{Book Reviews} The Horror! The Horror! A little more Bloody Mary … and a visit to Hell House.

This week has been FULL of reading books! And I love it! Nothing says fall (or winter!) like curling up on the couch with a mug of tea and a good book! A little trickier now that I have a little guy to chase after, so I take advantage of naptime. Especially this week when I want to gobble up as many horror stories as I can!

hell houseFirst off, I downloaded an audiobook from Hoopla, a pretty awesome service from my local library. I was trying to find something good and spooky and Hell House by Richard Matheson seemed like just the ticket. I mean, ghosts? A haunted house? Just what I like!

In the end, this one was just okay for me. It was good, but I do tend to multitask a lot while listening to an audiobook, so listening to horror means that I don’t get creeped out that much. Though, when it comes to haunted houses, this one wasn’t bad! It definitely had its spooky moments.

The only thing I really didn’t get with this is why it had to do a LOT with sex. Is that an adult book thing? I say “adult” but mean just a grown up book, not that kind of an adult book. I find that when you get into the adult fiction in this kind of genre, it always has some kind of sexual aspect to it. I mean, I guess you could say it worked in this story, but I didn’t much care for it. I wanted different kinds of scares, personally.

I also really had to laugh towards the end — and you might want to not read this part if you don’t want to be spoiled — since it was set up so horribly, in my opinion, for something bad to happen. Matheson goes on and on about how things are good and life is good and all is well not and blah blah blah … I mean, if you’ve read any horror story, you just know that’s a set up for something bad to happen.

End spoiler.

So yeah, Stephen King might have had a few quotes about this being good, but it was just okay to me. Nothing over the top scary or anything. Maybe something was lost in translation with the audiobook? Maybe it’s better read on paper? Who knows. If you like haunted houses and demons and sex, well, this one’s for you. It definitely had its creepy moments and the characters weren’t too bad. It takes place in 1970 and I didn’t find that it was too old school or anything. I just think when it comes to haunted houses, there might be a better book for me out there.

say her nameNext up, I read ANOTHER Bloody Mary book. Remember, I just finished one earlier in the week? Well, I read some reviews saying Say Her Name by James Dawson was way better, so I picked it up at the library and decided to give it a go.

Like most horror novels I’m really looking forward to, I decided to start this one as I went to bed. The husband was watching a TV show, so it was just me in our room, with the little lamp on. As I mentioned in my review of Mary: The Summoning, I remember doing the whole Bloody Mary thing as a kid and I think the worst part of that is the anticipation. Within the first 50 pages, this book does a really good job of building up that anticipation. So much so that I got up to use the bathroom and had to turn on the light when I went in because I was just a little creeped out.

Not to mention the fact that I avoided looking in the mirrors when I was reading. Oh, and I should mention that I went back to bed afterwards and cuddled under the covers, was reading a particularly spooky bit, AND THE FREAKING POWER GOES OUT. Yup. This one was definitely much scarier than the last one.

Part of my wonders if it’s because this is a foreign book. It’s like watching foreign horror movies, they’re always so much scarier than American made movies. Maybe because the American ones are all about gore and shock, where as the foreign ones try to dig a little deeper psychologically? I felt like that’s what this book was doing. It didn’t have a chuckling Mary or anything super over the top, but it was one of those books that made you think there was something standing behind you just waiting to pounce. It made you think there was something in the mirror — just in the corner of your eye — that you know is there but you’re trying not to see.

I think my only complaint is that the story is outlined very much like the movie The Ring. You see Mary and then she sends you message to say that she’s going to get you in 5 days. There’s even the nosebleed part. BUT, even though it had major similarities to the movie, it was still pretty creepy. Maybe it’s because I find that movie super scary and can only watch it during the day (I know, I’m a wuss) but I felt like it only lent even more creepiness to the story, being so similar.

So if you’re looking for a good Bloody Mary book, definitely pick this one up! And be sure to not only start it, but to finish it in bed, at night, terrified in the dark. My body wanted to sleep facing towards the bathroom when I finished, but I’ll admit that I cuddled just a little bit closer to my husband the night I finished. It really freaked me out!

