Halloween Book Tag

I wasn’t nominated, but I can’t resist. The original creator – TheLibraryOfSarah has privatised the original video she made, but I found the questions from thebookiemonsters.wordpress.com.

Favourite horror book?

Without a doubt, IT by Stephen King. Scared the pants off me. To this day, the book still gives me the creeps. It’s probably the clown…

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Scariest moment in a book you’ve read?

The final scenes of Richard Laymon’s ‘The Cellar’. I won’t spoil it, but it’s pretty horrific and tense.

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Would you or have you ever dressed up as a book character for Halloween?

I went to a Halloween party a few years ago as psycho Red Riding Hood. Great costume. I still have it. There is a few photos but they have my partner in them so I wont’ post them here. Have the below interpretation instead 🙂

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What do you think your favourite character would dress up as for Halloween?

I have a number of favourite characters and they all exist in the speculative fiction, crime and horror worlds. I guess they would dress up as themselves!

What is your favourite kind of horror? (gore, psychological thriller, spooky)

There is something to be said for a tense and taught thriller over gratuitous gore. You turn the page with a tightness in your chest because you’re unsure what’s going to happen, not because the scenes jumping off the page are sickening.

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If books were as cheap as candy, which ones would you give out to trick-or-treaters?

I’d give a pack – HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and Agatha Christie. A nice mix of intriguing thrillers.

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Halloween to-read list?

This Halloween I am on the last two review copy books by Susanne Valenti and Lena Coakley. Loving them both, but not really traditional Halloween reading 🙂 If I had to recommend one, anything by Ann  Radcliffe (Mysteries of Udolpho is one of the best) or Matthew Lewis’s ‘The Monk’.

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Recommend some Halloween reads!

See above!

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Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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From the moment Laura Rivers steps foot into Englewood High, she notices the stares—and they aren’t the typical once-overs every pretty new girl endures. The students seem confused and…spooked. Whispers echoing through the halls confirm that something is seriously off. “That new girl looks just like her,” they say.

It turns out Laura has a doppelgänger, and it isn’t just anyone—it’s Sarah Castro-Tanner, the girl who killed herself by jumping into the Navasink River one year ago.

Laura is determined not to let the gossip ruin her chances of making a fresh start. Thanks to her charming personality and California tan, she catches the eye of Englewood’s undisputed golden boy, Charlie Sanders, and it’s only a matter of time before they make their relationship official.

But something is making Charlie and his friends paranoid—and Laura soon discovers it has to do with Sarah Castro-Tanner.

What really happened to Sarah? Why is Charlie unraveling? And how does Laura Rivers fit into it all?

After all, she’s the dead ringer for a dead girl.

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen is an exciting and suspenseful read. A YA cosy mystery, we follow the story from multiple points of view. There is no confusing jump around and each past tense story shines a light on the death of Sarah Castro-Tanner.

An intriguing and refreshing story, I felt engaged with these characters. It was suspenseful and the author kept us along for the slow reveals throughout the novel. I loved that there were no outright good or bad characters. Each person is well rounded and flawed. They are human and relatable.

The story is interesting and deals with the subject matter in a different way. It does not preach and it does not attempt to be a guide in how to think or act. The story is presented and it is up to the reader to decide how they feel about what has occurred and if it changes their perspective or actions.

4/5

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.

I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.

The lucky one.

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave.

Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

An engaging, suspenseful story, Black-Eyed Susans follows the story of Tessa Cartwright, the sole survivor of a serial killer. We join the story as a group of lawyers attempt to free the convicted murderer from death row. They come to Tessa for help. Tessa, now an artist and single mother trying to leave her past behind her, reluctantly agrees to revisit her past.

I was captivated by this book. Such an engaging story line that weaves two timelines, Tessa in 1995 when she was found in the open grave, and present day Tessa. Suspects are everywhere and plot twists litter the narrative.

Tessa is a broken woman but a strong character. There is an immediate empathy as you follow this dark path into her past. If you enjoy a compelling mystery that is New Adult/Adult as opposed to Young Adult, you will enjoy this book. The language is accessible and the action demanding (in a good way!).

Supporting characters are strong and believable. Heaberlin has successfully amassed a wealth of research of a scientific nature and implemented it into her story in a way that is easy to understand. Her scientists are real and accessible. The reader never feels like they are talked down to.

A special mention to Tessa’s neighbour Effie who provides at times a comforting comic relief and always affection.

4/5

A Killing Among Friends by Toni Morrow Wyatt

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Sennie Lacefield has always felt safe at her family’s peaceful mountain lodge . . .

The only break in her tranquil life was the death of her boyfriend Patrick Devon, which left her heartbroken and unable to understand Patrick’s sullen, withdrawn brother Lonnie. But when her best friend Reatha Alcoker disappears, her sense of security is shattered. With the help of Reatha’s boyfriend Milo Durham, she launches a search for her friend.

More girls disappear, and bodies begin turning up . . .

A rural cozy mystery, A Killing Among Friends, is set in a small community impacted by secrets and lies. Our main character, Sennie, is starting her junior year of high school and a burgeoning adult world threatens to rob her of her innocence.

Sennie is a proactive heroine, eager to solve the mystery and find her best friend. I liked her but wish her character had been expanded slightly. She seems to be an analytical thinker but where does she know how to conduct an amateur investigation? If she’s a sleuth is it because she’s obsessed with Nancy Drew books? I wanted a little more to explain how she could jump straight in to her investigation.

Supporting characters were interesting and it was nice to see a functional normal family engaged with and supportive of the main character. I enjoyed the older residents, a pastoral relief when dealing with a dark subject.

Morrow Wyatt has created a genuine setting and likable characters. As you read through the book you can see her love of this place and the people she has created to inhabit it. Some of the dialogue doesn’t seem to match up the characters but that may just be my interpretation.

3/5