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?

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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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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.

My Bout of Books 19 TBR!

I am taking part in Bout of Books next week and when I wrote my original sign up post I mentioned that I had no idea what books I wanted to read during it. If you don’t know what Bout of Books is, it is a regular reading challenge that simply requires you to read as much as possible. If you want to find out more and sign up you can find their website here.

I will try my best to keep you all up to date with my reading progress as the week goes on. I will be taking part in challenges throughout the week on Instagram(@Bell_and_books) as well as this blog.

After much thought, book buying and planning I have finally made up my mind. So here are the books I am planning on reading all of next week:

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Length: 300 pages

This book has been on my to-read pile for a long time. A friend recommended it to me a long time ago and I simply never got around to reading it. Bout of Books is a good excuse to finally get around to reading this.

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

Length:370 pages

I recently read and reviewed Red by Jack Ketchum so I have been wanting to take a look at more of his work. Girl Next Door is a novel that I keep hearing about so I will be listening to it on audiobook throughout the week.

The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Length: 430 pages

I dont own a copy of this book yet but hopefully I will be the end of today because I am going hunting for it. I don’t know what is going on here in Northern Ireland but I have searched 8 book shops in the last 2 days and I haven’t found a single copy of the new Rick Riordan book. Is anyone else having this problem?

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Length: 386 pages

I picked up a copy of this book on offer the day it came out. I enjoyed Girl on the Train and I am in the mood for a good mystery. Hawkins’ books are usually simple and quick reads, perfect for a reading challenge.

Salems Lot by Stephen King

Length: 631 pages

I know I will not finish this book this week and it is in the bottom of my priory list, but I want to at least get it started. The book is pretty big so it will take me a while to get through it.

And if you are taking part in Bout of Books next week feel free to say hi and tell me what your reading goals are.