Category Archives: Horror

#WickedReads | There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

 

I absolutely love reading spooky, scary, and paranormal stories around fall and Halloweentime so Penguin Teen’s #WickedReads campaign is one of my favorites! I’ve actually already read quite a few of their titles on this year’s Wicked Reads list and I’m excited to share a little more about THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE by Stephanie Perkins today!

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.

90s Slasher Film vibe was exactly what I wanted from this book and it was exactly what I got! I had so much fun reading this book and it was great to be thrilled and a little bit scared without it being TOO scary since I’m a total chicken when it comes to ghostly horror! I do love murder-mysteries though. THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE was set in a small, rural town and the harvest cornfields, fall vibes, and Halloween setting made it extra atmospheric! As the blurb said, it was hard to put down and was such a quick and fun read!

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

I always wonder how mystery authors write books! One of my favorite parts is to look back on the whole book and see where their thought process started from. Sometimes it feels like a big leap from contemporary YA like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS to slasher book but it also involved a lot of the same elements like setting up a conflict, figuring out the end-goal, and even a dash of mystery which often isn’t presented as a mystery in contemporary but ends up being a misunderstanding or confusion that the main character has to solve. I also remember reading that Stephanie Perkins has always loved horror so even though it seems like a step away from the norm, it’s probably pretty normal for her!

If you’re looking for a fun and slightly horrific read (and I mean that in a good way), THERE’S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE needs to be on your TBR this fall! The book was a lot of fun, I’m always happy to read more from Stephanie Perkins, and you can always show off that awesomely hot pink cover in book photos!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. She has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.


That’ll do it for my Wicked Reads post today! But there’s also a giveaway involved! Head on over to the Penguin Teen sweepstakes website to fill out the giveaway form for your chance to win this year’s Wicked Reads!

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: October 17, 2011 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 30, 2017
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

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I actually tried to read this book, oh about four or five years ago, and decided it was too scary because I hate reading ghost stories but so many people had talked about the book that I had wanted to give it a try. I figured now that I’m braver and decided to read it NOT in the dark, NOT home alone, and NOT in a very old apartment that it would take away some of the fear factor and really… it’s not a scary book at all. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD has some gory and creepy moments but it’s more about the story of Anna and how she came to be, Cas and his family, and the friendships that form, rather than the fear.

The book was fun but it didn’t really pull me in. I liked Cas and enjoyed his point of view but the plot just didn’t quite work for me, which seems to be kind of a pattern with Kendare Blake’s books for me. I didn’t really care about the ending and didn’t really like where the story went. I felt like it would have been a better stand-alone, making this more about Cas and Anna’s story rather than Cas’s family and his history (for once I don’t want character backstory!). Even though there were a lot of things leading up to the conclusion, it still seemed to veer off in a different direction and just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the book.

It was a fun read but I don’t think I’ll pick up the second book. I’m glad I “faced my fears” and tried it again because it really wasn’t scary at all! I had just put myself in a spooky place when I first tried to read it and barely made it anywhere because I freaked myself out with a spooky setting, so I’m really glad I attempted this book again. I feel silly for being scared before but I guess I concocted the perfect storm for a fear factor the first time around!

The audiobook narrator was also very meh. He had breaths and pauses in weird places (the middle of sentences) and didn’t have very good accents at all. Anna’s Finnish accent was more Russian and no one had a Canadian accent or even a hint of one despite the fact that the book took place in Canada. I mean, all Canadians don’t have to have a strong, pronounced accent but I do notice the vowel changes a lot with my own Canadian friends so I guess I expected the same here. His voices for the other guys were like, no one’s voice ever in real life, and the girls were overdone and stereotypical, so that didn’t enhance my reading experience like some audiobook narrators can do.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ghost stories?! I can handle ghosts in books as long as it’s not in a scary capacity. I tend to freak myself out when reading scary ghost books but I’ve read quite a few books where ghosts appear in a less threatening capacity. Anna got a little creepy in this book but Cas’s interaction with her calmed it down.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I felt like the focus strayed, which is silly considering that was the end point all along… So I guess I was looking for the “twist” of the end to play a bigger role in the rest of the book so it didn’t feel like we were talking about two different things.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was a quick and fun Halloween-time read. It didn’t impress me a lot but I had a good time reading it and while it was middle-of-the-road for me, I’m still glad I read it. I probably won’t read the second book, especially the way that it ended, so I can’t really recommend it but others enjoyed it a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

