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.

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Can I Read 24 Books in a Month?

A Quick Reading Challenge Update:

So at the start of this year I decided to set myself a reading target of 100 books. My mother dared me to do it because I read 75 books last year easily. And the challenge hasn’t gone very well. It is now November and I have to read 24 books before the end of the year. And lets not forget, Christmas isn’t exactly the best time for reading. It is when everyone suddenly wants to socialise.

So, can I get 24 books read before the end of the year? I doubt it.

I decided to write a little post about this because I thought it would be fun to keep you all updated on my progress. Lets see if I can manage to read almost a book a day for the next month. It sounds impossible.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

 

5 Reasons Why I Love Horror Novels

This post was inspired by a comment from Beware of the Reader   on my 5 Reasons Why I Blog post last week. She isn’t a fan of horror but was interested in why I found it, not only enjoyable, but enjoyable enough to spend my time reading and reviewing horror novels. Yes, I also review thriller and generally dark novels but horror seems to be the marmite of book genres and the one I get asked about the most. People either love it or hate it, but I don’t think it is possible to hate an entire genre, there is always something for everyone.

So let me try to convince you by explaining why I love the horror genre.

1. Human Monsters

In my experience the best horror novels do not have an entirely supernatural villain. A human villain or a villain with human motives makes the novel relateable. It makes it scary. Human villains are the worst because they could actually exist, or in the case of many “based on a true story” novels like The Girl Next Door, they did actually exist. Ghosts, ghouls and all things creepy are brilliant but there is nothing scarier than a human monster.

2. The Atmosphere

Have you ever spent a cold, dark night with a storm rattling around outside reading a creepy book? No? Then you are missing out. I think as a reader you haven’t truly lived until you have read Frankenstein, Dracula, Poe or some other classic horror novel during a thunderstorm. It is even better if you do it by candle light.

So next time the weather is awful gather your blankets, pick up a classic horror novel, get a cup of tea, curl up and get reading. Also open the window a little so you can hear the storm better. It is one of the best reading experiences.

3. Something For Everyone

People tend to think of horror as a one track pony but that isn’t true at all.

Don’t like ghosts and supernatural things? Ok, find a horror novel based around regular people. Not comfortable with gore? Fine! Research your novel a bit to see if you can handle it or read a psychological horror. Easily scared? Easy! Read a YA horror or find a book about something that doesn’t scare you.

There are so many different ways to frighten someone so naturally the horror genre has a large variety of fears to choose from. I think a perfect example of this is the short story collection Dark Water. The entire collection is based around the theme of water and covers every possible fear with just water being featured somewhere in the story.

I plan to write guide someday to help people find the right horror novel with recommendations of course.

4. The Backstories

My favourite part of anything horror related is the backstory. What made all of the events happen? What horrible thing is the driving source behind the characters and the story? The explanation is always my favourite. There is usually a brilliant flashback or a plot twist thrown in. I love it and it keeps me hooked.

Also what I don’t understand is that I have seen so many people write “why I love YA/Fantasy/dystopian” lists and have a point on their list about loving the dark moments, and then on another post saying they hate horror. Clearly you don’t hate horror. You are just turning down an entire genre of that thing you just said you love. Maybe you just haven’t found the right book.

5. Morbid Curiosity

Have you ever read a story in the news that is tragic and terrible but find yourself wondering what exactly happened? Sure you will get the jist of it in the news but you just want the gory details. This is what drew me to the world of horror in the first place.

My introduction to the horror genre was when I watched the 1931 Frankenstein film as a small child. My grandfather made horror film props so the only thing to watch in his house was Hammer and Universal horror films. I don’t know how many of you have seen it but there is a scene in Frankenstein were the monster meets a little girl and they spend time throwing flowers into water and watching them float. They run out of flowers and the monster picks up the little girl and throws her into the water to see if she would float like the flowers. She drowns. This scene filled 5 year old me with so much curiosity, so much so that it stuck in my head forever. I learned two things: A little girl like me can die (something which had never occurred to me before) and the monster that did it wouldn’t understand what it did. The monster was innocent. I loved it so much that the following Halloween I dressed up as the Bride of Frankenstein.

I think when it comes to scary stories, especially those with characters similar to ourselves, we can relate so much we end up hooked. It makes us address our own mortality or our own humanity if we relate to the villain.

So these are my reasons for loving the horror genre. Tell me your favourite genre below or, if you are a fan of horror, tell me why you love it. Or heck, tell why you don’t like horror novels. I would love to read your reasons.

