• 5 Spooky Books on My TBR List

    A long time ago, I wrote three Halloween-themed posts: one about spooky books, one about literary costumes, and another about scary villains. Oddly enough, those are the only posts I’ve written related to Halloween. I don’t know why. Halloween is far and away my favorite holiday. With that in mind, I decided it might be time to draft another post in the spirit of the season.
    5 Spooky Books on My TBR List

    This year, one of my goals has been to make more time for reading. My TBR list on Goodreads is staggering, and I want to make some serious headway on it.

    In recent years, I’ve become more interested in thrillers and suspenseful reads. Luckily, there have been plenty of new releases in that vein. With that in mind, here are five spooky books currently on my TBR list. If you’re looking for a scare as Halloween approaches, go ahead and give them a read!

    Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

    We’re all gonna die down here. . . .

    Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

    In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse . . .

    . . . until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

    Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

    They’re being hunted.

    Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to her friend’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here. . . .” in this bone-chilling sophomore novel by the acclaimed author of The Merciless. (Goodreads)

    MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

    There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

    Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

    A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

    Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

    A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late? (Goodreads)

    Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

    This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

    Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages. (Goodreads)

    Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano

    When Paige moves from LA to Idaho with her mom and little brother after her parents’ high-profile divorce, she expects to completely hate her new life, and the small town doesn’t disappoint. Worse yet, the drafty old mansion they’ve rented is infested with flies, spiders, and other pests Paige doesn’t want to think about.

    She chalks it up to her rural surroundings, but it’s harder to ignore the strange things happening around the house, from one can of ravioli becoming a dozen, to unreadable words appearing in the walls. Soon Paige’s little brother begins roaming the house at all hours of the night, and there’s something not right about the downstairs neighbor, who knows a lot more than he’s letting on.

    Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier.
    The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight.

    Found in the aftermath, Diary of a Haunting collects the journal entries, letters, and photographs Paige left behind. (Goodreads)

    Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

    Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

    The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity. (Goodreads)

    I am dying to get these books as soon as I make some money! Now that I’m working at Barnes & Noble part-time, I suspect I’ll be adding hundreds of other great books to that list. Although a lot of these novels are part of a series and I tend to stay away from series, I’m willing to give them a try. What do you think?

    What are some spooky books on your TBR list?

    Tweet tweet:

    What are some scary books on your TBR list? @brianawrites gets in the spooky spirit by sharing some of hers. (Click to tweet)

  • Top 10 Scariest Literary Villains

    Halloween is right around the corner. I’ve been dying to write a spooky post for weeks. I had planned to write one about costume ideas or frightening reads, but I’ve already done both of those.

    I’m fascinated with villains. I always have been. There’s nothing I love more than a compelling bad guy With that being said, I’m still frightened by them. Here’s my list of the top 10 scariest literary villains.

    10. Lady Macbeth. Although she doesn’t commit any murders, she does convince her husband to. The whole going insane thing doesn’t hurt, either. She’s no one to be trifled with.

    9. Alex Delarge. His loose morals and odd manner of speaking brand Alex as eccentric. His passion for violence? That makes him scary. The worst thing about Alex is the unnerving charm he exudes to attract his victims. Just eerie.

    8. Big Brother. All we know for certain about Big Brother is that he’s watching us. He may or may not be real, but he is totally terrifying.

    7. Dolores Umbridge. Don’t let the pink ensemble fool you – this woman is MEAN. Behind her sweet smile and mincing voice lurks something truly sinister. Run away while you still can.

    6. Hannibal Lecter. No countdown of literary villains would be complete without Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter. No one likes a cannibal, but the fact that he prefers to eat the rude makes Dr. Lecter slightly less horrifying than he would be otherwise.

    5. James Moriarty. Dubbed “The Napoleon of Crime,” this infamous villain is clever and cunning enough to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money. Be afraid.

    4. Count Dracula. This notorious villain earns quite a reputation in Bram Stoker’s grisly novel. Since, this vampire’s been romanticized in recent years, it’s important to remember that he attacks and murders young women while they’re sleeping in their beds. How’s that for romantic?

    3. Voldemort. There’s a reason he’s referred to as “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” In the Harry Potter series, it’s believed that merely uttering his name adds to the Dark Lord’s power. A rogue wizard with a taste for murder and a hatred of half-bloods, he’s one villain you wouldn’t want to meet with in an alley.

