Karen Kilgariff - Tor/Forge Blog

Books We’ve Felt Lucky to Read

Books We’ve Felt Lucky to Read

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, the team at Forge wanted to take the time to celebrate some books our team has felt lucky to read. Check out our recommendations of books we’ve loved that hopefully you’ll feel lucky to read too!

My Brilliant Life by Ae-ran Kim; translated by Chi-Young Kim

Poster Placeholder of - 32My Brilliant Life is one of those books that wholly absorbs you before you know it. I picked it up before bed one night expecting to get through the first few chapters, and the next thing I knew, it was 2AM and I had almost finished the book. Wanting to extend my experience with our main character Aerum and the rest of his family, I managed to wait until the next night to wrap it up, and I’m so glad I did. After going on a journey with these unforgettable characters, the end of this book has a moment so utterly gut-wrenching and uplifting, it wraps its arms around you and won’t let go. I am so thankful to have read it.

Jennifer, Marketing Manager

To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

Place holder  of - 98I am a huge Lauren Layne fan, and have read so many of her books, so recently I was able to read a copy of To Sir, With Love by her, and, of course, jumped at the chance. It’s marked as a standalone, so I was a little nervous I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as her series, but I shouldn’t have worried – this is her absolute best book yet! I was planning to read it for just a few hours before bed, but instead, I found myself staying up until three in the morning just so I could finish it! It’s an absolutely swoon-fest of a book (I found myself sighing out loud more than once), and is a modern take on the movie You’ve Got Mail – what if the man you’ve been texting for months is actually the guy trying to buy out your failing wine shop business? I simply cannot wait until it comes out on June 29th, because then I can throw the physical copy of it at my friends.

Lizzy, Marketing Intern

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Image Placeholder of - 38I’m a massive fan of podcasts, so I feel extremely lucky to have read Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, the book co-written by the powerhouse podcasting pair Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. If you’ve listened to their podcast My Favorite Murder, you know how hilarious they are, how great they are at telling stories, and how they are big advocates of taking care of your mental health. I listened to the audiobook, and the experience felt like my best friends were giving me advice, telling me stories that made me laugh (and cry, and laugh some more), and giving me great nuggets of wisdom that I want to make into posters and hang all over my wall. This memoir is so many things, but at its heart, it’s a humor-filled guide to getting through life and learning to love the process.

Sarah, Digital Marketing Coordinator

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Image Place holder  of - 94There are many books I’ve felt lucky to read, but one in particular is The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This book hit shelves towards the beginning of the pandemic when I was looking for uplifting, wholesome things to read that would help provide a safe haven from what was going on in the world. The House in the Cerulean Sea truly delivered. The main character, Linus Baker, leads a rather lonely life. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends most of his time determining the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is assigned a peculiar and top-secret assignmentto travel to the Marsyas Island Orphanage where six dangerous children livehe must set aside his solidarity in order to determine whether or not these particular children are going to bring about the end of everything. Their caretaker, the wildly charming and ever-mysterious Arthur Parnassus, will do anything to keep the kids in his care safe. as Arthur and Linus grow closer, secrets are exposed and Linus must make a decision: destroy their home or risk the world burning. If you’re looking for a book that’s just as feel-good as it is cute, then look no further! This is easily the sweetest, most enchanting story I’ve ever read and I’m so happy that this novel exists.

Ariana, Assistant to VP. Marketing & Publicity

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Placeholder of  -1In 2013 I was a marketing assistant at Hachette Book Group. Every year, they had a day when everyone put out their galleys they didn’t want anymore, and you could take whatever you wanted. Kind of like Book Christmas. Shifting through galleys looking for new homes, I found Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. It wasn’t an HBG book (Marissa Meyer is published by Macmillan’s own MCPG), so I’m not even sure how it got there. I had never heard of the author or series before, but the cover looked interesting so I picked it up. I started reading it during my lunch break, then stayed up late into the night because I couldn’t stop reading it. I remember the feeling of heartbreak when I got to the end, and realized I would have to wait until the sequel came out to read more. Then, I discovered that the sequel came out in a week, so I was doubly lucky!

