TBR Challenge #10: Paranormal

shutter

Shutter by Courney Alameda

Rating: 3/5

Why? This month’s theme is Paranormal. I actually had a totally different book planned out for this read, but for some weird reason I decided to write a review for it last week, so I had to pick a new one fast and this book was already on my bookshelf.

In this book we are taken to the last living descendant of the famous Van Helsing, yes, the one that defeated the equally famous Dracula. Micheline Van Helsing has been trained at a young age to defeat the creatures that lurk our world: ghosts, spirits, wayward souls, etc. with the help of her cameras.

During one unfortunate ghost hunt, everything that does wrong, went wrong and at the end of the night Micheline and her group of friends are not only defeated, they have been cursed with the soulchain. Now they must find out more about this curse and destroy it, or risk being exterminated by her father, Leonard Van Helsing.

Review: I was pleasantly surprised about this book. I really didn’t thing this book was going to be set in modern/present time, but it really should have clicked since they do mention ‘films and cameras’.

I enjoyed the story, it was very different from the other paranormal novels that I’ve read. Unfortunately for Alameda, I just finished read In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and that book gave me all the creeps. Having that in my head, I really couldn’t separate the two books. I guess its really unfair for Shutter because these two books have different storyline. Shutter is a lot more geared towards the action/adventure part of Paranormal where as In the Shadow of Blackbirds is historical Paranormal.

Shutter for me is mediocre. I didn’t really connect that much with the protagonist, Micheline, and at times I found her to be too whiny and naive. For a ghost hunter, who’s been trained at a young age, I feel that she made too many amateur mistakes. I admit, she had a rough 18-months, but the author didn’t really write a confused chracter, shes’s suppose to be a protagonist who is sure of herself and confident with herself. Truth be told, most of the characters in these books are a little bit too extreme, they’re too perfect, or at least the author tried to make them too perfect at the specific roles and they almost became cliche. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if she didn’t try to hard to make some of her characters really unlikable and other really likable, this is a classic evil vs good type of battle.

Like I said, the story is unique. This book reminded me a bit of the movie ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentleman’, where each character brings something different in the group and their ‘specialties’ are unique only to them. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is one of my favorite movies, so when this vibe started, I was a bit excited and I think this concept would have been more effective if Alameda included more popular characters.

I’m not a fan of the end and for those who knows me and my book preferences, endings can make it or break it for me. I wouldn’t have minded if the ending was a tad sadder than what I’m used to, but I didn’t like who the ghost turned out to be and the reasons that the author created. I refuse to think of this as an ending to a story, it felt unfinished and I’m not really sure if the author is going to continue this story. That being said, I don’t really know if I even want to continue even if the Alameda decides to finish the story of Micheline and her friends.

 

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Spookathon TBR

It’s that time of the year again, the annual Spokathon Readathon is happening from October 16-22, hosted by Books and Lala, Paige’s Page and Bookerly. Of course, I have to participate because, not only do I love mystery/thriller/horror books, I really enjoy readathons as well!

Just like last year, this year there are challenges that the hosts has created to make the the readathon a little bit more fun.

  1. Read a thriller
  2. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
  3. Read a book base on a childhood fear
  4. Read a book with an orange cover
  5. Read a book that has a spooky setting

The hosts are very chill in their challenges, so you can double up on them.

I will try to be reading three books that will incorporate all 5 challenges. I’m not 100% sure I will be able to read all three, but hey, anything can happen.

dark-matterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: “Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

CHALLENGES: Book with a spooky word in the title, book with an orange cover

the childThe Child by Fiona Barton

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell.

CHALLENGES: Read a Thriller

bird box.jpg

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

CHALLENGES: Bookbase on a childhood fear, book with a spooky setting

If I have time, I do want to get my hands on the book that the three hosts will be reading for Spookathon.

stranger in the house.jpg A Stranger in the House Shari Lapena

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS: Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Superstitious Book Tag (Original)

Yes, it’s definitely safe for you to do this tag! No superstitious elements link to this tag!

