REVIEW: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Summary:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:

“Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.”

Review:

(Note: I have started adding links to the cover images in my reviews so you can add things to your GoodReads to-read list a little more easily) 

Is it possible to set a horror novel in IKEA? Apparently so.

This is a novel that has been on my radar for a long time. Every time I would search my library’s audiobook section for horror novels it would pop up. I was a little reluctant to read it. A horror novel set in a fictional version of IKEA sounded a little stupid, but then I had a change of heart. I went from finding it stupid to potentially brilliant. Could this idea be so daft that it works? Well, after reading it I can officially say, it does.

Horrorstör has all of the brilliant elements of the modern haunted house story but it is all set at night in a fictionalized version of IKEA. It is fast paced, has tons of creepy moments and doesn’t shy away from gory moments. It might be a little stereotypical at times but in a good way. I was expecting this book to read like a parody of the horror genre but it ended up being one of the better horror novels I have read this year.

I think one of my favourite things about Horrorstör is the characters. They are so relatable and recognizable. If you have worked in retail you have probably met at least one, if not all, of these characters before under different names as your co-workers. You have the girl who doesn’t want to be there, the middle aged single woman who LOVES her job and is very friendly, the uptight manager, the artsy 20-something girl with brightly coloured hair and the young 20-something nice guy. These are the people who are tasked with solving the mystery of what is happening in the store at night.

I loved this book so much that I am going to break my current book buying ban for it. I listened to the audiobook version of this novel but I have seen the physical copy online and it is designed to look like an IKEA catalog. That sounds amazing so I need my own copy.

Warnings:

Mild gore: Mostly broken bones and blood, mild horror.

Rating:

 

 

4 out of 5 Skulls

This is a solid horror novel and I think it would make a brilliant Halloween read if someone wanted a simple and fast paced creepy book. Lots of ghosts and threat, but nothing too offensive. An older teen or the usual YA reader could handle this one.

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Recipe: How to Make Realistic Blood Cocktails

I love the idea of blood cocktails, the more realistic the better, especially when it is coming into the Halloween season. So I did some research and a few experiments with my shiny new blender and I think I have created the most realistic blood cocktail possible, both in texture and in colour. You might have seen this already if you follow me on Instagram but this is the recipe. (Instagram: @Belle_and_books)

I enjoyed these this weekend while watching Interview with the Vampire with my best friend.

You will need:

-A Blender or smoothie maker. I used a smoothie maker

– Sieve

– Half a tin of cherry pie filling

– 2 tea spoons of vanilla extract

– Red food colouring (as much as needed) I used gel food colouring.

– 1 drop of yellow food colouring

– 2 tablespoons of Chocolate Syrup

– Spiced Rum (I used Captian Morgan’s) or Red Bull. This will either give your blood intoxicating or an energizing effect. I added 4 shots of Morgan’s to mine.

– 60 ml (a decent splash) of Coconut Water.

Interesting Fact:
Coconut water can be used as a replacement for saline solution in medical emergencies as it has a similar structure as blood plasma. Perfect for our fake blood.

These measurements will make 2 large wine glasses of blood.

Step 1:

Put the cherry pie filling, food colouring, chocolate syrup and vanilla extract into the blender and blend until you get a smooth and blood red paste.

Step 3:

Add a splash of Coconut Water to the paste and blend again. Make sure you do not water it down too much.

Step 4:

Add your mixer, whether that is alcohol or Red Bull. Remember you want to keep your blood a realistic consistency so do not make it too runny. Blend again. It should be the same thickness as a smoothie.

Step 5:

Once you are happy with how your blood tastes run the mixture through a sieve a few times until it is as smooth as possible. This will remove any remaining pieces of cherry.

Step 6:

Pour it into your serving glasses and place in the fridge to thicken up for an hour or two. When your guests arrive you can make it a tiny bit more realistic and pop it into the microwave for a few seconds to make it body temperature. Just make sure to use microwave safe glasses.

Happy drinking! And if you make these yourself make sure to tag me in your pretty gory photos. I would love to see them. Perfect for Halloween.

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.

 

Waiting for Wednesday: I am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Book Synopsis:

“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.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.”

Why I need it:

What is going on in this novel?! Why has outside been deleted?! What did these families do?!
All of these questions I need answers for.

I am a huge fan of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s writing. Let the Right One In is probably one of my favourite novels and definitely my favourite vampire novel. You can read my review of it here. So it is safe to say that I am looking forward to his newest book.

The concept of this novel sounds like something from a Stephen King novel. It almost reminds me of The Langoliers with it being about a group of people who suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world. Hopefully it won’t contain any of The Langoliers time-whimy plot nonsense because that was when that story reached the point of stupidity.

Will this book be another brilliant novel from a brilliant author? I guess we will have to see when it comes out.

I am Behind You is scheduled for release on September 7th 2017

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

Dark Reads of the Month: July

July was a mixed month for reading for me. I blame the sunshine. I read 6 books this month but none of them were books that I planned to read because I kept getting distracted by pretty short story collections and rereads. At least I had a great time.