Julia, Associate Marketing Manager


Forge Your Own Halloween Party!

Forge Your Own Halloween Party!

Planning on staying home for Halloween and searching for that perfect bookish costume? Look no further! Your friends at Forge have put together a handy costume guide for every kind of reader!

Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark, hosts of the My Favorite Murder podcast

Halloween is a great time for Murderinos. And dressing up like Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the authors of Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered and hosts of the wildly popular podcast My Favorite Murder is a great way to join in on Halloween fun while keeping it super stylish. Grab your favorite mid-century vintage dress and tights to achieve Georgia’s look. Don’t forget your can of wine and trusty sidekick, Elvis the cat. If you’re more of a Karen, we suggest a black dress (with pockets, of course) and a guitar for a prop. Top either costume off with a microphone to show you’re a podcast queen… and you might as well add that 20-foot tall skeleton with light-up eyes from Home Depot. 

Jennifer, Marketing Manager


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Flashback to Emerald City Comic Con last year where we saw these really great Karen and Georgia cosplays!


Bailey and Ethan from A Dog’s Purpose

Have you waited until the last minute to pull a costume together, and just need something to tell your family or socially-distanced friends that you’re dressed up as? If you’re a dog owner, I have the perfect no-effort costume idea for you! Since Bailey from A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron has lived many lives as many different dogs, any dog no matter the shape or size can be Bailey for the night! Now for your costume as Bailey’s owner: theoretically, you could wear whatever you want, since Bailey has had many names and many owners. If you want your costume to be Ethan, Bailey’s first owner in A Dog’s Purpose, you could don a flannel shirt, jeans, and some boots to make it look like you live on a farm, just like Ethan. Here’s me and my Bailey! 

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A Christmas-themed picture, since we’re celebrating the release of A Dog’s Perfect Christmas!

Sarah, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Marion from Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk

There’s nothing quite as good as the thrill of DIY’ing your own Halloween costume! I mean, store-bought ones are cool and all, but putting together your own means you’ll stand out from the crowd! And while Halloween might be spent socially-distanced this year, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the fun of putting together your costume. If you’re looking every which way for a bookish character to dress up as but you’re having a hard time narrowing down an idea, I highly suggest drawing your inspiration from Nottingham and dressing up as Marion! If you love the Renaissance era and happen to have costumes lying around that you adorn when you visit local Ren Faires, then look no further; you’re all set! But if corsets and billowy, long dresses aren’t your thing, then you can easily DIY your costume with what you already have in your closet. If you’re riding in style as Marion, one thing to have on hand is a dress–preferably something with long, flowy sleeves. A long sleeved white shirt under a short sleeved/tank-style tunic would also work! Tall brown boots, a circlet crown or flower crown, a long skirt underneath, and a hooded cloak are the perfect accessories to help complete your look. Now you’re ready to go forth and be the finest Marion in all of the land! 

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Ariana, Assistant to VP. Marketing & Publicity

Lady Dunbridge from A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble

A gilded age costume may seem intimidating, but you don’t have to wear a ball gown to dress as the countess/detective from Shelley Noble’s historical mystery novels. After all, Lady Dunbridge spends a lot of time searching New York for clues, so she has plenty of day dresses. To put together a costume from what you likely have at home, start with a neutral-colored maxi skirt, then pair it with one of those blazers from the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in months. Under the blazer, wear a high necked shirt, or if you have a shirt with lace on the front that works too. And of course, a Lady Dunbridge costume is not complete without a cocktail in hand, so you’ll need one of those. For the costume.