Q&A Questions? Hitting 300 Followers

This blog is very close to hitting 300 followers. We are not quite there yet, but thank you all for taking such an interest in my blog.  My wonderful followers and the book blogging community keep this place interesting.

I plan on celebrating hitting the 300 follower milestone by doing a little Q&A once the number hits 300.

So, send me your questions! Whether it be about books, blogging or anything else you think of, ask away. Either by commenting on this post or sending me them on Instagram (@belle_and_books).

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons Why I Blog

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the brilliant Bionic Bookworm. Check her out if you are not following her already.

I apologise in advance if I get a little ranty on this topic. I have a lot of feelings behind book blogging. I also apologise if I seem a little mean to the YA genre. I love it really. I just have a lot of feelings about blogging. It’s ok to like popular things, they are popular for a reason.

1.The Lack of Horror Book Blogs

Once upon a time I was a regular book blogger, some of you who have been following me for a while might remember that phase, I posted the same style of posts as everyone else, read the same cheesy YA as everyone else and even used selfies where I tried to look “normal”, but then I got bored.

I was in the mood to read something creepy and scary but no matter how many popular book blogs or booktube accounts I visited I just found the same books everywhere. Everyone read the same books and with the exception of a small handful I couldn’t find any horror novel recommendations. Sure, booktubers had some but they all read that exact same ones, probably ones they had been paid to flog to everyone in October. I was bothered, and the more I thought about it the more I realised that as a book blogger I was only reading what I was being told to read. I didn’t read any classics, except for a small handful, I didn’t know where to start when it came to finding a good horror book to satisfy my urges, but damn I knew the names of probably 100 chosen one, love triangle filled YA dystopian fantasies. Something had to change.

So…I changed my blog. I became a book blog for all things creepy, kooky and ever so ooky, and I haven’t looked back. I now blog to fill that gap that exists in the book blogging world.

Also it lets me be myself a little more. I am a generally creepy person who listens to 80s goth rock and wears black 90% of the time.

By the way, if you have been following me long enough to remember my “normal” phase let me know, you deserve a shout out for putting up with me for this long.

A long time ago this skull infested place was pastel!

2. To Rant

The main reason why I started book blogging in the first place was to rant about books I hate. I read a book that made me really mad, so much so that I built a blog just to complain about it. I am pretty sure that book was Divergent. I am not sorry. I love writing positive reviews but it is more fun to write reviews or posts dripping with sarcasm.

3. To Help Others

Like I said in my first point, my current blog was born out of a hunt for a decent horror novel to read so I want to save others the hassle and give them a blog full of dark and spooky recommendations. This is why I read and review Halloween and horror themed books for children. Everyone knows a child who loves vampires and witches, whether it be all year round or just on Halloween, so I want to help parents find perfect reading material for them.

This is also why I give warnings for every book I review. I know people don’t like reading about certain things so I like to give everyone a heads up if anything potentially upsetting is in a book.

4. To Support the Genre

When was the last time you noticed a horror section in a bookshop that was more than 1 bookcase and wasn’t half fantasy? Exactly.

This is another reason why I run a horror themed blog. The genre just isn’t popular any more. In fact the horror section in my local bookshop was taken away to be replaced by more YA shelves. That’s right, Poe, Bram Stoker, Shelley, they were all pushed aside for The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent.

Don’t get me wrong I love me some YA but back when I was considering the future of this blog I watched my favourite authors being removed and was told by a book shop employee that they just weren’t popular any more. My favourites were shoved in a forgotten bookcase in a far off corner in the shop that you have to go on a quest to find.

I want to shine a light on those forgotten books.

5. It is Fun

Book blogging is fun! The community is awesome, the tags are fun and you constantly have an excuse to buy more books. I might complain about it sometimes but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it.

 

Anything but Books Tag

I saw this tag on Kiersten @ Once Upon a Spine’s blog and it looked like a lot of fun so I decided to give it a go. Check out Kiersten’s blog if you are not following her already. Her answers are pretty cool.

NAME A CARTOON THAT YOU LOVE 

Adventure Time! I usually don’t watch western cartoons and I can be fussy about animation quality but for some reason I make an exception for this show. Honestly, I only started watching it because small children kept calling me Marceline. I had to be in on the joke.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG RIGHT NOW?

Right now it is probably Release the Bats by The Birthday Party or Common People by Pulp. I mostly listen to 80s music.

WHAT COULD YOU DO FOR HOURS THAT ISN’T READING?

