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Nightbooks

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A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling. Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling. Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place. This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.


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A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling. Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling. Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place. This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.

30 review for Nightbooks

  1. 3 out of 5

    Korrina (OwlCrate)

    I was completely enthralled reading this. It felt like a perfect blend of Grimm’s Fairytales and Neil Gaiman stories.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura)

    Thank you Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen books for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. “After his family had finally fallen asleep, Alex slung the bagpack over his shoulder and snuck out of the apartment..” The moment I read the synopsis on Goodreads I knew it was the kind of book for me. The book might have been written for a middle grade audience, but I absolutely loved it! Witches, magic and scary stories all packed into one little book. I didn’t expect th Thank you Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen books for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. “After his family had finally fallen asleep, Alex slung the bagpack over his shoulder and snuck out of the apartment..” The moment I read the synopsis on Goodreads I knew it was the kind of book for me. The book might have been written for a middle grade audience, but I absolutely loved it! Witches, magic and scary stories all packed into one little book. I didn’t expect the book to be scary since it was written for a young audience, but even though, the stories that Alex narrated did get the creepy factor across. Alex has a vast imagination and a love for everything horror. You can tell just by reading this book that he has some pretty good ideas for a kid his age. Loved Alex’s character and loved that there was a middle eastern touch with the appearance of Yasmin. I felt exceptionally proud to have understood what Sito and Kusa mihshi were before she got the chance to explain them! Of course I loved Lenore (always consider the animals as my favorite characters) I even liked Natacha! (Just a little bit) The story was really fantastically written. I didn’t feel bored for even a second. The story was creative and very original. There was a modern touch to the story, and I feel like children would really love it. I think everyone should read this. Regardless, how old you are there’s definitely a big chance that you’ll enjoy this! || Blog || Instagram ||

  3. 5 out of 5

    La La

    Even though this was much more suited to Middle Grade age readers than the author's Thickety books, because there was no graphic violence, it had other problems. The good parts were very very good, but the dry boring parts were longer than they had to be. It felt almost like filler, which to me makes no sense in MG because younger kids still like books that don't take forever to read. The boring segment in the beginning worries me a bit because most MG aged readers will drop a book like a hot po Even though this was much more suited to Middle Grade age readers than the author's Thickety books, because there was no graphic violence, it had other problems. The good parts were very very good, but the dry boring parts were longer than they had to be. It felt almost like filler, which to me makes no sense in MG because younger kids still like books that don't take forever to read. The boring segment in the beginning worries me a bit because most MG aged readers will drop a book like a hot potato at the breath of a yawn. There was also an eyebrow raising scramble of hard to believe events towards the end to set the conclusion in order. I think Children's authors sometimes forget how savvy younger readers can be, and casually take plot shortcuts that in the end will make the book less successful. I loved the short stories within the main story construct, though. I was approved for an eARC, via Edelweiss, in return for an honest review. I will not be reviewing this title on the blog because it was less than four stars.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Petra

    For the last few months I wasn't really interested in middle grade but boy oh boy did this book change that. I went it with little to no expectations and story pulled me in from the first page. I really liked our main character, Alex, and his friendship with Yasmin was adorable but I've gotta be honest and say that Lenore the magic cat was my favorite of them all. My favorite part were short horror stories that Alex read and even if they were not really scary I enjoyed them and they set up a goo For the last few months I wasn't really interested in middle grade but boy oh boy did this book change that. I went it with little to no expectations and story pulled me in from the first page. I really liked our main character, Alex, and his friendship with Yasmin was adorable but I've gotta be honest and say that Lenore the magic cat was my favorite of them all. My favorite part were short horror stories that Alex read and even if they were not really scary I enjoyed them and they set up a good tone for the book. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little rushed and I would love to get to know more about Natacha and the magic apartment but overall it was a great book and I would especially recommend it to younger teenagers and fans of R.L.Stine

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Frencham

    Alex becomes trapped in a magical apartment in his building, and in order to stay alive, he has to tell the witch who captured him a scary story every night. This middle grade retelling of Arabian Nights with a horror twist is appropriate for the target age group, and Alex's short stories will easily capture the attention of many readers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (TBR and Beyond)

    RTC

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jess (freaks over books)