    2. The Joker. Where would the world be without “The Clown Prince of Crime”? Better off, quite frankly. The Batman franchise’s most famous villain is one of the most recognizable baddies on the planet. When he smiles, the world doesn’t smile. It screams.

    1. IT. The title character in the Stephen King novel and film of the same name, IT is an evil entity that can alter its appearance to suit any fear. Usually he can be witnessed in the form of Pennywise the Clown (AKA my nightmare).

    I love far too many literary villains to name. I hope this short list gave you a good idea of some of the baddies I love to hate.

    Who do you think are the scariest literary villains?

  • Costume Ideas Based on Literary Characters


    In case you hadn’t noticed, Halloween is close at hand. It’s less than a week away. If you don’t have a Halloween costume yet, there’s no need to panic. I’m happy to help. Here are a couple of ideas based on characters from famous works of literature.

    Hester Prynne

    All you need for this look is a black dress, a white apron, some black shoes, and a scarlet letter. Bonnet and child born of wedlock are optional.

    Jay Gatsby

    Pull off the infamous American Dreamer by dressing in a suit and carrying around a glass of champagne. Be sure to mention Daisy and green lights wherever you go. Also, don’t forget to say, “old sport” as much as humanly possible. Bonus points for hosting a legendary Halloween party without sending out any invitations.

    Big Brother

    Take a piece of poster board and cut out a hole in the middle for your head to fit through. Write BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU in bold letters with a permanent marker. For added paranoia, hide cameras all over your friends and family. And grow some nasty facial hair. By the way, you may or may not actually exist. Keep that in mind.

    Mina Harker
    Here’s another for the ladies. Put on a nightgown, preferably a lacy one. Muss your hair and wear it loose. Apply fake blood to your neck as though you’ve been bitten by a vampire. Faint constantly throughout the evening. Babble incoherently about uninvited nighttime guests.

    I know this post is short, but this should’ve given you a few ideas for your Halloween costume. 
    What do you think? What are you going to be for Halloween?
  • Books to Get You in the Spooky Spirit


    I love Halloween. You should know that about me. I also love reading.

    Why not combine the two?

    There are several books that I love to reread around this time of year. These books are full of thrills, chills, suspense, scares, horror, and mayhem – every spooky sensation that you can imagine. That’s what makes them perfect for an All Hallows Eve read. If you’re looking to curl up with a creepy classic or a contemporary chiller, check out one from this list:
    • Dracula by Bram Stoker – Whether or not you’ve read the book, the story of Dracula is certainly familiar to almost anyone. Read about the vampire that inspired them all. The cool thing about this book is that it is told in the form of letters from several different characters.
    • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – Another haunting read whose story is pervasive in modern culture. This novel tells the story of the ghost of the Paris Opera House and his obsessive attraction toward a young chorus girl. Fear, violence, love triangles – what’s not to love? And yes, this is the book that inspired one of the longest-running shows in theatre history.
    • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – Released in 1938 and made into a movie by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca has been dazzling audiences since its initial release. Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down. Without spoiling anything, this book is about a young woman who marries a widower with a mysterious past. It. Is. Good.
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – One of the most famous examples of the gothic romance. Jane Eyre is a young woman who falls in love with her employer… and finds that he has a skeleton in his closet (or perhaps in his attic, but I’ll say no more). If you read it in school, it’s worth a second look.
    • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – This is the novel that birthed science fiction. And it was written by a woman. Need I go on? If you read this book, you’ll understand why some people cringe when you refer to the monster as “Frankenstein.”
    • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Okay, okay. This book is not necessarily scary, but parts of it are unnerving. Hester Prynne has an affair and is forced to wear a scarlet “A” on her chest so that everyone will know her crime. This novel is haunting, and I can’t explain why.
    • The Shining by Stephen King – The King of Horror writes the King of all horror novels. Just read it, mmkay?
    • Misery by Stephen King – Another masterpiece from the master himself. Man, do I love Stephen King. Even if you’ve seen the movie, you should probably read the book.
    • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews – This book creeped me the eff out. A mother keeps her children locked up in an attic for over two years. Terrifying because it reveals the dark side of human nature. I couldn’t put this one down, either.
    Of course, these are just some of my favorite scary reads for the scariest time of the year. I’m interested to see which of these books you’ve read and enjoyed. 
    What do you like to read around Halloween? What books did I miss?
    Helene in Between