Spooktober: Creepy Book Covers to Haunt Your Nightmares

We’ve all come across books that seem innocuous enough only to find that the inside is far creepier or messed up than we expected. Then there are other books which are just like: screw subtlety, I want to destroy any chance of you having peaceful dreams for the next several months. Well, this post is about the latter type. The scary, the creepy, the weird, and the *laughs nervously* wtf type covers.

NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH – CASSANDRA KHAW: My soul almost left my body the first time I saw this cover. My overactive imagination was sitting there jumping for joy at the inspiration for the terror-filled imaginings it was going to be sending my way. Honestly, though – the lack of eyes, that…mouth, the claw like hands. Nope, nope. NOPE.

I AM LEGEND AND OTHER STORIES – RICHARD MATHESON: I’m not usually bothered by vampire imagery but these bloodsuckers look terrifying, especially skull dude at the front. They’re almost like zombie-vampires. Get those creepy faces away from me. Far away.

SHUTTER – COURTNEY ALAMEDA: I have no idea who’s imagination this cover imagery came from but I can safely say, I never want to be trapped there because jeez. If ghosts are real, please lord may I never discover that they look like this. I think it’s the mouth *shivers*

HOLLOW CITY (MISS PEREGRINE’S PECULIAR CHILDREN 2#) – RANSOM RIGGS: Is it just me or are vintage photos of children often creepy? They’re usually dressed in clothes devoid of any childish joy, mostly unsmiling, and the grainy black and white film gives them such a weirdly sinister feel. It’s all very Children of the Corn.

THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE – ERIC LAROCCA: This cover is so weird and eerie looking. I have no idea what’s happening but I keep staring at it, eyes darting back and forth between the blood smeared shoulder and the vortex of head tissue. It’s certainly memorable.

THE OUTSIDER – STEPHEN KING: King has so many horror books that a few of the covers were bound to be scary. Those red eyes on the dark figure keep drilling further and further into me the longer I look at this. I keep imagining it brutally murdering me and then walking off wearing my face. Send help.

THE DOLL COLLECTION – EDITED BY ELLEN DATLOW: An entire book full of short stories about creepy dolls? No, thanks. Better yet, a creepy-ass cover featuring a discarded porcelain doll’s head with eyes I won’t be able to stop seeing for weeks, double no thanks.

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE – SHIRLEY JACKSON: This book has long since been re-covered but there’s something about the old school edition that weirds me out. I’m not sure if its the posing, the hair draped/flying, or that single eye, just starting at me through the gap in the fence as though she’s plotting something.

JAWS – PETER BENCHLEY: This cover is similar in design to the movie posters. While I’ve never felt especially put off by them, despite my nervousness about deep water, the visual here hits me differently. I think it might be the black background, It’s almost like a swimmer moving through a deep, dark part of the ocean, not knowing what’s lurking just metres away from them.

MY WIFE JODIE – V. A. RUDYS: It’s all about the smile with this one and the way the face is lit to showcase it. Gives me such predatory vibes despite the seemingly controlling hand above.

IT – STEPHEN KING: Like I said, lots of King horror novels and lots of cover opportunities to scare the pants off people. Now, I don’t have a problem with clowns, but the one on this cover is flippin’ terrifying. The eyes, those teeth, you can definitely see this edition of Pennywise hunting down small children for a tasty snack.

A MONSTER CALLS – PATRICK NESS: While this isn’t a scary story and more of a tear-jerker, the cover is pretty sinister looking with the grayscale colour scheme and sketchy art style. There’s just enough detail to up the anxiety levels.

What creepy looking book covers have haunted your nightmares?

Spooktober: Books Based On Your Favourite Halloween/Horror Creatures

When it comes to Halloween everyone has their favourite supernatural creatures, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy them within the context of horror books. For that reason, I thought it might be fun to bring together books based on some of the more popular monsters & creatures. For variety purposes, I’ve tried to include a mix of different books – YA/Adult, genres, tones, etc.

As usual, let me preface this by saying that I have NOT read all of the books mentioned here but I’ve done my best to research and ensure I’ve correctly allocated them.


Ghost & Ghouls

I love me some ghost-y shenanigans. After all, what’s more Halloween than a haunted house? Good ghost stories always seem to expertly walk the line between spooky and emotional and I think that’s why we enjoy them so much.