I will have a few interesting new releases for you next month because Random House and a few other publishers have sent me a small pile of upcoming horror releases to read. I am sworn to silence about some them until the start of September. Just in time for my next Dark Reads of the Month. The rest will have to wait until October.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


I know I promised to read Cujo this month but I ended up rereading a different book about a killer dog instead. I am pretty sure I have read this book ten times already.

I picked this for this list because even though Sherlock Holmes is not a gothic character many of his stories contain elements that are found in gothic literature. It is like the plot of a gothic novel is happening around a non gothic character. If you haven’t checked out the Hound of the Baskervilles yet you need to. It is easy to follow even if you havent read any other Sherlock Holmes stories previously, as this was published when Sherlock was canonly “dead”, and secondly Doyle sucks at timelines. The stories are all over the place and some are even openly flashbacks.

Random fact: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was so bad at remembering his own story details that James Moriarty has a brother called James.

Some day I will stop being a living Sherlock Holmes ad, but this is not that day.

Dolly by Susan Hill


“The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn, lost and damp even in the height of summer. At Iyot Lock, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward are parked for the summer with their ageing spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meannesses appear simply spiteful, calculated to destroy Edward’s equanimity. But when spoilt Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life destroying, consequences for everyone.”

This was another reread. I didn’t really enjoy this book the first time I read it but I ended up loving it the second time around. I think when I first read it I was expecting more creepy horror but got gothic literature instead which I wasn’t in the mood for at the time. Sometimes you just need to come back to a book later with a different mindset. If you didn’t know already, Susan Hill is the writer of The Woman in Black.

The only real flaw that I found with Dolly is that it is billed as a ghost story but isn’t a ghost story at all. Yes it is horror but more in the usual vague gothic literature sense of horror. If you read a lot of gothic literature you will know the sort of vagueness I am talking about. A simple and enjoyable story about how someone’s internal ugliness will always find its way outside.

Travelling Bag by Susan Hill


I loved Dolly so much that I ended up reading a second Susan Hill book right after it.

The Travelling Bag is a collection of short gothic ghost stories and they are some of the best I that have read in a long time. I will admit that they are not the most inventive stories but they are sweet and simple. Sometimes you just need a straight to the post ghost story to flick through on a summer’s night or to add to your upcoming Halloween reading list.

One of the best things about Susan Hill’s writing is that her stories cover various time periods. Some stories are obviously set in the past, while others are more modern, and some are simply timeless with no obvious time period. My favourite story in the collection was Alice Baker. A ghost story set in a modern office work place. There is something special about a gothic story being set in modern times. They are usually all about old manor houses and people in billowy dresses, not an office building.

If you havent checked out Susan Hill books yet you are missing out.

So what was the best book you read this month? Leave me a suggestion I am always open.

As always feel free to add me on Goodreads  to keep up to date with what I am reading throughout the months, and follow me on Instagram @Belle_and_Books , where I post photos of whatever I am reading and my various adventures, like eating sandwiches in cemeteries. Seriously though…

…Cemetery Sandwiches.

A King Hater Reads King: The Shining

This might be a surprise to a lot of people but I hadn’t read The Shining before this month. I loved the film with Jack Nicholson but when it came to the book my view on King’s work has been seriously tainted so I just didn’t bother reading it even though I owned a copy. I have so say now that I regret not picking it up sooner. Was it a masterpiece? No. Was it one of the best King books I have read? Yes. I don’t think it is as good as Carrie or IT but I can say that is probably comes third on my very short list of enjoyable Stephen King books. So far that list consists of three books.

If you have been living under a rock and don’t know what The Shining is about already I will explain it to you. It is about a couple and their young son who spend the winter in the haunted and isolated Overlook Hotel. Madness and creepiness ensues. The kid is psychic and the husband is an ex alcoholic, because this is a Stephen King book and addicts and random psychic powers have to appear somewhere. At least they are done well in this one, probably because it is one of his earlier novels and he hasn’t started beating those dead horses to a pulp yet.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel was the atmosphere and the pacing. It was slower than most horror novels that I enjoy, and usually when King does slow he adds mountains of pointless waffle, but this time it was different. The slow pacing of The Shining was perfect and every trivial scene in it added something to the story, especially when it comes to the father, Jack, slowly loosing his mind.

That brings me to my second favourite part of this novel: Jack. Dear god, he is probably my all time favourite Stephen King character. He was beautifully written. You really feel his torment at times and when he starts going mad it is slow and gradual so at the start you are not sure if he is loosing it or he is just in a normal bad mood. I will admit though, I probably found him more comical than threatening most of the time. There were a few scenes were he was internally monologuing and I realised that this guy was just standing there starting at a snowmobile and ranting about how much he hates it for no reason. At one point he was monologuing about how much he hates disinfectant. This man was standing in a bathroom glaring at a sink while hating on disinfectant. It was hilarious.

