welcome to 2023, the year when anoushka is finally in on the fun of halloween, and actively decides to read books related to something.
(see because i’m usually terrible at tbrs, themed or otherwise, and have been known to read christmas books in the middle of summer and summer-y contemporaries in december. she has no sense of time)
the internet is probably being a good influence on me though because i’ve never before kept track of october the 31st and all the days preceding the yearly ghost hauntings (shh i live in a country that doesn’t celebrate halloween and never makes a big deal out of it either. the first time i ever heard about the existence of such a holiday was through the diary of a wimpy kid books back in elementary school. which is to say DON’T YOU COME AFTER ME AND PUT THAT DAGGER BACK INSIDE YOUR SHOE, ALICE). but elli shared a spooky-book-ed tbr when october as still smol and new and exciting and shiny, and it looked like such FUN i decided i wanted to join in too.
so welcome to my very own spooky (or like, mildly scary-sounding) mid-october list of books i want to read. because HALLOWEEN.
everything about this story sounds so inconceivably perfect it’s like someone stole my dreams and wove me a book out of them. it’s about a queer girl who visits her dad in vietnam because he promised her college money if she did. it’s also about ghosts and scary scary things and haunted houses and about falling in love with a girl.
- it’s an asian book. and not the general-everyday-kind that features asians living in the U.S. who have become ones with the american streets, which is where the story is set. they’re asian books and obviously i’ll read them and love them and pat them affectionately on their heads (because #SOLIDARITY). but this book takes it all and makes it even better. it’s about asian-americans BUT ASIAN-AMERICANS IN ASIA.
- and i know we already talked about this, but it’s ACTUALLY set in asia!!!! with asian haunted houses and asian strangers and an asian backdrop and asia!!! because OHMYGOSH. ASIANS IN ASIA. I GET TO GO TO ASIA.
- i’ve only ever read two books set specifically in the same continent as the one to which i belong. the first one was lyla lee’s flip the script, about a teen k-drama actor and a bi love triangle and What Happens In An Actor’s Life and korean food but also dumb characters and other Idiotic Things thrown in elsewhere. it’s safe to say that maybe flip the script was an unanticipated disappointment.
- after that, i spent an entire car ride powering through the noh family and. HAHAHAH that ending sucked so hard i honestly considered chucking my phone out the window for a whole 20 seconds before finally deciding the book wasn’t worth it.
- although technically i also read chetan bhagat’s 400 days way back in the last weeks of september. but it was trash and we don’t talk. so make that three.
- i’ve also read a lot of hana alkaf’s books which are all set in malaysia. and the poppy wars and nura and the bridge home (WHICH IS UTTER FABULOUSNESS AND ONE OF THE NOT-MANY-BUT-SORT-OF-A-LOT BOOKISH LOVES OF MY LIFE). i’ve read the night diary and almond and rukhsana ali (which was also an unanticipated disaster. i’d actually choke everyone in it without regrets)
- SO MAYBE I WAS LYING AND MAYBE I HAVE READ A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF BOOKS-FEATURING-ASIA. BUT I’M A GREEDY OLIVE. we don’t talk about that either.
- LOOK I’M SO GOSHDARNED EXCITED ABOUT THIS ALRIGHT.
i like covers with skeleton hands and horror stories that promise fragile secrets. books about friendships and a life surrounded by ghosts. about two boys falling in love.
- this is supposed to be very atmospheric and creepy and i would like to tell the world that i’ve read creepy stuff that does not incldue the lone agatha christie novel in eighth grade that made me jump at smol noises for 746 days after and look over my shoulder every 0.00833 second because i was so sure murderers were out to get me.
- but otherwise i’m very confused about the whole concept because the synopsis is very mysterious and won’t give me all the details. and the title makes no sense (summer?? sons?? what does it mean?? am i supposed to know??) but SHH. i will read it for the ghosts and everyday hauntings.
- also this is dark academia of the intense and wild kind (which people tell me is supposed to be a reason i read books but i’m mostly reading it solely for the queer love story and the phantom with bleeding wrists and because it sounds a little bit like micah nemerever’s these violent delights, which ash loves and i must read sometime out of loyalty to our friendship)
- (maybe i’m not a good dark academia advocate. but whatever)
- it’s a horror story featuring death and blood-soaked histories and friendships gone wrong.