  • THE SUN DOWN MOTEL – SIMONE ST. JAMES: In dual timelines (1982 & the present), two women work the night shift at a haunted motel whilst investigating the disappearances & murders of other young women in the small, run-down town.
  • THE DIVINERS – LIBBA BRAY: In 1920s New York, a group of young people with psychic abilities and the owner of an occult museum help investigate a serious of ritualistic murders that may be being committed by a violent spirit.
  • NINTH HOUSE – LEIGH BARDUGO: Alex Stern, gifted with the ability to see ghosts, joins the mysterious ‘Ninth House’ at Yale, tasked with keeping the secret societies’ occult exploits in check. She finds herself investigating a murder on campus with potential links to them.
  • THE SHINING – STEPHEN KING: After taking a job as the off-season caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, writer Jack Torrence moves his family to Colarado. However, his uniquely gifted 5 year old son begins to notice something sinister about the Overlook.
  • KILL CREEK – SCOTT THOMAS: Four master horror authors agree to spend a night in The Finch House, one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses. What starts out as a publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for their lives as the horror follows them home.
  • THE DEAD AND THE DARK – COURTNEY GOULD: After teens go missing, Logan moves with her ghost-hunter dads to Snakebite, Oregon. She teams up with Ashley Barton (who is being haunted by the ghost of her boyfriend, Logan, the first boy to disappear) to investigate.

Demons & The Devil

What’s Halloween without the occasional loose demon causing havoc or a visit from the devil in the form of a body breaking possession? Well, if hellish vibes are what float your boat, here are a few reads with demonic flair.

  • THE DEVIL MAKES THREE – TORI BOVALINO: While working at her school library for the summer, Tess makes a bargain with the headmaster’s intolerable son, Eliot, which results in them discovering an ancient grimoire and accidentally unleashing a book-bound demon.
  • THE EXORCIST – WILLIAM PETER BLATTAY: Two priests and a desperate mother fight to free the soul of 12-year old Regan from an evil supernatural entity. I’m sure you know the movie.
  • GOOD OMENS – NEIL GAIMAN & TERRY PRATCHETT: A fussy angel, Aziraphale, and a fast-living demon, Crowley, team up to avert the apocalypse based on the prophecy of a 17th century witch. Only problem is, somebody has misplaced the Antichrist.
  • HORNS – JOE HILL: Following the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Ig finds himself the town outcast, convicted in the court of public opinion. However, after a night of drinking, he wakes up with a set of horns growing from his skull and some special abilities to go with them.
  • MY BEST-FRIEND’S EXORCISM – GRADY HENDRIX: Abby & Gretchen have been BFFs since 5th grade. After Gretchen disappears during a night of fun, she comes back…not right. The conclusion: She’s possessed by a demon. And so, Abby embarks on a quest to save her.
  • KINGDOM OF THE WICKED – KERRI MANISCALCO: After her sister is murdered, Sicilian witch Emilia uses dark magic to summon a demon prince, Wrath, for answers. The two make a deal and set out to find who or what is killing women on the island and why.

Vampires

Nothing beats a classic blood sucker book. Maybe you like them brutal, bloody and terrifying? Or perhaps brooding and in the midst of a moral crisis? Or MAYBE you just want to get your lust on? Well, either way, there’s a book for you.

  • DRACULA – BRAM STOKER – The classic vampire novel. Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to do business with the noble Count Dracula only to discover a horrifying secret. To thwart Dracula’s evil designs, Jonathan and friends, led by Professor Van Helsing, must embark on an nightmarish adventure. 
  • LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST: In 1981 Blackberge, Sweden, bodies begin to show up drained of blood. Meanwhile, bullied,12-year-old Oskar makes a new friend in Eli – a girl who only comes out at night, smells odd and has never seen a Rubik’s cube.
  • THE PASSAGE – JUSTIN CRONIN: A series of military experiments on a group of prison inmates go horribly wrong, resulting in a vampire apocalypse which wipes out all but a few pockets of humans in North America. Their only hope might just be a little girl from Iowa.
  • INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE -ANNE RICE: Vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac tells his 200 year life story to a reporter. He details his turning by the sinister Lestat, his bond with a child vampire named Claudia, and their travels across Europe to meet more of their kind.
  • THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES – GRADY HENDRIX: A book club of Charleston mothers investigate a mysterious newcomer to town after several local children go missing, only to discover that vampires are terrifyingly real.
  • DEAD UNTIL DARK – CHARLAINE HARRIS: Cocktail waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse’s life changes suddenly when a handsome vampire comes to town and her neighbours start turning up dead. There are heaps of vampire romances out there so I thought I’d include one I’ve read & liked.
  • VAMPIRE ACADEMY – RICHELLE MEAD: Couldn’t resist including my fave YA vampire series. When psychically bonded best friends Rose & Lissa return to Saint Vladimir’s, a school for good vampires (Moroi) and their future half-vampire bodyguards (Dhampirs), it soon becomes clear they’re in danger from more than just the evil vampires (Strigoi) outside the school walls.

