It can be fun and even essential to step out of your comfort zone sometimes, in life and in reading. Fantasy is a genre that some only ventured into during childhood, if at all, but there are so many books with strong and compelling characters, unique and vibrant fantasy worlds, and writing that pulls you into these fictional worlds. Whether they branch into magical realism or are entirely imagined, here are 8 books that will spark a new love for all things fantasy.

menagerie-9780778319320_tr_proof-fcMenagerie by Rachel Vincent
Delilah Marlow appears to be human, but while visiting a famous traveling circus she discovers that she is not quite who she thought she was. The circus, Metzger’s Menagerie, showcases cryptids, magical creatures who are devoid of rights. When Delilah sees a child werewolf being abused by the circus, she unexpectedly becomes a creature in order to protect him. After her arrest Delilah is forced to perform in the very circus she had once attended, with all her rights and freedoms stripped from her. Only her handler, Gallagher, still treats her with kindness. A sharp and vivid look into what makes us human and what makes us monsters, Menagerie is full of rich world building and a compelling story.


a-discovery-of-witchesA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

History and magic converge in this debut novel about Diana Bishop, a young scholar who finds a mysterious manuscript that pulls her into the world of sorcery—a world she doesn’t want to be a part of. With the help of a vampire geneticist, Diana is the only one who can break a centuries-old spell.


the-bone-seasonThe Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Paige Mahoney is breaking the law simply by existing. She is a dreamwalker and a clairvoyant, working in the criminal underworld of London by stealing information from people’s minds. Kidnapped and taken to Oxford, a city that isn’t supposed to exist, Paige encounters a powerful race and is assigned a master and trainer. This book is the first in a series of seven. Samantha Shannon has been praised as the next J. K. Rowling.


the-night-circusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

No one knows when the circus is coming, but by the time the black-and-white tents are set up it’s difficult to remember a time when it wasn’t there. The circus stays for a few days and is open only at night. They call it the circus of dreams. All of the performers dress in black and white and are like nothing anyone has ever seen before. They do things that seem impossible, as if they were done by magic. Le Cirque des Rêves is the home of a contortionist, a fortune-teller and two redheaded twins who are as old as the circus itself. But more important, the circus is the playing field for a game that was set in motion before the circus even existed. Celia and Marco have been raised to compete against each other and only one person can be left standing in the end. When the two fall in love, they do not completely understand the true nature of the game and what that means for them. The fate of the entire circus is closely intertwined in a game like no other, and a farm boy from Massachusetts might be the only one who can save the circus.


10 Books to Read Based on Your Favorite Scary Movie

Halloween is less than a week away and whether it comes to TV, books or movies, in October scarier is better. While my personal experience with scary movies was basically my brother watching them, telling me vaguely what happened and me not sleeping that night, nothing says Halloween exactly like watching a movie that will probably give you nightmares. Whatever scary movie you always go back to, we have the perfect book to pair with your film favorite. For the squeamish out there, the books are in order of least to most scary.

papergirls_vol01-1Love Alien? Read Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan

Science fiction met horror in this 1979 film, and the graphic novel Paper Girls is the perfect combination of science fiction, adventure, awesome female characters and ’80s nostalgia. Paper Girls, set in 1988, follows four twelve-year-old paper girls who find themselves mixed up in a world of monsters, time travel and possibly the end of the world. Plus, Paper Girls is perfect for fans of Stranger Things.


9780778319436_e66b1Love The Day After Tomorrow? Read We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly

If you found this climate change disaster film to be just as frightening as movies like Friday the 13th, if not more, We Are Unprepared follows a couple in rural Vermont who find their lives rocked by a super storm. Ash and Pia find their marriage and the world around them shaken by the storm that looms over them as they wait for it to hit.


my-best-friends-exorcismLove The Exorcist? Read My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

The iconic 1973 horror film is based on the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty. While the original novel is always there for you, if you’re looking for a humorous twist, pick up My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. Heathers meets The Exorcist in this tale of friendship and demonic possession set in 1988.


anyas-ghostLove The Sixth Sense? Read Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

The Sixth Sense followed a young boy who could speak to dead people and his dealings with the child psychologist who tried to help him. Anya’s Ghost is a graphic novel that follows a young social outcast named Anya who befriends Emily, a woman who died in a well ninety years ago. While Emily is initially friendly and helps Anya with her crush and her school test, she becomes more controlling and might be lying about how she died.


