TBR Spotlight: Christmas Edition

It is only 10 days until Christmas! I finally have all of my Christmas shopping done so now I can enjoy the holiday season. Christmas is my second favourite holiday after Halloween. Who doesn’t like presents and an excuse to eat until you explode?

you-never-knew-how-pretty-halloween-christmas-could-look-together

I was originally going to do a Top 5 Holiday Reads but it has been a long time since I have done a TBR spotlight and I have added so many pretty Holiday reads to my list this week I thought I would share them with you. A lot of these books are either set during Christmas or have a beautiful wintery setting. Perfect for this time of year.

Links to the books are included in the cover images so you can add them to your own TBR list.

The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice

The_Wolves_of_Midwinter_Cover.jpg

Summary of The Wolf Gift:
“The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.

A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.

As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.” 

This book is a sequel to Anne Rice’s werewolf series, The Wolf Gift Chronicles. I haven’t read the first one yet but I am a huge fan of her Vampire Chronicles series so I know I will probably enjoy it. It has been a very long time since I read anything with werewolves in it so I am pretty excited to get started on this series. This second book in the series, The Wolves of Midwinter, is set entirely during the Christmas period so I plan on getting stuck into the first and second books before Christmas rolls around.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

19581.jpg

“For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past — and get away with murder.”

A thriller novel with ghosts and set during winter? Sign me right up! Maybe it is just the cover but this book conjures the image of four men held up together during a snowstorm being tormented by their past.  Just the story of story you need to scare yourself with on a dark winter night.

Christmas Spirits by Charles Dickens419dEzSJhIL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

“This elegant edition gathers seven spirited Yuletide fables by Charles Dickens. The heartwarming tales tell of people rescued from their own folly by mysterious strangers — including goblins, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures.” 

Did you know that Charles Dickens wrote Christmas stories other than A Christmas Carol? Well he did, and just like A Christmas Carol they are just as odd and supernatural. I have a personal tradition of reading A Christmas Carol every year so I love the idea of adding more Dickens stories to my Christmas reading list.

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse6450212.jpg

“By the author of the “New York Times”-bestselling “Labyrinth,” a story of two lives touched by war and transformed by courage.

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution to the horrors of World War I, Freddie is traveling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation. 

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic, centuries-old mystery, and discovered his own role in the life of this remote town.”

I know very little about this book but I have heard it is brilliant, beautiful and a wonderful ghost story. I like a good winter ghost story so naturally it ended up straight on my to read list. I haven’t read any of Kate Mosse’s writing before but I have seen her first novel, Labyrinth everywhere.

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom517ojcjfCwL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

“Acclaimed author and artist Brom raised eyebrows and pulse rates with The Child Thief, his grim, brilliantly audacious, gorgeously illustrated reimagining of the Peter Pan legend. So what does this innovative fantasist do for an encore? He tinkers darkly with the beloved mythology of Santa Claus. Set in Appalachia, Krampus the Yule Lord is a twisted fairytale about a failed West Virginia songwriter who gets ensnared on Christmas Eve in an eternal war between a not-so-saintly Saint Nick and his dark enemy Krampus, aka Black Peter, an ancient trickster demon. Krampus the Yule Lord is Gregory Maguire (Wicked) meets Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) in the realm of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, as Clive Barker (Mr. B. Gone) works his dark sorcery from the shadows. Once again featuring Brom’s chillingly beautiful artwork throughout, Krampus the Yule Lord is a feast of wonder straight from the kitchen of Sweeney Todd.”

Krampus!! I need to read this book so badly. Brom is one of those authors I have been dying to read books from but I can never seem to find his work anywhere. It is a bit odd. I might treat myself after Christmas and order a copy of this book and The Child Thief from Book Depository.

If you don’t know already, Krampus is the anti Santa in folklore. He is a trickster who punishes bad children by either hitting them with sticks or kidnapping them to eat later. You should look into Christmas folklore, some of it is amazingly dark. Google Perchta if you don’t believe me.

Have you read any of the books mentioned above? If so let me know what you thought of them.

Advertisements

ReReading Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask

“Face to Face with a Nightmare…

How ugly is Carly Beth’s Halloween mask? It’s so ugly that it almost scared her little brother to death. So terrifying that even her friends are totally freaked out by it. It’s the best Halloween mask ever. It’s everything Carly Beth hoped it would be. And more. Maybe too much more. Because Halloween is almost over. And Carly Beth is still wearing that special mask…”

We are back on the Goosebumps nostalgia train with a story we probably should have covered at Halloween, The Haunted Mask.

I hate to admit it but I don’t remember reading this one as a kid. I remember the merchandise. Those voice changing creepy masks that were all over the place in the 90s. They were pretty cool, and unlike the real mask in the story, they came off.

The idea of a Halloween mask that refuses to come off is quite scary. Imagine how claustrophobic that would feel, especially if it is one of those full head covering rubber masks. It would get stuffy, warm and suffocating. If this was an adult novel you could probably play those points up very well, but this is a novel for primary school children so it isn’t scary at all. I don’t even think it would be scary for children, unless a child had a particular fear of things covering their face.