          

Sweet – Emmy Laybourne

Sweet – Emmy LaybourneTitle: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Publishing Info: October 20, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 24, 2015
Related Posts: Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1), Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2), Dress Your Marines in White (Monument 14 #0.5), Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3)

People would kill to be thin.
Solu’s luxurious celebrity-filled “Cruise to Lose” is billed as “the biggest cruise since the Titanic,” and if the new diet sweetener works as promised—dropping five percent of a person’s body weight in just days—it really could be the answer to the world’s obesity problem. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv’s invitation. She’s already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host, Tom Forelli (otherwise known as the hottest guy ever!) and she’s too seasick to even try the sweetener. And that’s before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.
But will they die for it, too?
Tom Forelli knows that he should be grateful for this job and the opportunity to shed his childhood “Baby Tom-Tom” image. His publicists have even set up a ‘romance’ with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get a bit wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when his celebrity hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it’s Laurel that he’s determined to save.

Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong.

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Emmy Laybourne has a great way of blending serious situations and a note of levity and that’s exactly what I was looking for when I picked up SWEET! I really enjoyed her apocalyptic/disaster trilogy (the Monument 14 books) and I was definitely in the mood for the tone of Emmy’s books when SWEET was next in the queue.

The thing that readers need to know about SWEET before starting is exactly what kind of book they’re picking up. I read several reviews on Goodreads after I was done with my read of the book (which I thoroughly enjoyed) to see that so many readers were disappointed because they were expecting a contemporary romance or a realistic fiction novel with serious issues. While SWEET does have a romance and it does address serious social and personal issues, the book really reads like a cult classics or a campy horror novel. You’re picking up a book about that has a feel of zombies crossed with vampires on a cruise ship… keep that in mind! I’d say SWEET really leans more toward horror or thriller more than anything if I had to classify it so while it does have a more serious side and some cute romantic moments, remember that this book will first and foremost turn your stomach!

That being said, this was exactly what I had expected from SWEET and it was so much fun to read! I don’t read a lot of horror or books with so much gore but the levity of it kept me interested and amused! SWEET was fun from start to finish. I loved that the book was an exaggeration of a bigger message on body image with some touches on addiction, respect, and valor. There’s a serious message underneath this cruise ship nightmare and I really enjoyed how that came across!

It was a bit more gory than I had expected but that doesn’t really turn me off! I have a much harder time watching gore than I do reading it so I wasn’t too bothered by how intensely the book turned. It added to that zombie/vampire feel which made me feel like I was watching a campy horror movie and that was actually a lot of fun! It’s not something I immediately run to but it reminded me a bit of Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead (except the people in SWEET weren’t exactly zombies… but think of that kind of feel)!

SWEET was funny, horrifying, and meaningful all at the same time. It was a super quick and fun read for me and if all of these things sound appealing to you, I’d definitely recommend it! I won’t tell you anything about it but I totally loved the ending and thought it was just perfect. I also loved that it expanded my reading horizons since this isn’t normally the kind of book I’d pick up. This is just another thing I love about young adult and YA authors — there really is no limit to what you can write and what genre gets published!
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

sweet goodreads updates

13.54%??? I don’t even know how that happened…

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Tom // Character Obsessions: Public image, physique, reality. 
Tom was a fun character for me! I really enjoyed how he was a child celebrity who’s trying to find his own name as a teenager/adult now. It was interesting to see how the business of Hollywood and fame affected him so much and how his publicists pushed him into fake situations just for the publicity. I enjoyed that he was trying to stay true to himself and who he really wanted to be.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I don’t really read a lot of horror — mostly because I’m not a scary book kind of girl — but I do enjoy some horror with humor! I really liked how SWEET was horrifying but also funny.
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. Sure, of course. SWEET was light and I really appreciated that but I almost wanted just a bit more out of the characters! I wouldn’t really change anything though. The tone was perfect for me!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

Horror not your thing? Me either! But I totally enjoyed this book quite a bit. If you’re not ready for campy, then I’d say pass but if you’re going into SWEET knowing exactly what it is and that’s something you enjoy, I think it’ll be a hit.

