T5W – Because Less Known Doesn’t Mean Less Good

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hidden Gems in Your Favorite Genre

Now, I don’t know that I have a favorite genre per se, so I’m going to tweak this a bit and do Hidden Gems in SOME of My Favorite Genres (one book for each genre).

Cozy Mystery

Cozy Mysteries are my favorite bookish guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I like them so much, especially considering the main characters usually really annoy me. ūüėČ But I do. I love them SO MUCH! They are what I reach for when I’ve had a really stressful day and just don’t want to think anymore.

CWM_750x600-300x184My current favorite Cozy Mystery series is the Creative Woman Mysteries series published by Annie’s. The series follows Shannon, who inherits her grandmother’s estate and craft business. The first mystery she solves involves part of her inheritance, but she ends up playing the amateur detective for all sorts of mysteries throughout the series. Though she ends up falling into a few of the habits that really annoy me with Cozies (TELL THE COPS WHEN YOU FIND EVIDENCE), she’s actually a pretty likable character who is usually just trying help her friends out of trouble.

Non-Fiction

I honestly used to never read non-fiction books. I’m not sure why, maybe it came from having enough of reality and wanting my reading time to be an escape. But the last couple of years, I’ve been giving them another go.

furiouslyhappy.jpgMy current favorite Non-Fiction book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I LOVE Jenny Lawson. She has a way of talking about mental issues that allows you to laugh at yourself and helps you feel better instead of just more miserable. Reading her books is like chatting with a good friend…a good friend with an insane sense of humor. This book and her previous one, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, have found their way onto my ‘favorites’ stand right next to my bed, so they are in easy reach when I’m feeling really blue.

Sci-Fi

I think Science Fiction may have been my first ‘favorite genre’. (I blame you, SeaQuest DSV! ūüôā ) I love a good sci-fi, regardless of whether it’s space-y, steampunk, monster-filled, or even dystopian. As long as the story is good, I’m all for it.

27213244My current favorite Sci-Fi novel is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The world building alone in this novel is amazing. She manages to pack as much detail and nuance as an entire series of Star Trek into just one novel. I also loved the characters. They all seemed very real and like people I would probably get along with in real life. It honestly felt a bit like Firefly, but with a fresh cast…and less crime. ūüėČ

Fantasy

Fantasies are only second to Sci-Fi’s in timing, because I may have fallen in love with the genre later, but I love it just as much!

magemotherseriesMy current favorite (which could also be considered a YA favorite) is the Magemother series by Austin J. Bailey. This is a nice little series; easy to read, but exciting and fun. I can’t really describe it without giving all the plot points away, so I’ll just say that I practically binged the first book and the novella and am really looking forward to the second & third books. Thankfully, I bought the omnibus of the whole series, so I don’t have to wait very long. ūüôā

Books About Books

I can’t help it, I love books so much that I also love books ABOUT books. These types of books can span multiple genres (romances, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction…), so I’ve turned them into their OWN genre instead. ūüėČ

28517611My current favorite Book About Books is Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper by Jackson Lear. This is one of the few books that I’ve downloaded from one of those Facebook ads that actually worked out for me. ūüėČ This books is HILARIOUS and anyone who loves books will love it. The references alone are awesome, but the wit of the writing is amazing. Who knew I could like the Grim Reaper so much?


How about you? What are your favorite hidden gems?

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T5W – Forget Me Not

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Forgettable Books.

Now, I read A LOT and I honestly don’t have the best of memories, but I can usually at least remember vague details from books I’ve read, so I thought I’d have some trouble with this topic. Not so. As I scoured my Read list on Goodreads, I came across these 5 books that I KNOW I read (I at least remember that much), but I have NO CLUE what happened in them.

The Black Book of Secrets – Tales from the Sinister City #1 (F.E. Higgins)

blackbookofsecretsDescription from Goodreads:¬†When Ludlow Fitch’s parents cruelly betray him, he steals away on the back of a carriage and leaves behind the stinking City. He arrives in the dead of night at a remote village, where he crosses paths with the tall and limping figure of Joe Zabbidou – a pawnbroker with a difference. For Joe trades secrets, not goods, for cash.

Employed as Joe’s assistant, Ludlow records the villagers’ fiendish confessions in an ancient leather-bound volume: The Black Book of Secrets. There’s the gravedigger who has been resurrecting bodies; the butcher who made a mouse-meat pie for his bullying father, with fatal consequences; the wizened bookseller who went to murderous lengths to get her hands on a priceless tome.

Ludlow longs to trust his mysterious master, but he senses Joe has much to hide. But then Ludlow Fitch has his own, very dark, secrets . . .

