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

PLOT

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.

characters

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!

romance

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

RECOMMEND

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

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

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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

(October) Halloween Read-A-Thon TBR!

Halloween Readathon

IT’S FINALLY MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!!! Halloween is my favorite holiday and therefore October is my favorite month that I love to fill with scary movies and books! I missed out on Lauren’s amazing Read-A-Thon last year but I’m joining in on the fun this year!

I may or may not be able to read through all of these because I have ARCs to catch up on but I’m going to try my hardest because I LOVE HORROR BOOKS!

So if you’d like to join the read-a-thon as well and get a chance to win a give-away as well! Just link back to Lauren’s post here!

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costume-party

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For this one I’ve decided to go with “Shutter” because I’ve been dying to read this forever and the cover is pretty damn creepy! It’s about a female descendant of Van Helsing who fights both undead monsters as well as ghosts and she has a crew who assists her but one of their ghost hunts goes wrong and they are all infected with a curse.

It sounds so fun!


haunted-house

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For this one I’m going with “Mary: The Summoning” because I’ve had it on my TBR for a while and finally need to read it! I’m especially excited to read another book by Hillary Monahan after I LOVED her new book “The Hollow Girl”! This one is basically about a group of teens summoning Bloody Mary and you can imagine how that will go…


urban-legends

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Believe it or not I actually don’t have that many horror books on my shelves that AREN’T supernatural in some way or I have already read them! So I decided to go with “Survive The Night” since nothing about it seemed paranormal from the synopsis and I did really like Vega’s other series “The Merciless”.


witching-hour

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I always get waaaay more creeped out reading spooky books in the dark which can be good and bad sometimes! I tried picking one of the creepier books on my shelves for this one, “Diary of a Haunting”. The cover is kind of creepy and anything with hauntings is up my alley!


scarymovie

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Watching scary movies is seriously one of my favorite parts of October! The sad part is I don’t have anyone who likes to watch them with me except my brother! I always try to have some horror movie marathons though so for this one I’ll go ahead and pick The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 because those are some of my favorites and I know I’ll make time for them!


trick-or-treat

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Definitely “Trick” for me! I’ve been putting off “The Call” for a while now and everyone who has read it seems to really like it so I’m going to try and read that one this month! It’s got some creepy people-eating creatures from Irish mythology called Sidhe and people get “called” into their world and must try and survive.


read7books

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I may or may not make it to seven books but if I do I’m going to try and read “The Wood” which sounds and looks super creepy but I’m not 100% sure how creepy or supernatural it actually is. Still I want to read it, and I loooove the cover!

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Will you be participating in Lauren’s Halloween Read-A-Thon?

What books will you be reading this October? Anything spooky?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Creepiest YA Covers

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

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

This week’s theme is covers, anything to do with covers! It’ll definitely be interesting to see everyone’s take on this and I decided to go with the creepiest book covers, because I looooove horror books. Of course there are actually quite a few creepy covers out there and these are just a couple of my favorites, some I have read and some are just on my TBR.

I will link up a review if I have one! These are also in no particular order.

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10.) And The Trees Crept In (or The Creeper Man) by Dawn Kurtagich

Image result for and the trees crept inImage result for the creeper man book cover

For this book I just HAD to have both the US cover and the UK cover since they’re both creepy as hell! I do love the US cover more because it’s more beautiful than it is creepy but I can’t deny that the UK cover is probably the creepiest book cover I’ve ever seen.

Also the story is creepy and amazing so you can judge this book by its covers! It’s about two girls living in a mansion with their aunt and they notice that the trees are creeping closer to the house and that the entity known as the Creeper Man that watches them from the woods is getting closer too.

You can read my full review here.


9.) The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

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Two Dawn Kurtagich books? Yes! She’s becoming a queen of YA horror in my book and her covers match the stories perfectly too. This is a very creepy psychological thriller about a girl with a split personality disorder or maybe….it’s something more sinister than that.

You can read my full review here.


8.) Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

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Creepy cover? Yes! Creepy story? Definitely yes! This one revolves around a family living out on the prairie, their secretly pregnant daughter, and well…..demons. This one is pretty insane but also scary, highly recommend!

You can read my full review here.


7.) The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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I’m sorry! I’m done with the repeat authors now I swear! I really love the typography on this cover, it is super eerie. The story is about a girl whose aunt tragically goes missing and her cousin claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice inside the house’s walls…..

You can read my full review here.


6.) Alice by Christina Henry

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I don’t know it could just be me but I find the creepy rabbit head pasted over top a man’s body to be very creepy. This is a very, very graphic horror retelling of Alice in Wonderland and I found it to be absolutely amazing. This one definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted though.

You can read my full review here.


5.) The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco

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Quick story time: when I was 10 years old I made the mistake of watching “The Grudge” and am now forever terrified of Asian ghosts. Therefore this book’s cover (and the book itself) creeps the shit out of me! It’s a very interesting and scary book revolving around the spirit Okiku, who takes vengeance on wrong-doers.