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BOOKS LIKE SWEET

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BEAUTY QUEENS    LIFE AFTER THEFT

A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)

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Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Angela from Angela’s Library is sharing her review of THE FALL by Bethany Griffin!


A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)Title: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2015
Related Posts: The Fall

    Madeline Usher is doomed.
    She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
    Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
    In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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Hi everyone! For today’s post for A Fortnight of Fright, I’m excited to share with you a review of one of my favorite Halloween reads, The Fall by Bethany Griffin. This book combines two things I absolutely love: a retold classic and a seriously creepy haunted house.

The Fall is a novel-length retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Madeline Usher, the protagonist, has always known there is something not quite right about her ancestral home. It seems to have a will of its own and a desire to impose that will upon its inhabitants. The house lives through the Ushers, feeding off of their emotions and doing everything it can to ensure the family stays on the property and under the house’s control.

This tie between the Ushers and their home takes a heavy toll on the family. It’s the fate of all Ushers to slowly go mad, and Madeline and her parents suffer from strange fits and trances. They experience fainting spells and fevers and are plagued by extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and even the touch of clothing on their skin. Time and memories slip, and reading is impossible because the words swim on the page. The family’s strange condition is so acute that they keep their own staff of live-in doctors, who are a little mad themselves and prey on the Ushers in their own way.

As Madeline grows up, she learns more about her house’s dark power and becomes more and more determined to escape it. She knows there must be a way to outsmart the house and free her family from its horrific legacy; she just has to figure out what that way is. The harder she struggles against the house, though, the harder the house fights back, finding ways to trap her and confuse her.

Each chapter is written from Madeline’s perspective, but the chapters aren’t in chronological order and jump back and forth between Madeline’s point of view at age 9, 18, 12, etc. This may sound like a strange way to tell a story, but it makes sense for the book. It lets the reader experience the story just like Madeline does – piece by piece, confused and disoriented. Like Madeline, just when you think you’ve caught the thread of the story you’re interrupted, taken off of your path and turned in a different direction. It throws you off balance, and you have to get your bearings again and figure out which Madeline you’re dealing with. Is it the Madeline who suspects the house is trapping her like a fly in a spiderweb? The Madeline who loves the house and trusts it to keep her from harm? The Madeline who is trying to escape? You don’t know what to expect from one chapter to the next.

Griffin does a fabulous job of making the house sentient and terrible, building it into as much of a character as Madeline, her family, and her physicians. The house thinks, feels, and is capable of taking action. It listens to the stories its occupants tell, redirects them when they get too close to the secrets it doesn’t want discovered, and occasionally throws tantrums, tremoring and convulsing and locking people in rooms. It can even influence people and put thoughts in their head, using them to fulfill its own purposes.

I love The Fall’s spooky gothic vibe. There’s an oppressive undercurrent of horror and dread that never completely goes away. The house corrupts everything within it: bright new dresses fade overnight, lace crumbles, and previously normal visitors slowly grow mad and twisted. Children’s swings sway eerily of their own accord, suits of armor fling axes at hapless passersby, and ghosts of long-dead Ushers lurk in the shadows. There are even old messages, presumably from the house, transcribed by Ushers of years gone by:

“The surface of the desk is covered with scraps of parchment. I read the first. I love you. […] I pick up another. I know you. […] The next one: I watch you. Dozens of scraps of parchment are scattered over the desk. I love you, I know you, I need you.”

If you want a book that will give you shivers this Halloween, The Fall will certainly do the trick. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and a worthy homage to Poe’s original. Just make sure not to read it before bed – it might just keep you up at night.


 

 

Thanks, Angela! Great review. I really enjoyed this one as well and I really loved how atmospheric it was! 
I reviewed THE FALL last year for A Fortnight of Fright too! You can see the full review here: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

#WickedReads | Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

WickedReads_Sticker_15_2p2

I recently read NIGHTFALL (and hosted a Twitter chat with one of the authors, Peter Kujawinski) as a part of Penguin Teen’s WICKED READS campaign! I’m a huge fan of Halloween (as you’ve seen from the past two weeks of A Fortnight of Fright posts) so I was especially excited to join in on the Wicked Reads fun! A really big thanks to Penguin Teen for having me be a part of the Wicked Reads feature and hosting the Twitter chat!! It’s be a total blast so far and there’s still a lot more fun to come!

