So, this is the conclusion of Halloween month on the blog - I did enjoy all the Halloween themed posts, but I do have lots of other bits and pieces to show you and to talk about so I'm glad to get back to normal again.
During October, I stuck exclusively to spooky/horror/creepy books. I picked a lot of shorter ones, some days I read two little ones, but overall I'm glad I stuck to the theme and really glad to have checked 18 more books off my to-read list throughout the month.
As always with these reviews, I'll add all books to my Books 2015 page where you can click on any individual cover to go to my more detailed Goodreads review for that book.
Rick O'Shea Book Club
If you're still not a member of Rick O'Shea's Book Club on Facebook, I'd really recommend it. I've discovered some brilliant books over the past 14 months because of the club - some I'd never have picked up. There's a great group of people over there and they're all massive book addicts who are happy to have a chat about any type of book, no snobbery involved. This month, I read both choices.
Ghost Stories by M.R. James
A classic collection of ghost stories written in the early 1900s, this is very much old-school "horror". It's not scary at all, it's not creepy, but it's a nice example of its genre. To be fair, it's probably the first example of its genre - known as "antiquarian" ghost stories. The stories were quite formulaic and there were no major shocks - I couldn't read this all in one sitting.
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
When I read that one of the short stories in this collection had made people faint when they heard it being read aloud by the author, I was worried. When I read said story and cried laughing, I was more worried. For myself. This is a collection of extremely gross, disgusting, graphic, horrible stories. Some more interesting than others, all very gross and very un-PC. Not for those with a weak stomach.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The tale of a young boy, with a sick mother, visited by a large monster in the form of a yew tree. Absolutely bawled at this one, which I wasn't expecting! It's a really nice book. Not remotely scary, though.
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
A young girl, full of attitude, has to figure out what to do when she finds out that her younger sister has been possessed. A bit young for me, but it was an okay read. There are two follow-up books, but I don't think I'd be bothered with them.
Closed For The Season by Mary Downing Hahn
I mistakenly picked this up thinking it was a horror, but it says "a mystery story" on the front so it was my own fault. This swayed me because it was centred around an old amusement park. It was alright, reminiscent of something from the early 90s despite being written in 2009. I have another of Mary's books to read, Wait Til Helen Comes is currently in post-production and will be released as a movie next year.
Liked the Movie? Read the Book!
Halloween by Curtis Richards
Unusually for a book/movie crossover, this was written after the John Carpenter movie version. This stays pretty faithful to the movie, but we find out much more about what makes Michael Myers tick. I really enjoyed this, it was a nice companion to the movie. Apparently the paperback is very hard to track down, so if you see it - grab it!
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman can be hit and miss for me. I did enjoy this, but I think I only enjoyed it because I have such a fondness for the movie version starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock, so I was picturing them in my head as I read it. This is grittier, the plot is slightly different, but I liked it.
Psycho by Robert Bloch
I'm sure this was terrifying when it was released and people had no idea what was going to happen, but some of the suspense is definitely gone when you've heard the story or seen the movie. I haven't seen the movie (shockingly), but I've seen "the scene" several times on those Top 100 Movie Countdown things. A good read, recommended moreso if you aren't familiar with the story of Norman Bates.
Ring by Koji Suzuki
Again, I'm a big fan of The Ring starring Naomi Watts. I've also seen the original Japanese movie, Ringu, and found it terrifying. This book - not so much. I feel that something may have been lost in translation, but the reasoning behind why Sadako (Samara in the movie) did what she did was ridiculous to me. Also, one of the main characters is particularly horrible.
Only one of my Netgalley books fit in with my October theme -
The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson
Gloria lives next door to a former school, nicknamed "The Child Garden". It's now a run-down care home, where her son Nicky lives. One night, someone from Gloria's past knocks on her front door and drags her into a mystery involving the home. I didn't enjoy this - too many nicknames, too many twists, too many red herrings and too many characters. It wasn't scary or creepy either (to be fair, I'm not sure if it was intended to be either).
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
I was delighted to be able to fit this in - it was King's second published novel (after Carrie) and it still reads every bit as good as it did when I first discovered it 20 years ago. It's his "vampire novel", and it's everything I wanted Dracula to be. Creepy, tense, scary - King at his best. Brilliant.
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
This was recommended by a lady in the Rick O'Shea Book Club when I asked for contemporary horror recommendations. It's brilliant - all over the world, people are "seeing something" that makes them lose their minds, turning on each other and eventually taking their own lives in gruesome ways. The only way to avoid this fate is to stay inside, in the dark, or if you do venture out - stay blindfolded, keep your eyes closed. Malorie is pregnant when the darkness first begins, but now five years on, she must save herself and her children - she must go outside and she needs to open her eyes. Couldn't put it down!
Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell
This was a recommendation from my friend Breige of Rare Opal - I was looking for more books set in Salem. This one focuses on Lois, who has just travelled to New England from Old England after a family tragedy. Gradually, people begin to turn against Lois, and eventually accuse her of witchcraft. This was a short read, but I'll never tire of books on this subject - it's still unbelievable to me that stories like this were based on true events.
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
Every October, he appears. "The October Boy", with a pumpkin head and the body of a scarecrow, rises from a crop field and must make his way to the town church before being caught by one of the town's teenage boys. An annual ritual, there's a dark town secret hidden here - and when one teenager is close to figuring it out, those in charge will do anything they can to stop him. Really enjoyed this, the whole small-town-gone-bad thing is one of my favourite genres.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
I had previously read We Have Always Lived in the Castle and loved it, so I had high expectations from this classic - I was disappointed. It's about a group of three people who go to Hill House to spend some time there with a Doctor investigating paranormal goings-on there. Except there wasn't really much going on there. It was alright but I wanted it to be better.
Irish Ghost Stories by Pauric O'Farrell
A collection of ghost stories told to the author by people all over Ireland. There's one in here from the next town to me - I had never heard it before, so that was a nice surprise. Some parts of this are a little muddled, as if the author just thought of random conversations and stuck them in here and there, but it was nice to read unpublished stories and hear about experiences from ordinary everyday people.
The Bad Seed by William March
Little Rhoda Penmark is 8 years old. Adored by adults, abhorred by her peers, Rhoda will do anything to get her own way. When her mother becomes increasingly concerned about Rhoda and some incidents that happen, she begins to pay more attention and digs deeper to discover a terrible family secret. Really enjoyed this, it was well written and wasn't dated at all.
Your House is on Fire, Your Children all Gone by Stefan Kiesbye
This was a weird little book! A group of friends have shared strange experiences in their small village as children. Now, they are reunited for a friend's funeral, and they all share their own stories in different chapters. Some of them are just downright weird, others disgusting, but all are creepy. A very, very strange little book, but for the most part I enjoyed it.
And that's it! I'm looking forward to getting back to lighter reads, I have a lot of Christmas ones ready to get lost in.
Have you read any of these?