So I’ve been perusing other blogs and booktubers on possible tags that I can do. I’m off from work and in need to do something with my time. Since there really isn’t a lot of tags that centered on Halloween, I thought I’ll create my first ever tag. A lot of people are ver superstitious and most of the time they are linked to something evil or bad. Here are 5 common superstitious that people believe in.

1. Walking past a graveyard: Name a book that you enjoyed because of the setting.

in the shadow of blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blakbirds by Cat Winters – I super recent read, but I really enjoyed how the author used her choice of setting to create a sinister environment for her protagonist.

172 Hours

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad – Another creepy book that played with my mind, psychologically. I can never use the airport bathrooms without remembering this book!

2. Crossing paths with a black cat: Name your favorite Halloween monster and show any books that features these monsters. (ie. Frankenstein’s Monster, mummy, zombies, etc.)

It

It by Stephen King – Clowns are not really monsters, but I’m terrified of them, and since It just came out in theaters again, I’m pretty sure there are new generation of children/teens that has been scared by this not so pleasant clown. The book is good though, even though it’s massive.

warm bodies

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – I know this book is not creepy at all, but it does still feature zombies, and its a good read, so I’m adding it!

3. Walking under the ladder: Name some of your favorite ghost novels (yes, walking under the ladder superstition has something to do with ghosts)

Anna Dressed

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – Although I’m not a fan of the second book in the duology, the first book definitely gave me the chills. A good read for this month!

4. The wrong side of the bed: Name a book that is set in a dystopian world, but still gave you the creep-vibes (Egyptian times people believed that you must wake up on the right side of the bed, if you wake up on the left side, which they associate with death and destruction, they will be have a bad day)

rotandruin

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry – An amazing series. Yes, I know I’m not done yet, but still so wonderfully written and the world building! Don’t get me started!

5. Friday the 13th: Name your favorite scary/creepy short story.

slasher girls

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by Different Authors – Not all stories are a hit, but definitely spine-chilling!

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So that’s it for my first ever book tag! Hope you enjoyed it and I tag everyone or anyone who wants to do it!

For more superstition facts check out the article written by Mitch Horowitz on 13 Superstitions that still scare the Bejesus out of us. 

Thanks ^_^

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Creepy Settings

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October is the month to read all things scary and all things that goes bump in the night, but scary books must have one main thing, a scary setting, without the ominous feeling that the backdrop offers, the story tend to fall flat.

Here are 5 of my top favorite creepy settings. Great topic Sam! I will also include some great book recommendations that feature the particular setting

Woods/Forest:
The woods/forest can either be an enchanting scenery or and ominous location, but for sure nothing is scarier than the woods/forest at night. The unexplored usually will give you the goosebumps and the chill down your spine Especially if someone or something is lurking behind its shadows.

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll are great examples of the dark and creepy woods and things that hide within its surroundings.

My Review of Through the Woods

Historical Events:
Yes, some historical events are not a laughing matter and should be handled with care, but there are some authors that use historical events to create an environment that will give you nightmares. While being respectful of the injured, they are still able to create a world that is only seen in your nightmares.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscolca are two very recent reads for me, but they are perfect examples of authors using historical events to their advantage. While one takes Worlds War I and the Spanish Inlfuenza into a paranormal twist, the latter give the infamous Jack the Ripper a new face.

My Review on In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Asylums:
I have a thing about asylums. I know mental health should be taken seriously, but those few years that asylums were open and experimenting on people is just a setting that needs to be used by authors.

The Asylum Trilogy by Madeleine Laroux is one of the few books that I’ve read that is set in an asylum. Yes, I wasn’t a fan of either the first or third book, but the chills that the second book gave me was almost worth the read. Plus the pictures will send you over the edge. Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island is a much better read that will leave you in shock by the end of the book, the movie was also pretty good.

My Review on Asylum.

Moon/Space:
Space and the Moon is also another one of those setting that is creepy because its the unknown. Very few has been out there and the majority of space has not yet been explored by humans. So of course we are not 100% sure that we are alone in this vast galaxy, definitely a very good setting for creepy books.

Most books I have read set on the moon is Science Fiction or Fantasy, but 172 Hours on the Moon is a book that everyone should read. Although I’m not a fan of the characters, the environment that Johan Harstad created is – everything. It’s been two years since I read this book, but it still gives me the creeps when I think about it.