Today I’m sharing my review for NIGHTFALL along with some other “Wicked Reads” that I enjoyed this Halloween season. Whether you’re reading to get in the Halloween spirit or just because you enjoy some scary books, these were all some really fun books that will put you in a horror or spooky mood so make a note if you’re looking for a few good recs!

First things first, let’s get into the review of NIGHTFALL!

#WickedReads | Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter KujawinskiTitle: Nightfall by Jake Halpern, Peter Kujawinski
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by Penguin
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 9, 2015

The dark will bring your worst nightmares to light, in this gripping and eerie survival story, perfect for fans of James Dashner and Neil Gaiman.
On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and  Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.

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I read NIGHTFALL for Penguin Teen’s Wicked Reads campaign and I’m really glad the timing for this worked out so well! I always enjoy a good, creepy read around Halloween (which I pretty much start reading for in September!) and NIGHTFALL was such a good creepy read for me because I’m a total chicken when it comes to horror. It was much more suspenseful with a little bit of horror and a whole lot of mystery so it made for an excellent selection for a scaredy cat like me!

Right away, I was intrigued by the plot of the book. The concept of years of day and years of night is really neat and I was hooked from start to finish in anticipation of what really happens on this island at night. I thought the authors did a great job of keeping the readers interested by giving out enough clues but still keeping the questions open. I sped through the pages to try to get all of the answers because I just had to know what was going on!

NIGHTFALL really reminded me of a mix of M. Night Shayamalan and The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry. It had all of that great suspense that you find in Shayamalan movies and the setting and characters really reminded me of The Giver Quartet, specifically GATHERING BLUE and MESSENGER. The feel of The Giver Quartet did make the book feel a bit younger than the YA range I typically read (usually on the higher end of YA and I tend to read more adult than middle grade) so I did find myself a bit less connected to the characters than I had hoped because they felt a bit young. That really wasn’t a bad thing but more of a personal preference. I really did enjoy the character dynamics but they didn’t feel quite as developed or dynamic as I had hoped.  The book was a really fun mix and I loved that it was one of those books that was so easy to explain in terms of feel. If you’re craving either one of those, NIGHTFALL is probably an excellent book to pick up next!

I will say, I wasn’t AS into the big picture answer as I had hoped. I really enjoyed that the reveal of what happened to this island at Night and who comes there was slowly revealed but I wasn’t super crazy about the answer. Again, this was more of a personal preference since it’s just not something I usually personally connect to but it was an exciting and interesting conclusion! (Sorry that’s a bit vague… I don’t want to spoil anything!)

NIGHTFALL was a quick and gripping read and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! The suspense was really great it was a fun read, especially for Halloween! It wasn’t totally the book for me but I thought it was well done and with just a bit more world-building and explanation, I think I could have really loved it!

MORE WICKED READS

I love mood/seasonal reading for Halloween and it’s the one season I really read for every year! Here are some more of my favorite books that put me in a Halloween mood and some excellent “Wicked Reads”! 

THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Accident Season

THE ACCIDENT SEASON is another one of Penguin’s selected Wicked Reads (see the full list on their Tumblr!) and it was one I really enjoyed! It had such an amazing atmosphere, a great mystery, and some lovely character development. I was so hooked from start to finish and it really put me in a fall mood even though I read it in the summer! | REVIEW


PAPER VALENTINE by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

I haven’t read the other two Brenna Yovanoff books on the Wicked Reads list yet but I have read PAPER VALENTINE and I thought it was so great! This is another book with a fantastic atmosphere and a little bit of a murder mystery. The book is quirky, interesting, and unique and it really made me anxious to read more of Brenna Yovanoff’s books! | REVIEW


THE FALL by Bethany Griffin

The Fall – Bethany Griffin

I read THE FALL last year for Halloween and it was so delightfully creepy. It was just the perfect amount of horror for me to be excellently creeped out but not too scared! THE FALL is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and I thought it was so  well done! | REVIEW


