go Ask Alice reinvented the young adult genre with a blistering portrayal of sex, psychosis, and teenage self-destruction. The supposed diary of a middle-class addict, Go Ask Alice terrified adults and cemented LSD’s fearsome reputation, fueling support for the War on Drugs. Five million copies later, Go Ask Alice remains a divisive bestseller, outraging censors and earning new fans, all of them drawn by the book’s mythic premise: A Real Diary, by Anonymous. But Alice was only the beginning. In 1979, another diary rattled the culture, setting the stage for a national meltdown. The posthumous memoir of an alleged teenage Satanist, Jay’s Journal merged with a frightening new crisis—adolescent suicide—to create a literal witch hunt, shattering countless lives and poisoning whole communities. In reality, Go Ask Alice and Jay’s Journal came from the same dark place: Beatrice Sparks, a serial con artist who betrayed a grieving family, stole a dead boy’s memory, and lied her way to the National Book Awards. Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries is a true story of contagious deception. It stretches from Hollywood to Quantico, and passes through a tiny patch of Utah nicknamed “the fraud capital of America.” It’s the story of a doomed romance and a vengeful celebrity. Of a lazy press and a public mob. Of two suicidal teenagers, and their exploitation by a literary vampire. Unmask Alice . . . where truth is stranger than nonfiction.

Rating: 5/5. I read Go Ask Alice because I saw this first and after reading this novel, I was fascinated by Beatrice Sparks’ fraudulent behaviour and how someone who desperately wants to be a published author could do such a thing. Rick Emerson explores Sparks’ life, and he explores some major cultural phenomenons of the decades and how they played into the success of these anonymous diaries and the impact it had on the craze and success of these diaries.

Any of these books caught your attention?! Let me know if you’re planning to read one of these and if you’ve already read one or two of these novels on the list, let me know what you thought of it!

With love, Claire

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