    It has been a long time since I read a middle book that I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed this book. This book has witches, magic, a wonderful kitty familiar, creepy crawlies, monstrous unicorns, fairy tales, scary stories, friendship, candy houses, it has everything. It gives me Graveyard Book vibes and I love it, I want more middle grade horror novels.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 6.4 How cool would it be to live in an apartment that had a magical library that had thousands and thousands of books? Dream come true, right? Wrong! Not this apartment and not this library! Alex sneaks out one night to destroy a book of his writings that he loves so much, but on the way he gets tricked to go into an apartment in his building, the apartment of a witch named Natacha. There is one other child there, Yasmin, who tells him there is no escape from t Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 6.4 How cool would it be to live in an apartment that had a magical library that had thousands and thousands of books? Dream come true, right? Wrong! Not this apartment and not this library! Alex sneaks out one night to destroy a book of his writings that he loves so much, but on the way he gets tricked to go into an apartment in his building, the apartment of a witch named Natacha. There is one other child there, Yasmin, who tells him there is no escape from the enchanted apartment and his only hope of survival is to tell Natacha scary stories. He still has his own horror stories that he has written, but they are too painful to read. Natacha sets him up in her magical library and he is given a pencil and paper to write more stories. Alex gets sidetracked by looking at all of the books. When he comes across a warning from a previous child who was there, Alex now has hope of escape. Can Alex and Yasmin find more messages to help break them out of the apartment? Or will Alex run out of stories and out of time before Natacha does away with him? Read this incredibly scary story about scary stories and friendship! I absolutely loved this story! The kids in my library are always looking for more and more scary stories. I can't wait to put this one in their hands. Who wouldn't love a book about witches, magical cats, scary stories, and friends! Don't miss this one!! Follow me: Blog - Blazer Tales - https://blazertales.weebly.com/ Facebook - Laurie’s Library Place - https://www.facebook.com/LauriesLibra... Instagram - laurieslibrary - https://www.instagram.com/laurieslibr... Twitter - @laurieevans27 Goodreads - Laurie Purser - https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1... Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/auburngirl2... YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCulD...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hazel West

    Gah! J. A. White is definitely one of my absolute favorite middle grade authors. I loved his Thickety series, and Nightbooks did not disappoint either. It's quite a bit different than his other series, but just as deliciously dark. I loved the nods to 1,001 Nights and Hansel and Gretel in this one. Alex is an extremely likable (and for me relatable) character. A kid who loves and writes horror stories so everyone things he's weird and his teachers think he's on course to being a psychopath or so Gah! J. A. White is definitely one of my absolute favorite middle grade authors. I loved his Thickety series, and Nightbooks did not disappoint either. It's quite a bit different than his other series, but just as deliciously dark. I loved the nods to 1,001 Nights and Hansel and Gretel in this one. Alex is an extremely likable (and for me relatable) character. A kid who loves and writes horror stories so everyone things he's weird and his teachers think he's on course to being a psychopath or something. Yasmine was also an awesome character, and I loved how her and Alex's friendship grew throughout the story. This book was very atmospheric and creepy in all the right ways, with an interesting twist at the end. I loved it all the way through, and I cannot wait to see what J. A. White comes up with next!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zayda (Babybibliophile)

    Alex has always liked stories, especially scary ones. But when he is kidnapped by a witch living in a nearby apartment, his life is forever changed! Wonderful, wonderful read that completely caught me off guard and sucked me in immediately!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marta Barrales

    By now I’m truly convinced that middle grade books are the best. Truth is, I’ve been having a very difficult time finding time to read these days. With so much work to do and classes to attend and things to do around my house, I can hardly find a moment to just sit and read. Let alone motivation. So, I’ll admit I wasn’t very excited to start Nightbooks. But it turns out that this mix of little motivation, low expectations and little time was a good thing in the end. At least in this case, because By now I’m truly convinced that middle grade books are the best. Truth is, I’ve been having a very difficult time finding time to read these days. With so much work to do and classes to attend and things to do around my house, I can hardly find a moment to just sit and read. Let alone motivation. So, I’ll admit I wasn’t very excited to start Nightbooks. But it turns out that this mix of little motivation, low expectations and little time was a good thing in the end. At least in this case, because I really enjoyed this book. The story is a bit of a Hansel and Gretel modern retelling. Where the main character, creepy-stuff-lover Alex ends up trapped in a witch’s apartment. She forces him to read a scary story each night to please the sentient house, and constantly threatens to get rid of him if he doesn’t comply. But it’s also a bit of a coming of age story (if that exist on middle grade) where the kid also learns to accept himself as he is, strange quirks included. It gave me some Paranorman vibes, which I loved. And it read so easily that I didn’t even realize how fast I made progress. I also found Alex very easy to relate. He’s that kid from school that everyone thinks is weird. His struggles to accept his own peculiarities were either parts amusing and endearing. And the stories he wrote where pretty damn good. My only complaint would probably be the big reveal in the end, which I don’t think was given enough screen time. It felt a little rushed to be honest. Especially with such a short epilogue, I really wish the author had crafted a longer ending. If only to give me the satisfaction of seeing everything come together. Despite that I did truly enjoy this book. Like I said before it was a welcome read among so many obligations and little time. Pure middle grade magic. I received a copy in exchange for an honest review from the publisher via Edelweiss. INSTAGRAM | BLOG | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