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? 

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{Book Reviews} Yes! Finally some decent horror!

So my last two “horror” books were flops, but I was happily surprised by the next few I tried! Sure, neither of them were sleep-with-the-lights-on scary, but they definitely both had that creep factor.

through the woodsThe first one I want to highlight is Through the Woods by Canadian author Emily Carroll. This is a graphic novel that is guaranteed to spook your socks off. At first glance when you open it up, it looks like it could be for kids, but it DEFINITELY isn’t. I don’t know what it is about graphic novels, but I always just assume that they’re for kids. This one has some adult themes and is almost Gaiman-esque in its execution.

The illustrations are bold and gorgeous. I love that Carroll uses lots of bright colours (albeit in the darker variety of colours, like reds, blues, etc.) and everything in the book is so vivid to look at. There’s a beautiful flow to the whole book, an almost old-school, gothic quality.

AND this is a collection of short stories told in graphic novel format. All are very, very spooky. My favourite story in the book is about a woman who marries a man and starts hearing voices in the house, coming from the walls. Slightly gory, this one will get the hairs on your arms to raise … it’s not for the faint of heart!

Beautifully haunting, this is a book that will stick with you and maybe creep into your dreams at night. Worth not just one read, but many more after! I’m lucky my library had it — and that they found it! Apparently it wasn’t where it was supposed to be on the shelf. I would’ve hated to miss out on this gem!

the madman's daughterThe next book was a gift to me from Teresa (@NeedNewSpace). I had commented that I really wanted to read The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd and she sent me an extra copy she had! Yay! Of course, then it sat for about a year on my shelf and I finally, finally got to it this week! Why did I wait so long?

The Madman’s Daughter is a retelling of The Island of Doctor Moreau, a book I have not read, but one that I’m very much interested in now. This book was just plain creepy and weird! It’s a beautifully gothic tale about a girl who had fallen from society after her father was caught doing something illegal — vivisection, or operating on animals without anaesthetic. Super creepy, if you ask me. Anyway, she feels like her father is still alive and her suspicions come true when she finds an old childhood friend who had been a servant of her father. She’s taken to a mysterious island where nothing is as it seems.

Everything about this book was gorgeous! It even has a bit of a love triangle which I wasn’t totally against (and you all know how I hate love triangles). The islanders were creepy, Juliet’s father was downright strange, and even her love interests had their interesting quirks to them. The entire story was just a bit disturbing (and at times a little gory!). This book is even part of a series, which again I’m totally okay with because that means I get to experience more of Megan Shepherd’s gorgeous writing! Not to mention the ending that I started to suspect would happen (about a few pages before it did) … I need more!

I love a good gothic novel, so reading this one after reading Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor was just what I needed. It really made me want more of the genre. I find that there are YA books that very much seem like YA but I find that once you get into the gothic novels there are ones that stand out and seem older than they are, in a good way. This is definitely one of them and I look forward to getting the next book in the series!

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? 

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{Mini Reviews} Am I immune to scary books?

Two books finished on the weekend, both marketed as scary reads. Do I even need to say that I didn’t really find either of them scary?

black iceThe first book, Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, is a standalone book (thank goodness!) and I’m still very much on the fence about it. I can’t even remember what article or review I had read that said it was super scary, but I fell for it and bought the book at full price on my recent bookstore trip. I was really excited to dive into it because it sounded like a scary book with no vampires, werewolves, or paranormal element in sight. Yes, I thought.

However, once I started reading it I got really annoyed. The two main characters, Britt and Korbie were so insanely annoying that I questioned whether I should finish reading the book at all. Korbie, especially. I mean, when you have a boyfriend and you’re going on and on about getting to stay up at a cabin with him, so much so that your parents send your brother as an adult figure to keep an eye on you, does that mean that you would throw yourself at the next available hot guy because your boyfriend isn’t there yet? To me, that’s a no, but to Korbie, it was an annoying pouty-faced yes.

