FrighteninglyGoodRead · not a review

Frighteningly Good Reads 2019 Wrap Up

Whew! As usual, my lofty plans for this month went….sideways. I pictured myself blogging nearly everyday and interacting with other bloggers and, and, and…. it didn’t happen. I do not know how people sustain the energy for hosting these huge thematic readathons but, bless them!


What Did I Read This Month?

I started out by picking out 31 good spooky books.256E220F-F018-4598-8DFD-A31ADB36A2D7.jpeg

I ended up reading ten books this month. Many came from the list and a few were discovered alone the way.

I don’t know if you can tell or not but I was obsessed with The Illuminae Files. Obsessed!


Who Participated?

I had three wonderful bloggers join me this year for FGR. Muse With Me always selects the best and most terrifying reads as well as wonderful graphic novels. Two of my favorites reviews from this month are the those for Dr. Sleep and for Hellboy: Odder Jobs.

What’s NonFiction didn’t feel like there was enough “frightening” in their TBR pile but, just look at this review of a former Westboro Baptist Church member and you’ll see – this blog is sheer GOLD for all kinds of NonFiction that will keep you up at night.

Finally, the awesome blog, The Writerly Way participated this year. I love this blog because, without fail, every time I read it I find something new to add to my ever growing TBR. My favorite post from this month was about Gideon the Ninth. Even though I’m not sure I would ever have picked up this book, The Writerly Way has convinced me that I have to give it a try.

Thank you to all who participated! I hope you come back again next year where (hopefully) I will have a better plan and make it more social!


What Did I Learn?

Blogging consistently while reading all new thematically appropriate books is a near impossibility for me. Add to a chaotic event this month and everything just went sideways. Next year I need to start working on this in August….or July. Either way, I need to think of blogging for October like crafting for Christmas and start early.

The best thing about focusing on the spooky and frightening this month is that I have wrung every bit of joy out of my favorite holiday – Halloween. I’m not even sad that tomorrow is November because I enjoyed everything October had to offer – even the snowstorm we had today in Chicago!


Tell me, please!

How did you celebrate Halloween?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #5: The Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke

This book is perfect for readers out there who want to enjoy the spooks and specters of the haunting season without the scare. Cornelia Funke, writer of the wonderful Inkheart series, has written a number of other books I have enjoyed but Ghost Knight has the perfect feel for Frighteningly Good Reads.

Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft never expected to enjoy boarding school. Then again, he never expected to be confronted by a pack of vengeful ghosts, either. And then he meets Ella, a quirky new friend with a taste for adventure…

Together, Jon and Ella must work to uncover the secrets of a centuries-old murder while being haunted by terrifying spirits, their bloodless faces set on revenge. So when Jon summons the ghost of the late knight Longspee for his protection, there’s just one question: Can Longspee truly be trusted? Goodreads.

ghostknightI’ll admit, In the beginning I didn’t care for Jon at all. His Dad died when he was four and he fears that his mother and little sisters have become too attached to the man she is dating, “The Beard.” Instead of talking about it with his Mother he has taken the petulant stance that only a pre-teen has the energy to maintain. His assumes his Mother sending him to boarding school is his punishment and that The Beard is only vying to get rid of him. This sullen attitude is slapped right out of him when he starts seeing ghosts at his new school. Ella, the beautiful Ella, not only believes him but she can see ghosts too. With a new friend to confide in Jon begins to discover what all children must: talking about your fears is how you overcome them. But will talking be enough with the Knight? Or is it all a trap? How can we tell who to trust?

The level of scary of this book falls far below Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with a smattering of Knightly violence that adds to the action. The characters, their friendship, and their collective adventures are a beautiful foil for the individual development of Jon himself. By the end of the book, my grudging acceptance of the little twerp had grown to genuine admiration.

If you want a lighter fare or need a recommendation for a younger reader this is a perfect book to curl up with during the month of October!


Tell me, please!

What is your favorite fun ghost story?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads: Social Sunday

The whole purpose of Frighteningly Good Reads is to extend and enjoy the gorgeous month that is October. It is my favorite month culminating in my favorite holiday of all: Halloween! I am thrilled that other bloggers are joining me this year and so on Sunday this year I want to highlight all their amazing blogs and any other fantastic books I have found through other blogs during the week.


