Thursday, October 30, 2014

Locked In: Welcome to the Dark House Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 368
Keywords: horror, mystery, murder
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.
And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.
Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.
Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.
I'm first going to make a disclaimer that I really tried to ignore while I read the book. My eARC was formatted super incorrectly, and I realized the book is being told from all the characters' points of views, and that in the actual book, the typefaces change with the narrator. The eARC did no such thing. The voices were all really similar, and it was supremely difficult for me to differentiate between the characters.

That being said, I really liked the idea behind this. A movie star's contest to share nightmares, and then the winners get to see the set and live in his world, where there's all kinds of creepy stuff going on. I liked not knowing what was going to happen and how nothing was really answered straightaway for a while, so it kept me guessing a little bit.

Even with that plot that was fun, it all felt a bit cliche and boring, and I didn't feel like any of the characters stood out or went anywhere as people. They all felt static and boring, and I wanted there to be something more from them. Everyone had a distinct trait, and that was pretty much all that defined them, and they didn't feel particularly complex.

This was pretty much like a horror movie: The premise is good and it's suspenseful, but the characters are only so-so and the story will only go so far, and really, there's pretty much only one way it can end. Wasn't my favorite read of the season, but it wasn't the worst.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Strange Murder: The Monster Variations Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

The Monster Variations by Daniel Kraus
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 256
Keywords: murder, childhood, growing up
Format Read: Hardcover via publisher (thank you!)
Someone is killing boys in a small town. The murder weapon is a truck, and the only protection is a curfew enacted to keep kids off the streets. But it’s summer—and that alone is worth the risk of staying out late for James, Willie, and Reggie. 
Willie, who lost his arm in the first hit-and-run attack, finds it hard to keep up with his two best friends as they leave childhood behind. All of them are changing, hounded by their parents, hunted by the killer, and haunted by the “monster,” a dead thing that guards the dangerous gateway between youth and manhood. But that’s not all: shadowing the boys everywhere is Mel Herman, the mysterious and brilliant bully whose dark secrets may hold the key to their survival. As the summer burns away, these forces collide, and it will take compassion, brains, and guts for the boys to overcome their demons—and not become monsters themselves.
Going into this book, I was pretty excited because it sounded like a fast-paced murder mystery. Someone is running down boys in town in a truck. Willie, one of our main characters, ends up with only one arm, and another boy ends up dead. However, I was expecting there to be more that happened in the beginning. The description says that someone is killing boys, but for the first 2/3 of the book, it's just one that's died and poor Willie, struggling to carry home groceries without his left arm.

I realized early on this book was more about memories and learning about the past than it was about actions. It was reminiscent and pondered a lot of questions after they had happened, helping the reader see the boys grow as they made decisions in their childhood days.

The characters are complex and compelling, but because the story is told in such a distant way, I felt a lack of connection, and I felt like there was constantly a glass wall between me and the characters. I could see what was happening to them, but it was separate from me, and I couldn't quite get to where I wanted to be.

I think that knowing this story is about stories and revisiting the past would help the reader enjoy it more. Since I was expecting a Criminal Minds sort of story, I felt a bit disoriented as the book progressed, but I did like the characters. I just wanted more happening and more information on everything.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Things I'll Be Hanging With on Halloween

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

I'm very sporadic in my participation in weekly memes, but this one fit perfectly! Of course, I am sort of changing/merging the topics. The Broke and The Bookish, the host, have chosen books to get in the creepy mood or characters you'd dress up as. 
For my Top Ten, I'm going to pick 10 things you can find me curled up with on Halloween because, let's face it, I'd rather spend the evening in my onesie at home on the couch than in a skimpy outfit somewhere outside. 


1. Fox Onesie — If you all know me at all (meaning I literally tweet about this all the time), I talk nonstop about how much I love my onesie. I have a basic one that is excellent, but recently I've really been loving foxes, and I would love to put this on to pretend I dressed up, but really I'd be in pajamas.

2. Hocus Pocus — You can't have Halloween without this movie. Really. Needs no explanation.


 3. Candy Corn — I'm one of the people that falls in the camp of absolutely loving and will eat to the point of sickness. Bring it on!

4. Anything cinnamon — I put it in all my tea and cider this time of year. It makes everything better. Plus cinnamon sticks are just super fun-looking.


5. Apple Cider — It's the BEST drink. Move over pumpkin spice latte lovers (seriously, how much can you make pumpkin-flavored things and not be sick of it? Just kidding, I just don't like pumpkin stuff. Ew). YUMMM.