The idea of this book was fun but I can say this is probably the least enjoyable Goosebumps book I have read so far. The main character was a cowardly brat and everyone else in the story was a bit obnoxious. I actually felt sorry for the antagonist who sold her the mask because I would have given that brat a cursed mask to teach her a lesson. The main characters in Goosebumps books are supposed to be relatable so I guess this book was written for the brats of the world.

Even with a bratty main character this book would still be a fitting read for most young children. It is fairly short, an easy read and not scary in the slightest. It is just the right level of creepy to make it a typical Goosebumps novel. Also the whole story takes place on Halloween night so maybe put it away for a festive read next year.

So, do you remember reading The Haunted Mask when you were a kid? What Goosebumps book gave you nightmares as a kid?

Reads of the Month: November

Can you believe it is December already??

I had a pretty good reading month in November. I read 6 books. Most of which are not relevant to this blog, but I will say this, if you haven’t read The Hobbit go do it.  I am having a bit of a Tolkien reread. Blame D&D.

So anyway, my top three picks for Dark Reads of the Month are…

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

The Orient Express is stranded in the snow and a man is found stabbed to death in a bath tub onboard. Detective Poirot has until the snow clears to solve the case.

This is the first Agatha Christie book I have ever read, and even though I solved the case myself only a few chapters in I still enjoyed it. It was darker than I expected, with backstories involving a child murder and of course the dead body in the bath tub.

This is a bit of a stereotypical murder mystery but those stereotypes have to come from somewhere, and Christie started most of them. I am not sure if I will read more of her books but as a fan of detective stories this was very enjoyable. If you like crime novels this would be a perfect quick and fun read.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Heathers meets The Exorcist. Abby has noticed that her best friend is acting a little strange. She smells, is suddenly cruel and looks very sickly. Could her friend be possessed?

I absolutely LOVED this book. Set in the 1980s, My Best Friend’s Exorcism reads like your typical 80s teen movie with a side of horror thrown in. Even the chapter titles are the names of 80s songs.

This book also isn’t very scary so if you are easily scared maybe check out this horror novel. I will warn you though, it can be pretty gross in parts due to the whole exorcism thing. If you have seen a film with possession in it you will know what I am talking about. It also has sexual moments, animal cruelty and general 80s attitudes to things.

You can read my full review here. 

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang is 10 years old and a vampire. She lives with her parents in monster town (basically diet Halloween Town) and has regular adventures with her friends who are also monsters like her. One day a spoiled prince visits her parents’ house and takes her pet pumpkin, Squashie, from her. Amelia has to come up with a plan to get Squashie back.

It has been a long time since I read a children’s novel but I bought this book around Halloween and it had bright orange pages so it magically ended up in my shopping basket.

This was a pretty cute read. It was very simple and clearly meant for child readers. It wasn’t like other children novels that throw in references or cleverness for adult readers. It was a simple kids’ story about a little vampire and her pumpkin. It even had a pretty decent anti-racism and “don’t judge people who are different” subplot to it. The art work is adorable too because it is fully illustrated.

I might not pick up more Amelia Fang books for myself in the future but if I had kids I would happily give them this to read. Perfect reading for tiny people who are discovering books with chapters.

You can read my full review here 

What was the best book you read this month?

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

REVIEW: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Summary:

From GoodReads.com:

“Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act…different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?”

Review:

Heathers meets The Exorcist.

I have fallen in love with Grady Hendrix’s writing. Earlier this year I read his other novel, Horrorstor, and thought it was amazing so naturally I had to pick up his second novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Was it as good as Horrorstor? Yes! In fact it was even better.

The book had all of the charm of an 80s teen movie but with the edginess of a horror film thrown in. Even with the horror aspect this book wasn’t scary, it was just simply enjoyable. It was funny when the moment called for it, it was creepy in just the right places, and all of the characters felt so very familiar. I am starting to think that is a trend with Hendrix’s writing, if you don’t relate to the characters you will know someone like them in real life which makes his novels very realistic, even if it is a high school drama involving exorcism.

I think my favourite part of the story was the friendship between the two main characters. You really felt for Abby while she was desperately trying to save her friend. There is no main romance in the story, it simply focuses on friendship and the power of it. That is brilliant.

Also this was my first time seeing an exorcism in a book. I studied exorcisms in school (I went to an odd school) so it was interesting seeing a topic I knew about being played out in a novel. It was done really well and made for very fast paced reading.

This is the perfect novel for anyone who loves teen dramas, 80s movies and just wants a little touch of horror thrown in.

Warnings:

Attempted suicide, drug use, rape references (no act, just discussion), sexual references, animal cruelty, gore and crude moments. For YA Readers and Adults.

Rating:

 

 

         4 out of 5 Skulls

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.com. You are missing out if you haven’t read this book yet. If you are a fan of films like Heathers or The Breakfast Club this is the book for you.

If you have read My Best Friend’s Exorcism let me know what you thought of it or link me to your own review. I would love to read it. Or, if you haven’t read it, tell me your favourite song from the 80s. I want music suggestions. This book has put me in the mood for some 80s music.