My Review: Now, I definitely remember liking this book. I even remember forgetting the title, then stumbling across it on Goodreads one day and being super excited because “That’s it! That’s that book!”. But I have no clue what it was about. ::shrugs::

The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)

5peopleyoumeetDescription from Goodreads:¬†Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

My Review: The only thing I remember about this one is that it was a let down. It was this huge bestseller and was supposed to be all inspiring…but I just found it boring.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit – Ishmael #1 (Daniel Quinn)

ishmaelDescription from Goodreads: TEACHER SEEKS PUPIL.
Must have an earnest desire to
save the world. Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of a lifetime…¬†

My Review: This one, on the other hand, I remember being blown away by. I think it was one of the first books I’d read that really made me think about my own perception of the world…but it’s been so long, I can’t remember why.

A Separate Peace (John Knowles)

seperatepeaceDescription from Goodreads: Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

My Review: Now THIS book is supposed to be this wonderful coming-of-age tale, a bestseller for over 30 years…and the only thing I remember from reading it was that I hated it with a fiery passion. No clue why. I think I’ve blocked it from my memory on purpose, the same way I did with Heart of Darkness. ūüėČ

Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth (J.V. Hart)

captainhookDescription from Goodreads:¬†With his long black curls, a shadowy family tree, and an affinity for pet spiders, James Matthew bears little resemblance to his starched-collar, blue-blooded peers at Eton. Dubbed King Jas., he stops at nothing to become the most notorious underclassman in the prestigious school’s history. For James, sword fighting, falling in love with an Ottoman Sultana, and challenging the Queen of England are all in a day’s skullduggery. But when he sets sail on a ship with a mysterious mission, King Jas.’ dream of discovering a magical island quickly turns into an unimaginable nightmare.

My Review: I honestly don’t remember this one at all. Not even if I liked it or not. Even reading the description didn’t help. ::shrugs::


How about you? Any books in your Read list that you just don’t remember?

T5W – Hold On For One More Day

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Books You Didn’t Get to in 2017

I have SO MANY of those, but I’m going to be good and stick to just five…kinda…

The Doctor and the Dinosaurs – Weird West Tales #4 (Mike Resnick)

thedoctorandthedinosaursDescription from Goodreads: The time is April, 1885. Doc Holliday lies in bed in a sanitarium in Leadville, Colorado, expecting never to leave his room again. But the medicine man and great chief Geronimo needs him for one last adventure. Renegade Comanche medicine men object to the newly-signed treaty with Theodore Roosevelt. They are venting their displeasure on two white men who are desecrating tribal territory in Wyoming. Geronimo must protect the men or renege on his agreement with Roosevelt. He offers Doc one year of restored health in exchange for taking on this mission.

Welcome to the birth of American paleontology, spearheaded by two brilliant men, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two men whose genius is only exceeded by their hatred for each other’s guts.

Now, with the aid of Theodore Roosevelt, Cole Younger, and Buffalo Bill Cody, Doc Holliday must save Cope and Marsh not only from the Comanches, not only from living, breathing dinosaurs, but from each other. And that won’t be easy.¬†

Why I Want To Read It: I absolutely love this series. It’s basically a steampunk version of the old west, where shamans have real magic and are holding the border at the Mississippi. It features “real characters” from the time, with one of my all-time favorites, Doc Holliday, in the lead. And this one even focuses on one of my favorite fields, Paleontology! But…it’s the last of the series and I don’t want it to end so I’ve been putting it off. ūüė¶

Split the Party – Spells, Swords, & Stealth #2 (Drew Hayes)

splitthepartyDescription from Goodreads: Fleeing from a vengeful king has sent the former NPCs across Solium’s borders, into the kingdom of Alcatham. As wanted fugitives, they head to the small farming village of Briarwillow, hoping to blend in, lay-low, and avoid trouble at all costs. Unfortunately, Briarwillow has problems all its own, and its troubles quickly become theirs. If they hope to survive long enough to escape, they’ll have to tackle an all-but-forgotten mystery buried at the town’s border, as well as seek the wisdom of a mysterious group of mages. With time, magic, and at least one god against them, it will take everything they’ve got to save Briarwillow, and themselves.

Why I Want To Read It: I really loved the first book in this series, NPCs. To the point where I finished the book and instantly got on Goodreads to see if the sequel was out yet. I bought it from Amazon THAT VERY DAY and still haven’t read it. I’m a bum.

