Fantastic Book Settings & Where To Find Them: Part 1

Top Ten Tuesday(3)

I know that the post title is a really cheesy pun but I love it and for some reason I thought it fit well for the theme I’m doing! Let me know what you think, I just wanted to spice it up a bit instead of just titling it “Favorite Book Settings” which is kind of boring.

Anywho! These are just a couple of my favorite book settings that I enjoyed reading about and also thought were unique and not a run of the mill type of setting.

**** P.S. NONE of these are fantasy books or settings, I may save that for another post but these are all contemporary, historical fiction, or realistic sci-fi settings! ****

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Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta

I’m sure there are plenty of other books set in Scotland but there don’t seem to be a ton in YA. I loved how Lunetta described a lot of the buildings, architecture, and scenery in Scotland when the character arrives and explores. It was just so much fun and I have always wanted to visit Scotland so that probably helped me love it more! The added witchery also made the book more interesting, if you’re looking for a decent YA book set in Scotland and has some witchy happenings I’d check this out! Trigger warning for self harm though.

(You can read my full review here.)

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

Why are there never any YA books set in Wales? Why aren’t there any YA books set in the United Kingdom that aren’t just in England? This book takes place in an older time period (it’s never specified) and is set in Wales with a Romani main character. This is an #OwnVoices book so the culture represented is accurate and was very fun to learn about especially with the witchcraft and revenge story mixed in. This story is a bit gory and there is an off-page rape scene so it really isn’t for the faint of heart but if you can handle horror then I recommend checking this one out!

(You can read my full review here.)

The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

This book actually has multiple settings which was super fun, I haven’t read any other “Tour of Europe” style books and especially not in historical fiction. We start in England a bit then move onto France, Spain, and Italy! We don’t get to see much “scenery” when the characters are in these pages which was a little disappointing but as I said it was still a lot of fun. My favorite part was definitely Venice, Italy though.

(You can read my full review here.)

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

This is a very unique setting seeing as how it all takes place during a convention, Supacon (basically Comic Con)! I personally am a huge geek about everything in pop culture so I thought the setting was so entertaining and I could geek out about it all! Also the characters are highly diverse and the anxiety rep is spot on, I recommend reading it.

(You can read my full review here.)

Want by Cindy Pon

While I didn’t love this book as much as I wanted to I really loved the setting of a futuristic Taipei, Taiwan. This is definitely a setting you don’t see very often and I really enjoyed it! We didn’t get too much description or cultural aspects though which was a bit of a bummer.

(You can read my full review here.)

Dreamfall by Amy Plum

Dreams, that’s a pretty unique setting am I right? This book takes place in the different nightmares of each dreamer’s mind, so of course it’s terrifying on top of being really neat. I haven’t read anything close to this but let me know if there are any other books with dream settings!

(You can read my full review here.)

The Martian by Andy Weir

Mars! I don’t think a setting gets much more unique than that outside of fantasy….well and other science fiction but this is science fiction that’s a little more realistic. So. Pretty cool! I personally thought it was very exciting reading about someone being trapped on Mars and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

(You can read my full review here.)

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Do you think any of these settings are unique or interesting?

Have you read other books with these settings?

What are some of your favorite book settings?

The Sassy


Book Review: Shutter (Shutter #1) by Courtney Alameda

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Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

reviewThis is a bit tough to rate because I did really enjoy this book but there were a lot of parts where I felt really bored and had to kind of force myself to read. So a middle rating is kind of perfect!

Trigger Warning: Physical Abuse/Child Abuse


The cover on this is actually a little misleading as you would think it was a horror book when really it’s just kind of an urban fantasy featuring paranormal/supernatural creatures. There wasn’t anything super creepy or horrifying about it which, in my case, was slightly disappointing since I wanted to be scared out of my mind but that’s okay it was still pretty interesting. Was it completely non-creepy? No, there were a few parts that were awesomely creepy but I wouldn’t say this book is really scary.

