Throwback Thursday: Halloween Special

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With it being Halloween shortly, I have decided to do a special spooky edition of Throwback Thursday … OOoOoOOoooOOOOooooooghost-03 Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renée at It’s Book Talk to share old favourite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

Here is a selection of books I have read over the years and their spooky ratingsghost-03ghost-03ghost-03ghost-03ghost-03

 

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie ghost-03

halloween partyI have read this book so many times and I never fail to enjoy it. It was one of the first Agatha Christie’s I read as a teenager when I went through a phase of devouring everything I could get my hands on. Even though I have read it so many times now, it has never lost its appeal to me. Spooky? No, not at all. Fun? Yes, absolutely!

The story starts with a famous author, Ariadne   Oliver, who is attending a children’s Halloween party in a pretty little English village. She is recognised by some of the children who start to quiz her about her books and complain that there isn’t enough murder in them. One of the group, a rather unpopular 13-year-old called Joyce, then pipes up “I saw a murder once” before being shouted down and laughed at by those around her. Trying to explain herself she then adds “but I didn’t realise that it was a murder at the time.” The party gets into full swing but before the night is out, Joyce has been found murdered face down in a bucket of bobbing apples…

Ariadne sets off to see her old friend Hercule Poirot for help as she has become convinced that someone who overheard Joyce’s claim to have seen a murder had wanted to shut her up. Poirot then sets about busy-bodying his way around the village, in true Poirot style, asking questions to anyone and everyone about what Joyce may have seen. And as in true Christie style, expect the unexpected!

I’m so glad I read this book again – picking up an Agatha Christie is like meeting up with an old friend; it’s a real tonic.

Spooky rating:

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A great mystery book set at Halloween. Will it scare you? Not a chance. Will you love it? Absolutely!

 

Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver ghost-03

dark matterThis book is written in the form of a journal by Jack Miller, a London misfit with a dead-end job and no friends who joins an expedition to the Arctic Circle in 1937. Jack is desperate to go and has looked forward to this adventure for six months before setting off so his spirits are high as soon as he steps onto the boat to take them to the bay of Gruhuken in northern Norway.

However, Jack’s joy soon takes a downward turn as one by one, members of the expedition drop like flies and he is left alone, with just a pack of huskies and a self-built hut in one of the remotest parts of the world. Not only that, but Jack begins to see and hear things that aren’t really there. Or are they?

I found this book incredibly well written and what I found was that the way the isolation and deprivation were played out over the pages was far more spooky than the ghost that was inhabiting the bay with Jack. The sense of fear as Jack slowly began to lose his mind imagining things that had moved or appeared was palpable and made for very chilly reading.

Jack’s relationship with one of the dogs, Isaak, was the only warming part of this icy tale but it was a welcome relief in such a desolate text.

Although I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it as a great read, I am disappointed to report that it didn’t scare me in the least (and I am a complete wimp when it comes to scary things).

Spooky rating:

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Definitely eerie and atmospheric and a great ending to the book, but alas it did not actually scare me.

Those of a nervous disposition may want to avoid or read with the light on though.

 

Comes The Blind Fury by John Saul ghost-03

comes the blind furyI first read this book as a young teenager (so just a few years ago then…). I remember one half-term shutting myself away in my bedroom with a stack of John Saul novels and scaring myself silly. I had completely forgotten all about John Saul until I stumbled across this book many years later and decided to see if I still felt the same.

Fast forward a few (!) years, it didn’t have the same impact on me as it did as a teenager in terms of reading it from behind a cushion, but I still loved it and remembered just why I was such as fan of Sauls books back then.

The book starts with the death of a twelve-year-old blind girl, Amanda, in 1886. She is a kind and gentle girl who has been routinely teased and tormented by her classmates, and one day that they go too far and put an object in her way on the cliff path, sending her free-falling into the sea. Amanda may be dead but she is not done yet…

One hundred years later, twelve-year-old Michelle moves with her family from Boston to Paradise Point to live in a big old Victorian house on the edge of the cliffs. When she picks her room, she finds an ancient doll at the back of the closet and names her Amanda.

Michelle quickly makes friends at school, and enjoys her new life, until one day at a picnic on the beach, things take an ugly turn when one of the group begins teasing her and Michelle runs off and tumbles down the side of the cliff. From then on she must use a cane to walk with the teasing becomes worse…until the fog comes out of nowhere and Michelle meets the ghost of Amanda who vows to help her get revenge…

This is a great book to keep you on the edge of your seat. I had forgotten just how great John Saul is able to do that. While not actually scary, it certainly had an eerie feel to it and it kept me on my toes.