It Devours! – Night Vale #2 (Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor)

itdevoursDescription from Goodreads: Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

Why I Want To Read It: I LOVE the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and the last book they came out with was wonderful. I’ve been looking forward to more since then, so I pre-ordered this audio book to get it the instant it came out…and then I let it languish on my shelf for 3 months. I have no excuses, but I DO want to finally listen to it this year.

Ireland (Frank Delaney)

90360Description from Goodreads:¬†In the winter of 1951, a storyteller arrives at the home of nine-year-old Ronan O’Mara in the Irish countryside. The last practitioner of an honored, centuries-old tradition, the¬†Seanchaienthralls his assembled audience for three evenings running with narratives of foolish kings and fabled saints, of enduring accomplishments and selfless acts — until he is banished from the household for blasphemy and moves on. But these three incomparable nights have changed young Ronan forever, setting him on the course he will follow for years to come — as he pursues the elusive, itinerant storyteller . . . and the magical tales that are no less than the glorious saga of his tenacious, troubled, and extraordinary isle.¬†

Why I Want To Read It: I’m actually about halfway through the audio book for this one (and if you decide to read it, GO WITH THE AUDIO BOOK), but I got distracted with trying to catch up on my podcasts and sort of forgot about it. It’s a really good book, though. I love mythology and lore, and Ireland has some of the best.

ALL THE COZIES (Multiple Authors)

Why I Want To Read Them: I literally have an entire dvd stand FULL of cozy mysteries that I haven’t read yet. And I’m talking one of those tall wooden stands; the kind with 6 shelves. Seriously, there’s at least 50 of them on there.¬†Cozy Mysteries are my guilty pleasure, but I’m REALLY bad about buying any cozy that sounds cute and then not actually reading it.¬†I even DID read a bunch of cozies last year…but I got them all from the library! My shelf is still TOTALLY FULL of books I haven’t read yet! ::shakes finger at face:: DO BETTER, GIRL!!!


How about you? What books are you planning to read this year?

T5W – You’re A Mean One…

Hello all! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is:¬†Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About

Hmm..bookish pet peeves, eh? I’ve got quite a few of those. ::rubs hands menacingly::

Movie Covers

Look, I understand the concept: once a book is made into a movie, a lot of people will think of it as “the book of that movie I like”, so why not market to those people to try to sell more copies, right? It’s just SO IRRITATING. Especially when you are only halfway through the series and the publisher switches to ONLY movie covers, so your series is half of one and half of the other.

Defacing Books

Having recently rediscovered my love of the library, I run into this ALL THE TIME. Dog-eared pages, notes scrawled in the margins, underlines, covers that have been folded back so far that I don’t understand how the spine still works! It’s really annoying. If it’s your own personal copy, fine, do what you want to it. But if it’s a library book or, heaven forbid, a book I lent to you…remember the golden rule of ‘borrowing’: leave it better than you found it.

Jumping POVs

I get it, you want to show the story from everyone’s point of view, right? Change things up, keep the reader on their toes. Help the reader understand all the characters better.¬†Fine, but at least keep it to only two or three characters. Don’t jump between fifteen people. Don’t make EVERY chapter a new person. And, for goodness’ sake, LABEL THE FRICKIN’ POVS!!!!!

Distracted Women

So, I know this happens (occasionally) with male characters too, but the amount of female characters I’ve seen get distracted from whatever they are supposed to be accomplishing because some hot guy showed up is INSANE. Trying to figure out who murdered your best friend? “I wonder if that hot detective is single?” Trying to save the universe? “This might be the last time I see you, person I just met, so we should totally hook up. The universe can wait.”¬†It’s completely ridiculous. Maybe focus on the task at hand and worry about your love life later.

Which leads me to…

Romance in EVERYTHING

About a year ago, I tasked one of my reading groups with a challenge: “Please suggest to me a book that: 1) has a female main character, 2) is Adult/Young Adult reading level, and 3) HAS ZERO ROMANCE IN IT. No hook-ups, no longing glances, no sexual tension, NOTHING.” Do you know how many responses I got that followed all the criteria? ONE. Out of over a HUNDRED people. Why on earth does every single story have to have romance in it? Why do I have to hit up the children’s section at my library to find a book without it? Is romance really that permeating in every day life, that I can name on one hand the number of adult books I’ve found without it?


So how about you? What are some of YOUR bookish pet peeves?

T5W – And Now I Can’t Get Natalie Merchant Out of My Head…

Hi all! Wow, it’s been AGES since I did a Top 5 Wednesday! I’m going to do a delayed post from last week, since I really like that topic, so…

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday Topic is: Books For Which You Are Thankful

I have quite a lot of books that I love, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I think I’ll aim for books that have made a real difference in my life.

