ARC Review: Campfire by Shawn Sarles

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Book Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

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When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

review

****Warning: Do Not Read This Book When You’re Alone!****

“Daughters Unto Devils” is one dark, twisted, and creepy book. It takes quite a bit of creativity to write a book that actually scares the crap out of people especially in the YA genre but oh man does Amy Lukavics do a fantastic job here! If you’re an avid horror fan who loves gore and terror galore then strap in because you’re in for one Hell of a ride!

PLOT

The story starts out very slowly and it does take quite a bit of patience to get to any of the creepy parts but they’re there I promise!

We are first introduced to Amanda, our main character, who is the eldest of five children and whose parents are strict Christians. So you can only imagine Amanda’s fear and worry when she discovers that she is pregnant by the post boy who wants nothing to do with her or their baby. Along with the burden of her secret pregnancy Amanda learns that her family plan to move away from their cabin in the mountains and find a homestead on the prairie in order to avoid a brutal winter this year.

As the story progresses we also get flashbacks of the previous winter when Amanda’s mother and baby sister, who was born deaf and blind, almost perished and Amanda supposedly saw the Devil in the woods. Combine these creepy flashbacks with the current gruesome situation on the prairie and you have some spine-tingling chills! I won’t give away anymore because of spoilers!

So in case none of that grabbed your attention here’s a few things that might convince you that this book is truly horrifying and to give it a try:

  • An Abandoned, Blood Soaked Cabin in the Middle of Nowhere
  • The Devil
  • Demons
  • Man-Eating Pigs
  • Creepy Scarecrows

Need I go on? This book is loaded with TONS of horrific things that will have you sleeping with the lights on for a while after reading! There is most certainly a wonderful mix of quiet, psychological horror as well as good old fashioned jump scares!

The plot and story do get a bit muddled and confusing towards the end but that is what makes the book so terrifying: the unknown. I certainly was satisfied with the way it ended as well although it was left open and little bit up to one’s imagination.

characters

There is also an astonishingly great amount of character development too, we definitely get a lot of it with Amanda herself. She is constantly feeling conflicted with her thoughts and the way she was raised, it made for a very interesting narrative. Amanda overall was a very complex and interesting character.

We also get a fair amount of insight into the personalities of Amanda’s entire family as well mostly her sister, Emily, and her parents. As for a few other extra characters we don’t get much but complexity but they do add to the story in their own ways.

in conclusion

Overall this book was amazing and we should definitely have more YA horror books like it!

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What I Liked:

  • Many, many different terrifying things going on
  • Great character development
  • Creepy setting (isolation is terrifying after all!)
  • Very fast paced when you get about half way through the book

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Slow paced beginning
  • The story had a lot happening towards the end and left a bit of confusion

RECOMMEND

Yes! If you’re looking for a great, terrifying, and quick read for Halloween then definitely check this book out!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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descriptionWhat’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.review

****I’d like to thank Lauren @ Wonderless Reads for recommending this book to me!****

“Welcome To The Dark House” is a good horror book, unfortunately it wasn’t something that completely blew me away but it was definitely very fun and entertaining.

PLOT

This book is PERFECT for any horror movie lovers because it’s basically a slasher movie in book form, seriously, it reads exactly like a horror film. Which has it’s downsides as well as upsides. The downside being that this makes the book feel a little corny at times and a bit underdeveloped, like most horror movies, and the upside being that it makes reading the book ten times more fun if you already love the horror genre.

 The first half of the book is spent orienting ourselves with the characters pretty much, they all enter a contest  to meet famous horror director Justin Blake and are then dropped off in the middle of nowhere, in a forest, in an old house. How could anything go wrong with all of that in  a horror book, am I right? So for the most part we get to know everyone and nothing insanely scary happens, creepy sure but not scary.

However, the second half of the books gets a lot better. There’s more action, scares, and a lot less talk. Although I would say it still wasn’t that scary for me, it was more suspenseful than anything which is definitely alright. All of the characters proceed to be locked within a Justin Blake themed, abandoned amusement park and each character has their own ride that is related to their “nightmare” or worst fear. Those scenes were probably the best ones in the entire book, the suspense there is what kept me really reading.

One thing that kind of drove me crazy throughout my reading though? The 6 different POVs. In my mind the only time that many view points is OK is in fantasy books. I do understand why it was told this way since it is a horror book we need to be able to see everyone slowly getting picked off but I think there was too much time spent on us trying to relate to these characters when they were just B horror movie stereotypes.

I also didn’t really like the ending at all because it left me with more questions than answers and it just wasn’t very satisfying. I understand that all of the questions will be answered in the sequel but really why leave us hanging with such a shaky ending? It wasn’t even a cliffhanger it was just sort of confusing.