  12. 3 out of 5

    Carina Olsen

    This is my fifth book read by this awesome author. I absolutely adored his first four books, which was the most amazing middle grade series. Which is why I have been dying to read new books by him for ages. I felt sure that I would love this, because his first books were so good, but oh, I'm heartbroken to say that I did not. And this book ended up being pretty disappointing for me. Which makes me so sad. But it simply was not meant to be. I have a lot of reasons for why I did not love this book, This is my fifth book read by this awesome author. I absolutely adored his first four books, which was the most amazing middle grade series. Which is why I have been dying to read new books by him for ages. I felt sure that I would love this, because his first books were so good, but oh, I'm heartbroken to say that I did not. And this book ended up being pretty disappointing for me. Which makes me so sad. But it simply was not meant to be. I have a lot of reasons for why I did not love this book, and I will be sharing all of them. Sadly this review will not be all that positive. Decided on two stars for this book. Also, plus side, I did not hate any of it. But I also sadly didn't love any of it either. I felt that the story was good, that it could have been an amazing tale. Sadly, I was busy being too disappointed by the writing. Which was a bit shocking to me, as I loved his writing in all his previous books. They were also middle grade, but felt like they were written for all ages. This book, though, felt like it was written for really small kids. Which ended up being really disappointing for me. It was not the same type of writing as his first books at all. It's possible that I'm the only one who will notice this, but it was an issue for me. It makes me sad, because I adore this author, and I really wish I could say that I loved this book. But, I will always support him, and I will be reading his next books. Will always love his first series. This book tells the story of twelve year old Alex. He is a pretty normal kid, whom is all kinds of obsessed with scary stories. He also writes his own stories, which I liked a whole bunch. Sadly, he has been kind of bullied because of his love for all things scary. And so this book begins with him waking up in the middle of the night, about to go burn all of his stories in the apartment block basement. But on his way there, the elevator stops on the wrong floor. He steps out of it. Where he ends up being enchanted to enter a room. Which is where this story begins. It features witches and magic, though it takes place in our time. It is a mix of both. Sadly, I didn't find it all that exciting. I liked Alex a lot, but because I had many issues with the writing, I never grew to love him. Also felt like we didn't get to know enough about him at all. Yes, he loves everything scary. But what else? Would have also loved to know more about his family. But anyway. I did think that Alex was an interesting character to read about, just really wishing I had loved him more. Sigh. This was a pretty short book, and took me such a short time to read it all. Which was good, but also bad, because I feel like if it had been longer, more would have been happening. Despite this, though, there are a lot of good moments in this book. Alex has been captured by a witch, and he is forced to read her his stories each night. Though he doesn't mind this at all. Another reason for why I didn't love this book was because the witch was simply not scary at all. Her way of speaking was so odd too, and did not feel real. There were parts of this book that I liked, however. And one part that I loved, the cat. She was adorable to read about, and I loved how she was in the book almost all the time. I also enjoyed that this story focus a lot on books, and new friendships too. The girl, Yasmine, was interesting to get to know too. Nightbooks reminded me a lot of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, my favorite middle grade book. Sadly, this wasn't the same. This was much more tame, and not the same type of scary at all. Wishing it had been. I don't think there is that much more I can say about this book. Already written a lot more than I was going to. But oh, I must mention the ending. While I do love a good ending, I felt like this one was too good. And that bothered me. I wish it has been more gruesome, in a way. Like Cavendish was. The other books by J. A., those had horrible endings, and I loved them lots. While this had a good ending, I wish it had been more scary and more brutal, in a way. While not a perfect book, I did enjoy parts of it. But sadly, not most. I do think that a lot of children will love Nightbooks. It's pretty scary at times, even though it wasn't really a story for me. Nightbooks was a book about friendship and staying true to yourself, even when it's scary to do so. Despite not loving this book, I'm so glad that I read it. There were a lot of parts that I liked about it, and I do think that a lot of other people will end up loving it. I'm just a bit sad that I was not one of them. I very much adore this author, though. And his first books will always be my favorite. They are all so good. --- This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: http://carinabooks.blogspot.no/2018/0...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Dulaney

