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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Waiting for Wednesday: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Book Synopsis:

“Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.”

Why I need it:

I have never read a Stephanie Perkins book in my life but thanks to the book blogging world and its love for all things YA, sappy and wrapped in a sparkly pink cover I have heard of her. The reviews are usually positive even though her books are not to my taste at all. But here Perkins is trying her hand at horror and that finally got my attention enough to make me want to read one of her books. I love when writers branch out into different genres!

Slashers are my guilty pleasure. I usually love my horror complex and interesting but sometimes you just need some mindless gore and violence in your life. It is even better when that gore and violence comes with a side of mystery that keeps you wondering who the killer is throughout the novel.

I will admit though, this book sounds a lot like a rip off of the Urban Legends film series but I love that series and old urban legends so that doesn’t entirely put me off reading it. I don’t know about you but when I first heard the Babysitter and the Man Upstairs urban legend in primary school I lost sleep for weeks. The idea of not being entirely alone in your house has always frightened me so that made the title of this novel automatically stand out.

I am so excited for this book!

There’s Someone Inside Your House is scheduled for release on the 12th of September 2017

Are you a Perkins fan? If so let me know what you think of this genre change?

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: June


Well, this month sucked for reading. It was too hot, I was so busy that finding time to shower was a treat and generally I wanted to do anything other than read. Generally not a good reading month. So much so that I went from being six books ahead in my yearly reading challenge to being 1 book behind schedule.

So, thanks to my laziness and disinterest in June this Dark Reads of the Month post will be one book short. Normally I pick out three books for these posts, but this time one of the books I read was an unrelated graphic novel (Marvel’s Civil War II if you are interested) and The Shining which I have written up already. Aw well, maybe I will read more in July and make it up to you.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury


Something you should know about me, I am slightly in love with Ray Bradbury. Him and HG Wells are my science fiction crushes. So when I discovered Bradbury wrote a book about my all time favourite holiday, Halloween, I just had to read it. Never mind waiting for October to crack open this book I had to read it now, and that is what I did.

The Halloween Tree is a short novel about a group of boys who explore a creepy house on Halloween night and befriend a dark entity that shows them the true meaning of Halloween. Not only is it a dark read that is full of the Halloween vibe, it is also interesting and educational. The boys are transported through time and around the world to witness Halloween throughout the centuries and its different meanings to different cultures. It isn’t too scary so this would be a great Halloween read for all ages.

Either pick it up in October when you are in the Halloween spirit or read it now to inject a bit of Autumn into your summer. Perfect Summerween reading.

The Fireman by Joe Hill


Joe Hill, the author of Horns and Heart Shaped Box, is back and this time he is trying his hand at dark dystopian fiction.

The Fireman is about a plague that causes people to spontaneously combust. It has infected most of the human population and the survivors spend their time trying to contain the disease by killing infected people. One day a pregnant nurse discovers that she has the illness and that sets her on a quest for survival. All she wants is to survive long enough to give birth. Can she do it? Or will she burst into flames first?

I loved this book. Normally I avoid novels of this genre but it was written by one of my favourite authors so I could hardly say no to reading it. I am glad that I gave it ago. It is listed as a horror dystopian and I can see why. It reads more like a zombie apocalypse novel at times than a science fiction dystopian. Unlike zombies the illness in this book is very beautiful. It is full of pretty descriptions of people burning to death. That sounds horrific and morbid but you can tell Hill had fun writing this one.

If you like long and dark dystopian novels you have to give this book a go.

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

As always feel free to follow me on Instagram or add me on Goodreads  to keep up to date with what I am reading throughout the months. I usually follow back.

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 it Wednesday: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Book Synopsis:

“When a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favorite store clerk who must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey McGinty, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s back room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?”

Why I need it:

A mystery set in a bookshop, what more could you want?

I love books that are about books, writers or bookshops. I think it is because I am such a bookworm I love stories that are set in my own world. I can easily picture the sort of bookshop this novel is set in because my favourite bookshop has a back room that customers can easily walk into. A suicide in there is easy for me to visualise. And I was a bookseller myself once upon a time so that adds to the appeal of this novel. When you sell books you get to know your regulars very well.

I also have my usual reasoning for looking forward to this novel: I LOVE a good mystery. A novel like this I will fly through if it is well written because a good mystery novel reveals something in each chapter that raises more questions and keeps the reader hooked with that “just one more chapter” feeling. I hope this book delivers on that.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is scheduled for release on the 13th of June 2017

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