Julia, Associate Marketing Manager


Evan Ryder from The Nemesis Manifesto by Eric Van Lustbader

If your Halloween plans are looking like they might be lowkey this year, then a lowkey costume to match is the move. Evan Ryder from The Nemesis Manifesto has to wear comfortable but functional clothes – so you could wear this costume all Halloween day! In order to tap into this character created by Eric Van Lustbader, you will first need to step into some black pants (I wore black jeans, but whatever works), throw on a cashmere sweater and then a black leather jacket over it, and end with ankle boots. If you want to truly nail the look, Evan wears her up out of her face, so grab a ponytail holder to finish the look. 

Elizabeth, Marketing Intern

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5 Audiobooks to Add to your Reading Life

5 Audiobooks to Add to your Reading Life

5 Audiobooks to Add to your Reading Life

By Sarah Pannenberg

Audiobooks are a great way of getting more reading time out of your day! Whether you’re cooking, taking a walk, crafting, or just relaxing on your couch, you can have an audiobook on in the background to keep you company. Here are some Forge audiobooks that we love, as well as an audio excerpt of each for your listening enjoyment!

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, read by the authors



Image Placeholder of - 76You’ve listened to the podcast, fell in love with the book, now it’s time to listen again! The audiobook is narrated by Karen and Georgia themselves, and it brings all the familiar personality and humor that you’re used to hearing in the My Favorite Murder podcast. The audiobook also has special features that you won’t get from the book, including guest appearances from Paul Giamatti and sections recorded in front of a live audience.

Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk, read by Raphael Corkhill and Marisa Calin

Place holder  of - 80If you’re looking for a long, immersive audiobook to keep you busy at home, look no further than Nottingham! This historical epic is 25 hours long, and it will keep you entertained for every second. It’s a spin on the myth of Robin Hood, and narrators Raphael Corkhill and Marisa Calin give life to all the merry men and other characters in Nottingham Castle. If you want a Game of Thrones type of saga with less magic and dragons, you’ll love this story.

A Dog’s Promise by W. Bruce Cameron, read by William Dufris

Poster Placeholder of - 58For all the dog lovers out there who need a heart-warming listen, dive into another adventure with Bailey the dog! Ever wondered what your dog was thinking? Narrator William Dufris gives voice to Bailey and makes you feel like you’re in the head of your furry friend. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll definitely want to keep your tissues nearby!

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber, read by Stephanie Willis, Bethany Lind & Nicholas Techosky

Placeholder of  -16The multicast performance of Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe brings this mystical Southern novel to life. The group paints a beautiful audio picture that you will feel like you’re transported to the small town of Wicklow. There are a lot of mentions of delicious food, so this would be the perfect audiobook to listen to while baking or cooking!

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan, read by Angela Dawe

Image Place holder  of - 90For those who need something more thrilling to keep them busy, listen to an audiobook from the master of the legal thriller, Hank Phillippi Ryan! The Murder List is a standalone novel that follows law student Rachel North, who is committed to justice and doing the right thing but is faced with lies, manipulation, and a harrowing legal triangle. This book has twists and turns that will keep you guessing, and Angela Dawe’s narration adds the perfect element of suspense to the story!


5 Books to Wrap Up Women’s History Month

5 Books to Wrap Up Women’s History Month

5 Books to Wrap Up Women’s History Month

By Mary Halabani

We’re at the final stretch of Women’s History Month! March is a time to make sure we think about all the fierce females who fought, and keep fighting, for women’s rights. These tough women have given us so much, from voting rights to the ability to wear pants. So to help us celebrate strong women everywhere and their amazing accomplishments, here’s a list with some of Forge’s favorite leading ladies.

Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat KellyOf Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly
It’s the early 1900s when twenty-four-year-old progressive Nora Kelly is forced to flee her home for Paris. There she finds the centuries-old Collège des Irlandais, a good-looking scholar, an unconventional priest, and a group of Ireland’s revolutionary women who challenge Nora to honor her Irish blood and join the struggle to free Ireland.

