30 Days of Horror #14: Cruel Summer #HO17 #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

I’m almost half way through my 30 day challenge and there’s still so many books I want to highlight. Today’s choice was my first time reading this particular author, and I recently finished my second. It’s YA. It’s Horror. I love it when my favourite things come together.

cruelsummer

Available in paperback & ebook, 321 pages

Published August 1st 2013 by Indigo

A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Janey was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer.

Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

Goodreads // My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Week #2 Wrap-up

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Lazy Saturday Review: Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick #HO17 #MiniBookReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

killingthedeadTitle: Killing the Dead
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Publication Details: March 5th 2015 by Indigo
Genre(s): YA; Horror
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it.

Goodreads 

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Set in a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts a haunting and sinister story YA story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.

1963. Foxgrove School near Stockbridge, Massachusetts. One of the oldest and finest academies in the country – but what really goes on behind closed doors? Nathaniel Drake, the new young English teacher, Isobel Milewski, the quiet girl who loved to draw spirals, her fingers stained with green ink, Jack Lewis, who lent Isobel books – just words, just ink on paper, Margot Leya, the girl with those eyes – who are they, what part have they played in killing the dead?

Follow the dark, dark path
Into the dark, dark woods
To the dark, dark bridge
By the dark, dark water.
Linger.
Let the ghosts of heaven tell their story.

A stylish and creepy story for World Book Day from prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick.

Review

It’s been a while since I finished this short read, and I’m not too sure how I felt about it. I thought it was an odd choice for a World Book Day book as they are usually aimed at younger readers, but I think it’s great they are now including books for older children, especially ones as dark as this.

Marcus Sedgwick was my favourite author for a time, and don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s amazing, but a few of his latest books have disappointed me. Killing the Dead feels like vintage (darker) Sedgwick, but it also ties in with some things in The Ghosts of Heaven, which is his only book that I have actively disliked.

In this story, I loved the setting, but not so much the characters, making it hard for me to get invested in their well-being. I loved the idea that the school has this tragic accident in its past that has become a dark and sinister legend, but I wanted it to be explored more instead of focusing on a perverted teacher.

So the jury’s still out on this one. If you want a good, dark, read by Sedgwick there are lots of others I would start with, such as The Book of Dead Days or The Foreshadowing.

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Up Next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror: Cruel Summer

30 Days of Horror #13: Universal Harvester #HO17 #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book for each day until we reach Halloween!

Happy Friday 13th horror fans!

I’ve chosen another recent(ish) release that I’m yet to get hold of for tonight’s horror book choice. It was definitely the striking colours of the cover that got my attention initially, but the premise sounds amazing too!

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Available in all formats, 214 pages

Published March 1st 2017 by Farrar Straus & Giroux

Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut

Jeremy works at the counter of Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s the 1990s, pre-DVD, and the work is predictable and familiar; he likes his boss, and it gets him out of the house.

But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets, she has an odd complaint: ‘There’s something on it,’ she says. Two days later, another customer brings back She’s All That and complains that something is wrong: ‘There’s another movie on this tape.’

Curious, Jeremy takes a look. And what he sees on the videos is so strange and disturbing that it propels him out of his comfortable routine and into a search for the tapes’ creator. As the once-peaceful fields and barns of the Iowa landscape begin to seem sinister and threatening, Jeremy must come to terms with a truth that is as devastatingly sad as it is shocking.

 

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Lazy Saturday Review: Killing the Dead

This Year in Horror (so far!) #HO17 #BookReviews

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Looking back through my 2016 reviews, I’m astonished at how little horror I’ve actually read so far this year! But, here they are in one handy post. And yes, I use the term ‘horror’ pretty loosely sometimes.

The Haunting ~ Alex Bell

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Some curses grow stronger with time…

People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.


Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…

A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte. 

Mini Review

I’m loving this Red Eye series of books which is a YA Horror imprint. I don’t think there’s enough YA Horror out there. The Haunting was a fun, quick read incorporated lots of old Cornish myths and ghost stories which I thought set it apart from other ghost stories I’ve read. It was quite clichéd in places but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of it. It’s a very traditional horror but the unique characters, especially protagonist Emma who is a wheelchair user, made it more interesting and diverse. A great read.

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The Marsh King’s Daughter ~ Karen Dionne

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The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Review

Yes. Just all the yes! It’s been a really long time since I stayed up wayyyy too late because I couldn’t put a book down, but this one forced me too.

The Marsh King’s Daughter is a fast-paced, thrilling, creepy, empowering, brilliant story about a girl who was brought up in the wilderness, taught to hunt and track by her unpredictable father (at a very young age), and who never met another single person other than her father and her parents until she was 12 years old.

She didn’t know it, but Helena was her father’s prisoner, just like her mother was.

