Halloween Reads: Quick Reviews of Suspense & Gothic Books

Keeping with tradition, I read a few gothic books this month. However, breaking with tradition, I don’t plan to write separate reviews of every book I read. So, here’s a compilation of quick reviews of these books.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, gothic, graphic novel

Beautifully illustrated and hauntingly gothic, this graphic novel features stories about people entering the woods…and sometimes returning. The stories are imaginative and spooky. Carroll’s illustrations not only drive the stories forward but also add to the suspense. I highly recommend this for a quick and beautiful read.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb gothic novel

The gothic manse moves to the North Shore of Lake Superior in this novel. Suspenseful and imaginative,  I enjoyed going along for the ride as the tale twisted and unwove throughout the novel. An interesting concept that yielded a good read with enough surprises. While it emulates the idea of books like Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, it isn’t quite as strong but still very enjoyable and a quicker read than Waters’ works.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Peculiar indeed. Supernatural and gothic, this was an enjoyable read. I didn’t find it as intriguing and suspenseful as I’d hoped, but the visual and literary multimedia experience was well done.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

An unusual haunting tells the story of one mansion in New York through several generations of owners. An interesting novel but not one I’d highly recommend. Oliver’s language could at once be beautiful – I found many passages very quotable – but then it switched to be almost mundane.


This year I didn’t enjoy my books nearly as much as I did last year. I read some great books, but there wasn’t the level of gothic suspense that I’d hoped for. In previous years I spent more time researching and picking my books. This year, I picked them all out last minute. Serves me right not to plan ahead!

Have you read anything great this month?

An Outdoorsy Book List

Well, National Great Outdoors Month is over. I spent my free time last month outdoors (where else) and reading (trying to find spare moments).

I’ve decided that maybe the entire summer should be devoted to celebrating the wonders of the great outdoors. Here, then, are my favorite outdoorsy books:

John Krakauer, Gretel Ehrlich, Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, The Solace of Open Spaces

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Hatchet buy Gary Paulson

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

They run the gamut from young adult to adult, fiction to nonfiction. I hope you enjoy them!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you have book recs about or featuring the great outdoors?

Weekly Reads: 10.27.14

It’s Halloween week, and I’m reading

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House
By Shirley Jackson

Last year I read and enjoyed Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the CastleI was excited to check one more of Jackson’s uniquely unusual books off my to read list this year. I’m halfway through (hoping to finish by Thursday), and so far it’s holding up to my expectations. I’m quite excited to finish and share my thoughts with you!

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week? I hope you have a great reading week!

**Linked up with Book Journey**

A Review of Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People

Halloween 2013 The 1000th Voice Blog

Today kicks off two weeks of reviews of gothic horror, suspense and otherwise creepy reads for my Halloween 2014 series.

The Winter People
By Jennifer McMahon

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of horror fiction that tends towards torture porn. Being extremely terrified just isn’t something I enjoy. Instead, I gravitate more towards gothic horror or suspenseful or generally creepy books. Finding these books has been somewhat difficult. That is, until I looked up Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black on my library’s website and found the recommendations section. Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People was recommended because:

In the best of the gothic tradition, these shivery ghost stories feature creepy locations, dark family secrets, and mysteries that are better left unsolved. Both novels are literary with an oppressive atmosphere and a slowly building sense of dread.

A literary ghost story with a general or slowly building sense of dread is an excellent description of the type of book I’m looking for each Halloween!


In this classic, creepy ghost story, McMahon creates a sense of dread in a realistic New England setting. Using the small, remote town of West Hall, Vermont, McMahon winds a tail that begins in the early 1900s and continues into present day as a young woman digs into her parents’ past and learns of their dark secrets and those of her town.

The Winter People really had the perfect amount of scary parts to fit what I was looking for. An historic farm house serves as the setting for a large portion of the story, from the early 1900s to the present day.


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon uses clear, concise language to weave her tale.

Character Development  5 out of 5 stars

As the story progresses, McMahon develops her characters into realistic people with their own unique personalities.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon moves the plot forward at a comfortable pace, allowing the reader to settle in and enjoy her writing.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon successfully mixed two story lines together to create one rich story.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read The Winter People? What did you think?

Weekly Reads: 10.6.14

Today, I’m halfway through my second Halloween reads bookmaybe. I’m reading

The Little Strangers by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger
By Sarah Waters

It came up as a recommendation on my library’s website as I was looking at Susan Hill’s Woman in Black.  The book is great so far. There’s a slight hint of madness and possible haunting, but I’m not sure it fits the bill for a Halloween read yet.