Poster Placeholder of - 90Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
Prioritizing self-advocating and personal safety over being “nice” or “helpful,” a conflict that so many women are faced with on a daily basis, Karen and Georgia hold nothing back in telling the stories of their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the depression, eating disorders, and addictions that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.

Image Placeholder of - 26Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang
Cas Russell is not your ordinary mathematical genius. Unlike other pros, the vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price. When Cas discovers someone with powers more dangerous than her own, she must fight off the puppet master and figure out which thoughts are her own.

City of SaviorsPlaceholder of  -50 by Rachel Howzell Hall
A fast, funny, heartbreaking, and wise homicide detective, Elouise Norton encounters her toughest case yet in City of Saviors, the fourth instalment in the critically acclaimed mystery series. Seventy-three-year-old Eugene Washington is found dead, and Lou believes that something about the way he died doesn’t add up. Lou must discover the truth while facing her own demons in order to save another soul before it’s too late.

Hard Ride by Elmer KeltonPlace holder  of - 27
Nothing says “Wild West” more than a group of daring women. From an infamous female outlaw who rules her gang with a gun to a judge’s daughter determined to end local mob rule, Hard Ride is riddled with powerful women whose devotions and decisions stay with you long after the book is done. Combined with glimpses into the authentic experience American West experience, this novel is filled with a passion for life that’s as vast as the Texas prairie.


8 Books to Read for Galentine’s Day

8 Books to Read for Galentine’s Day

By Alison Bunis

Happy Galentine’s Day! What’s Galentine’s Day, you ask? Essentially, for those of you not in the know, what started as a made-up holiday on the tv-show Parks and Recreation has become a real holiday. The day before Valentine’s Day, the most couple-y of holidays, gal pals everywhere put aside their partners and say to each other, “I appreciate your friendship and I love you.” How you celebrate is up to you, of course. Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec obviously goes for breakfast food, because that’s her love language. But for us here at Forge, our love language is obviously books. So to celebrate Galentine’s Day this year, we’ve put together a list of books celebrating women!

These books are by women or about women. Some of these women kick ass. Some of these women bake magic pies. Some of them tell you about their parents’ divorce and how not to join a cult, and some of them write about ISIS occupations. It’s a wide range, because there’s no predetermined way to be a woman, or to be a gal-pal. So grab your BFF, grab a couple of books, and get reading. Ladies celebrating ladies by reading about awesome ladies. What could be more Galentine’s Day than that??

For the Non-fiction Gal

Image Place holder  of - 63Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
Pick up this book if you’re into Karen & Georgia’s podcast, My Favorite Murder! But even if you’re not a podcast person, don’t worry, this book is an excellent read for anyone looking for an honest, open, hilarious memoir about the struggles of dealing with mental health issues, addiction, and being a True Crime fan.

Image Placeholder of - 56Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan
This one is a touching story of humanity in the midst of war, told by award-winning journalist Louise Callaghan. Callaghan is one of the youngest Middle East Correspondents ever hired by the Sunday Times (UK), and she has had pieces published in The Sunday Times Magazine, Vogue, and the Times Literary Supplement. Talk about an impressive lady. Father of Lions is a must-read if you’re interested in a story that will make you view war and conflict in a new light, or if you want a good book about brave animals.

To Get Your Pulse Racing

Poster Placeholder of - 26The Retreat by Sherri Smith
We’ve all got that one friend who’s way too into the latest wellness craze. Maybe we are that friend, and no one’s told us yet. Doesn’t matter, this is just the book to break the spell: four friends go for a weekend getaway at a wellness retreat. By the end, only one of them is left standing…

Placeholder of  -26Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Hank Phillippi Ryan is an award-winning investigative journalist, so when she sits down to write a book about a journalist looking for the truth in an unbearably brutal story, you can bet she delivers. Trust Me is full of all the psychological suspense and manipulation that any thriller reader could ever desire.

