Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Hallowe'en Recommendations for those of a Wimpy Persuasion

Find your own scary cushion here
If there is one thing I have learnt during my 26 years, it is that I am not good at reading/watching horror.  Years ago, I was bullied persuaded to go and see The Hills Have Eyes at the cinema.  I had horrendous nightmares for days.  Before that, in a demonstration of bravado (I assume), I bought Red Dragon and another equally horrific sounding book featuring Hannibal Lecter and just having them on my shelves frightened me so much that I had to remove them from my house.  Not off my shelf or out of my bedroom, out of my HOUSE.  Before I had even read a page.

I tell you this not so that you are all convinced of my lunacy/cowardice but so that you can be sure that, if you are also of a more wimpy persuasion, my recommendations are a safe way for you to spend a couple of hours reading enjoying some goosebumps this Hallowe'en without spending the rest of the week hiding under your duvet.

Vintage Thrills

Image found here
Dracula by Bram Stoker - When it was released in 1897, Dracula was praised as "the sensation of the season" and "the most blood-curdling novel of the paralysed century".  114 years later and Count Dracula continues to haunt modern readers both in Stoker's original words and as the forefather of a whole sub-genre.  You don't need to me to tell you that, even if the vampire craze wasn't what it is, you should read this book.  It's atmospheric, tense and creepy without becoming out-and-out scary.  Trust your nineteenth century ancestors' more staid tastes and enjoy.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving - A teeny tiny test of your courageousness in the form of a classic ghost story.  Don't let worries about the rather gory film adaptation put you off - this is a wonderfully descriptive little story and spooky rather than gruesome.

YA Chills

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers - Yes, there are zombies, but the story doesn't focus on their slavering, flesh-eating ways and looks instead at the effects their presence has on Summers' cast of teenagers.  A healthy dose of chills without blood-induced queasiness?  Don't mind if I do.  Seriously, though, this book is extremely addictive and easy to get caught up in for an evening.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - This is the most gory of my recommendations this year so those of you that are not fond of excessive descriptions of blood and some deaths, be wary of this one, please.  I don't want to be responsible for your nightmares!  For someone who is generally not brave when it comes to horror, I find that there is something haunting and sad about ghost's stories (that's the stories of the ghosts, not a typo in 'ghost stories').  Featuring a ghost hunter-type boy, this has those in spades, which makes it a lot more emotive than your standard "Ghost Bad, Kill" story. Although there is a romantic sub-plot that I could live without.  Just sayin'...

Ghost Stories with a Twist

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde - Fond of some slapstick humour with your ghosts? Or, as is more likely, now that you've read that there is something that combines humour and ghosts successfully, like the sound of it?  Oscar Wilde is your man.  I think this is the least horror-ish of my faux-horror recommendations and is genuinely funny.  Grab some pumpkin-shaped chocolates and tuck in.

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse - Like your ghost stories with a historical fiction edge?   The Winter Ghosts mixes that haunting lost feeling that is often described in relation to survivors of the Great War with that regular haunting feeling.  The writing is superb  meaning you can enjoy your walk on the ghostly side with some class and elegance.

So there you have it!  If you have a few hours to spare this Hallowe'en and feel like spending them hidden away with an appropriately-themed-but-not-terrifying book, you can do much, much worse than these.  Happy Hallowe'en!! :) 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

November TBR Pile

Given the mysterious silence that my blog has been labouring under recently, you'd be forgiven for believing that I had been buried under my November TBR pile, rather than just building it.  Fear not, friends, I have not suffered a book-squish-related injury (or any other injury, for that matter) and now I am back.  Happy days indeed!

I should say while we're settling back in that I love Winter.  Yes, it is rather chilly, kind of damp and I leave for work and arrive home in the dark BUT it can also be extremely pretty on those freezing cold but bright and clear days and offers plenty of excuses for hiding away from the world with a steaming cup of coffee, a blanket and a great book.  What better time to read some tremendous stories and get back into writing about them?

While catching up on my groaning Google Reader, I saw something to give me a perfect segue from not blogging to, you know, blogging: a November TBR pile!  I first spotted Ellie's and am excited about all the others that I'll get to pore over when the 1st November rolls around and it's time for other bloggers to post their reads for the next month as part of Jenn @ Booksessed's new(ish) meme!  I haven't tried having a monthly TBR pile before and actually quite like the idea of sifting through a few books rather than gaping at my shelves for hours trying to decide what I want to read :-/

I've been a little less than controlled when it has come to bookish acquisitions over recent weeks.  I finally read The Secret History by Donna Tartt and had completely forgotten how lovely it was to read fabulous adult fiction.  I think this year has been my "worst" year for being distracted by the shiny new YA books flashing in my face on many a blog.  As the year's gone on, I've become more and more Grumpy-Old-Woman-ish about teen narrators (as some upcoming reviews will demonstrate - you have been warned :-p).  Starting The Secret History was like a revelation.  Sumptuous writing, complex themes and multi-faceted characters.  As soon as I finished it, I went on a bit of a literary fiction buying spree, some of which will form the basis of my November TBR pile and some of which will probably pop up in December.

SO what have I picked out for November?

'Scuse the blurriness, please!

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder - Music, drugs, anarchy, a mysterious Spring Heeled Jack committing violent crimes in a misty London, a disgraced scholar, an unsuccessful poet and werewolves all wrapped up in a beautiful green and gold package.  Need I say more?  I've had it for AGES and really want to get started already.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - I've been meaning to read this ever since I finished Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury earlier this year.  Part of my new "must read more adult fiction/classics" kick.

0.4 by Mike Lancaster - Ellie gave it a glowing review earlier in the year and ever since then I've been meaning to buy it.  I realise that this sort of flies in the face of my earlier "no more YA" comments but I think it's teenage girl narrators that I might have fallen out and this doesn't fall into that category so it's fine.  It sounds all mind-bendy so that'll be fun for a gloomy afternoon!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - Just because...well, because it's The Handmaid's Tale.

I also have a couple of review books that I'm really looking forward to and then these are the start to my Winter!

What do you think to my November selections?  Anything that should get bumped to the top/bottom of the list?  What will YOU be reading as the nights draw in and the super-woolly socks come out?