You can read my full review here.


4.) Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

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Whatever that thing is on the cover it’s disturbing and it creeps me out, but I suppose it fits the stories in this YA anthology perfectly in that case. There are TONS of creeptastic (shhh that’s a word) stories in here and pretty much all of them are amazing with the exception of 1 or 2.

You can read my full review here.


3.) Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

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Is it just me or are mirrors super creepy? So yeah, ghostly reflections in them = creepy. I have yet to read this one but it’s a take on the Bloody Mary urban legend.


2.) Asylum by Madeleine Roux

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Blurred/scratched out old timey photos are creepy, actually a lot of old photos are creepy but especially when they’re blurred or scratched out. This is a pretty popular book that I also have yet to read but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing if it’s any good.


1.) Shutter by Courtney Alameda

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Look at that black, gaping ghost and tell me it isn’t creepy! This is a book I have sitting on my shelf currently awaiting to be read and it’s about teenage ghost hunters basically.

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What do you think of these covers? Creepy or not so much?

What are some of your favorite creepy YA covers?

Have you read any of these books or anything similar?

What cover theme did you choose for you TTT this week?

Let me know in the comments and feel free to link up your TTT as well!

The Sassy

Top Ten Tuesday: Horror Books on My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

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

This week’s theme is a Halloween themed freebie and one of the suggested themes was horror books on my TBR, so easy-peasy! I love talking about books I have yet to read almost as much as ones I have read and seeing as how I’ll be posting my favorite Halloween reads later this week this choice of theme was perfect!

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10.) A Taste For Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby

A Taste for Monsters

IT’S LONDON 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain. When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares.

A Taste for Monsters is a terrifying and haunting tale of the monstrosity of men and the salvation one may find in the unlikeliest places, from Edgar Award–winning author Matthew J. Kirby.

This is the newest addition to my Horror TBR every since I saw Lola’s review on Goodreads. It seems to be the book I wanted “Stalking Jack The Ripper” to be, with more actually horror and suspense.


9.) The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.

This one actually has quite a few good reviews and along with the creepy cover and premise I had to add it to my TBR! Unfortunately it isn’t something I find to be pressing but I think I’ll read it eventually…..


8.) The House by Christina Lauren

The House

Gavin tells Delilah he’s hers—completely—but whatever lives inside that house with him disagrees.

After seven years tucked away at an East coast boarding school, Delilah Blue returns to her small Kansas hometown to find that not much has changed. Her parents are still uptight and disinterested, her bedroom is exactly the way she left it, and the outcast Gavin Timothy still looks like he’s crawled out of one of her dark, twisted drawings.

Delilah is instantly smitten.

Gavin has always lived in the strange house: an odd building isolated in a stand of trees where the town gives in to mild wilderness. The house is an irresistible lure for Delilah, but the tall fence surrounding it exists for good reason, and Gavin urges Delilah to be careful. Whatever lives with him there isn’t human, and isn’t afraid of hurting her to keep her away.

Sounds interesting, looks interesting, may be interesting. I don’t think it will be terrifying but it might have a good, eerie atmosphere.


7.) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box

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.

I found out this was Stephen King’s son and along with the premise for this book I had to get my hands on a copy. I did and from what I read it was creepy as hell! Unfortunately I set it aside and have yet to get back to it but when I do I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.


6) Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Shutter

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.

This has one of the creepiest freaking covers I’ve ever seen! Plus it sounds super cool and has some pretty good reviews, I will be getting a copy soon and will probably read it before the year’s up but we shall see.


5.) The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

The Call

Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?

I saw this book kind of floating around and it piqued my iterest but what really convince me to add this book to my TBR was a review by Esther @ Chapter Adventures! This sounds like survival horror and it sounds well done so I’m very excited to get a copy!


4.) Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary, #1)

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?

Normally I probably wouldn’t want to read this sine it’s reviews are just okay but I got it on my Kindle for $1.99 (Which it is right now by the way!!!) so I figured I’d just give it a shot. Hopefully it’s at least a little scary.


3.) The Suffering (The Girl From The Well #2) by Rin Chupeco

The Suffering (The Girl from the Well, #2)

Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price…

Okay so I LOVED “The Girl From The Well” and was absolutely terrified by it so of course I need to read the sequel.


2.) Say Her Name by James Dawson

Say Her Name

Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before.

Another Bloody Mary story but this one was recommended to me by Lauren @ Wonderless Reads and I’ve seen a few other reviews floating around recently that have convinced me I should probably get my hands on a copy soon.


1.) The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

The Women in the Walls

Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

I really enjoyed Amy Lukavics debut novel “Daughters Unto Devils” so I can’t wait to get a hold of her newest book especially with that awesome, creepy cover! I have heard it’s not quite as terrifying but very much creepy which is still okay with me.

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What are some of your favorite horror books?

Have you read any of these on my list?

What books do you recommend for a Halloween read?

Let me know in the comments and feel free to link up your TTT as well!

The Sassy