Spooky Book Recs & Discussion: Children’s, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Books

Earlier in the month, I did “Snack Sized Stories” (short stories, novellas, comics & graphic novels), and I’d intended to post one of these book recs lists every Monday in October (replacing my usual “Must Read Mondays” this month), but…I forgot because it was a really busy time :/

I remembered this week, though!

I actually don’t read a lot of middle grade or children’s books these days, except re-reads of books I loved when I was growing up, or reading aloud with my kid. But, I’ve read a few as an adult, and I remember some from when I was a kid, and I do somewhat regularly still read YA, so hopefully this list won’t be only like 3 book long 😛 (I’m including both things generally considered horror, and some things I just think are creepy/spooky/scary.)


Middle Grade & YA

  • Goosbumps by R.L. Stine– Just, all of them, basically. If you never read a Goosebumps book, try picking up one of the classics (Night of the Living DummyGhost BeachStay Out of the BasementSay Cheese and Die!, etc.) to see what you think.
  • The Fear Street Saga by R.L. Stine– These were more for teens, I think, and I only read about 2 of them, but really liked them.
  • Shivers by M.D. Spenser– There weren’t many of these, and I don’t think they were quite as good or well-known as Goosbumps, but I really liked them.
  • Bone Chillers by Betsy Haynes– I think I only read like 2-3 of these, but I think I liked them in grade school.
  • Scary Stories (all 3 volumes) by Alvin Schwartz– Creepy folklore? Yes, please! I think I almost wore out my school’s library copies of these books, and I still love them and sometimes re-read them now that I have my own copies.
  • Christopher Pike’s books– I can’t remember if these were in a series, but I read a few and remember them being super popular for a while.
  • Bunnicula by Deborah & James Howe– I…can’t remember if I ever actually read this, or if my BFF read it so much I just knew the story and think I read it :/
  • Point Horror series– These were books written by different authors (R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Caroline B. Cooney, etc.), and there was at least one spin off (Nightmare Hall, I think).
  • Haunting With Louisa series by Emily Cates– I might have only read the first one, but I remember liking it, at least.
  • Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers by Francine Pascal– Yep, that Sweet Valley. My cousin had tons of the different Sweet Valley books, but I think I liked her Super Chillers most.
  • Neil Gaiman– I started to list a couple of books, but pretty much just read any of them and you’re probably going to find something creepy.
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black– I read this a couple of years ago and really liked it.
  • The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle– This was one of my absolute favorite books of 2015 ❤
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs– Not super scary, but still has some kinda creepy bits.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black– I really loved this one, too, and I feel like it’s really underrated.
  • The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray– Partially because I will use any excuse to talk about, and partially because it has some creepy parts (but it isn’t a horror series at all).
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl– My favorite Dahl book growing up ❤
  • In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz– I don’t think this was as well known as Scary Stories, but still great.
  • Scary Stories for Stormy Nights by Mark & Michelle Kehl– I remember having 1 or 2 of these, and liking them, but I don’t remember much about them now :/
  • Bruce Coville– I think I had the Book of Monsters and… at least one other.

For the pre-school(ish) kiddos (or grownups if you like picture books):

  • Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell– I read this one to my kid around Halloween and we both loved it. (This one is mostly for pre-school aged kids.)
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler– This one is also very cute.
  • The Night Before Halloween by Natasha Wing & Cynthia Fisher– I think this was my favorite to read to kid a few years ago.
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro & Jared Lee– This one was fun the first 12 times, then it got old. (This was probably kid’s favorite.)
  • Check for spooky versions/additions to your favorite series, like Berenstain Bears, Splat the Cat, Fancy Nancy, Little Critter, Disney, etc.

Did you read scarier books when you were a kid?

What was your favorite scary book/series?

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Birthday Party Book Tag– because it’s my birthday and why not

So, today’s my birthday and since it’s usually one of the worst days of the year (I always have awful luck on my birthday and it’s usually just a terrible day all around :/ ), I decided to try to do at least one enjoyable thing. I looked around and was happy to find this tag from Metaphors and Moonlight, which happens to be one of my favorite kinds to do.


The rules:

For this tag, you just need to choose five different books. Then, for each question, you open the corresponding book to a random page and follow the instructions for the answer. At the end, tell us how well you think your party turned out!


My books:

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(Left to Right: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare // A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray // A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab // Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling // Horns by Joe Hill)

 

I haven’t read any of the prompts and I picked my books randomly from ones I’ve read and liked/loved, so I have no clue what’s going to happen :/


Answers:

 

1. Open Book 1 – The first character name on the page is the one who plans the surprise party.

Will (Herondale). Hmm, ok, I can maybe see this not being awful

2. Open Book 2 – The first character name on the page is the one who ruins the surprise early (either by accidentally mentioning it or by telling you on purpose because they can’t keep a secret).