    My personal rating is 3 stars, but readers of scary, creepy and gruesome will rate it much higher. The main character of Nightbooks is Alex, lover of monsters, dark magic, and anything terrifying. He records his very creative horror stories in regular black and white composition books until an event pushes him to destroy them. On his way to do just that, he is lured into an apartment in his building and enters a witch’s lair. (Shades of Hansel & Gretel.) Poor Alex is thrust into a prison wit My personal rating is 3 stars, but readers of scary, creepy and gruesome will rate it much higher. The main character of Nightbooks is Alex, lover of monsters, dark magic, and anything terrifying. He records his very creative horror stories in regular black and white composition books until an event pushes him to destroy them. On his way to do just that, he is lured into an apartment in his building and enters a witch’s lair. (Shades of Hansel & Gretel.) Poor Alex is thrust into a prison with not only Witch Natacha, but her loyal feline familiar Lenore, and fellow captive and apparent slave Yasmin. In order to stay alive and soothe the earthquake-like rumblings of the magical dwelling, Alex must tell Natacha a terrible story each night or face dire consequences. (Yes, 1001 Arabian Nights.) Author J. A. White spins short horror stories within the main book that will send chills up the spine of even the most calloused lovers of the genre and I was very interested in how or if Alex and Yasmin would escape and return to their homes and families. Ultimately, the conclusion had few surprises, but I found myself pleased with how the author wrapped it all up. But this book is truly dark and will be disturbing to many. There isn’t a single instance of profanity or the slightest sexual innuendo or action, but librarians and parents should give serious thought to the age group they are purchasing for. It would not surprise me if professional reviews place it squarely with at least the 12 and up crowd as White’s Thickety series was. And while I am sure that many of my fifth grade library patrons would love this one, I was very uncomfortable with several sections and will stick to recommending it to the junior high librarian. (Review of digital ARC from Above the Treeline)

  14. 5 out of 5

    KWinks

    This was an exciting read! I love stories within stories and each of the little bonus tale is pretty chilling! What I loved about this was the originality and the fresh modern spin. No spoilers, but Alex is dealing with something that I had to deal with when I was younger and I have NEVER seen in print before-an adult giving BAD advice to a child without looking further into the situation. There are a lot of great discussion points here for a book club to work with. Now I want to read his other This was an exciting read! I love stories within stories and each of the little bonus tale is pretty chilling! What I loved about this was the originality and the fresh modern spin. No spoilers, but Alex is dealing with something that I had to deal with when I was younger and I have NEVER seen in print before-an adult giving BAD advice to a child without looking further into the situation. There are a lot of great discussion points here for a book club to work with. Now I want to read his other series!

  15. 3 out of 5

    Sandy O'Brien

    “You’re not like everyone else, and there’s nothing you can do about it! We are what we are. These stories, they’re just the real you bubbling to the surface...” Being trapped in a room full of books would be a dream, but not when a witch is the one that traps you there. #MGlit

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shari (colourmeread)

    3.5/5

  17. 3 out of 5

    Gina Pytleski

    3.5 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    jenn2.0

    This story might intrigue it’s target audience of middle graders but for me it was flat and boring and kind of torturous to get through. Which is the disappointment because I enjoyed the authors previous series but this one just doesn’t even stand on its own

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fenny (wit.and.reading)

    I was provided an e-ARC of this book by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! read my full review here: https://witandreading.wordpress.com/2...

  20. 3 out of 5

    Llyr Heller-Humphreys

    Enjoyable middle grade spooky story. Unique take on "bad" characters.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Pop Bop