My Review on 172 Hours on the Moon

172 Hours

Deserted Island/Rain:
‘One dark, Rainy night..’ Yes, it’s cliche, but rain and the dark is very effective in creating a creepy setting and it’s even more powerful when this ‘dark and rainy night’ is happening in a deserted island. Like I keep saying all throughout this post, its really more of the unknown that gives you the chills, and making the environment stormy is even more of a hazard to the protagonist(s).

Ten by Gretchen McNeil is not one of my favorite books, but the use of the creepy setting is definitely a plus on this book. Not so much deserted, but rather isolated, ten teens are stranded on the island with an impending storm, and a killer amidst them. This book definitely gave me some spine chilling moments. The Breakdown by B.A. Paris is also another great example of taking the environment and giving it a creepy twist. Although this book is not set in a deserted island, the main chill factor is the weather and a forest (which is my first point ^^). A recent read for me, its thrilling and will psychologically mess you up as you read it.

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So that’s it for me this week on my Top 5! Hope you guys enjoyed it and comment down below on some of your favorite creepy settings. Also, give me recommendations for more scary/thriller books. Although I’m a scaredy cat, I enjoy getting zero sleep as I lay in my bed having an internal battle with my imagination!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

in the shadow of blackbirds

Author: Cat Winters
Rating: 4/5
Protagonist: Mary Shelley Black

SYNOPSIS: In the midst of World War I, the world was hit with the Spanish Influenza, not only are people being killed in the line of fire, but those that stayed home must also fight the deadly flu.

Those who have lost loved ones flock seances to talk to their loved ones, and a new phenomenon, taking pictures with the dead. Unlike those around her, Mary Shelley never believed in ghosts, and she never believed in the ghostly portrait. As she deals with the lows in her life, she must rethink her beliefs in the afterlife, especially when someone close to her is showing themselves to her, one that she knew to be dead.

REVIEW: I’ve read my fair share of books that goes bump in the night, a lot of thrillers and definitely more than a handful of mystery novels, but never have I lost sleep on any of them, until this book. Winters did such a great job in creating such an ominous environment with the fear of the Spanish Influenza and the impending doom of the first World War. You can feel the dire situation that people were facing during that era and how the social status of people no longer matter; the influenza struck the young, the old, the rich and the poor.

I also really enjoyed that Winters included the changes of woman’s role in the household and society because of the war. As more men have been shipped to fight at the front, many more women are stepping up to keep their household intact financially. As seen with Mary’s aunt, she has stepped up in being the main caretaker of her home, but at the same time she is still very much aware of her femininity. I love how she subtlety included this character to show the growing change that women will face in this century. At the same time we have Mary Shelley who excused the modern woman. She dresses the way she wants to, speak up for what she believes and argues for those beliefs. Right from the start we see her stubbornness and her independence, which is rarely seen during these times on a 16 years old girl.

As for the main bulk of the story, which is the mystery surrounding Stephen, it is also as amazing as her use of setting. I don’t really want to go into depth with it, but it this book left me sleepless at night. Not because I was reading it all night, which I was, but even after the book was done, I was left picturing each and every creepy detail as I lay in the dark. Even now as I write this review, in broad daylight, I’m getting the chills. Yes, I admit I don’t really read a whole lot of adult horror novels, but for a YA novels this was up in the scary chart. I really do give Winters props for using her backdrop, because it suited her novel very well and the use of Blackbirds, amazing! I will never look at blackbirds the same way again.

Yes, I really am giving this book high praises because it scared me through and through. FYI, I’m scared of ghosts. So if you’re not then this book might not be up your alley. I really thought that more people would enjoy this book, but I don’t really see a lot of people put it on their ‘Scary Recommendations’ or ‘October TBR’. For me, highly recommended for the September/October months, or for those who enjoys being scared.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

ENDING: I’m not really sure if I should reveal the ending because its such a fantastic ending. Yes, I basically guessed what has happened, but how and why was a bit off. I’m glad that it went that way, heartbreaking, but effective with this story.