A Hint of Magic

Place holder  of - 2Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber
For your friend who believes in magic, for your friend who believes in love, for your friend who loves to bake, for your friend from a small town, for your friend with a close family, for your friend with serious family issues: Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe checks all the boxes. But have baked goods on hand: you’ll definitely want a snack while reading.

Remembrance by Rita Woods
Do you want to spark a discussion with your friends? Want to dive into the deeper issues surrounding the Haitian Revolution and the Underground Railroad? Or do you just want to sink into an enthralling read about four women, connected across different times and places, struggling to make their way in a world that doesn’t have a place for them? (Hint: If you liked The Underground Railroad or The Orphan Train, this is definitely the book for you.)

Historically Accurate Friendships

Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble
 Okay, this one’s for the gal pal groups who watched Downton Abbey together. The movie helped, sure, but it was just one movie. So if you’re suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal, Shelley Noble is here to help you out with her delightful mystery set in Gilded Age Manhattan, where horse racing, romance, murder, and scandals abound. Someone simply must do something. And our plucky heroine Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat KellyOf Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly
This vivid, compelling epic is a great read for anyone interested in Irish heritage or family history, because author Mary Pat Kelly based the story on her own great-aunt’s life. Following heroine Nora Kelly as she travels through Europe in 1903, readers will meet all kinds of exciting real-life characters such as Gertrude Stein, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce!


Holiday Gifts for Every Reader

Holiday Gifts for Every Reader

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

By His Own Hand by Neal Griffin

Image Placeholder of - 47 The body of a young man has been found in the woods outside Newberg, dead from a close-range shotgun blast. The gun—his own—lies beside the body.

Certain things don’t add up for Detective Tia Suarez. Where did the fat envelope of cash in his pocket come from? Who called the police to report the body, then disappeared before the cops arrived?

Head On by John Scalzi

Placeholder of  -95 Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.


Avengers of the Moon by Allen Steele

Place holder  of - 45 Curt Newton has spent most of his life hidden from the rest of humankind, being raised by a robot, an android, and the disembodied brain of a renowned scientist. Curt’s innate curiosity and nose for trouble inadvertently lead him into a plot to destabilize the Solar Coalition and assassinate the president. There’s only one way to uncover the evil mastermind—Curt must become Captain Future.

The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

Poster Placeholder of - 36 They say it’s not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, the Corps’ first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble.

Night Magic by Jenna Black

Image Place holder  of - 45 Philadelphia is locked in the grip of an evil magic that transforms its streets into a nightmare landscape the minute the sun sets each night. While most of the city hunkers down and hopes to survive the long winter nights, Becket Walker is roaming the darkened streets having the time of her life.

Once, the guilt of having inadvertently let the night magic into the city—and of having killed her onetime best friend—had threatened to destroy her. But now she’s been Nightstruck, and all her grief and guilt and terror have been swept away—along with her conscience. So what if she’s lost her friends, her family, and her home? And so what if her hot new boyfriend is super-controlling and downright malevolent?


The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn’t suffer.

But Isabella’s parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella’s… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.

Or is there…?


Monster Girl Doctor Vol. 2 Story by Yoshino Origuchi; Art by z-ton

Spirit Circle Vol. 3 Story and art by Satoshi Mizukami

Holiday Gifts for Every Reader

By Jennifer McClelland-Smith

When you were a kid, the holidays were simple. You got a gift for you family members, and maybe a gift for you bestie. Now you’ve got to get gifts for you family, bestie(s), close friends, and do those acquaintances deserve a gift, too? Probably. If there’s a significant other in the picture, well, they definitely need a gift, plus their family and friends, and don’t even get me started on coworkers…Figuring out who you need to get gifts for is a headache. But add in the pressure of figuring out what to get for everyone? Ugh, forget about it.

Fear not! Forge is here to help. Not with figuring out who in your life you need to give a gift to, you’re still on your own there. But when it comes to deciding what to buy for everyone, we’ve got your back. Our handy list of holiday gifts for every reader will definitely save you some shopping time!