    More Than Just Scheherazade Lite When I looked at the blurbs for this book I got the impression that it would end up as a sort of scary story anthology loosely held together by a Scheherazade frame. I was wrong. This is much more interesting than only that, in terms of being a fully realized tale, and while it's somewhat predictable it ends up being more like a clever and engaging improvisation on Hansel and Gretel. MILD PREMISE SPOILER. Our hero, Alex, has drawn the attention of his teachers and More Than Just Scheherazade Lite When I looked at the blurbs for this book I got the impression that it would end up as a sort of scary story anthology loosely held together by a Scheherazade frame. I was wrong. This is much more interesting than only that, in terms of being a fully realized tale, and while it's somewhat predictable it ends up being more like a clever and engaging improvisation on Hansel and Gretel. MILD PREMISE SPOILER. Our hero, Alex, has drawn the attention of his teachers and school counselor because he loves writing creepy, scary short stories. The kind with grim reapers, death portents, ghosts and ghouls, and the like. Alex thinks of himself as just a budding writer with a taste for the macabre, but he is a little worried that he might be on a path to actually becoming the weirdo his teachers suspect he is. Isn't that an interesting take on being the school outsider? Anyway, just as Alex resolves to change his ways he is captured by an actual witch, and figures out that he can only survive his captivity by providing his witch captor with a new scary story every night. (She's used up every other printed scary story, and she craves novelty.) So, the irony of now having to write scary stories after having just resolved not to is not lost on either Alex or the reader. It is Alex's struggle to figure out who he is and what he wants, and whether to give himself up as a writer to his muse, (and how to write stories under a very literal deadline), that adds punch and an interesting underlying tone to the adventure. That aside, the book has a number of strong suits. White can create an atmosphere of creepy dread with the best of them, (see his "Thickety" books), and he shows that off right in the first chapter as he creates the scariest and creepiest fourth floor in the history of New York City apartment buildings. (Well, not "Rosemary's Baby" creepy, but you get the idea.) The same can be said for the witch's lair, which exists somewhere outside of reality. The witch is sort of a modern witch, but drifts seamlessly from old school witchiness to internet savvy witchiness, which is handled with great style. On top of that, of course, is Alex's attempts to escape. There is suspense here and clever world building and plotting. Eventually the book has to commit to resolving that major point, and so it becomes at the end a fantasy/adventure/escape fairy tale, but that's fine because everything has to wrap up somehow. As to those scary tales, we only hear a few of them and they're pretty brief. This is not at all an anthology of scary stories and, to me, the scary stories were the least interesting part of the book. I suspect young readers will like them, but they end being more like chapter breaks rather than central to the book. What is central to the book is Alex's growth as a person, as a writer, and as a confident actor. The other person trapped in the lair, Yasmin, becomes an important character as she and Alex bond, and strong themes of friendship and loyalty are developed as part of that development. Yasmin is also deadpan funny in a tough girl fashion, so she adds spice and energy to the project. The upshot is that this is a more ambitious and accomplished book than it first appears. It may be aimed a bit younger than the "Thickety" series, but it is well done and offers a young reader a bit of a thrill, a call out to old school fairy tale witches, and some interesting character themes to think about. That struck me as a nice combination. (Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This was a really cool, dark re-telling of Hansel & Gretel/Scheherazade. Alex, a young boy stumbles across an apartment where he can hear his favorite movie being played and he's so drawn to it, he ends up captured by a witch and becomes her prisoner, having to tell her a scary story every night to keep her happy. I liked the inclusion of Alex's stories - they provide an extra level of creepiness that young kids will love (a bit like reading "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark"). Plus, having This was a really cool, dark re-telling of Hansel & Gretel/Scheherazade. Alex, a young boy stumbles across an apartment where he can hear his favorite movie being played and he's so drawn to it, he ends up captured by a witch and becomes her prisoner, having to tell her a scary story every night to keep her happy. I liked the inclusion of Alex's stories - they provide an extra level of creepiness that young kids will love (a bit like reading "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark"). Plus, having those stories around gives further insight into Alex's character, what he means when he talks about being different from other people, because you can see how his mind conjures up scary things to turn into stories. I think the character development in this story is really well done. Alex's character is revealed a bit at a time, but you get a lot from his stories. Yasmin, also, takes a while to open up, but you can see her and Alex's relationship developing and it's very natural and sweet. White does a good job of writing the characters to be the age they're supposed to be. Both think and speak like children, so it keeps the story realistic and more accessible to the age group it was written for. As far as the scariness, I definitely think kids would find aspects of this book terrifying. As an adult, I didn't find it too creepy, but I'm also not the target audience. Having Alex's stories helps with the creepy factor, but I also like the way White developed this more modern Hansel & Gretel witch. The apartment itself is its own character, which is really cool. It gives another element to the story and makes it feel less like a re-telling and more like something new and different. In this way, White keeps the reader from seeing the end ahead of time. I could predict certain things, but there were a lot of red herrings to keep you from realizing the full story, which I enjoyed very much. I would definitely recommend this book to kids looking for a creepy story. Plus, this would make a great Halloween read-aloud, especially since it features creepy stories being read aloud! Check it out!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Edelweiss Plus Alex ventures down to the basement of his apartment building to burn his creepy short stories that he feels make him a weird outsider, and he hears his favorite movie playing in an apartment when the elevator stops on the wrong floor. Even though he knows better, he knocks on the door, and when the woman who answers invites him in, he enters her apartment. Too late! She's Natacha, an evil witch who kidnaps and enslaves children, and now he is stuck! She intends to keep h E ARC from Edelweiss Plus Alex ventures down to the basement of his apartment building to burn his creepy short stories that he feels make him a weird outsider, and he hears his favorite movie playing in an apartment when the elevator stops on the wrong floor. Even though he knows better, he knocks on the door, and when the woman who answers invites him in, he enters her apartment. Too late! She's Natacha, an evil witch who kidnaps and enslaves children, and now he is stuck! She intends to keep him, and Alex worries that he will never get home to his family. He soon meets Yasmin, who has been captive for some time. She is quiet about the fate of the other children also captured by Natacha, but does give Alex some helpful advice to keep him alive. The biggest piece is that Natacha loves stories, since they seem to quiet the problematic, magical apartment. Alex tells the stories he has with him, and is supposed to be writing every day, but he finds himself unable to do so. Eventually, some of the evil creatures in the apartment destroy his stories, and he must finally do some writing. He and Yasmin read books in the witch's library and try to figure out a way that they might be able to escape. Will they be successful, or will they find themselves in the situation of the children who were captured and who are no longer in the apartment? Strengths: One of the things my readers want? Kidnapping tales! Weird, but true. The only short story collections that do well? Scary stories! This combines both beautifully, with a dark, fairy tale twist. I liked that there was a little bit of hope that they could escape, even though Yasmin had been there for a while. The ending was particularly fun. Weaknesses: The cover makes this look like it would be more like Prineas' new Scroll of Kings rather than a scary tale, but I don't know what else could have been done. Maybe a bit of a nod to Hansel and Gretel and the witch's gingerbread house? What I really think: I need to brush off Nance's Daemon Hall (2007) when school starts. I don't know that it circulated at all this year, but it is a similar title that will be good to hand to readers after they finish this shiny new book!