THIS DARK ENDEAVOR by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) – Kenneth Oppel

THIS DARK ENDEAVOR is an adaptation of Frankenstein but not all of it takes place in book one! I’ve only read the first book so far but I really want to continue with this series because I was definitely intrigued by the happenings in book one and like THE FALL, I loved the gothic horror feel! This was such a fun adaptation and I really want to get even more into the Frankenstein’s monster portion! | REVIEW


Don’t miss Penguin Teen’s #TwitterGhostStory feature on Twitter! It’s a week-long event from Monday, October 26th to Saturday October 31st in which you can write a spooky story in 140 characters or less using #TwitterGhostStory! Participants using the hashtag will be entered for the chance to win a prize pack of the featured Wicked Reads titles.

There is also still one more #WickedReads Twitter chat left! It’ll be this Friday the 30th at 4pm Eastern with some awesome Wicked Reads authors! Hope to see you there!!

That’ll do it for my Wicked Reads recommendations! Have you read any of these? Which books would you recommend for some great Halloween or fall reads? I always love to hear of some more books that are perfect for horror-chickens like me!!

The Fall – Bethany Griffin

The Fall – Bethany GriffinTitle: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 28, 2014
Related Posts: The Fall

    Madeline Usher is doomed.
    She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
    Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
    In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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I’ve actually read very few original Edgar Allan Poe stories but when I was looking for a good, creepy Halloween read, I immediately turned to THE FALL, a retelling of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, for a good book with just the right amount of scary for me. See, I’m a total chicken when it comes to the scary. I like creepy, but I don’t like my books (or movies or TV shows) to be too scary. Fortunately, Bethany Griffin’s THE FALL was just the perfect mix for me!

I actually can’t really compare too much to the original Poe tale since I haven’t read it, but upon finishing, I definitely wanted to! The book revolves around Madeline Usher and her family. The chapters are quite short and each one details a different point in Madeline’s life from her childhood all the way through teenage years, meeting up with the “present-day” story line in the novel. Sometimes it’s hard to jump around from age to age, but I think just focusing on Madeline and not having a second point of view in the mix really helped and I also found it really interesting to slowly get the pieces of how the family curse worked, how it affected Madeline and her family, and getting that information in a strategic way. I’m always impressed when authors are able to manipulate a timeline like that to remove things from chronological order in order to maintain a mystery.
At times, the short chapters seemed like both a blessing and a curse. I really like short chapters because especially during times when I don’t have a ton of time to read, the short chapters really help me feel like I’m making progress with a book. At the same time, having so many chapters did make me feel like I was progressing really quickly and then it came as a surprise how much of the book I really had left. I’m not saying I would have done it differently but it was definitely something that I was aware of while reading.

I think the reason THE FALL worked so well for me as a good, creepy book was how much the actual house itself was involved in the story. I am not a ghost person. I don’t handle ghost stories well because they’re just too real and I always get a little too creeped out. There were ghosts in THE FALL, but really the culprit behind all of the actions — and actually part of the reason why the ghosts are even present — is the house itself. There’s more to the curse and the explanation as to why, but that’s more for the reader to experience! Anyway… I just really enjoyed how the house was its own character. It had its own reasoning, a sense of feeling, and it interacted with the other characters. I loved its daunting presence and exactly how big of a role it played in the book.

The other characters were fascinating as well. Madeline was a very interesting character, being the main point of view as well as the “favorite of the house” so she had the most insight to the curse and everything that went on in the book. The interactions of the other characters and the house was really interesting as well. I was totally sucked in, analyzing exactly how the curse affected each person in turn and how the house chose to manipulate each of them.