Stephen came back from war with PTSD. Julius wanting to win the photo competition and Mr. Darning wanting proof of the afterlife, used Stephen as a ginuea pig. On the night of his death, suffering from hallucinations, Julius and Mr. Darning poisoned him to be able to take a picture of Stephen’s soul leaving his body. Under severe stress and imagining big blackbirds (really his brother and Mr. Darning) in his vicinity, Stephen picked up a gun to kill the ‘blackbirds’, but killed himself instead.

September Wrap-up and October TBR

ACK! Best month of the year for reading is finally upon us! I’m a mystery fanatic and therefore, I think October is the best month to read these kinds of books. Yes, I technically read mystery/thriller any time of the month, but October just gives you all the chill and vibes for these books!

Anyways, in September I was able to read 5 book. Not my best, but considering I had one book in my wrap-up last month, I’ll call this month a success. Here are the books I read:

The best read for me in September would have to go to Scythe. Warcross comes very close, but I prefer the ending of the former than the latter. I’m not surprise that I would enjoy Shusterman’s book since one of my favorite book is Unwind, which is another one of his books. I am surprised that I like Warcross, only because Lu’s Legend trilogy wasn’t a success for me. I won’t pass judgement just yet, since I really did enjoy Legend, but the other two was a disappointment. I’ll have to wait until I get my hands on the sequel to make any real decisions. Overall, I had a good reading month. There really wasn’t a specific book that I didn’t enjoy. They were mediocre, but an entertaining read nevertheless.

OCTOBER TBR

As I have said at the beginning of this post, October is definitely the best reading month. I’m not really 100% sure what books I’ll be reading since I’ve been buying ton loads of thrillers lately. What I do know is that I will be participating in this year’s Spookathon again, hosted by Lala, Paige and Shannon. I participated last year and enjoyed it a lot and I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy this year’s as well. Here is a tentative TBR that I might be able to do for this month.

These books may or may not also be in my Spookathon TBR.

 

So that’s it for me this month and keeping my fingers crossed for this month. I’m really in a reading mood now, but live is pretty busy the last few months of the year.

Top 5 Book I Read Because of Booktubers

top-5

I participate in a lot of social medias concerning anything about books and reading, but the most influential for me is Goodreads, Booktubers and some Book Bloggers. However, for this post I’m going to be focusing on books I read because of some Booktuber’s recommendations.

Here is a list of Booktuber’s I subscribe to and most of these books I read because of their recommendations.

court of thorns and roses

I know that almost all of Maas’ books are all the rage since she started publishing, and this series is no exception. I watched countless of Youtubers review this book and read dozen’s of reviews, but I could never make up my mind to actually read it. Until I watch Bookable’s review for the last book. She made the trilogy sound so good that I just had to pick it up. I’m a big fan of of her reviews!

dark-places

This is definitely another book that I picked up because of Booktubers, I may not have enjoyed it, but I’m glad that I gave it a go. Last year I joined the readathon, Spookathon, created by BooksandLala, Paige’s Page and Bookerly. They definitely gave this book such high ratings that I needed to check what the fuss is all about. Although, I wasn’t as in love with it as they are, I still enjoyed the way most of it that I’m willing to read more of Flynn’s books. (No, not Gone Girl)

the martian

I’m not entirely sure who reviewed this book and totally made me want to pick it up. I’m 90% sure that it’s Thoughts on Tomes, but I’m still doubting the 10%. Anyways, I remember the reviews on this book was phenomenal and although it took sometime to get used to the scientific jargon, I still highly enjoyed it.

the-girl-in-6e

Now for this book I’m not entirely sure who reviewed it and gave such high praises that I had to check it out, I want to say Read by Zoe, but I’m just not that confident. I wasn’t really sure what the book was about, so I was surprised that it was an erotic thriller. That being said, I still really enjoyed the story. I love the protagonist, the mystery and even the second book!

The Break Down

Although it’s not this particular book that was reviewed by the Booktuber, she did give the author a very good recommendation. So when DuvetDaysDevour hauled this book I knew I wanted to pick it up. This is one of my most recent reads and I actually enjoyed it. I like the writing, but not a fan of the ending. This author will definitely be on my radar for future books.


So that’s it for me this week. I actually enjoyed the Top 5 Wednesday this week.