My Top 5 Gothic Novels

I wrote my last “Top Classic Novels” post 2 years ago so I thought I was due to write a new one. I have read a grand total of 32 classic novels since the beginning of last year so I am going to separate my favourites by genre so this will probably end up being a series.

I am going to kick it all off with my favourite literary genre: Gothic Literature.

I love gothic literature. It is dark, atmospheric, morbid and sometimes just a tad over the top. Most of my favourite novels fall into this genre so it a bit difficult to pick out my favourites. These are in no practically order because doing that would be like placing your children in order of favouritism.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

If you dont know what Dracula is about you have been living under a rock for your entire life. Vampires, that is all you need to know.

I first read this book when I was 10 and after a reread of this novel last year I reminded myself how amazing it is. The best part of rereading it was that I forgot some of the best scenes and how action packed it was, so it was like reading it from fresh all over again. One of the perks of waiting 18 years to reread a novel. Dracula himself doesn’t appear very often but instead acts as a constant lingering source of horror and mystery for the rest of the characters. If you are new to Victorian literature I would say that this book is the perfect gateway novel. It is very modern in storytelling and language, and certainly isn’t dull and stuffy.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Again, if you don’t know what this book is about you have lead a very sheltered existence, but this is more forgivable than not knowing what Dracula is about. Dorian Gray is a young man who sells his soul to remain young and pretty forever so his picture ages instead.

This is another reread I have had in the past year. I first read this novel when I was 11 and I remember the day I bought it because my father wasnt happy when I came home with it. He thought I would “catch the gay” by reading an Oscar Wilde novel. Don’t worry, that was a very long time ago and my father is very pro-LGBT rights now-a-days. I ended up not being entirely straight so maybe I did “catch the gay” from Oscar Wilde after all. Even if it is bad in the novel I rather like Lord Henry’s philosophy to keep seeking new experiences. I find it works if you keep your morality intact. Maybe this book is a bit corrupting. So…read Oscar Wilde and become an absinthe drinking pansexual who once orchestrated a hickey orgy in a gay bar. (True story)

Seriously though, this book is brilliant. Dorian will always be one of my favourite literary characters. Beautifully written and full of that famous Wilde wit.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

One of the orginal haunted house stories, The Haunting of Hill House is about a group of people who are brought together to investigate a haunting in a large manor house. You have probably seen a thousand horror films with the same premise, but this is where it all started.

This book almost didn’t make it to the list but then I remembered the brilliance that is the ending. I am not going to spoil it because you need to go read it yourself.

I think my favourite thing about this novel is that you are not entirely sure if the house is actually haunted or if it is all in the main character’s head. Is the haunting caused by ghosts or is she just loosing her mind? You can never be entirely sure. I hadn’t heard of this novel until a friend handed me a copy of it and demanded that I read it. Introducing you to amazing books is what friends are for.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

I am not going to tell you what this book is about. This is a very famous novel and film so you might already know what it is about, but if you don’t, just go into the book blind. Don’t read the blurb, dont ask anyone about it, just read it. Every blurb written for this novel it determined to spoil the big reveal at the end. I knew what this book was about when I started it and personally I feel like it ruined it, so I am doing you a favour by warning you not to learn anything about it before you read it.

Even though this is a great horror novel it does have its negative aspects. It is very much a product of its time. Attitudes to marital rape and motherhood have changed since this book was written so there are a few questionable character decisions and view points at times. There is also a rape scene that is not very graphic. If you are sensitive to that sort of thing maybe give this one a miss.

The Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

I am going to end this list the way I started it, with vampires. If you dont know what it is about already, The Interview with the Vampire is a novel documenting the life of an American vampire. It is the first in a series but you can just read the first one as a standalone if you feel like it.

Two male vampires who share a coffin, refer to each other as “lover” and adopt a vampire child together. What more could you want?

This was the vampire novel of my teenage years, and like most of the other books in this list I have reread it recently. This novel was the vampire trend before Twilight existed. The main character Louis talks of the struggles of becoming a vampire and drinking blood, and dealing with the constant vampire drama that is thrown his way. I think Lestat is up there with Dorian Gay on my “Favourite fictional characters of all time” list. I like egotistical brats, I wonder what that says about me. It probably doesn’t help that Lestat was my nickname in school…

There is talk of a tv show or film in the works for this series so if you haven’t read it yet pick it up and get on the bandwagon before it starts up again.

So what did you think of my list? Have you read any of these novels? What is your favourite gothic novel? Tell me!

Waiting for Wednesday: Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Book Synopsis:

“When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she didn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again – until now…”

Why I need it:

These internet horror and thriller novels have to keep coming. I love this trend. I know I said it in my Waiting for Wednesday for Dark Net, but I will say it again, I love internet themed horror and thriller fiction. I want to see more of them because I think the internet is an untapped source for thriller material.