6. Harry Potter Marathon — It's that time of year when I watch the series from beginning to end. Okay, I haven't done that recently, but I ALWAYS watch the first movie. I think because of the troll scene and how magical the first one is, I have always enjoyed watching it at Halloween time.

7. Halloweentown — Speaking of Halloween time, the Disney Channel has the best movies, hands down. This is another classic that I don't miss during October.


8. And Then There Were None — I just talked about how much I love Agatha Christie, but I have actually never read this one. Somehow it always missed my reading pile, and I just purchased it, so I've got it all ready to go for a lovely night in.

9. The Witches — This is a childhood favorite, and I adore Roald Dahl so much. I also just acquired a copy of this, so I'm all ready for a nice binge-read.


 10. Yarn! — Finally, I will be working on an awesome blanket I've been crocheting. I just finished up a hat too, so I'll be making a pompom to put on top the hat! Yay for old-lady habits!

What do you guys think? Do these look like things you'll be doing on Halloween, or do you go outside and interact with people?!

Monday, October 27, 2014

F**k, Marry, Kill: Monster Edition

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Partly inspired by my undying love of Jesse de Silva and partly inspired by Asti's Scary or Marry Monsters post, today's content comes to you in the fashion of the most popular game on the high school (and probably middle school) bus. (I didn't ride the bus in middle school, so I can't be certain)

F**k, Marry, Kill
(I've got a mouth like a drunken sailor, but I know some people aren't okay with that kind of language, so since I'll be using it a lot, I've put stars in for some of the letters)

I'm going to pick my favorite 3 books in each category (ghosts and sci-fi outcasts), and pick one of the boys to nominate for the match! Let me know if you agree with my choices!

First up: GHOSTS
Okay, so ghosts are supposed to be scary. And in real life, I'd probably pee myself if I saw one. But in books, they're often seen as undeniably hot or at least fun and cool to hang out with.
These books include ghosts or paranormal beings not visible to all humans.


First up, I'd kill Xemerius, the ghost who appears in the Ruby Red series. I mean, he's hilarious, but between Jesse and Bennett? Can't compete. Sorry, pal. Next is the tough decision. Now, Bennett (from Deception) isn't a ghost, but he's a ghostwalker, and I figure that's close enough (shhhh, it's my game!). As much as I'd want to keep the both of them around forever, I'd f**k Bennett because 1. he's a real human and 2. I really just want to marry Jesse (from Mediator) so I could keep him for all eternity. That's not creepy.

Second: SCI-FI KIDS
These are the ones who don't really fit into any category other than that they don't fit in and it's paranormal weirdness. Like wings, or they can talk to dead people, or they control the universe. You know, average stuff.


I know a lot of people are really obsessed with the main man from the Hush, Hush series, but I just didn't feel it. He seemed really misogynistic to me, and he drove me mad. So sorry, but I'd kill Patch. Next up is another undying love sort of scenario. I've loved Fang from Maximum Ride for ages, and he's moody and kind of a loner but also really caring, so I'd for sure marry Fang. That leaves Aelyx, who is drawing the lucky stick today. I don't really love him, but since the other two are gone, I guess his pretty alien looks would be interesting... so I'll f**k Aelyx (from Alienated).

Do you all agree with my choices? Who are some other characters in these categories you have strong feelings toward?




Sunday, October 26, 2014

#PrivateSchoolProblems: Possess Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Possess by Gretchen McNeil ( web | tweet )
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 379
Keywords: exorcism, demons, supernatural
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.
Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.
First of all, I want to say I had NO IDEA this was THE Gretchen McNeil. Of 3:59, Ten, and Get Even. Yep, that girl. This is her debut, and I could not have been more impressed.
Initially I was too scared to pick this book up, and man am I mad at myself I waited so long. This ARC has been on my shelf for an embarrassing length of time (I'm talking since before it was published. That's when I got this). I'm also a huge fan of McNeil now, and I've actually got another window open as I type this buying 3:59 and Ten because I've not read those yet.

I really felt fully immersed into the story from page one, and it dumps you right into the middle of one of Bridget's first "banishments," her nicer way of saying exorcism. She's evidently got way more power than the priest leading her has ever seen, so she's his mentee learning on the job and attending all kinds of demon-ridding activities. You know, on top of being in high school and worrying about boys (there's a really cute one in this).