Witches

All about that old black magic? Well, here are some magical reads. There were a heap of witch-y books out there that I could have used for this post but I decided seven would be plenty.

  • THE RULES OF MAGIC – ALICE HOFFMAN: The Owens family is bound by a centuries old curse that kills anyone they fall in love with. The book follows siblings Franny, Jet & Vincent growing up in 50s/60s New York and discovering their magical heritage and abilities.
  • PAYBACK’S A WITCH – LANA HARPER: In a small town during a spell-casting competition, three witches come together to enact vengeance on the warlock who broke all of their hearts, only for two of them to end up falling for each other.
  • SERPENT & DOVE – SHELBY MAHURIN: Lou, a thief & witch in hiding from her coven, ends up wed to a witch hunter, Reid, in a world in which humans and witches have long been at war. Despite the secrets between the two of them, they fall in love.
  • THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING – ALEXIS HENDERSON: In a strictly religious community, outsider Immanuelle begins to question the teachings of the Prophet when the spirits of dead witches gift her a journal previously belonging to her dead mother. Accidentally triggering a revenge curse, she must then choose whether or not to save the townspeople.
  • THE WITCH’S HEART – GENEVIEVE GORNICHEC: Re-imagining Norse Mythology, this book tells the story of the witch Angrboda, exiled by Odin for refusing to reveal the future and mother to three of Loki’s children. Angroboda must decide whether to accept fate or fight it.
  • THE NATURE OF WITCHES – RACHEL GRIFFIN: Clara, an Everwitch, is special in that her magic is connected to every season. When other witches start to lose control of their magic, sending the world toward an ecological disaster, Clara soon becomes the only hope of saving it.
  • BLOOD LIKE MAGIC – ESTELLE SAMBURY: To come into her powers, Voya must complete The Trial or risk her entire family losing their magic. The task: kill her first love. Voya signs up for a genetic matchmaking program only to be paired with the infuriating Luke. Soon it becomes a question of her heritage or her morality?

Werewolves & Shapeshifters

This was definitely the toughest category to find books for, mostly on the werewolf side because there don’t seem to be many well reviewed werewolf reads outside the romance genre. While I certainly included some romance picks, keeping my selections broad was challenging here.

  • SHIVER – MAGGIE STIEFVATER: After surviving a wolf attack as a child, Grace has long watched the wolves behind her house, fixated on one with yellow eyes. Sam lives two lives – human in the warmer months, wolf over winter. When the two finally, properly meet, Grace recognises Sam instantly and their relationship evolves. Can a cure be found or will they be torn apart by the dropping temperature?
  • THE WOLF’S HOUR – ROBERT R. McCAMMON: This book is basically like if James Bond had been working during WWII and happened to be a werewolf. Told in dual timelines, it follows MC, Michael’s, efforts to foil a Nazi plan called Iron Fist and his early years in Russia during which he was turned.
  • BITTEN – KELLY ARMSTRONG: Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf, is trying to live life as a regular human when her former pack leader calls asking for help with a rogue wolf killing humans. This brings her back in contact with her ex/the man who turned her, Clay.
  • WICKED FOX – KAT CHO: In Seoul, Miyoung, a half-gumiho (nine-tail fox who feeds on the energy of men) accidentally loses her fox spirit after she saves a boy named Jihoon from a goblin attack. In the aftermath, the two form a bond, but when a shaman gives Miyoung the chance to reunite with her spirit, she must choose between immortality or Jihoon’s life.
  • IT – STEPHEN KING: Seven teens come together to face off against a supernatural entity killing children that disguises itself as a clown. 27 years later they are called back to town to fulfill their vow to fight IT again should it ever return.
  • THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS – STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES: Ten years after a hunting transgression, four American Indian men must fight for their lives as they are hunted by a vengeful shapeshifting creature known as the Elk-Head Woman.

