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.

Waiting for Wednesday: Uncanny by David Macinnis Gill

Book Synopsis:

“In this chilling stand-alone novel by the acclaimed David Macinnis Gill, sixteen-year-old Willow Jane discovers she has the ability to stop time, and witnesses an ancient evil infiltrating her Boston neighborhood and hunting her friends and family. This original and sinister spin on gothic tradition will appeal to fans of Asylum, American Horror Story: Coven, and The Walking Dead.

You cannot wake the Shadowless when she sleeps within my bed. Kiss the lips of the Shadowless and the morning finds you dead.

When a bolt of lightning causes a Boston-wide blackout on her sixteenth birthday, Willow Jane doesn’t think anything of it—until she begins stopping time, until she comes face-to-face with her menacing familiar, until her sister disappears. But these aren’t the only strange and horrifying things to come out of the storm. An ancient witch named the Shadowless has awoken and escaped from her crypt, and she’s looking for revenge on Willow Jane’s family.” 

Why I need it:

Personally I don’t think there is enough YA horror out there so when I see a new release in that genre that looks promising it goes straight on my to read list.

Honestly this book had me when the synopsis said it was for “fans of Asylum, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead” because I love 2 out of those 3 things. I am probably the only person in the world who hasn’t seen an episode of Walking Dead. When it comes to American Horror Story though I am a bit of a junkie.

The summary of this book that reminds of the Mara Dyer series. Another dark book where a teenage girl finds herself having sudden unexplained powers with a horror element. The Mara Dyer series might have had a disappointing ending but I will still always love the first and second books of the trilogy.

That cover is also seriously pretty. It is simple and impactful. And as someone who works in design that font made up of tiny twigs is just eye candy for me.

An interesting idea wrapped in a genre I want to read more from, Uncanny is one release I am looking forward to finally getting my hands on.

Uncanny is scheduled for release on the 5th of September 2017

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

What is your favourite YA Horror novel? Maybe I will read and review it.

The Mid Year Freak Out – Book Tag!

Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2017

It will be hard for any book I read this year to knock Battle Royale off the top spot. I ADORED this book. It is probably one of my new all time favourite novels. Gory, gritty and an emotional rollercoaster. If you haven’t read it you really need to…as long as you have a high tolerance for violence that is. You can read my full review of it here.

Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year

I havent read many sequels this year, but I will always buy the new Rick Riordan books when they come out and they will always be labelled my favourite sequels because his books are always gold.

Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to

This is a non-fiction book that came out at the start of this year. Sadly due to being in the process of house buying I wasn’t able to buy it earlier in the year and I haven’t seen it for sale anywhere since. Typical.

Victorian’s Undone is a non-fiction book containing various odd facts about different famous Victorian bodies. I have a passion for anatomy, medical history and all things Victorian so this book sounds right up my street. I need it!

Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

This was one of my Waiting for Wednesday choices a few weeks ago and I am still infatuated with the idea of it. Meddling Kids is out in July and I plan to snatch it up the moment it hits the shelves.

You can read more about Meddling Kids here.

Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment

I had a few choices for this question but in the end I went for Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I have read worse books than this one this year but this book was so hyped up by other bloggers that it made the disappointment of reading it even greater. I had been looking forward to reading this book for over a year and when I finally did it was just boring and not scary at all. It had a few creative gory scenes but that is it. Nothing was explained, the characters were a bit flat and nothing was really solved in the end. An open ending works for some books but it didn’t work in this case.

Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year

To be honest I only read this book on a whim. I needed something short to read and I found The Birds in the library, so I gave it a chance. Long story short I was blown away. I had seen the film previously and wasn’t the biggest fan so I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. It reminded me of War of the Worlds as the characters were all normal and doomed. War of the Worlds is one of my favourite novels so if a book has a similar tone I will enjoy it if it is done well.

Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author

Jack Ketchum! I have read two books by him this year: The Girl Next Door and Red. I have added most of his bibliography to my to-read list on GoodReads and I plan on working my way through them this year. I love his style of realistic human based horror. His books are a bit upsetting but that just means they are written well enough to hurt you, A Lot.

You can read my review of Red here and my review of The Girl Next Door here.

Question 8 – Your new fictional crush

I don’t have one. I don’t get crushes on real life people let alone fictional ones. I am strange.

Question 9 – New favourite character

Apollo from the Trials of Apollo series. I know this series is on its second book and Apollo was also in the first one but I enjoyed him more this year with the second book. I think he got a lot more development in the second novel. Also to add to it, my boyfriend said Apollo reminds him of me personality wise and I am a bit of an egotist so….NEW FAVOURITE CHARACTER FOR ME because of course any character that reminds other people of me must be cool.

Question 10 – A book that made you cry

I dont cry over books or films. I am made of stone. But if you want the most upsetting book I have read this year The Girl Next Door takes that award. I have read a lot of books about people being tortured but this is probably the worst one so far.

Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy

This question is tricky because I read so many comics. I think my favourite series right now would be the current run of Spiderman and Deadpool. It is coming to an end for now and I will miss it because it has brought me so much joy. It is just fun and even though it is a silly series when it hits you with emotional moments it really hits you. I have also been reading this series with my boyfriend because I am a hardcore follower of the Spiderman comics and he is a hardcore follower of Deadpool comics, so this team up was the perfect series to read together. We enjoyed it so much that we are cosplaying the characters at a convention next week.

Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

This is a tv show but it still counts. I have been loving the television adaption of the American Gods novel. I am HUGE Gaiman fan and have read almost all of his books. I remember reading American Gods and thinking that it would make a great film but it was too long, it would be impossible to make a film adaption and keep everything in, so they would have to make a tv show. And then they did! I am also the only person I know in real life who has read the book so I have been enjoying watching my friends reactions to things and hearing their theories on what is going on.

Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year

For this one I pick So, I bought a library I mentioned it previously but my biggest achievement this year is that I bought my own house. Not only am I now a home owner now but it is a very large house with gardens and A LIBRARY. The post I made earlier in the year celebrating that fact should be in my top spot.

Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

I received this book as a Christmas present but it still counts as a book I received this year because it was delayed in the post so my mother couldn’t give it to me until January. It is a beautiful leather bound copy of Oscar Wilde’s works. I have mentioned it many times on this blog but Wilde is one of my favourite writers. I already own several collections of his works but my mother likes to buy be pretty copies of classics I love even if I already own 5 copies of the book already.

Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year

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.

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.

Dark Reads of the Month: May


This is a series that I started on Goth Amino in December and decided to add to my proper blog. It isn’t really a wrap up, I just read a pile of books (9 this month) and then pick out 3 of the darkest and most interesting. It gives me the chance to discuss and recommend classics or older books which might not get full reviews.

This month I had an accidental reading theme. I read a lot of books about people being kept locked up against their will or in situations they can’t escape. I don’t know what caused that theme, my to read pile just lined up that way. It was an intense month of reading.

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

This is a fiction novel based on the real life torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. A young girl and her sister are left in the care of a woman who locks her in the basement, beats her and tells neighbourhood children to abuse her.

This book was so upsetting that I had to take a break from reading for two days, and that is impressive because I’m not normally bothered by things I read. It was just so intense. It is hard to say you enjoyed a book about someone being tortured to death but this is a great book. Well written and atmospheric. I will warn you though, this book has ALL of the trigger warnings. Rape, torture, abuse, general very adult content, it is all there. So if you are easily upset maybe this isn’t the book for you. Maybe read the wiki page on the real crime so you know what you are in for.

Read my full review here

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

If you don’t know what this book is about I am going to do you a favour and not tell you. Rosemary’s Baby is pretty famous so I already knew everything about it when I started reading and  I feel like it ruined the ending for me, so that is why I am not telling you anything. Don’t even read the blurb because that contains spoilers too. If you know what this book is about please don’t be a twat and write spoilers in the comments.
I have read a few of Levin’s books now and  I think this one is my favourite. Since I refuse to give out spoilers I can’t say why. Levin just does a brilliant job with writing horror that takes place in a normal every day situation. It makes you wonder if things are real or not. This is the worst review because I refuse to spoil things. Just read Rosemary’s Baby and enjoy it. A bit of a warning, this book is very much a product of its time so some of the attitudes to things like marital rape are a bit worrying by today’s standards.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews


This is an American gothic horror novel about 4 children who are told to stay in the attic of a grand mansion for a few days so their mother can claim an inheritance, but 3 years later they are still there.

I discovered this book through Tea with Mermaids blog. She has great taste, go check her out. We disagree on this book though because I enjoyed it and she didn’t. I read a lot of upsetting literature so I was a bit more immune to this novel and its upsetting plot twists.

This is a book that has been banned in several places due to its content, and banned books are always fun to read. I have read a few books about people in this situation but this book stands out because I have never seen one set in a large mansion where the captives get nice clothes and gifts when they are not being horribly abused. It also packs plenty of plot twists and mystery which is just the cherry on top of an already great novel. This book contains incest, abuse and sexual themes. The incest is the reason why it has been banned.

Waiting for Wednesday: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Book Synopsis:

Mapping the Interior is a horrifying, inward-looking novella from Stephen Graham Jones that Paul Tremblay calls “emotionally raw, disturbing, creepy, and brilliant.”

Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.

The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you’d rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.”

Why I need it:

Firstly: This book probably has the prettiest cover I have seen on a new horror novel this year. (And I look at a lot of horror novel covers)

Secondly: Diversity is hard to find in horror fiction. When I read the premise I was interested. It reminded me of Coraline with all of the talk of doors, and I love Coraline, but when I found out it is written by a Native American and contains Native American characters it automatically went into my to-read list. I have never read a novel written by a Native American or containing Native American characters. (Unless you count Piper in the Rick Riordan books)

The problem with mainly reviewing horror and thriller novels is that you dont get to see a lot of diversity. Modern horror novels tend to focus on straight, suburban or small town, white Americans. I am normally not social justice preachy on here but I am not American or straight and I like reading varied narrations. The usual American stuff gets very same-y. This book seems like it might be different. Not only does the story sound decently creepy (because I hate the idea of undiscovered doors in my house) but also it adds some variety in a genre that is usually very set in its ways.

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

Do you know any diverse dark books? Feel free to leave any suggestions because I am always looking to expand my to-read list.