9 Books to Get You in the Mood for Halloween

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to round up some of the spooky (and not-so-spooky) books I’ve read and reviewed. Books are ranked from least to most creepy! Bonus: many of these books and series have become films and tv shows since they were published!

The Gates by John Connolly

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween, which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe, a gap through which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

Apparently I don’t have a true review of The Gates by itself on the blog, but I absolutely love, love, love this three book series from author John Connolly. Such a fun, cute story that’s perfect for those who like their Halloween fare on the sweeter side.

Click here to read my mini-review of The Gates 

 

Ghost Bully by Brian Corley

Roommates can be hell.

Like when they’re late with the rent, late on bills, or constantly trying to kill you.

Jonah Preston thought he knew what he was getting into after signing the paperwork to buy his new home: yard work, a leaky pipe here and there, maybe the occasional squirrel in the attic.

He just didn’t expect to share that new home with a ghost.

Before all the boxes are unpacked, Jonah learns the previous owner, Willard Hensch, committed suicide in one of the bedrooms. It’s bad news, but Jonah and his (corporeal) roommate, Max, take it in stride. Jonah’s just happy to own a home and begin this new chapter in his adult life.

Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly short chapter.

Unhappy with his new roommates, the resident ghost quickly makes his presence known. Like, really known. When Jonah wakes up dead, he knows exactly who’s behind it.

Willard. Effing. Hensch.

For the newly deceased Jonah, that’s where his new chapter truly begins. He will befriend angels, fight demons, and take on a ghostly army in this comic-paranormal thrill ride through the freakish underworld of Austin, Texas. 

If you like your ghosts at the speed of The Haunted Mansion, you will love this book. Follow along with Jonah as he hilariously navigates the afterlife and discovers a whole new side of Austin, Texas. I’m lucky enough to be friends with the author so I can tell you the sequel to Ghost Bully is going to be just as fun – so make sure you pick up a copy of this book and get caught up!

Click here to check out my review of the book plus an exclusive interview with the author

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island.

 An abandoned orphanage.

 A strange collection of very curious photographs.
 It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

This book and the subsequent series are primarily on this list because the found photography that is sprinkled throughout the pages of the book is more than a little creepy. I found the first book a little spooky in places, but overall I wouldn’t classify it as a scary read. Perfect for those who want to be just a little spooked for Halloween!

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

I’m actually still reading this one, but it’s the perfect spooky read for Halloween.  Stalking Jack the Ripper presents an interesting spin on the historic serial killer’s story. Not too scary though! If you like the show Mind Hunter, you’ll enjoy this YA take on a famous criminal case.

Book review coming soon!

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This book didn’t scare me too much, but it IS pretty much the perfect Halloween read. Atmospheric and utterly enchanting, this is a short read about a circus of nightmares that preys upon a small Midwestern town.

Click here to check out my review

 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I remember this series starting out more than a little creepy, but my fears subsided after awhile so that’s why it’s not ranked higher on the list. So not as tame as the books that have come before it, but not all-out scary. This is a great series about the end of the world, aliens, and the teenagers who are fighting to survive.

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy – abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape – but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world. 

Apparently I’ve never reviewed the first book in this series of my blog – WHAT! I recommend this series all the time so this is a travesty. Guess it just means I’ll need to do a re-read for you guys. I do have reviews for the subsequent two books in the series The Twelve and The City of Mirrors, but you do need to start with The Passage. This series about a vampire apocalypse is definitely creepy – I read this book while camping in Joshua Tree which, oddly enough, is one of the settings in the later part of the book. 10/10 do NOT recommend that experience, but 12/10 do recommend starting this series.

 

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.

Guillermo del Toro is one of authors – I mean, do you need me to tell you this is scary?! It’s freakin’ scary. But good. So, so good. The Strain is the first book in another trilogy about the vampire apocalypse told by one of the masters of the horror genre.

Click here to check out my review of the series

 

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

This series is INTENSE. So CREEPY. I mean, I almost couldn’t handle it and I wasn’t home alone. But I also couldn’t put it down. If you like being intensely unnerved and riveted by a story, give this series a try.

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

Bonus:

Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology

Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

With twenty-three spooky stories in this anthology, you’re sure to find the perfect one to put you in the mood for Halloween. From the not-so-scary to the downright frightening, pick up your copy of Cursed Collectibles today. Click here to buy!

 

What’s your favorite Halloween read? Leave me a comment below!

Series Spotlight: The Strain Trilogy

The Strain Trilogy (The Strain, The Fall, The Night Eternal) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

If you saw my vampire post on last week‘s Top Ten Tuesday, you know this series is on my top list of vampire books. Guillermo del Toro is the award-winning director of such films as Pan’s Labyrinth (love!), Blade II, and the Hellboy movies. Chuck Hogan is otherwise known for writing novels, among them The Town, which became a film of the same name.

I’m not a big fan of horror. I don’t like horror movies. I don’t like being scared. I especially don’t like being scared while reading. However, I sucked it up and read these books. I knew I would be scared, but I was too intrigued to let it go. Plus my mom read them and we had them in my house so I gave it a shot. Also probably helps that I read the first one over my winter break when I was recovering from a break-up (cue break-up horror jokes). A funny thing happened. Yes I was scared for maybe the first half of The Strain. And then I got acclimated. Or used to the brand of horror. Or something that required further meditation. But I stopped being scared and started just really enjoying myself.