I really loved the world building in this book and I was not expecting there to be any but it was a pleasant surprise. “Shutter” is set in a world where the existence of supernatural creatures is public knowledge and the descendants of the characters in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”, including Stoker himself, fight these creatures. It’s pretty badass and being the fan of “Dracula” that I am I was in love with all of the references! Unfortunately it was a lot to take in at first since there is quite a bit of info-dumping at the beginning of the story.

The pacing was pretty fast and full of action throughout most of the book but there were also quite a few parts that got really bogged down and I’m not sure why. It would just slow down a ton and I’d have to force myself to read through which wasn’t fun.

As for the plot itself it just kind of felt a little lacking? Plus the twists were utterly predictable and I was not surprised at all when they came to light because I’d guessed them right away, which isn’t any fun. I hate when things are predictable!

The ending is left with quite a few things unresolved leaving the way open for a sequel but one that I don’t think we are going to get. The ending also felt pretty rushed and big plot elements were kind of quickly resolved but not really in a satisfying way, in my opinion. It was all a little abrupt.

Alameda’s writing was pretty decent as well and a little heavy on the metaphors at times but I enjoyed it, looking forward to whatever else she’ll write up!

One last thing about the “plot related story elements” though, as you can see in the trigger warning I listed above there is an instance of physical abuse from a parent towards a child (teenager but legally still a child). I don’t like how it was skated over and the character didn’t want to mention it ever and deal with it even though it was child abuse, I also don’t like how easily the parent was forgiven.


The characters were just kind of “meh” in which I mean I didn’t really love them or hate them. They were all kind of likable enough and there’s no denying that they’re good at their jobs which is pretty badass. However, I kind of felt like no one was really developed or complex and the characters didn’t really change at all throughout the story, at least not with reason.

There’s Micheline (the MC), Ryder, Oliver, and Jude that make up our main ghost butt kicking squad. Ryder is the love interest and honestly he’s just kind of there for that reason alone and never really grows as a character, boring and I didn’t get what was so great about him. Jude is extremely sexist and kind of annoying, also he “changes” by the end of the story but there really is nothing to justify why he did which annoyed me. Oliver was my favorite character but guess what? Hardly any “page time” for him which was a disappointment.

As for Micheline, our protagonist, I didn’t really think much of her at all, she wasn’t a terrible character but she was pretty self-absorbed and I didn’t like that. She runs headfirst into danger thinking only of how great it will be for her to exorcise this ghost and be the hero and instead she gets her team into a life threatening situation. Yeah, not my favorite kind of character.

There are a few side characters such as Micheline’s dad Leonard Helsing, Oliver’s dad Dr. Stoker, Father Marlowe, and Damien Drake which they were all pretty interesting in their own way and I would have liked to have learned a bit more about each of them. Especially Damien Drake who seems like a total badass and I would have liked to have learned more about his and Jude’s strange powers. That would have been awesome!


The romance was another “meh” aspect for me. I liked that it was sort of a forbidden romance because that’s the one romance trope that I really enjoy but it just didn’t feel like there was any chemistry between the characters. It was kind of romance for the sake of romance. On the plus side the romance never takes over the plot and it’s more on the side lines which I appreciated.

in conclusion

Overall as I mentioned earlier there were both pluses and minuses to this book and I did enjoy it for the most part, it was definitely entertaining.

What I Loved:

  • Mostly fast pacing
  • Plenty of action
  • Great world building
  • Characters were okay
  • Good writing
  • “Dracula” references!

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Pacing slowed down in some parts
  • Not as creepy as I would have liked
  • Predictable twists
  • Rushed ending
  • Self absorbed main character


I would recommend this book if you’re looking for something slightly on the creepy horror side but you don’t want the crap scared out of you, it’s full of ghosties but wasn’t terrifying! I also recommend checking this one out if you’re a “Dracula” fan, like myself, because the references made reading through a lot of fun!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository / Book Outlet

The Sassy

What Makes Me DNF A Book?

Top Ten Tuesday (28)

I rarely DNF books usually I’ll push through them but sometimes a book is so terrible I have to make an exception. The things I list in this post are also things that will make me rate a book lower or give it a bad review, since I don’t always DNF but you get the point.

So yes just to clarify I don’t always DNF EVERY book that has these elements in it but more than likely the book will receive a poor review from me even if I finish it.