Felicity (Worthington). Oh, I can totally see her doing it on purpose, but not because she can’t keep a secret haha.

3. Open Book 3 – Wherever the current scene takes place will be the location of the party (as specific as possible, e.g. a person’s house, a grocery store, the middle of a forest, etc.).

The royal map room in the Red London palace. Might be a bit intimate, but definitely a kind of unique and cool party setting.

4. Open Book 4 – The first character name on the page is the one who bakes the cake.

Professor Trelawney. Oh gosh, I hope she’s got some kitchen talent :/ (I’d be super interested to see what kind of cake she baked, though!)

5. Open Book 5 – The first character name on the page is the one who sticks their finger in the icing when no one is looking.

Merrin (Williams). o_O So…ghosts are invited, I guess?

6. Open Book 1 – The first character name on the page is the one who buys trick candles (those kinds that never go out).

Charlotte (Fairchild Branwell). I’m not sure I can actually see her doing this, but maybe. It would definitely be more shocking, coming from her.

7. Open Book 2 – The first noun on the page that is a tangible object is the first gift you open.

Piano. Ooh cool! I miss having a piano. (I played when I was a kid/teen.)

8. Open Book 3 – The first character name on the page is the one who puts on the dorky party hat.

Kell (Maresh). Haha, nice 😀 (Now I’ve got this image in my mind of Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander but with red hair and a party hat on his head.)

9. Open Book 4 – The first noun or adjective (whatever works) on the page is what the party theme will be.

Potions Class. (Does that count?) If that does count, I think it’s a good party theme and I’d love it 🙂

10. Open Book 5 – The first noun on the page that is a tangible object is what the pinata will be filled with.

Soda. That…that sounds like a very bad idea omg.


How the party turned out:

Eh, some good, some less parts.

The party location was definitely a success, and Trelawney’s cake (a giant red velvet “crystal” ball with ominous dark blogs) was a hit, the piano was a fabulous gift, Kell was adorable in hit dorky hat, and no one got knocked out by the falling soda cans from the pinata (though Felicity’s skirt did get soaked in grape soda, which served her right for blabbing about the party and spoiling the surprise).


What do you think? Would you come to this party?

Have you ever had a surprise birthday party in real life?

Tell me about a favorite birthday memory of yours 🙂

 

NaNoWriMo Prep Update

This was supposed to go up yesterday :/ Not sure what happened.

I haven’t done nearly as much on-paper planning as I’d meant to/thought I would have by now, but I’ve got a lot of different things floating around in my head still. The problem is deciding which ones to keep and then figuring out how I’m going to link them all together :/

But, at least I think I know my MC’s name, plus two other characters. I have a general idea of my MC’s personality and history, and how she might react to things. We’ll see how it goes next month, though, I guess. I know what the setting looks like. Like, the images are so clear in my head I want to scream because I’m not talented enough to draw or paint them.

Next up, I need to make a pinterest board or something for my characters and things that will be in the story. I haven’t actually done this before, but I did use something similar (some online corkboard thing, I think) one year and it was just ok. Pinterest is way better, though, so I’m hopeful it’ll help keep me motivated and inspired, and remind me of what something looks like when I have a freak out and my mind goes blank and I forget everything -_-

I’ve written down a few pages of notes and I’m just about ready to start actually outlining. It would be nice if I could figure out the middle and ending before NaNo starts, for a change. (Actually, I think I had the ending last year, but no middle at all and it was a nightmare.) I have some ideas, but I keep discarding them all and trying to think of something new. I’m hoping I’ll be inspired soon, so I’m not panicking about it when NaNo begins. I might even just pick one of my not-great endings, because I can always go back and change it later.

This doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. This doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be good. This doesn’t… (Anyone else have to keep repeating things like that as a reminder to chill out?)

One thing that’s drastically different this year from every other year I’ve done NaNo is that I’m not going to try to win. This year, I will win. It will be an ugly mess that might never be fit for other human eyes, and I will almost certainly have bits that are just me typing in things like “Add [whatever kind of thing should happen here] in a couple months when you come back to edit! Move on!” but I will get those 50k words this year. No more excuses, no more giving up. It’s happening.

(Somebody remind me I said this when I inevitably hit the “I can’t do this!” stage around day 10-15 next month, please.)

Blogtober Babbling: When you’re in the mood for specific books and don’t have any of them :/

First off, happy Friday the 13th!