  24. 3 out of 5

    Valerie McEnroe

    Alex is obsessed with all things scary. Unfortunately, he learns too late that obsessions can lead to one’s demise. He’s on his way to the basement to destroy his writing notebooks when he hears “Night of the Living Dead” on the TV in another apartment. He knocks on the door and that’s when he becomes a character in his own horror story. As it happens, a witch is the occupant of this apartment, and she has successfully lured and trapped Alex. The apartment is a lair of secret rooms, the most inte Alex is obsessed with all things scary. Unfortunately, he learns too late that obsessions can lead to one’s demise. He’s on his way to the basement to destroy his writing notebooks when he hears “Night of the Living Dead” on the TV in another apartment. He knocks on the door and that’s when he becomes a character in his own horror story. As it happens, a witch is the occupant of this apartment, and she has successfully lured and trapped Alex. The apartment is a lair of secret rooms, the most interesting being the lighthouse shaped room filled with scary books from floor to ceiling. This witch loves scary books as much as Alex. Another trapped child, Yasmin, advises Alex to take advantage of this shared interest. “This is your life now. Forget your family. Forget your friends. Focus on making yourself useful to Natacha. Write your stories, Alex. Entertain her. That’s the only way you’ll survive.” Alex and the witch are interesting characters. Though one is the captor and the other the captive they share this love of stories. Natacha, the witch, is both menacing and sympathetic. As Alex is trying to come to terms with the horror fascination that makes him different from other kids, Natacha says, “Destroying a few notebooks isn’t going to change who you are.” Being true to yourself becomes the lasting message of the book. I enjoyed the relationship between the three characters. Alex goes with flow. Yasmin is sarcastic, yet mysterious. Natacha is hiding something. Most of the book is about Yasmin and Alex planning an escape. I loved this part. Once they cross through a door they think is the exit, things go south for me. It’s weird. Too much of a departure from everything that’s happened up to that point. The author brings in a connection to Hansel and Gretel which doesn’t work for me. Up to this point my rating was a solid 4 stars, but with this plot change out of left field, I had to knock it back to a 3.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    When presented with the opportunity to read Nightbooks ahead of its release date, I reacted as any eloquent-yet-humble bibliophile would: I flailed like a pre-teen girl with front row tickets to her favorite boy band. After being traumatized by J. A. White’s Thickety series (in the best possible way, I assure you), I was looking forward to seeing what further nightmares he had in store for me. I advise you to learn from my mistakes and finish this book in the morning so you have an entire day to When presented with the opportunity to read Nightbooks ahead of its release date, I reacted as any eloquent-yet-humble bibliophile would: I flailed like a pre-teen girl with front row tickets to her favorite boy band. After being traumatized by J. A. White’s Thickety series (in the best possible way, I assure you), I was looking forward to seeing what further nightmares he had in store for me. I advise you to learn from my mistakes and finish this book in the morning so you have an entire day to shake off the fear-induced adrenaline. I was hoping never to see 3am again after grad school, but Nightbooks lives up to its name. Alex – another horror-loving soul awake in the middle of the night – sneaks out of his apartment on an important mission of destruction that he hopes will make his life a little easier. Instead, he finds himself lured into an apartment and trapped there by Natacha, a powerful and temperamental witch. Ironically, he is saved by what he had intended to destroy: his notebooks (called “nightbooks”) containing scary stories of his own creation. Fascinated by these stories, Natacha turns Alex into her own personal Scheherazade, ordering him to write more tales of horror and tell her a new one each night. Knowing that he has no other choice if he wants to live and eventually escape, Alex obeys. Alex is introduced to his fellow captive Yasmin, a whirlwind of morbid wit and snark; and Lenore, a cat with human intelligence and a habit of turning invisible for purposes of optimum annoyance. With Yasmin’s (very reluctant) companionship, Alex learns more about Natacha and the enchanted apartment as we, the readers, learn more about him through his nightbooks. I started this book prepared to be terrorized, but after thirty pages of being perpetually on edge, I started thinking I was overreacting. This false sense of security lasted until page 66, at which point I put down the book and messaged Mr. White asking if he enjoyed inflicting such trauma on his readers. The answer is “yes,” in case that wasn’t obvious. As a kid, I came up with a three-tier classification for books based on immersion (yes, I was that nerd who read that much). Tier one is mostly for assigned reading, where the story is just a bunch of words on a page. Tier two is for stories where I feel like an observer watching events unfold as a sort of movie. Tier three is full immersion: when the characters are running from danger, I’m sprinting right alongside them. Nightbooks is firmly in tier three. I huddled in the dark next to Alex and Yasmin as we heard the creepy-crawlies emerge from their eggs. I braced myself as the apartment quaked and I cowered before Natacha’s temper. Most of all, I clung to every word of every story Alex read from his nightbooks, loving the thrill and terror they evoked. The mixed narration – third-person close interspersed with stories in Alex’s handwriting and even notes in the margins of library books – adds to the immersion and feeling of solidarity with the characters. The margin writing especially made me feel like I was looking over Alex’s and Yasmin’s shoulders as they tried to puzzle out the mystery left for them in the endless stacks of Natacha’s library. Reading the nightbook stories in Alex’s writing reinforced my connection with him and gave me insight I might not have had otherwise. As someone who also carries notebooks around, I feel like there’s something especially personal about reading an author’s stories in their own handwriting – like you’re seeing a part of themselves they put into their work. The further Nightbooks progresses, the further we see how much of himself Alex puts into his stories and how much they mean to him, despite his initial intentions to destroy them. Another quality I love about Alex is that he values the act of storytelling as much as the stories themselves. It’s something that many people take for granted when they pick up a book, not realizing how much sweat, blood, and tears go into its creation. Nightbooks acknowledges and lauds the power of storytelling and the incredible effort behind it. There are even tips on the process Alex remembers from his English class (tips I most definitely bookmarked for later) that help him continue to write for Natacha. Despite the terror that lurks around every corner and page-turn, there is also fantastic, zingy wit that had me laughing out loud on several occasions. Yasmin in particular is full of quippy comebacks that made me want to high-five her through the pages, though Alex is not without his own sarcastic observations. Even Lenore has her humorous moments, expressed through careful and clever descriptions on White’s part. On a ride as wild as this one, the brief moments of levity are much appreciated. Nightbooks is wonderfully multifaceted in plot and style, incorporating the best of modern adventure and classic fairytale. Clues and hints lead you down twisty turns you’re convinced are the right direction until the reveal tackles you from behind. There are brilliant connections and allegories so deeply entwined in the narrative that I didn’t recognize them until they were clubbing me upside the head during the epic finale. J. A. White delivers another truly spectacular adventure that puts a unique spin on the nature of storytelling, fairytales, and the deep self-truths found within both.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Marathon County Public Library