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Slow Pacing (With No Atmosphere)

I’m the kind of reader that likes a lot of fast pacing and action! However, when those things aren’t present the LEAST I need is some atmosphere or some very well written characters. With NO atmosphere or well written characters though a book with slow pacing is absolutely unbearable to me, I have a short attention span and very little patience.

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Unlikable, Under-Developed Characters

This is just a given right? Sometimes an unlikable character can work depending on how it’s done such as a morally grey character, an anti-hero, or an unreliable narrator. In those cases I can enjoy a character I love to hate but when there’s no rhyme or reason to it? No. Also no one likes a flat one-dimensional character, it’s boring and unrealistic.

Cliched, “Focus of the Plot” Romances

I am not a big romance in books lover, I’m just not. This usually has to do with the fact that most YA romances are FILLED with tropes such as love triangles and insta-love. Which I hate. I also hate when there is a plot that sounds interesting and WOULD be interesting if the trope-filled romance didn’t completely overshadow it. Does the book’s synopsis promise a story filled with romance? Then that’s fine. Does the book promise action and thrills but instead delivers a story filled with romance? Then that’s where I get frustrated and angry.

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Poor World Building

If I’m reading a fantasy book with its own unique world I’m going to want to learn more about it, I want to be immersed! It’s hard to be immersed when I’m given zero information about the world I’m reading about! I just….like a complex fantasy/sci-fi world in my books it makes things so much more enjoyable and interesting.

Plot Holes

Once again this is kind of a given but I hate when there are plot holes in my books. I don’t like reading through the story and having a bunch of inconsistencies or things that were brought up and then dropped never to be explained later.

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Dull Writing

Does anyone like dull writing, really though? I love fast-paced, addictive writing and lyrical/purple prose style writing.

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This is probably one of my number one pet peeves! There is nothing worse to me than reading a book whose plot twists are predictable but especially when it’s a mystery/thriller that heavily relies on the twists to make it interesting. I read books to be entertained and guessing “whodunnit” at the beginning of the story is not entertaining.

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Love triangles, Special Snowflakes, Mary-Sues, and Insta-love. I could go on but I won’t. I don’t like seeing the SAME thing over and over in every single YA book it’s not fun.

Girl on Girl Hate

This is kind of a cliche and a trope in itself. Here’s a magical concept: girls can all be friends and not sit and hate each other and fight each other over boys. Amazing, right?

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Book Synopses That Lies!

No one likes liars! Don’t tell me a book is about pirates and then give me a historical fiction romance with NO pirates! You’d be surprised how many books have a synopsis that is misleading like this. Also just a side note: I hate synopses that spoil the books as well.

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What are some things that make you DNF a book?

Do we have any book turn offs in common?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Down The TBR Hole #4

Top Ten Tuesday(92)

For some reason I completely forgot that I was saving these posts for Fridays and did a different post this last Friday! So I’ll have to double up this week but here is another edition of Down The TBR Hole where once again I actually get rid of a couple *whispers* I think I’m doing well…..

If you missed my other two posts of Down the TBR Hole here they are:

This was “created” by Lost in a Story!

The Rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

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Current TBR Count: 786

*** I added new books since the last post, see why this is a never ending cycle? ****

Book #31

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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It’s a classic and I think it would be hilarious to read through in the best way. I have a copy with all of the books so I hope to actually read it here one day.

The Judgement: Keep

Book #32

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia 

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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I bought a copy of this a long time ago before I knew any better and while it seems similar to Supernatural, which I love, I think I’m just going to get rid of this one for now and decide later if I’m going to get rid of my copy for good.

The Judgement: Go

Book #33

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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The Judgement: Keep

Book #34

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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I bought this a while ago when I was searching for books based off of Norse culture and mythology and just never finished it. Now that Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series is here I feel like that thirst is quenched and I don’t need this book really anymore.

The Judgement: Go

Book #35

The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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I saw the cover in the bookstore and I adore books with any sort of mythology in them but I think this was a spur of the moment buy and I feel guilty because it was a gift but I’m just really not interested in reading it anymore.