Pretty much everything about this book worked for me! It was such a perfectly dark and spooky book with a fantastic gothic-horror feel and such a great horror read for a person like me who doesn’t like being scared pantless. I was still able to totally enjoy it without getting so scared that I wanted to stop reading and yet it never felt like anything was really missing either. It was really just a great balance for me and one I’d recommend for a creepy read!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Madeline // Character Obsessions: The House of Usher, mysteries, family, her brother.
I really liked Madeline’s character! I remember feeling a few twinges of “hmmm” while reading, but I admired her determination to fight and figure out exactly what was going on with her family’s curse and trying to survive it. The family traditionally died young, had weird illnesses, and often fell victim to the curse in many ways so it was really interesting to see Madeline go through the same things and at the same time, try to fight it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I am not a horror person but I really enjoyed this book! A big thank you to Bethany Griffin for just the perfect amount of scary for a scaredy cat like me!
Left Me Wanting More: From secondary characters. There were plenty of secondary characters in this book but I guess the only thing I could say is that I wish I had felt a bit more connected to them. I actually think the house is the most important character after Madeline so the other characters felt a little pushed to the side (and actually, saying it like that seems totally reasonable considering how the book went! The house really did push them to the side…) but I did want to feel just a bit more connected to some of them.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this one and I hope others do too! If you’ve read the original story from Poe, I’d love to hear what you think of it as a retelling! I think I’ll have to go read the original now so I can compare and be even more delightfully creeped out!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE FALL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        this dark endeavor       her dark curiosity

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) – Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) – Kenneth OppelTitle: This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) by Kenneth Oppel
Publishing Info: August 23, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 25, 2013

Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein and inseparable until Konrad falls gravely ill. In the forbidden Dark Library, Victor finds an ancient formula, and seeks an alchemist to recreate the Elixir of Life. With friends Elizabeth and Henry, he scales highest trees in the Strumwald, dives deepest lake caves, and each sacrifices a body part.

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I’m so glad Alyssa got me this book for All Hallow’s Read because I had been curious about it for quite a while! The Apprenticeship of VIctor Frankenstein?! SO excited to see “how it all started”!  Admittedly, it started out a little bit slow, but I think the ending was super strong!

So, THIS DARK ENDEAVOR is the story of a teenaged Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother Konrad. They live in Switzerland and naturally have a few quarrels being brothers and all, of course one of which is over a girl — their cousin Elizabeth. (I know, I know, very distant cousin, but still… why even make it a cousin? It always throws me off and gives me the heebie-jeebies.) The plot ultimately thickens when all of the kids find a secret passage and an entirely secret room extending from the library of the Frankenstein Mansion dubbed “The Dark Library”. There are books of all sorts there, of course, all forbidden, especially the ones about alchemy. When Konrad falls perilously ill, Victor decides that the only way to save him is by making the Elixir of Life.
The plot explanation is important for this review because without it, you may be tempted to think that this is a teenaged Victor Frankenstein already working on his monster. THIS DARK ENDEAVOR is the very, very beginning of VIctor Frankenstein’s story so I think it’s important for readers to know that you do NOT see Frankenstein’s monster in this book nor his work on it — this is more of a prequel to Mary Shelley’s classic FRANKENSTEIN (which I also had to Wikipedia — so shamefully!!! — because I really remember ZERO details from when I read it as a freshman in high school… To be fair, that was over 10 years ago). THIS DARK ENDEAVOR more of a glimpse into Victor and how he ended up spiraling on such a dark path.

This story brings us the tale of alchemy and the Elixir of Life. We see Victor, Elizabeth, and their friend Henry go on many quests in order to obtain the proper ingredients for the elixir as deciphered for them by the outcasted, former Alchemist Polidori. The alchemy side was incredibly interesting to me and I loved the way it played out. Victor really put all of his heart and soul into finding the ingredients for this elixir that could possibly cure his brother when no other cures were working. I really enjoyed how much faith Victor had in the alchemy and how much doubt his own father had. I was really thrown back and forth from belief to disbelief and I couldn’t quite figure out who was right until the very end.

Admittedly… I wasn’t quite into the adventures that went into finding the ingredients for the elixir because I think was anticipating more of a scientific approach than adventure. I was much more hoping for suspense and intellect — how the elixir was made, things that may go wrong there — than a hunt for unusual ingredients. I think it may also have to do with my personal reproach for the fantastical tucked within the realistic. The ingredients were a bit TOO abnormal and I don’t know if such things really do exist, but they seemed entirely invented which just took me out of the “wow, this could actually have happened” mindset. The adventures themselves seemed a bit fantastical as well, going to such great heights and depths that the characters probably never would have survived. Unfortunately, those were moments that just took me out of the story. Also, HI! The Dark Library? Let’s just see SO MUCH MORE of that!