Also don’t forget, I am still open to questions for my upcoming 300 Follower Q&A.

ARC REVIEW: I AM BEHIND YOU By John Ajvide Lindqvist

Synopsis:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:

“A supernatural superthriller from the author of Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.”

Review:

Creepy, disturbing and confusing, I am Behind You is a novel that will keep you guessing.

When I first heard of this novel I automatically thought of one of the first Stephen King stories I read and that was The Langoliers. The Langoliers was a bit of a bust to me personally but I still liked the idea of a group of strangers waking up to find themselves suddenly cut off from the rest of the universe, so I hoped that this book would give me what The Langoliers was missing. Did it deliver on that front? Heck yes it did. In spades.

Not only did this book actually have the twist I wanted to see in The Langoliers but it also had something else, a creep factor. While Stephen King focused more on the human element with The Langoliers and that fell into a pile of nonsense at the end, I Am Behind You gives you both them human and supernatural element of horror. The characters start seeing freakish creatures and figures and they get increasingly worse and more horrifying as the book goes on.

The only real issue I found with this novel was the changing view points. Normally I am fine with a novel that changes character perspective but this book did it constantly. It meant that I found myself getting one or characters confused because they were similar.

I would say that this would make a great Halloween read. If you don’t want ghosts, and ghouls, but you want a disturbing adult novel that will get you thinking I would suggest picking this one up.

I Am Behind You is scheduled for release on the 7th of September. 

Rating:

 

 

3 out of 5

This is a pretty solid three out of five. I enjoyed this novel a lot but I dont feel quite right giving it four starts for some reason.

 

ARC REVIEW: Charlotte Says by Alex Bell

Summary:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:
“The much-anticipated prequel to the bestselling FROZEN CHARLOTTE, a Zoella Book Club title in Autumn 2016.
Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night.

Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes.”

Review:

Creepy dolls, ghost children and needles in eyeballs, what else would you want from a horror novel?

I read the first book Frozen Charlotte earlier this year and I was left dying for a prequel. I needed to know more about these creepy dolls. Where did they come from? Why did they want to kill people? Did I get what I wanted? Yes and no.

I got my prequel and it was just as creepy as I expected, but at the same time it was just a more detailed writing of events that were mentioned in passing in the first book. I enjoyed that but I would have liked a few more new things thrown in. That is the only negative thing I found about it. Other than that it was a brilliant read.

Even if a lot of it was a rehash of events mentioned in the last novel the book did have one new thing that made it stand out: A scary ghost. Yes the dolls are frightening but in this book there is also a ghost who visually is frightening. I am not easily scared but I wouldn’t want to see this ghost in person. I am not going to give spoilers, but ghosts who have their expression frozen like a death mask, especially when their death was horrible, are chilling. Imagine choking to death and your face being stuck like that forever. A pleasant image? No. Stuff of nightmares.

Also unlike the original book this novel contained a very realistic romance. I am not normally one for romance in novels but when it is realistic and isn’t getting in the way of the plot I can happily enjoy it. It was kept very to the side and was rather mature for the main romance in a teen novel and those traits made it rather sweet. If you aren’t big on romance you can enjoy this one without the annoying YA style love tropes being shoved in your face the whole time.

Warnings:

Will frighten younger readers, horror, threat, gore, animal cruelty and abuse.

Rating:

4 out of 5

I LOVED this book almost as much as I loved the first one. I would happily say that an adult would enjoy this simple horror read if they wanted something quick to fill an upcoming October night with. The perfect addition to anyone’s Halloween to-read list, but I would say, read the first book first, but that is just common sense.

REVIEW: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Synopsis:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:
“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.”

Review:

This book had so much potential. I was excited for it, I enjoyed the writer’s previous work and it had no shortage of good ideas. In the end I was left disappointed. I was so disappointed that I got three quarters of the way through it and decided to just skip ahead to read the big “who done it?” reveal you get at the end of every mystery novel, because I can’t leave a mystery unsolved even if the book is disappointing.

The main downfall I found was the characters. It was hard to care about any of them. That makes it hard to get into a book if everyone is your cardboard cut out, mystery novel trope character. Girl on the Train had those elements but it did them well and you ended up caring about the characters and what happened to them. This wasn’t the case with this book.

Another issue I had was the narration. This book was written in the same format as Girl on the Train: a mystery novel told from different perspectives. This can work well. It adds layers to the story and you can see the same mystery from different perspectives. It might have been done well in that novel but in Into the Water that style fell short for one big reason: There were too many point of view characters! We heard EVERYONE’S perspective. I am surprised there wasn’t a chapter dedicated to what a random cat’s thoughts on the whole thing. That and the fact that few of the characters were memorable made for a confusing read. I am normally perfectly fine with books that change character perspective but the fact that some of the characters were boring and non memorable made it hard to remember who was who in the story.

I doubt I will rush to read a Hawkins book again after this one. It might not have been the worst book in the world but it was such a default, dull mystery novel that it just left me disappointed and bored. I had to force myself to read it every day.

Warnings:

Strong language at times. Sexual references.


Rating:

2 our of 5

There was nothing overtly offensive about this book but overall it was just a snooze fest.