Book Club Picks to Take You All the Way to Spring

Looking for a great new pick for your book club? This season seems especially dense with exciting new releases that hit all the marks for book club selections: diverse, original, discussion provoking and, most important, wildly engaging.

From historical fiction and titles plucked straight from the headlines to hotly anticipated new and noteworthy releases, here are some recommendations to keep your book club reading all season long. Make these titles your book club’s next six picks, and before you know it, spring will have arrived again!


cover_the-wonderThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue

It is 1859, and deep in the center of Ireland’s rural countryside, an 11-year-old girl supposedly has not eaten in more than four months. Hired by a local committee to observe the wonder, Lib, an English nurse trained under Florence Nightingale, and a nun from the Sisters of Mercy spend two weeks with the “Fasting Girl,” both challenged to accept and dismiss truths and fascinations that run deep within each of them.

Perfect for book clubs because: The story, based on historical accounts, offers many discussion points on motherhood, faith and the intersection of religion and superstition.


9780778319443_bc77dOnly Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

This twisting, turning psychological thriller turns what may seem like a familiar story on its head. Sixteen-year-old Bec disappears one summer, and 11 years later, she is seemingly returned to her family. However, the goal is not to find out if the returned Bec is an imposter—we know she is, and the story is narrated from the imposter’s POV—but to discover what really happened to the first Bec.

Perfect for book clubs because: This page-turner offers lots of stylistic and plot-related discussion points. Whose perspective was the most thrilling? How do we deal with an unreliable narrator under these circumstances?


cover_hillbilly-elegyHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

Through tales of his own difficult upbringing and his subsequent distance to his Appalachian childhood, Vance turns the spotlight on the changes an often overlooked but historically relevant culture faces in the modern age. An effective way of looking at the barriers to upward mobility and the value we place on working-class communities.

Perfect for book clubs because: It easily prompts a discussion of our own biases against cultural groups and the ways we may overlook their importance in the fabric of our greater environment.


cover_small-great-thingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Picoult’s latest, sure to be a bestseller, looks at the issue of race in America through three central characters: Ruth, a black woman accused of killing a white baby; Turk, the white supremacist father of the baby; and Kennedy, the lawyer tasked with defending Ruth.

Perfect for book clubs because: Like many Picoult books, it focuses on a relevant and pressing topic in the news and in our daily discussions.


cover_hungry-heartHungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner

Hugely popular author Jennifer Weiner’s first book of essays takes a look at a myriad of topics with her signature wit, insight and relatable prose. From sex and weight to childbirth and death, Weiner’s collection shows why she is someone you definitely wish you could hang out with.

Perfect for book clubs because: Each book club member is sure to find an essay that resonates; discussing these choices will make for a lively and robust meeting.


cover_the-underground-railroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora and Caesar are slaves in Georgia who attempt an escape to the North through the Underground Railroad. But in this telling, the passage to safety is not merely a symbol, but a real train route whose secret tunnels hold the key to freedom.

Perfect for book clubs because: It leads to a discussion on not only the way we tell stories but the way we tell history—does reimagining a significant era bring new understanding of its impact?


So what will your book club be reading through the winter?