Muse With Me

I have been reading and following Ryan’s blog nearly as long as I have been writing mine. Ryan reads truly terrifying books and fantastic graphic novels and comic books. If you are looking for scarier fare than you are seeing here, Muse With Me is a great place to go. Here is Ryan’s reading list for this years FGR.


What’s NonFiction?

I haven’t always been a great reader of nonfiction but, when I started regularly blogging, I wanted to pay more attention to this fabulous genre. But, I will never be as good at covering nonfiction as What’s Nonfiction? I’m not even going to try! This glorious site is full of amazing nonfiction selections that I really never see anywhere else. For example, look at the amazing spooky nonfiction books featured last year at this post. Or, check out a more recent post on the sociology of the science of fear here.


The Writerly Way

I want to know where Sammie at The Writerly Way is shopping because this blog is always packed full of books I have never seen before but I simply must read. I am so thrilled that Sammie is participating in Frightening Good Reads because everything on The Writerly Way awesome ! It is on this blog that I found out about In the Hall with the Knife and anyone who gets as excited about a YA books based on the movie Clue is my kind of people. Just a stroll through this blog’s 2019 reviews will give anyone lots to add to their TBR.


Tell me, please!

Have you read anything spooky this weekend?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade

Frighteningly Good Reads #4: The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

This middle grade book is the kind of thrillingly creepy tale that will bring a shiver to your spine even as the last heat of the summer sun continues to burn your skin.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making. Goodreads.

thenightgardenerThe Night Gardener the story of Molly and her brother Kip. Molly and Kip have been sent to the countryside of England to find work during the Irish potato famine. They are alone, their parents mysteriously behind them, and they are headed for work at an English manor. Every step they take closer to the manor comes with warnings from the people along the way: they are headed to their death.

Molly and Kip are quite a pair. Molly is blessed with the knack for storytelling while Kip has a green thumb. But it will take more than stories and planting to save them from the deadly traps set in the woods around the manor. Meanwhile, the Windsor family is hiding a secret so wretched that it appears to be eating them alive.

In the grand scheme of scary, this book is less jump-out-and-shock-you and more like that nightmare we all have where no matter how fast we are running the murderer is gaining on you. The atmosphere of this story is masterful and the fear becomes palatable until I found myself flipping the pages faster and faster to the end.

Beyond the spooky atmosphere, there was much to be admired in both Molly and Kip. Molly has taken the role of protector and mother to her younger brother. She maintains a positive mindset and attitude in the face of tremendous adversity. Kip has a physical disability. This is presented as a fact, not a defining characteristic. He works, he plays, he carries the crutch his father made and named Courage, he is a typical eleven year old boy. His disability is reminiscent of the character of Freddy from Shazam and I liked the portrayal.

Middle grade readers will need to pack their patience for this book. Since the story relies heavily on building a genuinely creepy atmosphere, it doesn’t move quickly. Instead, your sense of fear and dread sneak up on you. Some middle grade readers may need encouragement to persevere all the way to the end but reassure them – it is worth it!

The Night Gardener was an excellent study in how the slow drip of fear can overcome you. Like Small SpacesThe Night Gardener is a perfect creepy middle grade book.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy middle grade reads?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #3: The Witches by Roald Dahl

“My darling…you won’t last long in this world if you don’t know how to spot a witch when you see one.”

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them. Goodreads.

thewitchesI read this book as a child and I have re-read it several times since then. It is my go-to recommendation for middle grade spooky reads. The reasons are simple. A nameless boy and his nameless Gramamama fight evil with two simple skills: communication and observation. Just the ability to look around and see what’s happening and talk to an adult about your concerns. In addition, even though the child’s parents are killed (can’t kids go on adventures with their parents?) the Grandmama actually listens to her grandson. It may seem silly but think about it, how many children’s books have you read where the underlying theme is, “parents just don’t understand”? Around the world there are children who talk to and are listened to by adults in their lives. But, somehow, in fiction our under-age protagonists are usually saddled with parents who don’t believe them in addition to their bigger problem. I love this book for the simple fact that it showcases an adult and a child working together.

Also, neither Grandmama nor the Grandson have any super powers. The Grandson isn’t gifted with super intelligence either. They are just regular people working together to thwart evil.

And the evil? It looks like a regular adult. The world is frequently terrifying to kids today. They know, or are taught, that there is evil everywhere in the world. But, if you know how to spot it you can stay safe.

This book is not perfect. It is a rare book that can claim that title. I will admit, I vastly preferred the ending in the movie to the one in the book (sacrilege, I know!). And, certainly, Dahl has been accused of darker motives.