    Alex loves scary stories, the scarier the better. His favorite movie is Night of the Living Dead, so when he sneaks out of his parent’s high-rise apartment, he is naturally drawn to an odd level apartment where he hears the movie playing. However, when Natacha invites him in, he discovers that there appears to be no way to escape. The apartment is enchanted by this witch, Natacha, who orders him to write and read his scary stories to her every night, even though there is a whole library of scary Alex loves scary stories, the scarier the better. His favorite movie is Night of the Living Dead, so when he sneaks out of his parent’s high-rise apartment, he is naturally drawn to an odd level apartment where he hears the movie playing. However, when Natacha invites him in, he discovers that there appears to be no way to escape. The apartment is enchanted by this witch, Natacha, who orders him to write and read his scary stories to her every night, even though there is a whole library of scary books on the library bookshelves. A bitter, hopeless girl named Yasmin, is also a prisoner of the witch and forced to cook and tend to the witch’s botanical garden and mix magical oils. But after several of Alex's stories are destroyed, will he have enough to survive the witch's wrath just long enough to find a way out for both of them? Written for tweens, this dark contemporary fairytale, reminiscent of the classic, Hansel and Gretel, is a first-rate fantasy by the author of the Thickety series that I also loved. I recommend this book highly to all fantasy and horror readers who may also enjoy the many scary stories within the main story. Sharyn H. / Marathon County Public Library Find this book in our library catalog.

  27. 3 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Received advanced reader copy from publisher via Baker & Taylor book supplier As Alex creeps from his apartment to destroy the notebooks that hold the scary stories he has written, he finds himself drawn to apartment 4E and then trapped inside. The resident witch requires that he read a story a night to keep her – and the apartment – happy and calm. But Alex only wants out of this creepy apartment and he fears that his writer’s block may lead to a bad ending for him. I had not read J.A. White Received advanced reader copy from publisher via Baker & Taylor book supplier As Alex creeps from his apartment to destroy the notebooks that hold the scary stories he has written, he finds himself drawn to apartment 4E and then trapped inside. The resident witch requires that he read a story a night to keep her – and the apartment – happy and calm. But Alex only wants out of this creepy apartment and he fears that his writer’s block may lead to a bad ending for him. I had not read J.A. White’s other books, the Thickety series, so this was my first introduction to his work. I found it incredibly engrossing and a marvelous tale. I loved the twist on Tales of the Arabian Nights and Hansel & Gretel. The addition of Alex’s actual short stories interspersed within the larger tale was a huge bonus. Alex’s tales were a bit creepy and a bit hair-raising, plus I found, at times, I wished they were much longer than the couple of pages they filled. I can see why the witch & apartment were enticed by his talent and the plots of his tales. Secondary characters Yasmin and the wonderful orange cat Lenore were a terrific addition and rounded out the story well. While this is a book that is marketed for middle grade, I can see teens enjoying it as well as adults. And a side-note: can I please, oh please, oh please have the library depicted in this creepy apartment??!!