McNeil didn't hold back when it came to plot, and I was definitely surprised by some of the plot twists that happened. One left me sitting on the couch with my mouth hanging open because I just didn't believe it. Think Walking Dead plots, where no one and nothing is safe, no matter how much you like them.

The characters were great (um, steamy kiss scenes galore! That was a huge surprise considering the overall topic of the book), the plot was suspenseful and interesting, and I ended up reading this in one day, and I feel like I finally got out of my three-star-okay-books rut.
Below is a screenshot of my Goodreads updates (which I'm trying to do more of; they're a lot more fun than Facebook!)
I forgot about my problem with the cover — the fact that the character is Chinese is a pretty important point, and it seems like her whole family is, so I was a little confused why the girl on the front seems so American. But maybe that's just me? What do you guys think?

My general feeling about this book is GO BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. It was great. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. (Also was sad there wasn't a second because it DEFINITELY seems like the start to a series.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Local Halloween Fun!

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

I was going to post a review today of a book I FLEW through, but last night (being Thursday, since I'm writing a post for Saturday on Friday. But I digress), my family and I and some friends went to a pretty new Louisville event, I think it's in its second year. 

It's basically this big walk through Iriquois Park, Louisville's largest park (probably, it's huge), with 5,000 pumpkins per night, and they're all lit and illuminated, and there was music and sound effects and fog all over the place. All the pumpkins were carved by local artists, and when I say carved, I mean hella artistically decorated and scraped pumpkins. 

It was insane. 

So I thought I would share my experience there!


The theme was "A Walk in Time," and it started off in the prehistoric periods with some hella sweet dino pumpkins. If you know anything about me, it's my obsession with dinos. Especially triceratops and stegos. They're my favorite :) But it was too crowded right at the beginning to get any good pictures. It fanned out as we went, so I was able to get some more.

Next up was the Ice Age, and I snagged this super sweet photo of a SABOR TOOTHED TIGER. Be prepared. You're not ready for the ridiculousness that is this pumpkin.


I told you. It was insane. I loved this whole experience so much. From there we went through periods like the Viking Age (of which I got all excited because I could educate my mother about the importance of ornamentation on viking protection wear, and she promptly pushed me away so I would shut up) to the Middle Ages with Merlin, Arthur, and a sweet Robin Hood pumpkin. 

Next was more America-centered, with Columbus, a Declaration, Thanksgiving, and then we finally, after a long walk, hit pop culture row, where I got some cool pictures of my favorites like this lovely lady.


She's the most underappreciated Disney character, but I'll save that for another day.

This was an awesome event, and if you're in the Louisville area for Halloween, it's still going on through next Sunday, the 2nd, and I 100% say it's worth it. Totally.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Book Drinks: Catholic Cheers

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Welcome to the second installment of creepy Friday Book Drinks! This is a regular feature I created where I pair cocktails with books I'm reading because, you know, drinks are great! During #blogtober, though, it's been creepy books and their drink counterparts. Today's post comes to you from the point-of-no-return creepy.


This week I finally picked up my ARC of Possess by Gretchen McNeil. I'm only about 50 pages in, but it's pretty good so far. And I'll admit, I've had it on my TBR for an embarrassing length of time. All because I'm TERRIFIED of the cover. It just LOOKS like a truly terrifying book. So I'm not reading it at night.

But, the book started out supremely reminiscent of my Catholic school days, so instead of pairing it with a cocktail, this afternoon when I got home I poured myself a lovely glass of red wine and realized that was the perfect drink for this book. Very Catholic, very church-associated, and this book is all about (so far, anyway) exorcisms.

So what do you think? Does this cover creep you out as much as it does me? Doesn't red wine pair well with October books?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Showroom Nightmare: Horrorstor Review

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
Release Date: September 23, 2014 (orig. January 1, 2014)
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 243
Keywords: ghosts, paranormal
Format Read: finished copy via publisher (thank you!)
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.
Let's talk about the elephant on the blog: There's clearly no way I can ignore how awesomely packages this book is, so I'll begin there. It's designed like an Ikea catalog (which I ordered after receiving the book for review consideration because I'm cool and wanted to compare. Also I love Ikea), with the beginning of chapters featuring different products and their descriptions (which slowly got creepier as the story progressed, but I'll get there). There were coupons for the store, an order form, and a map of the showroom. It was all wonderfully put together, and even though I initially thought it would be difficult to read because of the different column sizes and text, it was not at all, and my ability to read the book was not at all affected by the design, making it a super win.