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

For that friend who owns the comfiest robes, softest cookies and heartiest teas, invite them into this cozy read. Anna Kate returns to small-town Alabama to settle her grandma’s estate and finds herself drawn to quirky townspeople and the magic that abounds. Have snacks close by as you read… the descriptions of the scrumptious offerings of the Blackbird Cafe will be enough to keep every reader’s mouth watering.

48 Hours by William Forstchen

Got a survivalist on your list? Look no further than 48 Hours, the latest from William R. Forstchen, the master of apocalyptic potboilers. A huge solar storm shuts down the electrical grid and threatens humanity itself. A group of ordinary Americans band together to save humanity. It’s an unputdownable page-turner that will set your mind reeling.


Darkness at Chancellorsville by Ralph Peters

For your resident Civil War enthusiast…Take a front-row seat for one of the war’s most surprising battles. Ralph Peters is one of the top historical fiction writers out there, and this extensively researched and enthralling epic shows why. Get a fresh perspective on the battle that almost ended the Civil War and trace the steps that led Confederate general Robert E. Lee to embark on the Gettsyburg Campaign.


Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Sure, this is the obvious choice for your Murderino friend, but Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered is a great read for anyone looking for a fun, funny read full of advice only your older sister could give you. It’s a memoir disguised as a life manual. It’ll have you laughing until you cry. And crying while you laugh. And every combination of laughing and crying you can imagine.


Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk

Fill that Game of Thrones-sized hole in your favorite reader’s life with this fresh spin on the myth of Robin Hood. You’ll get to know his merry men and all of the characters that haunt Nottingham Castle in a whole new light. You think you know what to expect, but the twists and thrills in this study of power will keep those pages turning all the way through the thrilling conclusion.


A Dog’s Promise by W. Bruce Cameron

If you’ve got a dog-lover on your list, you’re no doubt familiar with the heartwarming works of W. Bruce Cameron. A Dog’s Promise is the follow-up to the wildly popular A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey, both major motion pictures! It’s a new tale of Bailey, a very good dog who is joined by Lacey, another very special dog. Together, they show the love and loyalty only our canine friends can offer.


Empire of Lies by Raymond Khoury

It’s a time travel book. It’s an alternate history. It’s a sweeping thriller like you’ve never read before. If you’ve got a reader on your list who loves a book that will keep them thinking, this is the one. Set in a world where the Ottoman Empire conquered Europe in 1683, it’s a race through time for a member of the Sultan’s secret police force and the mysterious tattooed stranger he encounters. It’s a race through time to save the world, or destroy it.


Stay Festive & Don’t Get Murdered: A Holiday Survival Guide

Stay Festive & Don’t Get Murdered: A Holiday Survival Guide

Stay Festive & Don’t Get Murdered: A Holiday Survival Guide

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Hey, fellow Murderinos. We’re getting in the festive mood heresnowflakes! Candy canes! Anyway, even without all the handy hiding places for murderers that holiday decorations set up (does anyone else ever wonder if murderers hide out in manger scenes? No? Just me?), the holidays can be tricky. All those family gatherings…office gatherings…present buying…the social pressure is enough to make anyone want to run screaming into the forest. And we all know what happens there. So to keep everyone safe, we’ve made a list (yep, checked twice) of some of our favorite holiday-themed advice from STAY SEXY & DON’T GET MURDERED. Take a look below!



Unwanted Advice
Yes, we’re giving you advice about not taking advice, it’s hilarious. BUT. As Karen says, “Anyone trying to give you career advice is full of shit, especially if it’s a family member. People hear about you trying to do something they were never brave enough or lucky enough to try. You making a go of trying to make your dreams come true makes them feel bad…Whatever the details are, they’re projecting all their old shit on you. Step away from these people gingerly. Do not engage.” This applies to non-career advice too. Everyone has had this experience: sitting around a holiday dinner table as a relative gives endless advice on how you should be living your life, while you just plaster a smile on your face and nod. Honestly, just pretend you’re going to listen to them, and then…don’t. Eat as much figgy pudding as you want. Have as many one-night stands as you see fit. Grandma can go suck an egg.

