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

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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

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“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.

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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?

Reading 23 Books in a Month? (Week 1 wrap up & week 2 TBR)

black-cat-clipart-halloween-hanging-bat-10It is week 2 of my attempt to read 23 books in a month.

If you dont know already: I was challenged to read 100 books this year and life got in the way so I fell horribly behind in my reading. Now to beat the challenge I have to read almost a book a day for a month.

It has been bloody good reading week this week, and if you cant tell by my little bat friend, I have been playing with Photoshop again. He needs a name! What will I call reading bat?

The Wrap Up

This week I finished a grand total of 7 books!

That sounds scarily impressive until you find out that a lot of them were graphic novels. I am using this week to catch up on my Marvel and DC graphic novels because I am behind.

I finished:

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien

As I mentioned in my last reading challenge update, I am currently in a huge Middle Earth mood so I have decided to reread all of The Lord of the Rings. I did plan to finish all three this week but I got a little busy so I will have to finish them next week. I am currently half way through The Two Towers.

If you haven’t read Lord of the Rings yet you should. Also I am pretty sure you have been living under a rock if you havent read Lord of the Rings.

Goth Girl and The Sinster Symphony by Chris Riddell

I have mentioned this series quite a few times on this blog. Goth Girl is a children’s series that is wonderfully addictive and full of Chris Riddell’s beautiful illustrations. I am so hooked on it that I now pick up new Goth Girl books every time they come out.

To read my review of the first Goth Girl book click here

Batman No Man’s Land Volume 3

I originally planned to read all of the volumes I own of No Man’s Land but I ended up procrastinating by reading other comics instead.

This is a very popular Batman story arc, and is considered one of the classic, must-read Batman arcs if you are a fan of the dark knight. I enjoyed this volume particulary because some of my favourite characters made more of an appearance, namely the extended Bat-family.

Loki: Agent of Asgard volumes 1-3

I may have read this entire comic series in 2 days. I ended up a bit addicted.

I have been planning on reading these graphic novels for a while. This series is entirely about the trickster god Loki (I assume you know who he is), and he has decided that he doesn’t want to be a villian any more so he starts working for the goddess Freya, rounding up gods who are hiding on Earth.

This was a pretty fun read and it will stomp all over your feelings. You have been warned.

I also think I enjoyed this series so much because my boyfriend pointed out that I look like female Loki. What do you think?

I think I might have to start adding some green to my wardrobe.

The TBR

The books I am going to read this week are:

  • The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Ice Man volume 1
  • Batman No Man’s Land volumes 4 and 5
  • Possibly a random Goosebumps book. I havent decided which one yet.

So what did you read this week?

Also I am still gathering questions for my 300 Follower Q&A so dont forget to ask me questions if you have any.

 

Reading 23 Books in a Month? (Update & Week 1 TBR)

So I have to read 23 books to meet my yearly GoodReads reading challenge goal of 100 books. This was originally 24 books but since my last post on this subject I finished another book. I am normally very good at reading constantly but this year I bought a house, adopted a cat and been very busy with work and socialising, so I haven’t been reading as much as I normally would. Apparently 2017 was the year I became stupidly popular. I am usually not that bothered about meeting reading challenge goals but my mum set me this target and I cant let her down.

So I have decided to write a To Read list every week this month to update you on my progress and how I plan to tackle such a high number of books in a month.

This week I will be reading:

The Lord of the Rings (All Three Books)

I hear you: “Spine Cracker, if you have 23 books to read why tackle something huge like Lord of the Rings?”

One word: Audiobooks. If I listen to books while I am working I can keep reading when I am not able to physically sit down and read. Realistically I should be able to listen to one of these a day…I hope. I managed the entirety of The Hobbit last week.

I have read these books before but I have been playing a lot of D&D lately and that has put me in a serious Tolkien mood. Right now I am at the start of the Fellowship of the Ring and they haven’t even left the Shire yet.

Graphic Novels:

Nightwing New 52 and Batman: No Man’s Land (volumes 3 & 4)

These are some graphic novels that I have been wanting to get to for a while, so much so that Nightwing appeared on the TBR for a challenge earlier in the year. Graphic novels are perfect for reading challenges because you can get through one in a single sitting. Both of these have been on my TBR shelf for a while so it will be great to see them finally read.

Also, who doesn’t love Batman?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I read this book EVERY December without fail! It is also perfect for this challenge because it isn’t very long.

In my mind it isn’t Christmas until I have read a Christmas Carol. It is an odd tradition I came up with for myself years ago. I absolutely love this book and if you haven’t read it yet you have to. It is the holiday season after all.

So my plan is to read 7 books this week. Do you think I can do it?

It doesn’t seem that difficult. I might even throw another book in if I feel like I have the time. I will let you know how it goes next week. I will run out of short books eventually and that is when things will get trickier.

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.

Waiting for Wednesday: Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney

Book Synopsis:

“When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn’t have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she’ll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical–one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school–she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.

Only this Bio-mechanical isn’t like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings…and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein–a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death…and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out.Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie’s determined to succeed–even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire.”

Why I need it:

I was scrolling through the upcoming releases list for 2018 on the hunt to for something to look forward to and then the genre this was listed as caught my eye. “Goth YA Retelling”? What the hell is that? I’m goth and I have never heard of this genre in my life. So I looked into it and discovered that it is a retelling of one of my favourite novels: Frankenstein, with the usual sappy YA twist.

Even though I am not a fan of YA retellings I am looking forward to this book. Anything to do with Frankenstein will catch my interest. Also I used to work in a morgue so I find the main character’s career path interesting. She seems like a pretty cool character.

Also, what is the information Victor remembers? I must know.

Cadaver & Queen is scheduled for release on February 27th 2018 

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

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