  28. 3 out of 5

    Marzie

    3.5 Stars This book for middle graders has its strong points, including a child central character who loves to read and especially to write. It also shows a collaborative friendship develop out of adversity between the protagonist, Alex, the young writer, Yasmin, a girl stranded in the same magical apartment by an evil witch, and Lenore, a very interesting cat. Alex was captured by the witch and kept to tell his stories, because the witch perceives "darkness" in his heart. Alas, the witch, while 3.5 Stars This book for middle graders has its strong points, including a child central character who loves to read and especially to write. It also shows a collaborative friendship develop out of adversity between the protagonist, Alex, the young writer, Yasmin, a girl stranded in the same magical apartment by an evil witch, and Lenore, a very interesting cat. Alex was captured by the witch and kept to tell his stories, because the witch perceives "darkness" in his heart. Alas, the witch, while clever, approaches elementary-grade chapter-reader trope status. Being marketed as a spin on Scheherazade spinning the tales of A Thousand Nights and One Night and the Brothers Grimm's Hansel and Gretel, Nightbooks is a cautionary tale about going out late at night, especially without telling your parents, and about young people writing ghost or horror stories. After all, if you write dark things, grownups might think you are dark inside and you'll have to work overtime convincing them that you're being brave in battling dark things and emerging undefeated. You'll have to explain you're just a nice kid who likes monsters. While there are things that charm about the story, I had hoped for a bit more depth. Even some middle-graders may feel the whiff of a deus ex machina resolution to Alex, Yasmin and Lenore's plight. I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the Katherine Tegen Imprint via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    A L E R T ! T H I S O N E I S C R E E P Y... 5/5 for NIGHTBOOKS by @jawhitetbooks . ~ ~ The testament to how much I loved this book? I was listening to it on Sora and had to stop because 2x speed wasn't fast enough for me. I had to know what happened! Grabbed a physical copy and finished yesterday afternoon while completely ignoring my children (#momlife). . ~ ~ This one is GOOD. It has been a while since I have read a middle grade book as deliciously scary as NIGHTBOOKS...maybe since THE NEST by @kenne A L E R T ! T H I S O N E I S C R E E P Y... 5/5 for NIGHTBOOKS by @jawhitetbooks . ~ ~ The testament to how much I loved this book? I was listening to it on Sora and had to stop because 2x speed wasn't fast enough for me. I had to know what happened! Grabbed a physical copy and finished yesterday afternoon while completely ignoring my children (#momlife). . ~ ~ This one is GOOD. It has been a while since I have read a middle grade book as deliciously scary as NIGHTBOOKS...maybe since THE NEST by @kennethoppel? I was sucked into Alex's story from page one--really it's amazing how quickly the action starts in this one. Within the first chapter he's imprisoned by a witch, Natacha, and the horror begins. He has a fellow prisoner, Yasmin, but at first she is unwelcoming and rude. The relationship (and eventual friendship) between Alex and Yasmin is believable. Another real strength of this book are the short stories Alex is forced to read to the witch each night--they are twisted and sick (in the best way possible). As a reader, I didn't mind being ripped away from Alex's story to read his short stories at all. Often I find stories within a story to be annoying and a distraction, but not in this case. Finally...that cover! It's gorgeous and represents the book perfectly. Hooray for that! This is a must-buy for all middle grade collections; I highly recommend it!

  30. 3 out of 5

    Diana

    Really enjoyable with many creepy and folktale elements, and lots of food! There is an overarching theme of hunger/want just like original folk/fairytales, though it is in a modern setting. There is physical hunger; those not getting enough and those getting more than enough and wasting some of it, and there is emotional hunger of loneliness and desire for acceptance and fulfillment; those who think they don’t have it but do, and those who think they have it but it’s just a facade to others and Really enjoyable with many creepy and folktale elements, and lots of food! There is an overarching theme of hunger/want just like original folk/fairytales, though it is in a modern setting. There is physical hunger; those not getting enough and those getting more than enough and wasting some of it, and there is emotional hunger of loneliness and desire for acceptance and fulfillment; those who think they don’t have it but do, and those who think they have it but it’s just a facade to others and to themselves deep down. I’m sure there are a lot of allusions to horror and folktales in the story that I didn’t recognize, but you can feel them regardless. There is also a Lot of good writing advice as much of the story revolves around writing and crafting stories (a la Sheherezad and the Thousand and One Nights, even without one of the characters pointing it out). Now I’m going to read J. A. White’s previous books in the Thickety series!

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