I think the concept of this novel is very relatable. We all have that moment when an old acquaintance from school adds us on Facebook or follows us on Instagram. It fills us with curiosity. Why did they add you? What made you pop into their mind? Maybe they want to talk to you about something. We all think those things when we get that sort of friend request. Well, imagine the added element of knowing that the person has been missing for years. Now that sounds like a potentially brilliant novel.

Friend Request is scheduled for release on the 25th July 2017

Waiting for Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Break the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases, and continued by Wishful Endings

A King Hater Reads King: ‘Salem’s Lot

If you are unfamiliar with ‘Salem’s Lot, this book is about a writer who returns to his home town to write a book and the locals start turning into vampires.

This is going to be a very mixed review. I know a lot of people love this novel and say it is their favourite Stephen King book, but it isn’t mine. I will admit it is a pretty decent vampire novel. I like my vampires evil and behaving like actual monsters, which this book certainly delivers on. I know that King was inspired by Dracula when he wrote this novel and that certainly shows in the plot and the writing. He wanted to show what would happen if Dracula came to small town America, and the book did just that. It even reminded me of zombie survival fiction at points. The problem is, Stephen King wrote it.

Now, I know I am not a fan a King. That is the point of this whole series, and I will admit to enjoying  some of his other books like Carrie or It, but ‘Salem’s Lot is let down by its overall King-ness. This is one of his first novels so his tropes are not as obvious and silly, but it is the birth of them all. Parts of the book are cartoonish, like the dead baby scene. They are scenes that are trying so hard to be scary that they just end up just being silly and overdramatic. No one acts like that in real life.

I also had an issue with the sexual thought tracks in the novel. I am in no way a prude, but again, this was just over the top and ridiculous. A question for parents, when your kid brings home a boyfriend/girlfriend do you think about their genitals every time you see them? Well, that is apparently normal in Stephen King world. There was also several grown men who have sexual thoughts about the same teenage girl. I understand one creep having those thoughts, but most male characters? That is just creepy.

I did enjoy that this book didn’t have the King trope of pointless scenes. Everything tied together very well and scenes that seemed mundane actually added to future plot points. The narration changed character perspective which added to the story because it showed you the vampire outbreak throughout the town. It let you get to know everyone and it allowed for plenty of creepy scenes. It even had more than one likeable character, which is nice for King novel. I wonder when he started making all of his characters awful people, I will let you know when I find out.

Will I be reading this book again? Probably not. Was it terrible? No. I can see why people enjoy it but personally it was the writing style and the scenes that tried too hard that let it down. If you want a vampire novel where your monsters are actual monsters maybe give this book a read.

If you have read ‘Salem’s Lot tell me what you liked or disliked about it. What King book will I read next?

The Ultimate Book Tag

I saw this tag floating around the book blogging world and decided that it looked like fun. I won’t be tagging anyone specific in it so feel free to do it yourself if you fancy it.

1. Do you get sick while reading in a car?
No! I read daily on public transport and it has never bothered me. I normally don’t read in regular cars because I am busy pointing out random dogs in passing to my partner. I might be a bit of an annoying passenger.

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
I am going to pick my favourite author of all time for this one: Neil Gaiman. His writing style is so fun. It is clever, witty and doesn’t take itself too seriously while also being dark at times.

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Harry Potter. I dont think I could limit my reasons for hating Twilight to 3 points. It is a waste of paper, always has been and always will be.

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)?
Always. I usually carry a book on me at all times, especially for work on weekdays. I also carry: My makeup bag, phone, a note book, my keys, iPod, fountain pens (because I refuse to write with any other type of pen), and wipes and tissues for emergencies.

5. Do you smell your books?
Openly and often. I even wear perfume that smells like an old book.

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
Both. I love proper novels but I am also a HUGE graphic novel fan. Bring on the comics!

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
Anything by Cassandra Clare. Some people will hate me for this but I dont care. She stole all of the ideas for her work and now keeps writing the same thing over and over, probably because she hasn’t found another writer to steal from.

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
Tons of them because I am a bit of an idiot.

When I was in primary school I carried around a very heavy hardback classics collection, Sherlock Holmes and a ghost stories collection at the same time in my bag. I tripped and the weight of my bag made me topple over so I landed face down on the street. …Long story short, one of my front teeth is fake because I carried around too many heavy books.

9. What is the tiniest book on your shelf?
Green Eggs and Ham.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
I have no idea. Probably a non fiction book because I have a lot of encyclopedias.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I am a published short story writer and journalist. So maybe some day. I think I just need a big enough idea to make a full novel of rather than a short story.

12. When did you get into reading?
I started learning to read when I was 3 years old, and I haven’t stopped since.

13. What is your favourite classic book?
The entire Sherlock Holmes series.

14. In school what was your best subject?
Biology. I liked taking things apart. Also history and English literature.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do?
I would put it on “The Borrow Shelf”. It is a shelf in my library where I keep copies of books that I have doubles of or dont care much about. I loan those to people rather than risking lending my pretty copies to people.

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
No idea. This is a dumb question.