Fatso Jean, the Ice Cream Queen (Maryann MacDonald)

6-12-2017 1-27-43 PMDescription from Amazon:¬†A misfit in a neighborhood filled with athletic youngsters, nine-year-old Jean seeks solace in eating ice cream, until the teasing of the “Mean Team” leads Jean to set up her own business making ice cream.

My Review: Strange pick, I know, but this was the very first book I read where I actually empathized with the main character. I myself was a large little girl who just wanted to fit in and have friends. This book taught me that you should love yourself, regardless of how you look, and that confidence in yourself is the key to living the life you want.

The Hardy Boys (Franklin W. Dixon)

The_Tower_TreasureCondensed Description from Wikipedia: The Hardy Boys are fictional teenage brothers and amateur detectives. They live in the city of Bayport on with their father, detective Fenton Hardy, their mother, Laura Hardy, and their Aunt Gertrude. Frank, the older brother, is eighteen (sixteen in earlier versions), and his younger brother Joe is seventeen (fifteen in earlier versions). 

The Hardy Boys are constantly involved in adventure and action. Despite frequent danger, the boys “never lose their nerve¬†… They¬†are¬†hardy boys, luckier and more clever than anyone around them.”¬†They live in an atmosphere of mystery and intrigue: “Never were so many assorted¬†felonies¬†committed in a simple American small town. Murder, drug peddling, race horse kidnapping,¬†diamond smuggling,¬†medical malpractice, big-time auto theft, even (in the 1940s) the hijacking of¬†strategic materials¬†and¬†espionage, all were conducted with Bayport as a nucleus.”¬†

My Review: This was the series that made me fall in love with reading. The original books are perfect for middle grade kids: easy to read/follow and filled with thrilling adventures and mysteries. Over the years, they’ve transitioned to include books for younger and older kids as well. To this day, I own over 200 of these books and I wouldn’t give them up for the world. ūüôā

Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

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Condensed Description from Wikipedia:¬†The novels chronicle the life of a young¬†wizard,¬†Harry Potter, and his friends¬†Hermione Granger¬†and¬†Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at¬†Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main¬†story arc¬†concerns Harry’s struggle against¬†Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the wizard governing body known as the¬†Ministry of Magic, and subjugate all wizards and¬†muggles, a reference term that means non-magical people.

My Review: Well, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t in SOME way impacted by Harry Potter, but this was such a HUGE part of my life during college that I still to this day read the fanfic, buy all the new books and movies, and receive the merchandise from friends. I’m not QUITE as obsessed as I used to be, but I still really love the HP universe.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Daniel Quinn)

ishmaelDescription from Goodreads:¬†TEACHER SEEKS PUPIL.¬†Must have an earnest desire to¬†save the world. Apply in person. –¬†It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of a lifetime…¬†

My Review: There are some books that have to hit you at the right point in your life in order to make an impact. This is one of those books and it hit me at just the right moment: early college days, just learning to think for myself instead of believing what everyone else told me. I don’t remember a lot of what the book discusses, but I DO remember it being one of the first books that I actually thought about in depth (and not just because I was assigned to do so). It made me feel like reading could actually have a meaning besides just having fun or learning information.

Hyperbole & a Half (Allie Brosh)

2D9725260-coverDescription from Goodreads:¬†This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn‚Äôt me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I‚Äôm not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly.

So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book: Pictures, Words, Stories about things that happened to me, Stories about things that happened to other people because of me, Eight billion dollars*, Stories about dogs, The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

My Review: This is one of my go-to books when I’m feeling blue. I’ve done a full review of it here. This book has gotten me through many a tough day; days when all I wanted to do was sleep, but was disgusted with myself for not doing something with my life instead of sitting around like a lump. I will forever be grateful to Allie for putting herself out there and helping me realize that I wasn’t alone.


What are some of the books YOU are thankful for?

T5W – Cooking in Eggshells

Hi all! Today’s topic was a “choose your own adventure” type deal where we got to discuss books featuring a paranormal creature of our choosing.

So today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is…Books about Changelings!

(For those not in the know, apparently the Fae occasionally like to steal children (and adults) and replace them with doppelgangers; these look-a-likes are called Changelings. The lore behind these creatures is fascinating, though the reality was often much more brutal.) 

The Replacement (Brenna Yovanoff)

thereplacementMackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.¬†Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs. — I read this one AGES ago, so I don’t remember a lot about it except that I thought it was awesome. ūüėČ

Cuckoo Song (Francis Hardinge)

cuckoosongWhen Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.¬†Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late. — I hope adding this one to the list isn’t too much of a spoiler. I figured out pretty early on what was happening (at least with Triss), so fingers crossed. This was my first Francis Hardinge book and I completely fell in love with her writing.