One random thing I loved about this book: it’s set in Minnesota. I live right next door in North Dakota so it’s always fun to find books with settings near me!

characters

As far as the characters I’m kind of in the middle, while I did sort of like them and they did get quite a bit of depth I still found them a little lacking. We spend the entire first half of the book switching through six different POVs in order to get to know these characters and yet I don’t feel like we ever REALLY know them. Sure we get where they come from and how they act but we don’t get a ton of insight into their characters which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since we literally get into each character’s head space.

Ivy, is the main character and yet we spend about as much time in her POV as the other characters so to me she never really felt like the main character. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was told just from her point of view. Ivy’s nightmare and story are the creepiest and most terrifying of all BUT no spoilers! I also very much enjoyed the fact that Ivy suffers from anxiety and I say this because I too suffer from bouts of anxiety and I loved the fact that this was portrayed in a YA novel, not to mention it made her ten times more relateable for me.

As I briefly mentioned earlier the other characters are all classic horror movie stereotypes: the goth girl, the virginal sweetheart, the average one, the handsome guy, the rebellious guy, and the special snowflake. They may not embody these perfectly but you get the picture right? To me these kinds of characterizations had their upsides and downsides, while it’s kind of fun to have cheesy horror movie characters it also makes them feel unrelatable. I mean come on, is anyone really this cliched?

As for the romance…… no. Too insta-lovey for my taste and very unrealistic, not to mention it lacked all kinds of chemistry. Alas though what kind of horror movie book would be complete without a cheesy love interest?

in conclusion

What I Liked:

  • Anxiety being portrayed with a YA character
  • The pacing and suspense were fairly good throughout but better in the 2nd half
  • How similar it was to a classic slasher horror movie
  • The Minnesota setting

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Too many POVs
  • The scare factor wasn’t big enough for me
  • The romance was corny
  • A lot of the characters were a little too cliched

Overall I liked this book and there were things that bothered me so a 3 star rating is perfect, right in the middle which is exactly how I feel about “Welcome To The Dark House”. I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel though!

RECOMMEND

If you’re looking for a good YA horror book then definitely check this one out, what may not work for me may work for you after all!

This is a decent book but realistic things don’t scare me as much as the unknown. So if murderers scare you more than ghosts this may be the book for you! This is also a great Halloween read for those of you looking for creepy books to add to your TBR.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

11 Haunting Books To Read This Halloween

Haunting Books

That’s right kiddos it’s that time of year again, Halloween! So I’ve put together a couple of great recommendations to get you in the right mood for this Saturday.

I’ll list the books in order of least scary to the scariest, you’ll everything from charming all ages books to middle grade books to the scariest books you’ll ever read. Hopefully you find something to add to your TBR.


11.) How To Survive A Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

How to Survive a Horror Movie

This book will show you how to defeat every person/creature that any horror movie could ever throw at you:

  • How to perform an exorcism
  • What to do if you did something last summer
  • How to tell if you’ve been dead since the beginning of the movie
  • How to stay awake for a week
  • What to do when an evil vehicle wants you dead

Oh and did I mention that it’s down right hilarious and full of pop culture references?

Perfect For: Definitely a must read for any horror movie lover, like myself.You’ll appreciate all of the classic horror movie references throughout and laugh your ass off the entire time.

10.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book The story is about Nobody Owens who lives in a graveyard full of ghosts and other supernatural beings. Bod has lived there all his life and knows little of the world outside the graveyard, that is until the man Jack (who killed Bod’s family when he was a baby) finally tracks him down.

Perfect For: A perfectly spooky read for all ages, it is absolutely charming and heartwarming as well as full of adventure. Where’s the spooky come in then? There’s everything from ghosts, to werewolves and vampires. Perfect for Halloween.

9.) The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, #1)

Old Gregory has been the county’s Spook for years, rooting out evil and ridding the world of it. Now he needs to train someone to take his place, an apprentice, which is where Thomas Ward comes in. He wasn’t the first apprentice but he will be the last.

Perfect For: Once again all ages, it’s got witches, boggarts, and ghouls, you name it. Plus a handful of eerie scenes, that are sure to put chills up your spine. Who doesn’t love a good story with good guys taking down supernatural forces?

8.) Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula

A classic, how could I make a list of must read horror books for Halloween and not have “Dracula” on it?

Trust me when I say this is a classic that you can easily get into, it’s full of terror and thrills, and the overall feeling of the entire book is plain ol’ eerie. That’s really all I can say, it’s a classic for a reason people. Because it’s AWESOME.

Perfect For: Anyone who loves classics, vampires, or good old fashioned horror.