Next I want to talk about just how imaginative this story was. It wasn't scary per se, but it was one of those that left me turning the pages quicker because I really just wasn't sure how things were going to turn out. It took so many twists and turns that I couldn't possibly have tried to guess the outcome, nor would I have wanted to.

The story follows Amy, a disgruntled employee who gets volun-told to do this night shift, and she and her coworkers begin to see some weird stuff, like writing appearing on bathroom stalls and water stains they were sure weren't there a few hours ago. Tension mounts as they stumble upon more clues (and more people), and the book didn't hold back from leaning toward the realistic rather than idealistic outcomes (even though, you know, this was strange paranormal stuff happening in a furniture store).

It was also far creepier than the original plot I heard, which was zombies. I'm not quite sure what the actual thing would be classified as, but I am definitely pleased as it makes the story worthwhile and more believable, since there's a reason for all the stuff going on, albeit a supernatural one, but it makes much more sense than just brushing it off as an average zombie thing like TV and movies and lots of books are doing currently.

This wasn't a scare-the-pants-off-me read, but it was a lot of fun looking through the book and finding out what was going to happen in this one crazy night at the Orsk, and I really enjoyed the experience of the book.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Throwback Reviews: Killers & Secrets

This post is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know at this point I'm struggling with Blogtober. I work two jobs, and I had scheduled all kinds of posts, but I've run out of pre-written posts, and I can't read my books fast enough. So instead of trying to make up some shitty content today (I don't want to do that to you guys), I'm going to post a few creepy books I've read in the past and do quick mini-sum reviews of them.

The pictures are linked to my full review if you want to go there!


Marie Antoinette: Serial Killer by Katie Alender
I really liked the general idea of this one — Marie Antoinette's ghost comes back to exact revenge on her enemies, and the heirs of people who sold her out. But the writing was pretty juvenile. The characters were stereotypical, and the plot was pretty predictable. But there is a cute, forbidden-romance student-tour guide kind of thing that goes on, and that was pretty enjoyable.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
I feel like I'm the only person in the camp that didn't like this book, so you may want to not take my word for it. But even after reading it, I still am not totally sure what it's about. I know the main character is new at this boarding school, and he has a really dark secret that I don't really want to reveal because I think it's supposed to be a surprise, but I figured it out early on. If you want more info on how I felt about it, click the picture.


I've got two past reviews for today, and two that I may use in the future because I am quickly running out of topic posts. I have had a lot of fun this month, but I am looking forward to not blogging every day! It's been extremely challenging!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Creepy Classics: Agatha Christie

This review is part of my blogtober celebration, my month-long blog party about all things creepy and Halloween-y! Don't forget I've got a ton of giveaways going on!

For as long as I can remember, I've had an undying love for the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie. So much so, that when I was a senior in high school and we had to do big compilation projects on a classic British writer, when most people snagged up Austen or Marlowe, I jumped on the Christie train. I had Masterpiece marathons on PBS and checked out about 10 of her books from the library.
So today, I'm going to talk about my favorite creepy classics author & some of my favorite works!




Murder on the Orient Express
Though Miss Marple was my favorite leading detective, I absolutely loved this classic murder mystery. Hercule Poirot (I'm still not sure how to pronounce his name, and I've struggled with this for years) is the Belgian detective who gets a telegram (!!!) to return to London instantly, so he books a ticket that night. The train gets stopped by snow, and then all kinds of chaos (including spoiler, a MURDER!) happens that Poirot sets out to investigate.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT:
This is the epitome of classic murder mystery, and the reason I love it so much is that it all takes place in one setting and one time; the entire story happens on the train. It's full of suspense and super classic "gotcha!" stuff.

The ABC Murders
This is another Poirot mystery, but this was, hands-down, my favorite when I was binge-reading all the Christie books. Poirot receives letters, each signed "ABC" with locations and dates of the next murder that will occur. The murders also happen alphabetically to people with alliterative names, Alice Ascher being the first victim. Poirot begins discovering connections when he speaks with a victim's widow, and it's a race against the clock to make sure he can stop the murders before the killer strikes again and lives up to his letters.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT:
This one is very Criminal Minds-esque. It's a puzzle book, and you can't help but try and solve the murder before the characters in the book do. It's fun watching the clues unfold, and if you like a super suspenseful story you'll want to finish in one sitting, this one is it.

What's your favorite Agatha Christie book? Or are you new? Do these sound like ones you'd want to start with?