Helena, now happily married with two little girls, has made a nice life for herself, but it came at a price. She became a new person and never told anyone who her father is. She wasn’t able to visit him in prison even though sometimes she wanted to.

When she hears on the news that he has escaped from the maximum security prison he was being held, killing two men, Helena is in no doubt that he’ll come for her and her girls, but luckily for her The Marsh King taught her everything he knew.

I loved so much about this story. Helena took to the wild life from an early age. She loved hunting, tracking, shooting, killing. She was a prisoner but she didn’t know it, and ironically the marsh offered her a freedom normal children will never experience. She had many happy times and she often idolised her Native American father. But she also feared him, and knew that his relationship with her mother was strange.

I found it really interesting how Helena viewed her mother. They hadn’t bonded and she wondered if she loved her. She didn’t understand why her mum was so weak and not present. The thought of staying in the cabin and making jam with her mum made her skin crawl. Her mum’s story is the truly harrowing element of this novel.

The whole way through I wondered if Helena’s mum had made the decision to not tell her about the situation out of fear, or because she wanted her to have some normality in her childhood. I wanted to know if she’d ever tried to escape, and if not, why not, but I think it was a much better story not knowing that as we only see through the eyes of Helena – which I thought was really powerful.

The Marsh King’s Daughter was great from the beginning but the second half of the book was outstanding, I really could not put it down. I needed to know if Helena and her lovely family would be OK; what she would say to her father when she saw him; If she could survive once more? I think she has to be one of my favourite protagonists of recent years, and I know her story will stay with me for a long, long time.

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Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee

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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

Review

The cover of this book is so perfect it’s hard to put into words. It’s dark, beautiful and mysterious, which is exactly how I’d describe the story within.

Broken Branches is about the Perkins family, in particular Ian and his wife Rachel, who move into the cottage where Ian grew up. The cottage with the huge, ominous looking tree outside; the cottage where bad things happen.

I found the book a little slow to start with but before I knew it couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that never quite gives you the answers you want. You know the type; the type of story that drives you mad in the best possible way.

There had been talk of ‘the curse’ since Ian’s childhood when his uncle died, but he never truly believed it until he inherited the cottage himself. This threw up many questions in itself – why would he move into a house with such a bad history? Other curiosities in the story (and believe me when I say it’s full of them), surrounded Rachel who is extremely distant and aloof from the start – was she depressed? Mentally ill? We’re not quite sure.

Ian delves deeper into his family history, and that of the cottage, in order to learn more about the curse, thinking that proving the existence of it will solve everything including whatever it is that’s wrong with Rachel and his marriage. But of course it only drives them further apart as Ian get more and more obsessed. He loses his job and sinks into a frenzied, isolated existence where the tree is always lurking in the background, and someone keeps moving his research around.

I think Broken Branches’ success comes from the masterfully layered atmosphere that just gets creepier and creepier as the story goes on. M. Jonathan Lee has done a wonderful job in creating suspense and intrigue, and there are some great horror elements in it too. I’m not sure I’d even want to read this on a stormy night…

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Charlotte Says ~ Alex Bell

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The much-anticipated prequel to the bestselling FROZEN CHARLOTTE, a Zoella Book Club title in Autumn 2016.


Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night.


Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes.

Review

Charlotte Says was a highly-anticipated read for me because I loved Frozen Charlotte, which was my introduction to the Red Eye series of YA Horror books. This one is a prequel to the first book. It’s basically the origin story for the events that occur in Frozen Charlotte, so you definitely don’t have to have read that one to enjoy this.

Here, we go back to Victorian times where we meet Jemima, a girl of sixteen, but of course considered an adult at that time. After an evidently troubled and mysterious past, Jemima accepts a teaching job at a boarding school for the destitute and wayward.

At first things appear to be OK (don’t they always?). Jemima is reunited with an old friend, and the girls seem to warm to her quickly, but the Schoolmistress, Miss Grayson is nothing if not an evil old wench who causes Jemima no end of grief from day one.

And then the dolls arrive. Followed closely by a dolls house. Jemima isn’t too happy to see them as they come from her previous home where, let’s just say, bad things happened, but because the girls have so little Jemima donates them to the school.

Then the madness ensues!

I’m not sure how much I liked this book. It had a lot more depth to it than its predecessor, but it was also a lot less fun, and a lot less scary. There were some great horror elements in there, along with some creepy moments, but I felt like it was lacking something. It didn’t have the impact that FC did, and I found that a bit disappointing.

I can’t fault Alex Bell’s ambition though, or her writing. I loved the setting and the slow reveal of Jemima’s past, but I felt the pace was too slow overall, and it just didn’t have the creep-factor of the first book.

I’m still excited about what this author does next though, she’s one to watch!

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Have you enjoyed any of these yet?

Up next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror – what will day 13 bring us?