7.) Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin (Rot and Ruin, #1)

Benny Imura lives in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, and in order to not get his rations cut in half Benny must find a job at age 15. What better job to get then to be trained as a zombie hunter by his older brother Tom? Not to Benny, he’d rather be doing anything else actually. But what starts out as learning how to make a living turns into learning what it means to survive and be human.

I have a mini review for this book here.

Perfect For: People who love a lot of heart wrenching feels alongside their zombie horror fiction. It’s on this list because it has zombies, zombies are for Halloween and this is a good book. Read it.

6.) The Merciless by Danielle Vega

The Merciless

A super gory and slightly creepy book about a group of girls attempting to perform an exorcism on another girl. This book makes you question if something supernatural is really happening or if it’s simply the dark nature of humanity.  If I wanted to compare this to something I’d say it’s a cross between “The Exorcist” (or any movies with exorcisms really) and “Mean Girls”.  Don’t get me wrong this book is pretty creepy, slightly scary, and down right gory. Definitely worth checking out for any YA horror fan.

I have a review for this book here.

Perfect For: People who LOVE gore and a lot of girl drama.

5.) The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

The Dead House

This book is everything from psychologically twisted to supernaturally sinister, it’ll definitely give you goosebumps.

It’s been 20 years since a fire at Elmbridge High killed three students and left one missing: Carly Johnson. And the main suspect in the case is Kaitlyn, who is the alter ego of Carly. Carly comes out during the day and Kaitlyn the night. During the night is when the mystery of the Dead House appears as well as a dark and evil magic that torments the students of Elmbridge High. Is what haunts Kaitlyn psychological or supernatural? A question you’ll be asking even after you finish the book.

Even EXPLAINING this book gets my brain all twisted and confused. You can find my review for it here.

Perfect For: Anyone one who enjoys books where you get completely mind fucked with a paranormal twist.

4.) The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining (The Shining, #1)

A classic in it’s own sense because who hasn’t at least heard of “The Shining”? Plus I have to have some kind of King book on a list of scary books, obviously. Besides reading this book honestly scared me half to death, it scared me worse than the movie ever did.

(I’m taking this description from Goodreads because not only am I lazy but I am fairly confidant in the fact that everyone reading this already knows what “The Shining” is about)

Past horrors and evil lurk in Colorado’s Overlook Hotel, threatening winter season caretakers Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and their young son, Danny. Gifted with the shining, a clairvoyant Danny must battle the darkest evil in the remote hotel in an attempt to save his family from its influence.

Perfect For: People who want to read a classic horror book, people who want their pants scared off, or any fan of Stephen King.

3.) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)

If you’re looking for a fantastic YA horror book then look no further than “Anna Dressed in Blood”, if you ask around for book recs in this genre then pretty much EVERYONE well recommend this book. It’s gory, scary, and just an all around enjoyable book. Anna is a badass.

Cas Lowood hunts ghost, like his father did before one killed him first. Cas is now in search of a ghost the locals refer to as Anna dressed in blood ,and she is like no other ghost he’s faced before she’s much more powerful. She’s killed anyone and everyone who’s entered her house and yet…she spares Cas’s life.

You can read my review for this crazy good ghost story here. 

Perfect For: Fans of gory horror, ghosts, and that’s it mostly…ghosts…gore…gory ghosts.

2.) Slasher Girls and Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

An anthology of some of the best YA authors and horror authors around, it’s really REALLY awesome I can’t gush about this book enough. I mean it’s a book full of scary short stories and most of them will scare you shitless, seriously a couple of them had me legitimately looking over my shoulder while reading them.

You’ve got everything from psychological horror, gory/gruesome horror, supernatural creatures, and even some unsettling realism.

You can check out my review for every individual short story in this book here. 

Perfect For: Any fan of horror you’ll find every type of horror in this book, also perfect for anyone looking to get the crap scared out of them for a few days.

1.) The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from the Well (The Girl from the Well, #1)

Probably my new favorite YA horror book. I mean it’s horrifyingly scary and yet filled with a ton of fascinating Japanese ghost lore. I can’t explain how scared I was reading this book, I didn’t expect it at all.

Okiku is our narrating vengeful spirit who spends her afterlife hunting down and killing child killers,and a young boy soon draws her attention one that is covered in strange tattoos. And so we are drawn into a story involving children that can see dead people, creepy ass dolls, exorcisms, and scary ghosts.

You can check out my review for this amazingly scary book here. 

Perfect For: Horror fans (obviously), people looking for a book with really good Japanese ghost lore, and definitely for people looking to sleep with the lights on for several weeks after reading a book.


Well that does it for my Halloween book recommendations! Hopefully you found one that you want to hunker down with a bag of candy and read this week.

Happy Halloween!!!