Books to Immediately Add to Your Book Club’s TBR List

Fall reading is upon us! This is the time that many of our favorite acclaimed writers publish their newest works and here’s a great group of them for your book club to consider. We promise, these novels will make for lively discussions!


cover_today-will-be-differentToday Will Be Different by Maria Semple

From the bestselling author of the runaway hit Where’d You Go, Bernadette comes a novel about a day in the life of a woman who is forced to look past the small things and open her eyes to a different and new future.



cover_here-i-amHere I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

The first novel in 11 years from the acclaimed author of Everything Is Illuminated chronicles a family in crisis as they confront their broken marriage, examining the characters through their identities as Israelis and Jewish Americans.



cover_the-underground-railroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Pulitzer Prize finalist Colson Whitehead is back with an ambitious novel that follows a young slave in her attempt to find freedom in the antebellum South.



commonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett

The illustrious Ann Patchett’s latest novel spans five decades and explores how an unintended encounter echoes throughout the lives of several generations and families.



cover_another-brooklynAnother Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson’s first adult novel in 20 years follows a young girl becoming a woman while examining the complexities of youth, friendship, family, religion and race.



Which books are your book clubs planning to read next? Let us know in the comments box below!

Thrilling Tuesdays: 6 Books to Psych You Up For Halloween

Disclaimer: I will never willingly go see a horror film in a theater, and when I do watch one, it’s through fingers or my hair. Despite being a scaredy-cat, there’s definitely an allure to being scared during the magical time of Halloween—the costumes, the candy and of course all that adrenaline rushing through your veins as that inevitable and impending horror hangs over you.

My method of getting that dose is either by listening to some podcasts (My Favorite Murder, anyone?) or reading. It’s the safest way for me to enjoy the thrill of getting freaked out without actually running away screaming. My go-to source of terror is a thriller mystery that involves murder, monsters or preferably both.

Here are my top six books to read during the Halloween season:

cover_the-couple-next-doorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I’m always wondering what my neighbors are up to. You may call that paranoid if you like, but in this book the paranoia is warranted as Anne and Marco Conti are just too good to be true. They are the picture-perfect urban couple that seems to have it all. Until one day, a crime shatters that idyllic image and they become the target of suspicion within the neighborhood. As Detective Rasbach uncovers their secrets, the revelation is far more dark and twisted than anyone could anticipate.


Cover_The perfect GirlThe Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

This is a complex mother-and-daughter story gone very wrong. Zoe Maisey, at seventeen, should have the normal life of any teenager, especially being a music prodigy with hopeful possibilities on the horizon. However, what no one knows is that Zoe has served time due to an event that left three of her classmates dead. Her mother, Maria, works hard to keep their secret from everyone. The weight of this secret comes to a violent end on the night of Zoe’s recital when Maria is found dead. Macmillan uses three narrative voices to unravel the details of Maria’s death, having us question who to trust and who can keep a secret.

ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS 9780778320937_proof_FCAll the Pretty Girls by J.T Ellison

Goose bumps are guaranteed by J.T Ellison as she takes us into the mind of a sadistic serial killer who is targeting local girls. Not creepy enough for you? How about the fact he likes to leave a memento at each crime scene—his past victim’s severed hand. Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, an FBI profiler are racing to stop him. But before they do, things go from bad to worst and spiral out of control.


cover_the-widowThe Widow by Fiona Barton

As Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train taught us, marriage is a complicated and gray beast. Jean Taylor’s marriage is no exception. As the wife of a man suspected of abducting of a young child, she has remained silent and supportive of him throughout the years. However, now that he has passed away, Jean is ready to speak out and tell her version of events. What secrets or lies will she reveal to the reporter, to the detective and to the world?

cover_the-nature-of-the-beastThe Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

In a never-cry-wolf tale of immense proportions, nine-year-old Laurent Lepage disappears from Three Pines, causing an outcry of panic from the community. His tall tales might contain a nugget of truth for Chief Inspector Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache as they search for the lost boy. Their journey will take them through the dark and sinister secrets of the forest where a monster awaits.


cover_the-butterfly-gardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Prepare to double-check your locked doors after finishing this book. Known as “the Gardener,” a brutal and obsessive man seeks beautiful young girls to be part of his collection. There they’ll be revered and trapped within his garden, tattooed as pieces of art. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison become responsible for Maya, a survivor they hope will provide answers to the nightmare of the discovered garden. As Maya tells them her experiences as a trapped butterfly, their instincts tell them that she’s not revealing all she knows.


What thriller book will you read for this Halloween season? Share with us in the comments section below!