The Darkest Part of the Forest (Holly Black)

thedarkestpartoftheforestHazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries‚Äô seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.¬†At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.¬†Until one day, he does‚ĶAs the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough? — I didn’t have a lot of expectations going in to this one and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. You can read my full review here.


And since I haven’t actually read enough books about changelings to cover this topic, I’ve had to dig in to my TBR list on Goodreads!


The Stolen Child (Keith Donohue)

thestolenchildOn a summer night, Henry Day runs away from home and hides in a hollow tree. There he is taken by the changelings‚ÄĒan unaging tribe of wild children who live in darkness and in secret. They spirit him away, name him Aniday, and make him one of their own. Stuck forever as a child, Aniday grows in spirit, struggling to remember the life and family he left behind. He also seeks to understand and fit in this shadow land, as modern life encroaches upon both myth and nature. In his place, the changelings leave a double, a boy who steals Henry‚Äôs life in the world. This new Henry Day must adjust to a modern culture while hiding his true identity from the Day family. But he can‚Äôt hide his extraordinary talent for the piano (a skill the true Henry never displayed), and his dazzling performances prompt his father to suspect that the son he has raised is an imposter. As he ages the new Henry Day becomes haunted by vague but persistent memories of life in another time and place, of a German piano teacher and his prodigy. Of a time when he, too, had been a stolen child. Both Henry and Aniday obsessively search for who they once were before they changed places in the world. — I like the fact that this story includes the child that was taken and not just the changeling left behind. Most novels with changelings focus solely on our world instead of showing both sides.

Tithe (Holly Black)

titheSixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms – a struggle that could very well mean her death. — This one sounds quite a bit grittier than The Darkest Part of the Forest, but I’m intrigued by the description and LOVE Holly Black, so I’ll probably give it a go once my library gets a copy.


Got any good stories about Changelings? Or would you have picked another paranormal creature?

T5W – Haunted and Haunting

Hello all! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Favorite Creepy Settings!¬†I’m going to give you guys 5 spooky books where the author does a fabulous job of using the creepy setting to enhance the story.

The Screaming Staircase (Jonathan Stroud)

screamingstaircaseFor more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.¬†Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive. — This one surprised me. It’s listed as a middle grade book, so I wasn’t expecting it to freak me out as much as it did. There’s actual danger, a good story, and a haunted house so scary that even Stephen King would approve. I literally slept with my lights on after I finished it. Great book!

The End Games (T. Michael Martin)

13228537Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.¬†In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of ‚ÄúBellows‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒcreatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.¬†But The Game is changing.¬†The Bellows are evolving.¬†The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors‚ÄĒsurvivors who don‚Äôt play by the rules.¬†And the brothers will never be the same. — I know some people find solace in the woods, but I can’t help it, the woods have always scared the bajeezes out of me. So reading a zombie novel set in the woods was probably not the best of ideas. ūüėČ Being from WV myself, though, I had to give this one a try. Pitch dark forests, old mines, burned out ghost towns, and my own capitol overrun by zombies & crazies alike…what a great horror novel!

Wayward Pines series (Blake Crouch)

wayward-pines-series

From the first book:¬†Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels‚Ķoff. As the days pass, Ethan‚Äôs investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can‚Äôt he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn‚Äôt anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact‚ÄĒhe may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. — Ever meet someone who seemed a little TOO friendly? That’s basically how this series starts out, with a town that’s a little too Stepford Wives to be believable. The whole setting is just offputting, which really enhances the suspense. If you like the Twilight Zone and don’t mind a bit of gore, this series is for you!

The Mist (Stephen King)

themistIt’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? — Stephen King is BRILLIANT at taking completely normal surroundings and turning them into the scariest places on earth. In this case, the local supermarket turns first into a refuge from the monsters outside and then into a madhouse containing it’s OWN monsters. I actually read this in the original novella format (and liked the ending WAY better than the movie) so I’d recommend starting there.

House of Dark Shadows (Robert Liparulo)

houseofdarkshadowsWhen the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.¬†But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into–as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.¬†They soon discover there’s something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.¬†Then the¬†really¬†weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places–in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen’s dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare. — This one also surprised me. I came into it not expecting very much and ended up ADORING it. Basically the setting is this old, creepy house where each room is a portal to another time. It’s REALLY COOL. And actually dangerous, which doesn’t seem to happen often in children’s books. I definitely recommend this one for kids who don’t scare too easily.


How about you guys? What book settings completely freaked you out?