Spooky rating:

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A great Halloween read. Eerie and creepy. Read on a dark, cold night…but watch out for the fog drawing in….

 

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters ghost-03

little strangerThis story is narrated by Dr. Faraday, a local village Doctor, in 1940′s rural England. He is called to Hundreds Hall, a huge mansion with acres of land where his Mother was a nursery nurse when he was a boy and he remembers, fondly, the extravagant tea parties and fetes that the Ayres family used to throw for the village. When Dr. Farady arrives at the house after not having seen it for decades he is shocked at the crumbling and dilapidated state that it’s in. The owners of the property are now Mrs. Ayres and her two children, Caroline and Roderick (both in their twenties); her eldest child, Susan, died 30 years ago aged nine. Faraday has been called to see the maid, Betty, who is complaining of stomach problems and saying that she wants to go home, but when Faraday delves deeper he finds out that it is because she is hearing strange things in the house and she is scared. Farady is invited to have tea with the family and this is the start of a friendship with the family just at a time when things start going bump in the night……

Despite casualties of the spooky goings on a-plenty, Faraday managed to find an explanation for everything: the fires, the writing on the walls, the tapping etc. What frustrated me was that while this was going on I was expecting things to start falling into place and make sense, but it never did. I am no more clued up now that I was when I started it. What I think Waters has done is left readers to make up their own minds about what was going on in the house. Where there really ghosts or was the family in melt-down as well as the house? The book is set in post WWII England, on the eve of the NHS, when class is becoming less important and the upstanding members of the community aren’t necessarily only those with wealth anymore: Mrs. Ayres still likes Betty the maid to dress in full black and white and courtesy etc which is even starting to be amusing to members of her own circle. With the going’s on in the house, we are left to wonder whether there really is the pitter-patter of little ghosty feet or whether the demise of the house is mirroring the demise of its occupants?

I would definitely recommend this book as a really good read. I was reading late one night and put the book down just after an episode of tapping on the walls and was drifting to sleep when I swear I was woken up by tapping on my bedroom window! It could have been a dream, but hey……..you never know!

Spooky Rating:

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Although this book wasn’t actually scary per se, the ghostly goings on in the middle gave me the chills while I was up reading late one night.

Good spooky parts but the book won’t turn your hair grey with fright.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger ghost-03

TImage result for her fearful symmetryhrow a huge cemetery, a cold & wintery London, bizarre mirror twins, a feral kitten and a recently dead Aunt into a pot together and the result is a wonderfully quirky, melancholy, spooky book.

The story is set around Highgate Cemetery in London where a recently dead Elspeth has left her apartment to her twenty-year-old American nieces, Julia and Valentina, who are mirror twins. When the twins arrive in their new home they soon learn that they are not alone as it appears their Aunt Elspeth has never left. While it’s sometimes difficult to know who to root for in this book, there is a wonderful cast of both primary and secondary characters that kept me glued to the story and there is a sense of such powerful emotions that they almost feel tangible: The twins new neighbour, Robert, was their Aunt’s lover and his feelings of loss for Elspeth are painful to read at times. I felt completely absorbed in this book and I have to admit that I never saw what happened in the last 50 pages coming at all!

It is ultimately a book about love, loss and betrayal with a gothic backdrop of ghosts, cemeteries and enough twists and turns that you never feel completely comfortable. With the Cemetery itself a character and echoes of Henry James and Charles Dickens, “Her Fearful Symmetry” is a delicious and deadly twenty-first-century ghost story.

Spooky rating:

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Mild spookiness. Unless you have a particularly weak heart, you should be OK with this one.

 

Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe ghost-03

naomi's roomThe really weird thing about this book is that I picked it up for a few pence in a second-hand bookshop a few years ago; I had no desire to read any horror books at the time and when I got home I remember wondering what had possessed me to get it as I thought I might find it too scary to read. On a whim a while later, I took it off my shelf and dusted it down – and I swear I kept getting déjà vu while I read it (just little snippets that would make me shiver and convinced I’d read it before but I really don’t think I have). Spooooooky!

The book is a ghost story that starts off with the abduction of a four-year-old girl, Naomi, from a busy toy shop in London on Christmas Eve in 1970. Her father, Charles Hillenbrand gets separated from her in the shop and she is never seen again. By the afternoon of Christmas Day Naomi’s body has been found – she has been murdered.