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

A Review of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

As I mentioned in this post last summer, my first experience with Geraldine Brooks was her nonfiction The Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. Brooks used her years of experience reporting from the middle east to write a great book that provides a lot of background on Islamic women to those of us far from familiar with their beliefs and lives.

After reading Year of  Wonders last summer (which I realize I’ve never reviewed), I fell in love with Brooks’ fiction work and couldn’t wait to read another one of her books. People of the Book was next up on my list.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks


People of the Book begins with, Hannah, an ancient book restoration expert in 1996, traveling to Sarajevo to inspect the Sarajevo Haggadah, an important Jewish book that hadn’t surfaced since prior to WWII. As  Hannah inspects the book, she discovers clues that eventually transport us back in time, following the book to its creation.

We follow the book back in time and witness the various atrocities Jews have endured over the years. We learn how the book’s owners survived or lost their lives. Throughout the book, Brooks emphasizes humanity among the atrocities from those who saved the book to those who saved the owners of the book.


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Brooks’ writing was clear and transported me along the journey of discovering the book’s origin.

Character Development  4 out of 5 stars

As we travel back, we get to know a lot of fairly well developed characters

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

The organization of the book works really well to move the plot forward.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Using the real life discovery of the Sarajevo Haggadah, Brooks tells a deep and intriguing story.

Total 4.75 out of 5 stars

Have you read People of the Book? What did you think?

Weekly Reads | 8.3.2014

How was your weekend? I only got about an hour of reading in this weekend. Most of that time was in a bubble bath.

So this week, I’m continuing to read

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway
By Virginia Woolf

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

In the car, I’m listening to

Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson

Our Lady of the Forest (Audiobook)
By David Guterson
Read by Blair Brown

Recent Posts

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From
What I’m Into | 7.2014
Major Book Buying Mode

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Weekly Reads | 7.28.2014

With Claire visiting my parents last week, Nick and I got to work on some household projects. I didn’t have much reading time, but I took as much time as possible.

Beginning this week, I’ll be reading the second half of

Zenith City: Stories from Duluth by Michael FedoZenith City: Stories from Duluth
By Michael Fedo

On my commute I’ve been switching between the radio and

The Magician's Assistant by Ann PatchettThe Magician’s Assistant (Audiobook)
By Ann Patchett

I wasn’t sure I’d stick with this after the first few minutes, but, as usual, I’m glad I stuck with it.

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

Recent Posts

July Book Lists

Pick out your next read from these great lists.

A Review of Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty

Not comedy, but Martin’s distinctive voice shines through.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

A Review of Steve Martin’s Unusual An Object of Beauty

I don’t really know for how long, but I’ve been a pretty big Steve Martin fan. His quirky humor fascinates me, and I enjoy watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles every time I get a chance to watch it. When he wrote a novel, I knew I had to read it. Then he wrote some more, and I still hadn’t read it. It took a while for me to pick one of them up.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin An Object of Beauty
By Steve Martin


Steve Martin managed to create a character that I loved to dislike. Lacey Yeager was opportunistic, conniving and just plain rude, but I enjoyed reading her entire story as told by her sad sack guy friend from college.

Overall, Martin crafted an entertaining and unique story. The book is about art in that Lacey is an opportunistic art dealer and her friend a freelance art writer. Throughout the book we’re treated to color reproductions of the art mentioned in the story. I really enjoyed this because I didn’t have to either remember what a certain painting looked like or Google the ones I’d never heard of.


Writing 4 out of 5 stars

Martin has a particular writing style that was clear throughout.

Character Development 4 out of 5 stars

Lacey was very unlikable. As I mentioned, I liked that. I also enjoyed that I wasn’t quilted into liking her in the end. She wasn’t misunderstood. She didn’t have a rough childhood. She was just all-around very unlikable.

Storytelling 4 out of 5 stars

I found the story very fascinating. It flowed along smoothly, providing enough hints and revealing enough details to make me wonder how it would end, but still be in the dark about some of the story up until the end.

Total 4 out of 5 stars 

Have you read any of Steve Martin’s work? What did you think?

Weekly Reads: 7.21.14

Well, Nick and I have shipped our daughter off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We’re very nervous, even though it’s the third time she’s stayed with them. I do plan to get a lot of reading done, but also a lot of other stuff!

After I finished Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois, I repicked up

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer

The Uncoupling
By Meg Wolitzer

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**