I have one big negative point about this novel and that is the mother, Wendy. By the time I was half way through the novel I wanted to beat her with a hammer. Little things annoyed me about her thoughout the novel but the big turn off came around half way through. Answer me this, if you had a child who appeared to have been strangled by an unknown person and your husband openly admits to breaking the only radio that would let you call for help, what would you do? You would get mad, right? Not Wendy. She makes out with her husband instead and quickly gives up complaining about it. By the time Jack went mad I was rooting for him to kill her.

Overall The Shining was a good book and I would recommend it if you haven’t already read it. I will warn you that it is very different from the film so don’t go into it expecting bleeding elevators and creepy twins. It is more Psychological horror than ghost horror.

I am starting to think this King challenge is a bit too easy. I have read too many enjoyable novels while doing this challenge. To remedy that I am going to reread the novel that destroyed my love of Stephen King in the first place. I am going to reread Cujo.

TBR Spotlight: Japanese Horror & Thriller

I have been on a bit of a quest lately to find more diverse horror novels from around the world and this seemed like a perfect excuse to add lots of books to my to-read list from my favourite subgenre of horror and thriller: J-horror. I generally read A LOT of Japanese literature and I find that their darker novels can be atmospheric, creepy and chilling in ways you would never see in Western fiction. I might write a list of my favourite Japanese novels on a later date but for now, these are some of the ones I have recently added to my to-read pile.

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

About:
“In the spring of 1998, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Kouichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?”

Another is a horror manga series rather than a novel. I didn’t hear of it until a week ago and I have been interested in reading more horror manga lately so it automatically ended up on my GoodReads to-read list. I will probably start this one once I am finished reading Tokyo Ghoul.

(If you don’t know what manga are, they are simply Japanese graphic novels.)

Goth by Otsuichi

About:
“Someone had taken apart her body in the forest. Her eyes, tongue, ears, thumbs, organs–each was nailed to a tree.

One tree had, from top to bottom: the left big toe, the upper lip, the nose, and the stomach. Another had other bits of her arranged like Christmas tree decorations.

The murder was soon the talk of the nation…

Psychologically twisted and emotionally wrenching, this compelling story takes Japan’s horror tradition to a whole new level of fear.”

I saw this novel on a few lists of diverse horror reads and was drawn to both the title and the dramatic cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but this one is so monochrome you can’t help but look at it. The blurb of this novel sounds very grim and disturbing but I tend to look for that in books, especially Japanese ones. I would say that I am weird and apologise, but you are reading my horror blog, you should expect this sort of book taste by now.

Auto Fiction by Hitomi Kanehara

About:

“Rin is flying back from her honeymoon. She’s madly in love with her husband, Shin, and the future looks rosy. Then Shin disappears to the bathroom while he thinks Rin is sleeping and she starts to imagine that he has gone to seduce the flight attendant. As her thoughts spiral out of control the phrase ‘madly in love’ takes on a more sinister meaning.

Prizewinning author Hitomi Kanehara’s sensational novel, Autofiction, follows Rin’s life backwards through time from this moment so that we see her when she is eighteen, sixteen and finally fifteen, and a picture of the dark heart and violent past of this disturbed young woman gradually develops.”

This is more of a thriller novel than a horror novel. I discovered this book when it appeared in my GoodReads recommendation list after I read Battle Royale recently. Battle Royale was so good that I naturally added books suggested because of it to my to read pile. Also I love books about stalkers and I haven’t read one about a “madly in love” woman before.

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

About:

“Six Four. The nightmare no parent could endure. The case no detective could solve. The twist no listener could predict.

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

For the 14 years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as Six Four. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case.

He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.”

A best selling thriller novel that is starting to pick up popularity all over the world. Usually I have to buy Japanese novels online but I have seen this one for sale in shops here in Ireland. I plan to snatch it up soon and get reading. I haven’t read a book about a missing child in a long time so I am excited for it.

The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

About:

“The Summer of Ubume is the first of Japan’s hugely popular Kyogokudo series, which has 9 titles and 4 spin-offs thus far.

Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji, the title’s hero, is an exorcist with a twist: he doesn’t believe in ghosts. To circumnavigate his clients’ inability to come to grips with a problem being their own, he creates fake supernatural explanations–ghosts–that he the “exorcises” by way of staged rituals. His patients’ belief that he has vanquished the ghost creating their problems cures them.

In this first adventure, Kyogokudo, must unravel the mystery of a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and find her husband, who disappeared two months into the pregnancy. And unravel he does, in the book’s final disturbing scene.”

An Umbume is the ghost of a woman who died while while pregnant they normally appear holding their dead baby or care for living children they find. They are one of my favourite ghosts from Japanese folklore so naturally I wanted to read this book once I saw the title. I also badly need to know what the “final disturbing scene” is that is mentioned in the blurb.

Have you read any of the books mentioned above? If so let me know what you thought of them. Or suggest a diverse and dark book to help me with my quest. They don’t have to be horror or thriller, they can just be on the dark side.