Chilling Reads: A Few Books That Will Make You Leave the Lights On

Some of my teen collectionI love a scary story. I know lot of people avoid horror books and movies because they don't like being scared, but I love having a book or movie truly creep me out. After all, it's a safe thrill, right? There really is no monster in the closet. We hope. : )

And part of my love of reading is due to horror stories. Some of the earliest books I read were ghost stories, and then their was the teen horror of the 80s and 90s. Anyone else remember those R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and Lois Duncan books? The picture above has some of my middle school collection. After I moved on from teen horror, I jumped to Stephen King. Talk about keeping me up at night. I used to have to move books out of my room at night because I couldn't sleep with them in my room. I guess I secretly worried the monsters would crawl out the book while I was sleeping. *shudder*

So I'm really excited to see horror creeping back onto the shelves. It never went away totally, but it definitely disappeared in the YA market, morphing into paranormal romance and urban fantasy where the monsters became the good guys and love interests. And though I enjoy those stories, they're just not the same thrill as horror for me. The books that are more closely aligned to that horror style are often labeled thriller or suspense now because horror seemed to become a bad word and became more associated with gore (I'm not a fan of gore.) So the seeing some of these classic horror type stories popping up makes me happy.

And I thought in honor of Halloween tomorrow (and inspired by the posts on USA Today's Happily Ever After where authors list the scariest book they've ever read), I would give some of my more recent picks and some classic picks for scary stories.


Creepy Books I've Read This Year:

The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff | 2.99 on Kindle

Blurb from Amazon:

Baird College's Mendenhall echoes with the footsteps of the last home-bound students heading off for Thanksgiving break, and Robin Stone swears she can feel the creepy, hundred-year-old residence hall breathe a sigh of relief for its long-awaited solitude. Or perhaps it's only gathering itself for the coming weekend.

As a massive storm dumps rain on the isolated campus, four other lonely students reveal themselves: Patrick, a handsome jock; Lisa, a manipulative tease; Cain, a brooding musician; and finally Martin, a scholarly eccentric. Each has forsaken a long weekend at home for their own secret reasons.

The five unlikely companions establish a tentative rapport, but they soon become aware of a sixth presence disturbing the ominous silence that pervades the building. Are they the victims of a simple college prank taken way too far, or is the unusual energy evidence of something genuine---and intent on using the five students for its own terrifying ends? It's only Thursday afternoon, and they have three long days and dark nights before the rest of the world returns to find out what's become of them. But for now it's just the darkness keeping company with five students nobody wants and no one will miss.

Kirkus described this as "Poltergeist meets The Breakfast Club" and I think that's an apt description. This is a classic creepy ghost tale and reads like a movie. I made the mistake of reading this one while my hubs was out of town. I checked the doors a few times that night (as if that would keep out a ghost anyway.)


Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Blurb from Amazon:

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school's most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for three days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

This is like a modern version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (which I loved). It was taut witih creepy tension and I couldn't stop turning the pages. I also didn't figure out the killer until the reveal, so that's always a win.


And now some older books that never fail to give me goosebumps:

It by Stephen King

This book and movie freaked me the eff out. It's still one of my favorites of all time. But give yourself some time, it's a looooong one.


The Shining by Stephen King

This is another Stephen King one that I always go back to. He really is the master.


Nazareth Hill by Ramsey Campbell

This one is a classic haunted house type tale that definitely gave me he heeby jeebies. I didn't love the ending but the journey was worth the read.

So those are a few of my pics, what are some of yours? Do your read horror? Anyone else ever move a book out of the room because you were freaked out?

Craving a Scare-the-Hell-Out-of-You Movie for Halloween?

Okay, so I know  I don't usually post on Mondays. But since it's Halloween and I watched a seriously scary movie last night, I felt compelled to pass along the recommendation.

Now, first of all, I love a scary movie, but lately it seems like most horror focuses on special effects and gratuitous gore. I'm not so much for the gore. I find movies that leave a lot unseen tend to build more tension and fear. And this movie, The Strangers, had tension-building down to a freaking science. I watched most of the film between my fingers.



Hubs makes fun of me for covering my eyes.

Him: "I thought you liked scary movies."

Me: "I do. This is part of the process."

Him: "Not seeing half of it is part of the process?"

Me: "Definitely."

But honestly, if I'm peeking through my fingers and curled up in a tense ball on the couch, this means it's an effective horror movie. And The Strangers was highly effective. 

The scariest part of this movie is that this could totally happen (apparently it's based on true events--eek). And the reason why the bad guys/gals are after these people is probably the most chilling of all--"because you were home."  

So, if you want a scary movie to watch tonight, try this one out. I suggest you don't watch it alone in a dark house in the woods. Just sayin'.

Here's the trailer: 

Has anyone else seen The Strangers? What did you think? What movies scare you the most--the could-happen-in-real-life or that paranormal/monster type horror? And am I the only one tired of the gore subsitituting for true tension?

Life Lessons From Poltergeist

I'm true believer that every good story,whether it be a book, a movie, or a TV show, has a lesson--some nugget of knowledge that can help us get through life better. So I figured I'd start occasionally picking out a story here on the blog and sharing the most important things I learned from it.

And in honor of Halloween approaching, I figured I'd pick one of the formative horror movies of my young years--Poltergeist.

Now pay attention. If you don't heed these life lessons, you could end up sucked into the television. I'm doing you a public service. 


1. Never leave your TV on a white noise/snow channel. This is where the evil lurks.


2. Never trust a clown or have one in your house. (see the movie IT for further confirmation on this lesson.)


3. If your orthodontist tells you to get braces, ask for those invisalign things instead. The metal kind can attack you.


4. No large oaks should be within ten feet of your house because, well, they eat children.

(We actually had one of these trees in our yard when I first saw this movie. It would tap against our windows at night. I think it ate a few neighbors.)


5. If chairs do THIS in your house...Move. The. F*ck. Out. Okay? Let's not negotiate on this one.


6. And for the love of God, DO NOT go into the light. 


Here's the trailer for the movie, which contains one more lesson--if you have to ask the neighbors if they've experienced any disturbances lately, you should have already left town and be staying at a Holiday Inn. 


See, now aren't you glad you read this? You may have been walking down the street today and stumbled into a people-eating oak tree. Your welcome.

So were you a fan of this movie? Did it scare the bejeezus out of you like it did me at the time? What's your favorite 80s horror movie? And did I miss any life lessons from this one?