Save The Drama
No holiday is complete without drama, be it between friends or family. But you can keep yours to a minimum by just realizing that you have your problems, they have theirs, and these holiday fights aren’t actually really about you. Everyone is just super stressed right now. So please, “Stop finding fault and making a fuss and crying in weird apartment building hallways expecting people to come out and wrap you up in a warm blanket of giving a shit. They’re not going to…Everyone has their own problems.”

Office Holiday Parties
Whatever you do, don’t be the person who gets wasted at the office holiday party. Nobody wants to be that person. “A dozen drinks a night is about nine too many. Three or four is right in the pocket for a good night out. Anything above that and you’re likely to come to an hour later in the middle of your starring role in the whisper/scream/barf show. I know it can be fun, but also, you’re drunk, so how would you know?…You definitely must have as much fun as you can in this life. But is making out with a mailbox actually fun? Yes, it might break federal law, which is a hoot. And lightly debasing yourself with a dusty inanimate object to make your friends laugh can be wonderful, sure. But is it mental-scrapbook-of-good-memories fun? Naw, baby. It’s just a royal-blue blur in the mental slideshow of “What the f— did I do last night?””



Escape Hatch
If (when) you just cannot deal with your family anymore, pull a Georgia and escape with a book. When the going gets tough, the tough get reading: “Reading has always been important to me (I bet we have that in common, reader), thanks to my mom and her own lifelong love of reading, so I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was a tiny person. I’d sit in the closet underneath the staircase of my childhood home (like Harry Potter, but before there was a Harry Potter), atop a pile of afghans knitted by my grandma, with my cat, Whiskers, curled up in my lap. That was my favorite place to get the f— out of Orange County and live somewhere else, even if it was only in my head.”

The Perfect Gift
Everybody loves presents. Why shouldn’t we? Presents are awesome. They’re a) cool things you get for free, and b) tangible proof that someone cares enough about you to get you said cool thing. That said, it really does suck when someone gives you a present that’s clearly just…meh. So really think about the gifts you’re giving. Because the right gift can change lives. Take it from Georgia: “On one of the days I actually showed up for class, my eighth-grade English teacher, who’d either been scared of me, or more likely for me, slipped me a copy of The Martian Chronicles…When she handed me the book, she said, “I think you’ll like this.” I started reading it under the stairs that afternoon. She was right. I loved it…I’d always been taught—at home, at school, in the media—that I was supposed to want college, marriage, babies, and a job in an office or a life as a housewife. All of that stuff can be amazing for the right people, but to me it all sounded like bullshit, even as a kid, and not desiring those things made me feel like I’d failed as a person. Reading about other paths and unexpected journeys gave me hope.”

The Holidays Are For Family

Not just your parents and siblings, but your found familyyour Clutch Friendstoo. Make sure you find time for them, because they are the most important people in your life. “No matter how deep into shit you get, there will always be someone who is willing to help you, if you just reach out. Whenever I read about the Jonestown massacre (which I do a lot, ’cause it’s fascinating) my heart breaks. Over nine hundred people, some purposely, some forcefully, drank poison because their cult leader, Jim Jones, commanded them to.

“I’ve always wondered where that point of no return was for those members. Probably way before the cyanide and moving to a commune and turning over all worldly possessions. What was the moment that they didn’t think there was an out anymore? Didn’t think that someone in their life, outside the cult, would be there to help them if they reached out?” Don’t become a Jonestown Massacre victim. Spend the holidays with your family. (And when they’re driving you absolutely batshit crazy, see “Escape Hatch.”)

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