The Judgement: Go

Book #36

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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This one I’m still kind of on the edge about because I love Neil Gaiman but I feel like I won’t really like Terry Pratchett’s writing style. I’ll keep this one for now though and I do own a copy.

The Judgement: Keep

Book #37

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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I’ve heard nothing but good things about Chima’s books and I bought this one a loooong time ago but I still hope to read through it especially now that there’s a spin off series from this one.

The Judgement: Keep

Book #38

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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Why did I ever give into the hype and buy this book? I have zero interest in reading it. Zero.

The Judgement: Go

Book #39

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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I actually really enjoyed reading through Brooks’ other book “The Zombie Survival Guide” and I actually read through a bit of this book already and it was okay. I am going to keep it around for now because I still want to finish it plus I love zombies.

The Judgement: Keep

Book #40

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Date Added: June 23rd, 2015

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Okay so I really didn’t enjoy the first book “Cinder” but I’ve heard from other readers that felt the same that the rest of this series is really good. I also really enjoy Meyer’s other book “Heartless” so I think I’ll push on with this one.

The Judgement: Keep

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Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Do you think I should have kept any of these books?

Do you agree with any of my keeps or discards?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

November New Releases

Top Ten Tuesday(2)

It’s a new month and once again time to discuss those amazing new book releases! There definitely aren’t as many as there were last  month in October but there’s still a few good ones!

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Release Date: November 7th

A hacker main character, DNA that can be recoded and allow people to change how they want, and a plague that has brought the human race to the brink of extinction. Sounds pretty badass and I have an ARC of this I’m starting soon.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Release Date: November 7th

Basically a good old fashioned superheroes vs. villains book which I am here for.

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

Release Date: November 7th

The sequel to “Vengeance Road” and I’m all for that gorgeous cover and a YA western.

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

Release Date: November 7th

A sort of typical sounding YA fantasy with a healer and a soldier forced together to spy on an empire, I love fantasies with a political edge though!

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Release Date: November 7th

Magical jade is used to enhance warrior’s abilities in order to protect their island but when a new drug is released that allows others to use the jade as well leading to a clan war on the island. I think this sounds really interesting and exciting!

The November Girl by Lydia King

Release Date: November 7th

I’m not quite sure how to describe this one so I’ll just leave the synopsis here:

I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.

Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there’s no one here but me. And now him.

Hector is running from the violence in his life, but violence runs through my veins. I should send him away, to keep him safe. But I’m half human, too, and Hector makes me want to listen to my foolish, half-human heart. And if I do, I can’t protect him from the storms coming for us.

This sounds really unique!

Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin

Release Date: November 7th

Horror is always up my alley! This one is about a new girl, Mae, that shows up in town and is accompanied by a lot of strange happenings, Jules soon discovers that Mae used to belong to a strange cult that wants her back.

The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

Release Date: November 7th

So I included this book only because I know a lot of people are probably looking forward to it since it’s a spin off of the Mara Dyer series. I personally have not read that series yet but I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea.

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The Speaker (The Reader #2) by Traci Chee

Release Date: November 7th

Sequel to “The Reader” which I have not read yet but it’s on my TBR!

Artemis by Andy Weir

Release Date: November 14th

NEW ANDY WEIR BOOK! And it’s about a heist on the moon! Sold.

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Release Date: November 14th

A con artist with healing abilities set in a magical Middle Eastern kingdom. A unique sounding fantasy and it seriously sounds amazing!

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: November 14th

A spin off of “Furthermore” about a girl who prepares the bodies of the dead but a pair of strangers turn up and change her world for the better.

Into The Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Release Date: November 14th

Two words: sea monsters. Isn’t that all you need?! A crew is assembled in order to hunt down ancient sea creatures in the Mariana Trench. I am here for it!

Runebinder by Alex R. Kahler

Release Date: November 14th

A new fantasy about an unending war between once human monsters and corrupt necromancers and only Hunters can fight against them. Hopefully this is as good as it sounds!

No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear

Release Date: November 14th

I have an ARC of this one and it’s essentially a retelling of Truman Capote’s true crime novel “In Cold Blood”.

Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda

Release Date: November 14th

Jessa is asked to pack up her ex-boyfriend’s room after his accident and as she boxes his belongings away she starts remembering that their relationship may not be what she thought and questions what really happened to him.

I like a good YA mystery/thriller and this one sounds like it might be worth while.

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Are you also looking forward to any of these books?

Have you read any of them yet (ARCs etc)?

What are some November releases I didn’t include that you’re looking forward to?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

October Wrap-Up

Top Ten Tuesday(1)

So October was a fantastic month all around for my blog and the reading wasn’t too terrible either! This was the best month for my blog as far as stats go and I think it has to do with the fact that Halloween is my favorite holiday so I did A LOT of posting, it felt rewarding! I’m really hoping to keep the ball rolling into November as well but I’ve got a TON of books to start cramming in before the end of the year now.

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Books Read This Month: 4

The Hanging Girl by Eileen CookThe Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault RiveraMary by Hillary MonahanThis Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

I was pretty happy with the books I read this month with the only disappointing one being “This Darkness Mine” which I had a lot of personal issues with. The other 3 were fantastic though and I’d recommend all of them!

Reviews Finished This Month:

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

Tags & Memes Done This Month:

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Boyfriends/Girlfriends

Spooky Scary Book Tag

Spooky Halloween Tag (Non-Bookish)

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Book Titles

Trick or Treat Round The Block Book Tag

Top Ten Tuesday (Halloween Edition): Horror Books on my TBR!

Other Posts Done This Month:

September Wrap-Up

October Halloween Read-A-Thon TBR

October Releases I’m Excited For!

Halloween Horror Recommendations

(Over Due) Huge Book Haul!

Halloween Non-Horror Recommendations

Creepy Book Covers: Part 2

Down The TBR Hole #1

Down The TBR Hole #2

Down The TBR Hole #3

What I’m Currently Reading:


I remnant of my failed Halloween read-a-thon but it’s a pretty good read so far. I have so many ARCs I still need to read through though. I’m a mess.

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How was your reading and blogging month this October?

What were your best or worst reads?

What are you currently reading?

What books are you excited for this coming month, November?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Top Ten Tuesday (Halloween Edition): Horror Books On My TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish.

It was kind of hard for me to come up with a Halloween theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday because I’ve already done so many Halloween themed posts! So I decided to just go with some horror books that are still on my TBR but I can’t wait to read them!

You can find some of my other Halloween posts here:

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10.) Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake

The sequel to the amazing “Anna Dressed in Blood” so of course I need to read it! Hopefully it’s as good as the first one, I wasn’t expecting “Anna” to be as gory and scary as it was!

9.) The Suffering (The Girl from the Well #2) by Rin Chupeco

I was terrified by the first book and since I’m a sucker for scaring myself I want to read the sequel!

8.) The Diviners by Libba Bray

This might just be more of a paranormal/supernatural book and not horror but I’m including it anyways. I read the first chapter and it was pretty creepy so I’m excited to get into this series!

7.) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This is a book I picked up and read a quarter through and set back down. It was definitely creepy though and I do plan on picking it back up. It’s basically about a haunted suit and the ghost of the old man is haunting the main character now. Like I said it’s super creepy.

6.) It by Stephen King

I don’t think this one needs an explanation.

5.) The Child Thief by Brom

Peter Pan is my favorite fairy tale and so I’m ALL for any retelling of it but especially a dark, horror retelling.

4.) Bird Box by Josh Malerman

A short, slow horror style book but I want to give it a go. Especially since it’s really short….because I’m lazy.

3.) The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics

I’m not too sure about this book anymore since it hasn’t been getting the best of reviews but I really enjoy Lukavics’ books so I’d like to at least try it.

2.) Say Her Name by James Dawson

I’m always pretty creeped out by Blood Mary stories so I’m ready to be scared with this one.

1.) Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

I’m currently reading Alameda’s other novel “Shutter” and really enjoying it PLUS this one sounds very similar to the Alien movie franchise and I’m here for it.

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Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Do you have any of these on your TBR as well?

What are some horror books that are on your TBR?

Any favorite horror books?

Let me know in the comments and Happy Halloween guys!

The Sassy