I read the first half of The Fall when I was hanging out at the hospital one day over spring break, essentially convinced I had a brain tumor or meningitis or something (none of which was actually the case and yes, I’m fine now). I grabbed it on my way out because I was reading a pretty deep book at the time with small type and I wanted something with larger type (I had the headache to end all headaches), something fun, and most importantly, something that would distract me. It worked. I was actually a little bit sad when we got to the part of the day where they knocked me out with painkillers and other assorted drugs and I couldn’t stay awake to keep reading my book.

I read The Night Eternal this weekend under less-auspicious circumstances. No break-ups, no hospitals, just an airplane. Which, ironically, is where the first part of The Strain takes place.

All three were great books. I don’t think any one in particular was better or worse than the others. The Strain hit the ground running and the breakneck pace continued up to the final pages of The Night Eternal. Fun, thrilling, mysterious, historical, pretty much everything I love in a pleasure read (you know, because I NEVER read for pleasure or anything). I loved that vampirism was taken on in a disease format. In these days of superbugs and novels and films about superbugs (Books: The Hot Zone, The Andromeda Strain Movies: Contagion, 28 Days Later), it’s great to read more things adding to the space. Especially in the horror genre, since the worst horror comes from our own lives and our own world.

I’m not really sure where to classify this series. Thriller. Horror. Sci-Fi. Mish-mash is maybe more like it. Of these genres, I would say I’m most well-versed in thrillers. And this is a great contribution to the thriller genre.

On an interesting side note, I was driving on the freeway today when I saw a guy on a motorcycle in my rearview mirror with something strapped across his back. It wasn’t until he came up beside me that I saw it was a bow. Of course, having recently finished this series, I couldn’t help, but have a flash of Ephraim Goodweather riding a motorcycle with a silver sword strapped to his back, ready to do battle with some vampires. Of course he doesn’t ride a motorcycle in the books, but he’s still badass enough that, had one been available, he would have been on it.

Follow to Amazon for a synopsis of The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal. All three books are now available in paperback as well.

Have any of you read this series?

TTT: Books for People Who Liked The Historian

TTT is hosted, as always, by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is: Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Book. I chose The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s doubtful you’ll see a review of this book on Isleofbooks. It’s been some years since I read it and as my current goal is to finish reading all the books I have and haven’t read, rereads are a long way off. That said, I really love this book.

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known – and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself – to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed – and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answer to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign – and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obsure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions – and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vald’s ancient powers – one woman comes every closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

Without further ado, here is my list!

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker.

-I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend this book. Not the first fiction book about vampires, but definitely the first to cement the Dracula legend.

2. The Passage 

-Another of my absolute favorites. This is a chunky book like The Historian, but it moves fast. Love the modern take on vampires.

3. The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

-Watch for a review of the entire series later this week! Somewhat like the passage, this series posits vampirism as a virus. Titles include The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal.

4. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

-What good list of vampire books doesn’t include this series? Anne Rice was writing about vampires before Twilight made it cool.

5. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

-Speaking of Twilight, here’s another YA vampire series. I admit, other than the Twilight series, I haven’t read much at all of the market saturation of YA vampire novels. I happen to like these, but no idea how they stack up to the numerous others.

6. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

-This is a vampire book, but I tend to think it of it more as a zombie book. Anyways, it’s worth a read.

7. Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino

-Okay, technically I haven’t read this. But I watched the show! And the show was awesome! So since manga > its anime counterpart, these must be extra awesome. Makes sense, right?

8. Mina by Elaine Bergstrom

-Typically, I don’t like books the purport to be sequels of other books that weren’t written by the same person. But I did actually like this one.

9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

-I never resist a chance to promote this book. Not about vampires, but the writing has a similar tonal quality to The Historian.

10. Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

-I really love historical fiction thrillers. E.G. The Historian. E.G. Interred with their Bones. This one’s about Shakespeare.

And no, I don’t watch True Blood or read the Sookie Stackhouse books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer TBR List

As always, TTT is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is the top ten books on your summer reading list!

I’m so stoked for this one now that it’s officially summer for me!

1) The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan: This is the third and final book in their Strain Trilogy. This is vampire horror/thriller at its finest. Once I finish this book, I’m going to do a series review. I read the first book in the series right when I got home for Christmas and the second one mostly in the hospital over Spring Break.

2) The History of Love by Nicole Krauss: I’ve heard nothing but praise and great things about this one. I recently picked up a copy at the used bookstore.

3) A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin: ‘Nuff said.

4) Matched by Ally Condie: This is was on my Spring Break reading list, but I still haven’t gotten to it.

5) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Pretty behind the trend on this one, but I’m excited to read it.

6) 11/22/63 by Stephen King: Summer is the time for chunksters! This will actually be my first Stephen King novel.

7) IQ84 by Haruki Murakami: First Murakami novel though I have a couple on my shelves.

8) The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen: Dystopian literary thriller. Sign me up.

9) The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma: Victorian London + History + Literature + Time Travel + H.G. Wells

10) The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons:  Sequel to Hyperion. Despite what I’ve heard about the rest of the series, I’m still excited to read the rest. I’m a definite completeist. And I just started this one last night!