I really did love the ending — some perfectly horrific scenes, dabbling in gore and true horror — and the question of the elixir itself. Could they actually make it? Would the elixir work? Would they even be able to get it back home? Just a fantastic collection of suspenseful moments there. The book finished strong and ultimately allowed me to bump up my overall feel of the book just a bit. I think it probably would have been more enjoyable had I remembered so much more of the original FRANKENSTEIN before reading it. I had more of pop culture memory and not so much of the original gothic horror as well as the characters and situations that appear in both FRANKENSTEIN and THIS DARK ENDEAVOR.

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Victor Frankenstein // Character Obsessions: The Elixir of Life, Elizabeth, beating his twin brother at something… anything.
Victor is the… lesser twin, if you will. Konrad is the golden boy and is good at everything and even gets the girl and poor Victor… You can just see it coming. The rage, the thirst to prove himself, the squelched passion. I loved seeing the darkness rise in him and his curiosity for a combination of science and madness.
Elizabeth Lavenza // Character Obsessions: Church, a blossoming romance, being loyal.
Elizabeth was both strong and weak at the same time. She doesn’t shy away from adventure, risks, or danger, but at the same time, I felt like she spent many times playing it safe and her piety just bothered me haha — but honestly, are we surprised? A pious character is not my thing. I like getting lost in books so unless it’s an invented religion, I’m usually not into a strongly religious character. I did like that she seemed conflicted at times between both Victor and Konrad and I’m actually kind of hoping for more angst from her in book two.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Classics. I know I’m going backwards here, but now I want to re-read FRANKENSTEIN. I think I’d appreciate it so much more as an adult because 14-year-old me gave it two stars haha. I absolutely hated it. I think it was just way over my head at the time and it was a summer reading book. It was summer and I wanted to read something FUN. I think I’m definitely due for a re-read because I bet it’d be entirely more interesting now.
Left Me Wanting More: Science and suspense. There was a lot of action in this book which I really hadn’t expected. I was hoping for more alchemy, more brewing of potions, more science and much more suspense. The suspense moments were often tied to the adventure at hand and eh. I just wished for more horror-suspense, ya know?

Addiction Rating
Read it!

True, I had some complaints, but I also think that’s due to the fact that I don’t remember much of FRANKENSTEIN. Having looked it up again, I was missing a LOT of connections so I think that knowledge of the classic itself would have helped me a lot. There were elements that weren’t quite my style in this book, but it did set up for Victor’s dark path towards creating his monster so I am definitely intrigued to see what the rest of the series holds!!

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BOOKS LIKE THIS DARK ENDEAVOR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Madman's Daughter                Born Wicked

The Murmurings – Carly Anne West

The Murmurings – Carly Anne WestTitle: The Murmurings by Carly Ann West
Publishing Info: March 5, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 17, 2013

    Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.
As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

bookreview1I’m not usually one for creepy-type books because let’s face it. I’m a scaredy cat and I’m willing to admit it! THE MURMURINGS, however, seemed really interesting and I was willing to be a little creeped out in a good way. It seemed like part paranormal, part psychological thriller and I was definitely interested in getting my hands on it! After reading though… I was pretty disappointed. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for THE MURMURINGS and now I understand why. I think some people will find the concept delightfully creepy, but others (like me) will feel like although it was an interesting idea, the pacing and the follow-through of the concept fall flat as well as some characters that I didn’t feel were developed enough.

I was less than a quarter of the way through the book when already I felt like too many plot points had just been given to the audience instead of being drawn out and suspenseful. Then things I didn’t think needed to be drawn out went on for several chapters. I felt like Nell’s diary entries really slowed down the pacing of the book instead of adding extra mystery and bringing some of her personality to the book. Even with horrifying scenes that involve SEEING THINGS IN MIRRORS THAT AREN’T THERE (WTF… My worst nightmare come true), I actually didn’t find myself being creeped out and I totally should have. Too many aspects of the ghostly happenings (mostly the way Nell died) seemed too unrealistic to me. In order to scare me like it should have, I should have felt like this was real and any of it could happen to me. I felt like it was juuust outside of believable and unfortunately it kind of killed the whole feel of the book for me.