Frankly, I couldn’t even see how her and Britt were even friends still since it seemed like one of those long-standing friendships of convenience. Korbie even had a comparison list between the two of them outlining who was hotter. I mean … what?

Then there’s the whole “mystery” part of the book. I put it in quotations because it really wasn’t a mystery at all. From the beginning, it was a bit of a toss up as to what sketchy, asshole guy would be the bad guy (and which one would be the love interest, because you know that’s going to happen), but I pinpointed it right away and there was no surprise when it happened. I will admit that I was intrigued in the story enough to keep reading, but I skimmed a little bit just to get it done, all the while trying to not roll my eyes too much.

Cue rant …

Guys, I come from Canada, where it’s winter about 8 months out of the year (give or take). First of all, if we’re going somewhere up in the mountains, make sure the car is ready for it. Britt and Korbie had the top down on the jeep. Really? Yeah, if it’s snowing and cold, you would be FREEZING. Second of all, if the car breaks down, the first instinct isn’t, “Hey! Let’s go wander aimlessly throughout the woods until we find a house! I don’t care if my car is in the middle of the road and it’s freezing outside and we can’t even see our hand in front of our face!” No. You stay in your freaking car. And you at least push it out of the road. But no, Britt asks Korbie to help push it out of the road (after Korbie pretty much yells at her because they’re not making it to the cabin on time) and Korbie pretty much throws a girly hissy fit since there’s no way in hell she’d be caught dead pushing a car out of the way on a snow covered road. Third, and last, of all, if you do manage to come across a cabin in the woods, you knock politely and ask to use the phone first, you don’t automatically flounce through the house like you own the place, even though a totally sketchy vibe is emanating from both guys in the house. I mean, it has to be okay because the guys are hot, right? So automatically claim which one you have dibs on and flirt your way into the night. Yeah.

End rant.

So yeah, not my favourite book. But I bought it, I finished it, I will probably not read it ever again.

Next book.

mary the summoningWhen I was younger, I remember going into the bathroom on my own, as a dare from my friend, to recite Bloody Mary three times while looking into the mirror. It was pretty much a rite of passage in the 80s. Was I terrified? You bet your ass I was. Did I run out of the bathroom in tears a few times? Oh yeah. I was a wuss back then.

I say that now, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be caught dead doing this anytime soon in my 30s. That’s right. I talk the talk, but I’m definitely not taking it for a walk.

Anyway, I had heard a few people talk about Mary: The Summoning like it was THE book to read this Halloween. It was supposed to be super scary and since it was about something that I knew, something that I actually tried when I was young, I was game to read the book. I knew it HAD to be scary.

I tried reading this book in the dark, trying to get that spooky vibe going on, but I felt like maybe there was too much dialogue? Too many people? I don’t know what it was. There were four girls in this story and they weren’t nearly as annoying as Britt and Korbie in the last book, but they were up there. Jess was the bitch of the group (seriously, doesn’t anyone ever stand up to her?) and Kitty was the weakling. She snivelled and wept LOTS in the book. None of the girls really get much character building and I felt no connection to any of them throughout the story.

And don’t even get me started on Mary, the supposed ghost of the story. When I picture ghosts, I don’t picture them laughing and chuckling. Mary chuckled a lot and it was very off-putting and not in a scary way.

The synopsis of the story made me think of The Ring, where the lead character goes on a search to find the history of the girl in the well, to try and find out why she’s haunting and killing people. But that one was done WAY better. This one — and if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read the next line. I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler, but maybe — is pretty much, “Oh hey, let me do this internet search quickly. Hey, here’s our answer!” To me, it felt a little weak.

AND this book is the first of a series. I don’t really get why it had to be a series since the author could’ve really packed a punch in one book and ended it really good for the reader. I most definitely won’t be continuing on, but I’ve gotten some other recommendations for other Bloody Mary stories that I might pick up instead. Really, the only creepy thing about this book is the cover, unfortunately.

Have you read either of these stories? Did you find them scary? 

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