17. What is a bad habit you always do while blogging?
Lowkey blogging at work on my breaks, or getting distracted.

18. What is your favorite word?
Hodgepodge. It means a messy mixture of things. It is fun to say.

19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
Nerd. I read comics, cosplay, work in technology and love science fiction. So I am definitely a nerd.

20. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
FAIRIES! I am Irish! Never mess with Fairies.

21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Shapeshifters. Angles are a bit boring.

22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Spirits. I love ghost stories. I haven’t read a werewolf story that wasnt some sort of romantic Twi-shite inspired nonsense.

23. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Vampires. Zombies dont have personalities, but I suppose that is their point.

24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
None of the above.

25. And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action! I hate romance novels. They are usually unhealthy, boring and very unrealistic. I would rather have explosions.

Waiting for it Wednesday: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Book Synopsis:

“When a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favorite store clerk who must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey McGinty, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s back room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?”

Why I need it:

A mystery set in a bookshop, what more could you want?

I love books that are about books, writers or bookshops. I think it is because I am such a bookworm I love stories that are set in my own world. I can easily picture the sort of bookshop this novel is set in because my favourite bookshop has a back room that customers can easily walk into. A suicide in there is easy for me to visualise. And I was a bookseller myself once upon a time so that adds to the appeal of this novel. When you sell books you get to know your regulars very well.

I also have my usual reasoning for looking forward to this novel: I LOVE a good mystery. A novel like this I will fly through if it is well written because a good mystery novel reveals something in each chapter that raises more questions and keeps the reader hooked with that “just one more chapter” feeling. I hope this book delivers on that.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is scheduled for release on the 13th of June 2017

Waiting for Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Break the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases, and continued by Wishful Endings

Book Haul


I haven’t treated myself to books in months so I thought my new pile of books deserved a post to celebrate. Some of these books you will already know about because I have reviewed one or two of them and I have mentioned a few others in other posts.

I never buy books at their full price to encourage people of all budgets to read. So I will state where I found them all so you will know some of the best places to save some money.

Oh and I still haven’t unpacked my library so these books are all laying around my house. My life is a mess.

1. Various Goosebumps Books

Since I started a “Rereading Goosebumps” blog series you already know about these books. I found them all in a secondhand book shop for a grand total of 50p each. I plan on going back in the next few weeks and picking up more. Rereading these books is making me feel 9 years old again.

2. The Fireman by Joe Hill

I have been waiting so long for this book! It came out a few months ago but was poorly timed as I was in the process of buying a house so I couldn’t afford new books. I found this copy in Tesco last week for £3.75. Joe Hill is one of my favourite authors so when I saw it on sale I snatched it off the shelf.

What it is about:

“No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin.

But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.”

3. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Another book I have been after for a long time but had a poorly timed release date. This book was also impossible to find in any of my local bookshops for some reason. I am not normally one for YA fiction but I loved the Lunar Chronicles series and have been dying for Meyer to release more books. I have heard mixed reviews of this one so I am not quite sure what to expect. I picked up this copy from Easons for £5.

What it is about: 

“Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.”

4. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

This book was one of my Waiting for Wednesday books and on my Bout of Books to-read pile so clearly I really want to read it. I love a good mystery novel and Girl on the Train for me was a pretty decent one of those, so of course I want to read Hawkins next book. I am only 16 pages into it but I hope to get properly stuck in soon. I found my copy in Tesco for £7.

What it is about:

“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.”

5. Stephen King Collection

The black book at the side is a Stephen King collection. It contains Salem’s Lot, Carrie and The Shining in one handy volume. I am currently trying to reread a lot of King books and had been recommended Salem’s Lot but I didn’t own a copy of it. I think it was the only Stephen King book I didn’t own, so naturally I had to fix that. Stephen King books are generally easy to find so I went to my local secondhand bookshop and picked up this bind up for £2.50.

So what did you think of my first book haul? I will not be doing a lot of them but maybe I will share the occasional bundle of books I pick up. I am prone to raiding secondhand bookshops every few months and leaving with an armful or two.

Wrap Up: Bout of Books

Bout of Books is officially over. No more reading every moment of the day or daily updates on my constant failure to look forward to. It has been fun and certainly cleared a few books off my to-read pile.

I know I normally dont do wrap up posts on this blog. I think regular wrap ups are silly because they make reading seem like work and that you can’t be a reader unless you complete 100 books a month. I could rant on the topic all day but since this is a reading challenge I am forced to do a wrap up. So I am sorry for breaking my own rules.

So this is my final page and book count for Bout of Books 19:

Overall I read a grand total of 1,046 pages.

I finished:

  • The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
  • Say Cheese and Die! by RL Stine
  • Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

I also read:

146 pages of Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

26 pages of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I suppose I didn’t do too badly during this challenge even though the last three days were a complete loss. I am going to keep reading Into the Water and Dark Prophecy and hopefully I will get them finished this week.

Bout of Books will be back again in August so if you didn’t get a chance to take part this month there will be another one coming soon. Watch this space, I will keep you updated.

Did you take part in Bout of Books last week? How did you do?