- obviously none of this can steer the waters of the unexpected or end in tears. or me screaming in the middle of the night because the ghosts left it’s pages and took to residing in my nightmares. BECAUSE I REFUSE TO BE DEFENSELESS AND CRY LIKE THE MORTALS DO.
- i’m a witch and witches don’t cry.
sometimes people forget how to human and do dumb things. you mustn’t hold it against them though, because where would the fun be in functioning like fully-working living things all the time. WE MIGHT AS WELL BE COOLER AND THEREFORE CYBORG (because cyborgs don’t need sleep and we could double our lifetimes and read 2000 books per year instead)
here’s my dumb thing: i might already be over 70% through serpent and dove as we speak.
it started out as an accident. charlotte told me there were witches. and hilarious banter and enemies-to-lovers and gorgeous quotes. my library told me i could borrow it.
i ate a chapter and look it was the kind of book you could read forever.
- this follows lou, a free-spirited witch who does as she wills and challenges the world to duels because she’s very opinionated and loud and unafraid, and she lives in a theater and steals costumes to wear as everyday dresses and laughs loud enough to make strangers stop and stare. SHE’S SASSY AND I LOVE HER SO MUCH THE WORLD COULD COMBUST.
- there’s also reid, the Proper Soldier who follows all the rules and almost dies every time lou’s her wild-mouthed self. except he’s a witch-hunter whose mission in life is to rid the world of magic and say the word ‘brethren’ as often as normal people say ‘icecream’ (which is like once in every sentence because what else is life for if not wrangling dessert into every conversation in hopes that one day someone will catch on and make you a willy-wonka-worthy chocolate factory am i right)
- anyway. one fine day, both of these smol idiots somehow end up marrying each other (it’s accidental and lou’s honestly just trying to get Reid The Soldier off her back (for thievery and other offences), but it backfires and they’re both Stuck). they’re absolute opposites in like every earthly way but they eventually fall. in love. and it’s wild. AND FUN. AND I LOVE IT.
- it also features scary little witches and tragic pasts and magic rings that make you invisible when you eat them and burning people at the stake and dark dark magic and defying the world and glorious friendships and this smol kid named ansel who’s an angel and blushes 24/7.
i have a thing for black covers with flower-covered skeletons poking out of them okay. THIS LOOKS BEAUTIFUL AND IT SOUNDS EVEN BETTER.
(also like. i’m trash for dark dark books with witches and magic and bones that grow out of flower gardens and politics) (which kind of makes no sense because i’m not very into real-life politics?? but someone utter fantasy and politics in the same sentence and i’m reading the book. sometimes i like things in books that i hate in real life. this also happens with sports. i would much rather voluntarily break a bone before i ever have to play a sport ever again. BUT I LOVE READING ABOUT THEM. it makes no sense)
also this: all my life, i’ve told stories and claimed huge claims of historical-fantasy being my favorite genre (see this made complete sense to middle-school me because historical fiction and fantasy were my favorites in all the world to the level that i’d swear my loyalty with the entire universe present as witness. so it was only obvious that i’d love fantasies drenched in history) but then i ran into a problem. i’ve never really read many books that hold the title or belong to the genre of historical-fantasies. WHICH TECHNICALLY SUGGESTS I’VE SPENT MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD LYING.
this is an attempt at preventing smol-me from tarnishing my promises to the world. (I HAVE REPUTATIONS TO UPHOLD)
- charm is a witch and ghosts live in her heart. not literally, but metaphorically. she’s the last necromancer in the world, and she grows the bone trees at orchard house.
- the crime-drenched kingdom controls her life, where the king never dies and princes remain princes forever.
- but then he does. and he promises charm her freedom if she can find his murderer and choose the next heir to the empire he’s leaving behind.