I hate this particular type of…well, it’s not really a book slump, but it’s similar in some ways, because trying to work around it means I’m struggling to read.

Right now, I’m in the mood for a few books I know of, but I don’t have any of them. I kind of understand when I’m in the mood for a particular trope or theme, or type of character, but this is strange because all the books I’m in the mood for seem pretty different.

Like: The Vegetarian by Han Kang, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (ok those two are similar enough I guess), Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (kicking myself for not snagging this one when it was a Kindle daily deal a few days ago), A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire…

See what I mean? And there are more. Like, probably at least 5 others I’d love to read right now because I’m in the mood for them, but I just don’t have them. My library also doesn’t have any of these, in physical format or on Overdrive. *sigh*

I think I really need to apply for an out of state card from the Brooklyn library. I think it’s like $50/year, but their Overdrive selection makes it totally worth it. I mean, if I *don’t* buy 2-3 hardcovers because I checked them out from there, the card pays for itself. Anything after that is money I’m saving. (Have any of you done this? Gotten a card from a large library in another state to use for their digital titles?)

Right now I’m trying to decide between a few books I do have, particularly The Witches of Eastwick vs The Stepford Wives (if you have an opinion on which I should read first, let me know!), but I just kind of feel like sitting on the couch and staring at horror movies instead.

Speaking of which…It’s Friday the 13th, which means my movie selection for tonight has been made for me. Yay :/ (I’m not a big fan of Jason or Michael. I’m a Freddy fan.)

Wow this really is a babbling post :/


Does anyone else get in book-moods like this?

Do you have any tips for managing it/getting over it?

 

Lastly, The Witches of Eastwick or The Stepford Wives: which should I read first?

Halloween Read-a-thon Sign Up + TBR!

Click for the original post

I just found out about this read a thon yesterday or the 10th, but I’m excited! I wish I’d found it sooner, though, because I could have used my last read (Bird Box) for my choice between like 3 or 4 prompts 😛 Oh well, it’s fine. This will just (hopefully) motivate me to read more of the books I want to read this month anyway.

I’m notoriously awful at sticking to a TBR, so who knows what will happen. These are just the books I’m considering and hoping to read. (The book covers link to goodreads.)

Ok, before I dive in, can I just say how freaking great Lauren’s images are for this challenge? You don’t have to use these, but they’re just too cute not to ❤


About the Read-A-Thon:

(Check out Lauren’s post for all the details.)

💀 The read-a-thon is going to run from the 10th October – 31st October.  

💀 You can join in at any time until the end of the read-a-thon. 

💀 You can read as many or as little books as you want!!!

💀 The books HAVE to be horror, thriller and/or have some kind of supernatural element!! Except for one challenge, but more on that below. I’m sorry if these genres aren’t your cup of tea, but it wouldn’t really be a Halloween themed read-a-thon otherwise.

💀 When posting your TBR link back to this post so other people can join in!! Share the spooky love!! If you don’t have a blog that’s okay!! You can post your TBR on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, YouTube – ANYWHERE!!

💀 Use the hashtag #HalloweenWR to share your progress on social media!!


The Challenges/My TBR:

 

 

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I’m thinking Abberations (edited by Jeremy C. Shipp) for this one. It’s a collection of short stories from different writers, and I love the cover. Or, I might read Outcast: Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman because I’d forgotten the cover was creepy until now.

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So. Many. Choices! But I’m considering Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill.

 

 

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I actually don’t have a lot of books on my shelves that would work for this, but I’m thinking of reading The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin.

 

 

I do about 90% of my reading at night, so I’m counting pretty much whatever for this one. But, I might add an extra bit of challenge to it and read one of the Goosebumps books I got last month in one night.

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Oh this is soooo easy, and I’ve kind of already done it. In October, I marathon horror and thriller movies every single day. (Not loads every day, but at least one.) But, I’m thinking of doing the extra challenge and reading a book then watching the movie. Possibly The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

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I think I’m going with Trick for this, but I’m not sure what I’ll read. I’m thinking about This House is Haunted by John Boyne because it’s been on my Kindle for at least a year or two. (If I don’t read and watch The Exorcist, I might use it for this one.)

 

I might read 7 books, but I’m not sure I’ll manage 7 that fit this read-a-thon :/ I’m going to try, though!


Let me know if you’re participating in this read-a-thon, too!

Do you have any book recs that would fit any of these challenge categories? I’d love to hear about them 🙂

T5W: Creepy Settings

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

October 11th: Favorite Creepy Settings
–These don’t have to be from horror books, but any setting from any book that gave you the heebie jeebies…in a good way. 

 

Ok, picking only 5 was a little hard for this topic. And I had a hard time remembering what was actually creepy vs what was just bleak/dark/etc.