While trying to cope with their grief and come to terms without their little girl, back in Cambridge, Charles and Laura find themselves on the receiving end of some very strange events. They are woken one night by a piercing scream coming from Naomi’s room, and they hear footsteps in the attic above their bedroom. The mystery and nightmare only deepen when a photographer who has been camped outside their house waiting for glimpses of the grieving parents has his role of film developed and finds strange faces that appear at the attic window and two little girls dressed in Victorian clothing in the garden where he was sure there was nobody there. Together, Charles and the journalist, David Lewis, try to work out what’s going on……but nobody could predict what more was to come!

This is a really spooky tale of things that go bump in the night, ghosts who have had a particularly gruesome end to their earthly lives and are trying to communicate, and the ending is pretty shocking – and totally unexpected!

This book was out of print for some time but it appears to be back on Amazon (yay!), along with Aycliffe’s other books which I now fully intend to check out.

Spooky Rating:

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A good spooky yarn – scary and shocking.

In the middle of reading this book I was taking a shower (not with the actual book, obviously!) and I swear I saw something brown flash across my mirror just outside the shower door on the bathroom wall – it was only there for a fleeting second – but then I realised it was probably just my arm or something so I started waving my arms around to prove my own point. I couldn’t see them in the mirror – the angle was wrong!……

Recommended for sitting in a dark room with just your reading lamp on and a cup of hot chocolate.

 

Happy Halloween!

So there we have it: a little selection of spooky-themed books for the run-up to Halloween. Have you read any of these? Which other books do you recommend for this time of year?

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The Thrill Week Blog Hop

Thrill Week is here! Mwahahahahahaaaa!!!

It’s finally here – Thrill Week – where myself and 6 other blogs will be celebrating all things crime fiction (one of my favourite genres). Pop on over to host Marce’s blog (Tea Time with Marce) to see her answers to the following questions and then have a peek at these lovely bloggers too – you’re bound to get some ideas and inspiration about which books you should be reading:

Best O’Books

Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews

Mental Foodie – A Book and Food Lover

 
 
 

  So to kick off the week, here are my answers to the questionnaire:

 

1) What is your favourite genre out of Thriller, Mystery, Suspense and Horror? Why?

I think I would have to say mystery. I love a good whodunnit and especially love trying to work out the perpetrator as early on as I can (what I especially love is, despite being a seasoned crime fic reader, the author can still fool me).

2) Who are your top 3 authors in those genres?

Tess Gerritsen, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark.

Both Gerritesen and McDermid I love because of their ability to pull me in from page one with promises of high body counts, red herrings and clever psychological and forensic detail. I like intelligent crime fiction and these two are among the best for me. Mary Higgins Clark, on the other hand, is my Queen of Comfort in the crime genre. Her books are pretty formulaic but that’s what I love as I know what I’m going to get and she has never failed to deliver. I think MHC is a fantastic author who gets overlooked a lot but, for me, if I ever need a comfort read then she is at the top of my pile (and despite her books being formulaic, I hardly ever guess whodunnit until the end).

I am really excited to have have interviewed Mary Higgins Clark last year and I also have interviews with both Tess Gerritsen and Val McDermid coming up shortly so keep an eye out for those 🙂

3)Tell us who your favourite male and female authors are in the genre?

Female: Tess Gerritsen, Val McDermid, Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie, Elly Griffiths, S J Bolton, Karen Rose, Tana French, Lisa Gardner

Male: Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben, Jo Nesbo, Steig Larsson, Peter Robinson, James Patterson, Robert Goddard

Interestingly enough, I was able to immediately write down all the names of my favourite female authors, but with the exception of the first two males I had to go off and check what books I had read (which was accompanied by many “oh yeah”‘s) Wonder why that is?

4) What book do you remember loving but don’t remember the details?

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I read this when I was in my early teens and again in my twenties but I don’t remember a thing about it other than there are 10 people who are called to an island and one by one they are killed off and the reader has to try to work out who is doing it. I could read it again today and still have no idea until the end. In fact, I really must read it again – it’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!

5) What has been your favourite book this year so far:

ThrillerThe Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

MysterySacrifice by S J Bolton

SuspenseBefore I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

HorrorCarrie by Stephen King

  6) What series or trilogy would you recommend ?
 
  Rizzoli & IslesTess Gerritsen (Fantastic Detective / Forensic Pathologist duo who solve some really interesting and unusuak crimes between them. My favourites!)

Hill & JordanVal McDermid (Detective and Criminal Pyschologist who work together to solve serial killer cases and really get into the mind of the perpetrators. Brilliant series!)

Ruth & NelsonElly Griffiths (I love these two! Detective and Forensic Archaeologist who solve some old and new crimes when bones have been found. You gotta love Ruth & Nelson!)