I never connected with the characters in the book either. Sophie was okay but her personality didn’t really stand out to me. The only times she really caught my attention was when she was being sarcastic and I was amused by her snark, but other than that, she was a little flat for me. I also felt like her character wasn’t consistent and her actions were contradictory, and not in a growing & changing way. She jumped back and forth between being fearless and being fearful, compliant and obstinate, skeptical and trusting – It didn’t really seem to create a clear picture of who she was. I wasn’t a fan of the secondary characters either. I was very skeptical of Evan the whole time and at the VERY beginning he seemed so unreal that I almost thought he was a manifestation of Sophie’s schizophrenia. (I guess that was my almost Psych minor wanting to see something that wasn’t there, ironically enough…)

I guess I could say THE MURMURINGS wasn’t a “bad” book, but it was really just not the book for me. I didn’t make an emotional connection with it and I didn’t make any connection with the characters either. The plot was interesting, but never quite made it past an exciting idea for me as a reader. I was just bummed!

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Sophie: Sophie felt rather undeveloped – or better yet, she felt too scattered. I think there were a lot of things that Sophie was supposed to be, but it was too many ideas trying to come together in one character and it created a bit of confusion for me as a reader. Her actions seemed to fit what the scene wanted them to be rather than letting her character guide her own decisions. She just didn’t seem real to me.
Evan: Why do they always have to be football players? I get so frustrated how many of the love interests have to be football players and it was totally an unnecessary element of this book. Sigh. Anyway… I was always a little skeptical of him being a legit friend/love interest for Sophie, but I guess I was just making it up in my head!
All of the other characters: I wished the secondary characters were more developed. I think that could have added so much depth to the story. I felt like everyone else was just kind of there because they needed to be there for the plot instead of really adding something interesting to the story/having their own story to tell.

addiction_factor1Skip it.

Meh. Pass. It was kind of hard for me to get through so I won’t really be recommending it to anyone else!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE MURMURINGS

     Ten - Gretchen McNeil      Shadowlands

Ten – Gretchen McNeil

Ten – Gretchen McNeilTitle: Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Publishing Info: September 18, 2012 by HarperCollins
Genres: Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 13, 2012

    It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.
    But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
    Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

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I really enjoyed reading TEN It was the perfect amount of creepy, just a bit of ghost story, and I definitely felt like I needed to read it in the daylight and not the dark. I know it’s a retelling of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None, but since I hadn’t read it, I didn’t really know what I was in for.

TEN played out pretty much like an old 90s slasher film for me — and I loved it. So Meg and her friends are on the an island. It’s the worst storm of the century. The power’s been cut. They find a creepy DVD (the Ring?? Ahhh! There was another reference to that later on too). Oh, and there’s a killer among them, picking off their friends one by one and marking it with red slashes of paint on the wall each time one of them is killed. Pretty freakin’ creepy.

Despite the fact that I’m not a horror fan (seriously — I had to stop a ghost story earlier in the week because ghosts flat out terrify me), I really enjoyed reading this. It was the perfect amount of freaking me out because I could put the book down and not feel like I was going to get attacked or anything. I contemplated putting the book in the freezer (10 points if you get the reference) but I kept on reading and was quite surprised with the ending! In true slasher film form, it was a nice twist the way everything played out. I felt like there was a twist coming, but I couldn’t figure it out until the reveal.

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Meg: Meg seemed like a pretty normal character. I liked the writer-geek in her and she just seemed very low-key and (despite the almost calm while dealing with killers and dead bodies) it seems like she and I would handle situations similarly, especially with her friendship with Minnie. Minnie seems like a tough one to deal with, and in all honesty, I probably would have ditched my Homecoming date to spare my best friend too.
Minnie: Minnie really threw me for a loop. We find out that she’s on medication for anxiety/depression (sorry, I think I was mixing them up in the book), but I kept wondering the whole time how it was playing into our murder story. Was she the killer and went crazy off of her meds? Was she going to create some kind of dangerous situation? Was her mental illness more than what we believed it to be? Lots of interesting questions that came up with that aspect of the story.

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Try it

This book was so much fun! It totally reminded me of 90s slasher films. I wouldn’t say it was amazing or anything but a really fun horror/mystery, especially for Halloween-time!

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