In no particular order…


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The Shining
by Stephen King–The Overlook Hotel:
I mean, come on. Giant, old, essentially empty hotel? It would be creepy without any kind of supernatural happenings.

 

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The Woman in Black by Susan Hill– Eel Marsh House & surrounding marshes: Again, the house was creepy enough, but add in the haunting? Nope, not staying there alone, thanks. Then there’s the marshes, which have claimed many lives and are possibly also haunted.

 

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The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle– pretty much everywhere in it: Ok, it’s been 2 years since I read this one, but I remember large parts of the book having an eerie feel to them & the setting. The house was probably the creepiest, though.

 

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy– post-apocalyptic-America: This one I read a long time ago and so don’t remember a ton about it. I do, however, remembering it being very creepy as the father and son made their journey.

 

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman– the world, the river: Is it cheating to use a current read for this? I’m only about halfway through and am pleased to report that this is the first book in ages to actually kind of freak me out. A+ creepy setting creation.

 

 


Bonus settings (yeah, I know it’s T5W, but I’m adding more because I love this topic):

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë– Thornfield Hall: It wasn’t over-the-top creepy, but it definitely had that “There could be ghosts or anything in this place” kind of vibe.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon– the entire town of West Hall: I don’t want to say anything to spoil this one, but trust me, it’s a bit creepy.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll– the woods?: The five stories in this graphic novel are awesome and all have a bit of creepiness to them.


What are some of your favorite creepy settings?

Is there a particular kind of creepy setting you prefer?

Blogtober babbling: I can’t say “No” to my kid about books

I think it’s because of the way I was brought up. I had books, but not many. A couple of family members would buy me a couple of books each for either Christmas or my birthday, and that was usually it for a year. Sometimes I was allowed to use money I got in my cards to go buy a book, but not often. We rarely went to bookstores, and, when we did, I thought I would die when it was time to leave. It wasn’t even that I wanted to buy tons of books. I just liked being around them.

Finally, when I was about 10 or 11, I was allowed to start going to the library a couple times a month. That was heaven. Looking back, I realize the library in the town I lived in was really small and actually not that great. But back then, it was my sanctuary. I didn’t have a good home life (I’ll spare you the details), and books were my escape. At school, I stayed in the library as often as possible, either reading, looking for books to check out, or helping the librarian. When I moved to the area I’m still kind of in, I stopped being able to go to the library. Or, when I did get to go, I was given about 15 minutes to find books. Two weeks later, they were returned (usually after hours by my guardian) and it was another few weeks to months before I got to go back. Fun times. (<<Sarcasm.)

Now, I’m all grown up and have a kid of my own. The first few years, I wasn’t sure my love of books had been passed on. Then, very suddenly, the obsession blossomed. One week, there was no interest in the books when we were at a bookstore. In fact, kid was bored senseless. Then, bam! Kid wanted ALL THE BOOKS! I was so proud and pleased ❤ (We live over an hour from the library, but try to go as often as possible. If we lived very close to one, both of us would probably buy a little less and borrow a lot more.)

The downside of this is that I just can not say no when kid wants a book. So, now there are two of us constantly drooling over the teetering stacks of books we’re toting around a bookstore, trying to decide which ones we absolutely must get, and which ones we can wait to buy. Poor husband. (He likes books, and likes that we’re approaching “we live in a library” status, but he doesn’t get as excited about books as kid and I do.)

Basically, in our home, books are treated as necessities for life. We don’t gift books, we gift other things (clothing, toys, games, etc.) I remember too many times getting something shaped like a book, being excited, ripping off the wrapping paper and discovering…not a book. I also remember getting too many books I had no interest in, but usually forced myself to read anyway because a) it was a book, and b) it was a gift and I would have gotten in trouble if I hadn’t read it.

I don’t want my kid growing up like that. I want my kid to not think of books as treats you get once or twice a year, and I want my kid to be able to read what’s interesting. Neither kid nor I get all the books we want. We’d need a house about 5 times bigger for that to even be a possibility 😛 But if kid finds a book and really wants it, I just can’t say no if it’s at all within my power to get the book.

Related anecdote: I was so proud over the weekend because we found the third Magnus Chase book. Kid has the first, but not the second, and I mentioned that. Kid’s eyes lit up and then kid said “I know where the second book is!” and shot off to get it. That’s the first time kid has remembered books in a series and been interested enough to know where they were in a store. It’s almost like how I was with Harry Potter ❤ I actually almost cried haha. I guess you kind of had to be there, and would have to know my kid to really understand what a big deal that was, but it’s definitely going in the baby book 😛