30 Days of Horror #12: The White Road #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

 

Tonight’s choice is a book that was only published in May, and one that I haven’t managed to pick up yet, but I think it sounds great!

thewhiteroad

Available in all formats, 352 pages

Published May 1st 2017 by Mulholland Books 

Death waits at the top of the world in this adrenaline-laced thriller from Sarah Lotz, perfect for anyone who loves the film The Descent or John Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air.

Adrenaline-junky Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he’s met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he’s had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he’s faced with an impossible task: he’s got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There’s only on place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon’s luck is about to run out.

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

This Year in Horror (so far!)

30 Days of Horror #11: The Goth Girl Series #HO17 #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

This series is perfect for younger readers this Halloween. Or, young-at-heart readers like me. I loved the first two books in this series, but am yet to read the rest. Chris Riddell’s illustrations are amazing, and believe me when I say that pictures of these books don’t do them justice. I would highly recommend splashing out on the hardbacks over other formats. They so shiny.

Available in all formats

1st book published 2013

 Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Meet Ada Goth. She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with.

Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for…

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Goodreads // Goth Girl Spotlight

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

 This Year in Horror (part 1)

Horror October: This Week in Books 09.10.17 #TWIB #HO17

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Throughout October, I’ll be doing the short version of this post where I will simply share what I’m reading now, then and next. Because quite frankly, there’s enough going on around here.

Last week was slightly crazy because I clearly wasn’t prepared for the extra work involved in HO, but I’ve caught up and scheduled lots of posts now so I’m very happy. Every year I’m astonished by how much this event grows and the interaction, comments, and increased blog traffic makes it all worth while, so thanks to everyone reading this!

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

Now: I Am Behind You  ~ John Ajvide Lindqvist

I’ve only just started this so nothing to report yet!

Then: Under My Skin ~ James Dawson // The Silent Companions ~ Laura Purcell

Under My Skin was a fun YA read with an edge, and The Silent Companions was like an old-fashioned ghost tale set in an old mansion a la Susan Hill. I enjoyed it a lot, but parts of it were a bit slow. Both reviews will be up by next next week.

Next: ??? Definitely Alone by Cyn Balog.

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Up Next on Horror October:

30 Days of Horror – what will day 12 bring us?

30 Days of Horror #10: You Die When You Die #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

OK, so technically today’s book choice is a fantasy. But it’s a dark fantasy, and it looks great! Plus, with a title like that you can’t argue with its ‘horror’ credentials, right?

youdie

Available in paperback, digital and audio, 512 pages

Published June 6th 2017 by Orbit

 YOU DIE WHEN YOU DIE . . .

You can’t change your fate – so throw yourself into battle, because you’ll either win or wake up drinking mead in the halls of your ancestors. That’s what Finn’s tribe believe.

But when their settlement is massacred by a hostile tribe and Finn and several friends, companions and rivals make their escape across a brutal, unfamiliar landscape, Finn will fight harder than he’s ever fought in his life. He wants to live – even if he only lives long enough to tell Thyri Treelegs how he feels about her.

The David Gemmell Award nominated author of Age of Iron returns with You Die When You Die – in which a mismatched group of refugees battle animals and monsters, determined assassins, depraved tribes, an unforgiving land and each other as they cross a continent to fulfil a prophecy.

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

This Week in Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Spooky Autumnal Book Covers

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

I’m adding a twist to this week’s topic and choosing my top ten spooky covers that scream Autumn/Fall. It is Horror October after all.

These are in no particular order because that’s more than my brain can handle right now…

The above covers scream Autumn to me. They aren’t horror books, but I chose these covers because they all have something ominous about them. The fox looks sinister with his fur of autumn leaves, the skull in the Riggs book is cheesy but makes me smile, and the other two simply intrigue me!

I don’t know why most of the covers I’ve chosen have trees on, but I guess that’s what means Autumn to me. These six covers are spooky reads that I would want to pick up just as Autumn hits, solely on the basis of the covers.

I love the retro Goosebumps covers, and the Girl in the Well is a book I’ve wanted to read since it came out on the strength of that simple but foreboding cover. I don’t actually like the Kendare Blake cover that much because it screams CGI, but I do love that the leaves are falling like blood. Or is that blood dropping like leaves?

Do these covers make you want to read them?

Or have you read any of them already?

30 Days of Horror #9: Battle Royale #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book everyday until we reach Halloween!

Wow, day 9 already. My book pick for today is another classic, but very different to yesterday’s choice. I’ve gone for the book that was the inspiration behind the classic Arnie film, The Running Man, and the book that really kicked off the whole YA dystopian phenomenon, The Hunger Games.

It is of course, the Bloody Japanese epic, Battle Royale.

Battleroyale

Available in all formats, 617 pages

Published February 26th 2003 by VIZ, LLC

 Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.
Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan – where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller – Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Top Ten Spooky Autumnal Book Covers