But, The Witches is still one of my favorite Frighteningly Good Reads and one I highly recommend. The scary and macabre tone has an underpinning of the importance of listening to each other. And, one day, I hope I am the kind of Grandmama that makes a cup of cocoa, sits down and says,

“Tell me everything.”


Tell me, please!

Do you have a favorite Roald Dahl book?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #2:

illuminaeThis may not be a stock “scary book” but I will confess: being trapped on a spaceship or a submarine is a nightmare situation for me. Add any kind of threat and I am at panic level of terror. Usually I pass right by all books set it such a situation but The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff came so highly recommended by everyone that I gathered my courage to read it.

I had the pleasure of reading and listening to the audiobook and I can not imagine experiencing this story any other way. Since the audiobook is a full cast recording, a delightful one at that, it is almost like watching a movie. The experience is so vivid.

And the design of this book is beyond comprehension. A simple flip-through might give a reader the impression that it is a series of e-mails and documents but it is a multi-faceted thing that is probably best described as a printed collage. I loved it. It was, at times, confusing, but overall it essential to experiencing the full effect of the story.

As for the story:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. Goodreads

I may have said that being aboard a spaceship or submarine is a nightmare but a deadly plague on said sealed metal crafts trumps that in the order of terrifying. And when the delightful Kady and cutie Ezra are threatened my heart was in my throat.

I well and truly cannot decide which character enjoyed more – Kady or Ezra. Both are quick and witty and strong in the face of adversity. Furthermore, the AI is a creature of fascination for me. I just wanted to spend more time with them all. Thankfully, there are two more books in the series for me!


Tell me, please!

What non-traditional setting terrifies you?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · YA

FGR #1: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslie Walton

Before I begin: this book is brimming with self harm. It is on nearly every page. If this is something that you struggle with then skip this book and consider heading here instead.


priceguidetotheoccult

I’m not even sure where I acquired this book. Quite possibly, it was for FrighteningGoodReads2018 since the book was published in October, 2018. And, I continued to be determined to work though that physical TBR so I pulled it off the shelf to kick off this year’s FGR. Just look at this glorious cover!

 

 

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness. Goodreads.

I’m not sure what I expected from this book but I know what I want more of: Nor’s best friend Savvy. Savvy was my favorite part of this book. We all deserve a colorful friend who ignores the secrets you keep and sacrifices the glory of Halloween to celebrate your birthday. This was a fantastic character.

On the other hand, I had trouble becoming interested or attached to Nor. She is fundamentally disconnected from her world. She revolves around things instead of interacting with them, including the boy she has a crush on and another she hates. Still, she had enough magnetism that I cared instinctively what happened to her. Or perhaps I was just curious what would happen to Nor because the arrival of her mother, Fern, was so terrifying.

Similarly, there were characters that didn’t get enough backstory. The boys in Nor’s world, Gage and Reed, have almost no dimension. But her Grandmother, Judd, is a wonderful character. A pipe smoking Giantess with the “burden” of healing, Judd is the mother Nor deserved. But Fern is what she received. And Fern is the scariest mother I have encountered in fiction in years.

Eventually, I spent enough time trying to figure out what was happening that I felt myself slowly pulled into the story until I could not stop until I reached the end. And even with some of the pace and character issues I have remarked upon, this story was chilling and consuming.

This is a perfect witchy story of the price some will pay and the lengths others will go in order to make their dreams a reality.


Tell me, please!

Do you ever love a cover even more after you read the book?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead

Frightening Good Reads 2019

Happy first day of Fall!!! The weather is exactly two degrees cooler in my neck of the woods and I am already gazing longingly at my fall wardrobe. The only thing I love more than cozying up to read in cooler weather is making my plans for this year’s Frightening Good Reads!

Every year since I have started blogging I have spent the month of October focused on spooky, scary, and Halloween-themed books. This year, all are welcome to join in the spooky fun! This is probably the most low-key endeavor in the history of blogging but I am just really working toward the goal of socializing and, of course, finding more spooky books to read.

So: here is how it works. Ready?

Just post a blog, comment below, tweet, or instagram your intention to join in the fun and pingback to this year’s post.

If you share updates on social media, I’ll be using #frighteninglygoodreads2019 and you can too so we can all follow each other.