- this is supposed to be dark and annoyingly complex and confusing and beautiful. (although from all the negative goodreads reviews i’ve read, it’s also supposed to make you scream and chuck the book against the wall because the story makes no sense and the characters are indistinguishable)
- BUT TODAY I’M BEING BRAVE AND THEREFORE OPTIMISTIC.
sometimes i write titles for reviews of books i haven’t ever read yet, the way some people (aka me) spend their free time coming up with names for a dog they aren’t yet allowed to keep or thinking up ways of getting out of the english presentation they’re supposed to do tomorrow (also me). almost like it’s one of my favorite pastimes. (which it probably is. i think it’s gone on long enough to have earned the title)
in march of 2022, i borrowed the graveyard book from the secluded little section that houses all the young adult books of my library. i dreamt about loving it and i dreamt about screaming. ten pages in, i’d even thought up what i’d title it’s review.
so honestly it’s a pity i never got past the ten.
(although in my defense, i read those pages in the backseat of a noisy car and there were people talking all around me. and focus isn’t an art that i’m incredibly skilled at) (WE’RE WORKING ON IT)
(also in my defence, i was reading evelyn hugo at the time, and it was addicting and glamorous and magic. I DESERVE DEFENCES)
- this follows an infant whose parents get murdered in the dead of night by a man with a sharp knife. but said infant is a weird combination of foolish and brave and an idiot and he runs away from home before the sharp-knifed-man can get him too. he ends up in the graveyard on top of the hill, and is adopted by the ghosts of the dead people who were buried there.
- alright so listen. the first time someone told me about this book, everything about it seemed so bizarre i spent about 364 minutes cackling before the world confirmed that my ears weren’t malfunctioning and i had indeed heard right. all of it.
- i have since sworn to read it first chance i get, but i have a very loose definition of ‘first chances’ and i say it hasn’t arrived yet. but like. a boy raised by GHOSTS. in a GRAVEYARD. hiding from a MURDERER. also it’s a children’s book!!! THERE IS SO MUCH TO LOVE HERE.
- and i want to. i want to love it all. the story and the kid and the ghosts and the witch and the delicious darkness of the world it’s housed in.
the first time i ever heard about this, i swore never to read it because the cover looked ugly. like really really really honestly UGLY. (not the cover i used for this post, obviously. that one looks decent. but the other one. the one that looks dusty and a little like there’s mould growing all over it, and about two centuries too old and very uninteresting) but then i read about it being a queer dracula retelling somewhere.
although i sometimes claim otherwise, i’m only just a smol-human-who-sometimes-likes-to-play-at-being-a-cat. and i get excited by simple things. LIKE A QUEER DRACULA RETELLING.
- this follows constanta, one of dracula’s brides, on her quest to unravel his secrets and bring his monstrosity to light. it’s supposed to be dark dark dark gorgeousness and a little like a disaster you can’t look away from. I WANT TO READ DISASTERS TOO OKAY.
- so look. i’m not usually a fan of creatures who drink human blood for sustenance (it’s all very disgusting and makes me go HDGAJSH STOP) and have been known to have read only two books featuring vampires in the entirety of my existence (this also explains my conspicuous absence from all the twilight debates. i’ve never actually read the books) so the author probably deserves a freaking award just for making me want to read this.
- also like. the font (on the other cover. this one’s decent) might be horrendous but the title makes me go JBFDNBBNVFBNBV. it’s all very vaguely exciting like that.
- AND DID I MENTION IT’S A QUEER DRACULA RETELLING?? BECAUSE THIS IS BIG NEWS. (i’m so excited!!!!)
- plus jordyn’s review is unfairly convincing. I’M SOLD.
ok that’s it. because today i’m being good for once and therefore only minorly over-ambitious. this was originally supposed to be a list of all the books i’d read in october, but october’s midway gone by now and i’m only halfway done with just one of the many six-or-something books on here. SO WE’RE KEEPING EXPECTATIONS TO THE ABSOLUTE MINIMUM AND CARRYING THIS ON INTO THE FIRST HALF OF NOVEMBER. or something. idk. future anoushka will worry about complications. i’m going back to sleep now.
what’s your favorite thing about october?? favorite part of halloween? the costumes or the free candy? (SAY COSTUMES OKAY. always costumes) tell me about all the stories you plan to read this month. AND GIMME ALL THE DETAILS IF YOU’VE READ ANY OF THESE. or plan to. or don’t.