Antiquing and thrifting. I have a passion for history and vintage fashion so naturally this leads to me spending entire days hunting through vintage clothing shops and antique shops for things to beautify both myself and my home with. I am also on a constant hunt for old band t-shirts.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU LOVE TO DO THAT YOUR FOLLOWERS WOULD BE SURPRISED BY? 

I cook. A lot. I am a bit of a foodie and when I am not having food adventures in restaurants I am cooking the dishes I cannot find in restaurants so I can try them.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE, UNNECESSARILY SPECIFIC THING TO LEARN ABOUT? 

19th century history, specifically the Victorian underworld, crime and medical practices. And Queen Victoria’s pet Pomeranians.

WHAT IS SOMETHING UNUSUAL YOU KNOW HOW TO DO? 

I know how to remove all of the gory parts off a skull. …I am friends with a lot of taxidermists, and used to work in a morgue, you pick things up.

NAME SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE MADE IN THE LAST YEAR. 

Does my house count? I bought a house recently so all of my DIY energy has been going into that. My bedroom is my favourite room so far.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST RECENT PERSONAL PROJECT? 

Right now I am currently building my own library. I want it to have a Victorian or steampunk theme so it is taking a lot of time and a lot of money. I will share photos when it is done, I promise.

TELL US  SOMETHING THAT YOU THINK OF OFTEN. 

My D&D character. I have only started playing and when I get bored at work I tweak or add things to his backstory in my head. I could probably write a book about this guy by now.

TELL US SOMETHING THAT’S YOUR FAVORITE, BUT MAKE IT ODDLY SPECIFIC. 

Red food. It is weird but if something is red I will be convinced that it will taste nicer than any other food of a different colour.

…Maybe the children are right, I am Marceline…

I tag anyone who wants to do this tag. Let me know if you do because I want to read them all.

Life Updates: Cats and Discount Skulls

I had a big list of book related post ideas but then I realised that I haven’t just spoken to you guys in a while. So…Hi! Hows it going? Good? Good.

So what have I been up to? Well I have some new skulls!

Over  the last month or so I have been doing some skull buying experiments. You might recognise the human skull from photos that appear on this blog and my Instagram (@Belle_and_books), so he isn’t new, but the two next to him are my two skull buying experiments.

The human skull is called Fred by the way. It is also the name of the skull who is littered all over this blog.

I was inspired by the Youtube series Gothic Homemaking and their episodes on skulls and taxidermy to do some of my own shopping around. Which would look better, a fake resin skull or a real taxidermy skull? So I set out to find one of each. The bird skull I found in an oddities market and was being sold by a vegan taxidermist who sources all of her dead animals ethically. She was someone I went to school with so she cut me a deal since the bird’s beak was a little damaged. (You can follow the taxidermist and all of her morbid works on Instagram at @FeralWitchJewellery tell her I said hello) The cat skull isn’t as interesting. I bought it from Amazon for £5. It is entirely fake. I cant decide which I like better but the cat skull is a little more sturdy because you know…bird bones are small.

In bigger and more exciting news: This Sunday, as in two days from now, I AM GETTING A CAT!

A little black kitten is rolling into my life on the first of October. She is a 9 week old rescue cat who I have affectionately named Mort. And before you ask, yes that is a Terry Pratchett reference. I pity any mice that wander into my house in the future because I have a cat who is somewhat called death.

I have been wanting a cat for years and now I am properly settled into my new home my partner and I decided that it was finally time to get the cat that I have always wanted. We went to a shelter last weekend where we were shown their newest arrivals; a cage of black kittens who had recently been in foster care. They had been left at the shelter in a box with no mother when they were very tiny so they had to be raised by a foster. This means that Mort will forever be a house cat because she had no mummy to teach her cat stuff.

I think the people at the shelter were a little biased because they had other new kittens who were different colours but she took one look at me and steered us toward the black cats. Aw well, I wanted a black one anyway. We picked her over her siblings because while I was talking to the shelter staff she reached out of her cage and kept grabbed my long black cardigan. I think she adopted me a little bit.

Maybe I will write another update post about the day I go to collect her. Lately I have been busy stocking up on kitten toys and supplies.

Now I am off to take a shower while I waiting on a pizza to arriving at my house. Have a good evening and if you have a cat give me some cat parenting tips, I will need them.

Also if you want to know what I am up to when I am not blogging about books or you want to follow my library unpacking process follow me on Instagram @Belle_and_books because I kinda live there, or check out my GoodReads to see what I am currently reading.

Oh and if you are in a morbid, possibly Halloweeny mood, I recommend checking out Ask a Mortician on Youtube. I have been watching her videos all day.