That’s it! I know most challenges require a TBR or, you know, anything besides just an intention, but I am such a terrible mood reader that I know I won’t stick to my own so why would I ask it of anyone else?

As for what counts for “frightening” – it is anything that you can honestly say scares you or gives you the willies. Suspense, intense action, and the classic terror reads are all part of the feeling of the season. And, any age groups are welcome! I know….I’ve made it really difficult.


Tell me, please!

If spooky reading isn’t for you, how do you enjoy fall?


 

FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade · YA

The Last of the Frighteningly Good Reads

Happy Halloween!

My favorite of all holidays is today! Dressing up (Edna Mode, thank you very much) and festive candy eating is the only thing that will distract me from the end of Frighteningly Good Reads 2018. I have had a wonderful month reading spooky, scary and suspenseful stories and I hope you all have found one or two that have tickled your terror needs.

I do have two more I finished just yesterday that I would like to highlight. The first is a middle grade book Small Spaces and the second is The Bone Witch. Both were excellent reads and were a perfect way to wrap up FGR!

smallspacesSmall Spaces is a middle grade story by Katherine Arden. In it, a girl names Olivia (Ollie) meets a distraught woman tearfully attempting to toss a book into the water. Like any good and dedicated reader she bravely saves the book. When her class goes on a field trip to a local farm she is surprised to see the woman from the edge of the water there – and she is the farm’s owner! Soon terrifying things begin to happen. Is it the book? Or the woman?

Small Spaces may be for middle grade readers but I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Ollie was a complicated character and watching her befriend two classmates, Coco and Brian, while running for her life was great scary fun. The author kept the tension going long enough for it to be delightfully spooky and never boring or repetitive, a difficult feat! I loved it.

The Bone Witch by Rain Chupeco is the first in a YA trilogy. In this story, Tea (pronounced Tee-ah) accidentally raises her brother from the dead. After doing so she is labelled a bone witch and is carried off to meet the King and be placed in school that will train her to become an Asha – more specifically – a Dark Asha. Since Tea and only one other Dark Asha exist, it is their sole responsibility to raise and order back to the dead eternal creatures of the enemy.

This book, as is true with many YA series, is set in a complicated world. The first third of the book is full of wonderful other-world explanations and adventures and while the middle third of the book lags, it more than makes up for it in the ending. Now, as is also true of most YA series, I feel the strong need to read the next two books. I foresee a complicated romance for young Tea as well as an adventure fraught with peril!

And so completes Frightening Good Reads 2018! Next Month is Non-Fiction November and I am thrilled to be participating. You can look forward to seeing a number of new non-fiction books here.


Tell me, please!

What do you prefer, spooky or non-fiction?

Fantasy · fiction · FrighteninglyGoodRead · YA

FGR #8: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I am going to confess something. I didn’t want to read this book. I believe that I purchased it two years ago and started it only to quit three chapters in and shelf the book. If not for a combination of Frighteningly Good Reads and my 2018 Resolutions I probably would never have forced myself to read what turned out to be a phenomenal story.

scythe
A figure in a hooded red cape holds a scythe looking like a futuristic grim reaper.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman takes place in a world without hunger, disease, general misery or even death. Unfortunately, without natural death the world’s population must be controlled. Scythes are the only ones with the ability to take a life and Citra and Rowan have just been selected as apprentice Scythes. Now, only one can rise to the rank of a full Scythe. Citra and Rowan must master the “art” of death. As they do so they learn that living in a perfect world comes with a price.

Initially, I didn’t really find any of the main characters appealing. Which is why I put the book away for so long. However, as the story unfolded I began to comprehend the apathy to which these people must be acclimated in a world where there is no reason to worry, no purpose in hard work and the ability to die only to be whisked off to a revival center and brought back to life. If there is no threat of old age then do you lose the thirst and hunger of youth? Certainly when Citra and Rowan are faced with a permanent cessation of their lives their personalities change dramatically into characters that I grew to love and genuinely cared about.

And there in lies the magic of this story. At first glance I believed this was another annoying futuristic tale and the cautionary story of a world without death. Instead, I became slowly aware along with the characters of the importance of death in giving life value and purpose. As I watched Citra and Rowan struggle with that realization and the lengths they would go to in order to continue to live, even if that meant taking lives, I found myself completed immersed in the story. And now, as so frequently happens, a book I thought I would enjoy has become a series I cannot wait to continue!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever started a series determined to hate it only to be won over?