The Millenium TrilogyStieg Larsson (Swedish Journalist, Blomkvist, gets involved in some high profile cases with the aid of his rather unique sidekick, Lisbeth Salander.)

Inspector Alan BanksPeter Robinson (Set in the Yorkshire Dales where it’s supposed to be rural and sleepy except bodies keep turning up, leaving Inspector Alan Banks to investigate. Great series.)

Gretchen LowellChelsea Cain (Not for the feint hearted. Gretchen Lowell is sick, sick, sick but you can’t help but read about her exploits).

  7) Recommend 1 or 2 books that you think more around the blogosphere should read
 
  If you want a proper crime, serial killer type book then you should definitely read Retribution by Jilianne Hoffman. I loved this book – pacey, gripping, creepy. Just brilliant!
 
 
  For something a little gentler then I would recommend Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris. It’s a great book and I never saw the twist coming at the end!

  8 What authors have you tried and look forward to reading more from them?

Linda Castello – I have read her first book in a series of crime books set in the Amish community, Sworn to Silence,  and loved it so I am looking forward to reading the next two

Jane Casey – Has written 3 books and I have only read the second one, The Burning, which I loved.

Karen RoseI have only read her latest book, You Belong to Me, and I really enjoyed it and am very excited to know that I have 10 more of hers waiting to be read!

Stephen Beckett – Againm, I have only read the first one (The Chemistry of Death) out of the 4 books he has written so far with the same lead character so I have more to look forward to.

Jilianne Hoffman – Despite loving Retribution (see above) I still haven’t read the other book by the author but I do have it at home so I am looking forward to diving in to that one.

  9) What authors in the above genres are on your TBR list but you haven’t tried yet?  Who should I read soon?
 
  I am always on the look out for new crime ficiton authors so I am open to suggestions.  Based on my likes, which authors or books do YOU think I should be reading?
 
 
  Have you seen anything you like? Do you already any of the authors above or do you think you might give any of them a go? And don’t forget those recommendations 🙂
 
 

  I will be doing another Thrill Week post on 6th September and I have the MOST AMAZING GIVEAWAY too! A total of  FIFTEEN BOOKS to giveaway so make sure you drop by!

 
 

Dare you read it? Comes the Blind Fury by John Saul

 

The Blurb:

“A child cries out…in torment. In terror. From out of the past, from out of the mists, a terrible vengence is born.

Amanda: A century ago, a gentle blind girl walks the cliffs of Paradise Point. Then the children came, taunting, teasing – until she lost her footing, and fell, shrieking her rage down to the sea…

Michelle: Now Michelle has come from Boston to live in the big house  on Paradise Point. She is excited about her new life, ready to make new friends…until a hand reaches out from the swirling mists – the hand of a blind child. She is asking for friendship…seeking revenge…whispering her name…

(source: johnsaul.com)

What I thought:

I first read this book back in August 1986 (I remember it really clearly as my Grandparents had come over to look after me for a few days and I remember shutting myself away in my bedroom with a stack of John Saul novels and scaring myself silly). I had completely forgotten all about John Saul until I started my Dare you read it? series and was looking around for scary reads. I whooped when I came across his books and immdiatley swapped three of them on readitswapit.com.

Twenty-four years on, having reread Comes the Blind Fury, it didn’t have the same impact on me as it did as a teenager in terms of reading it from behind a cushion, but I still loved it and remembered just why I was such as fan of Sauls books back then.

The book starts with the death of a twelve year old blind girl, Amanda, in 1886. She is a kind and gentle girl who has been routinely teased and tormented by her class mates, and oneday that they go too far and put an object in her way on the cliff path, sending her free-falling into the sea. Amanda may be dead but she is not done yet…

One hundred years later, twelve-year-old Michelle moves with her family from Boston to Paradise Point to live in a big old Victorian house on the edge of the cliffs. When she picks her room, she finds an ancient doll at the back of the closet and names her Amanda.

Michelle quickly makes friends at school, and enjoys her new life, until one day at a picnic on the beach, things take an ugly turn when one of the group begins teasing her and Michelle runs off and tumbles down the side of the cliff. From then on she must use a cain to walk with the teasing becomes worse…until the fog comes out of nowhere and Michelle meets the ghost of Amanda who vows to help her get revenge…

This is a great book to keep you on the edge of your seat. I had forgotten just how great John Saul is able to do that. To be honest, I didn’t find this book scary this time around but it certainly had an eerie feel to it and it kept me on my toes.

I plan on reading more of his books soon too.

 

Spooky rating:

A great halloween read. Eerie and creepy. Read on a dark, cold night…but watch out for the fog drawing in….