Zombies & The Undead

Is death really the end? Not in these books, at least. If you’re someone who enjoys thinking about how they’d fair in a zombie apocalypse or likes tales of resurrection, this is the category for you.

  • UNDEAD GIRL GANG – LILY ANDERSON: When Mila’s best friend Riley and two others die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe it was a suicide pact. And so, armed with a grimoire, she brings them back to life. Now with only 7 days until the spell ends, she’ll need to wrangle the undead teens long enough to discover the identity of their murderer.
  • WARM BODIES – ISAAC MARION: R is a zombie with no life or memory of who he was before he was undead. Then he meets Julie – a living girl who brings colour to his grey existence and who, after consuming the brains of her boyfriend, R can’t help but want to protect.
  • GIDEON THE NINTH – TAMSYN MUIR: In a galactic empire of 9 planets, each home to a House practicing a type of necromancy, the house heirs and their bodyguards are invited by the Emperor to undergo a difficult and deadly trial to become Lyctors – his immortal disciples and living saints. This should probably be in the witch category but necromancy, so…
  • WORLD WAR Z – MAX BROOKS: Max Brooks provides an “oral history” of survivors’ experiences during the zombie apocalypse. Told in a series of vignettes, the book travels the world, detailing people’s accounts from the first discovery of African Rabies through to The Great Panic and beyond.
  • THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS – M. R. CAREY: Set in a world in which a fungus turns human beings into mindless people eaters, Melanie and the children she goes to school with are special – while they are affected by the disease and eat human flesh, they retain their thoughts and emotions. Are they potentially a cure for humanity?
  • BRUJA BORN – ZORAIDA CORDOVA – After her boyfriend dies in a bus crash, Lula uses dark magic to bring him back. However, in doing so she turns all the bodies from the accident into casi muertos (creatures between living & dead). Now the only thing standing between them and freedom is Lula’s death.

Miscellaneous Monsters & Creatures

  • MONSTRUMOLOGIST – RICK YANCEY: In Victorian New England, orphan Will Henry is the assistant to Dr Warthrop, a man specialising in the study of monsters. The two are tasked with tracking down and removing a terrifying creature feeding on humans.
  • THIS SAVAGE SONG – V. E. SCHWAB: In the city of Verity, humanity’s darkest deeds result in the creation of monsters. Split into 2 independently controlled districts based on their approach to handling the monsters, there are fears the city will soon collapse into conflict.
  • A DEADLY EDUCATION – NAOMI NOVIK: At a school for mages with a low survival rate due to the constant influx of monster attacks, El Higgins does her best to survive the school year whilst keeping a handle on her talent for destructive (& potentially world ending) magic.
  • FRANKENSTEIN – MARY SHELLEY: Do I need to summarise this one? Consumed by ambition, Dr Victor Frankenstein builds a hideous creature out of human corpses and brings it to life. But which of the two is the true monster?

If I missed your favourite creature, I’m sorry! Really though, there were more I wish I could have included but this post was starting to verge on War & Peace levels already and we couldn’t have that.

What’s your favourite halloween-ish creature and what’s a book you enjoy that features it?

Last Year I Was Reading… | 17.09.20

In a surprising turn of events, we’re doing something different this week (woo!) and engaging in a little Throwback Thursday fun times. Maria @ReadingMaria came up with the cute idea of ‘Last Year I Was Reading’ in which you compare your current read to the book you were reading at the exact same time last year. You consider how they differ/are alike, which one you like better and mention any specific facts you feel like mentioning.

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City 1#) – Sarah J. Maas

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Here it is, my current read, in all of its 803 page, door-stopping glory. After powering through six romance novels in the first week of this month, I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t spend the rest of it tackling one of the bigger books on my TBR. HoEaB is an adult urban fantasy book full of fae, vampires, angels, shapeshifters and a bunch of other magical beings. The story revolves around a half-fae party girl named Bryce teaming up with a disgraced angel, Hunt, to investigate the brutal murders of Bryce’s friends. There’s magic, family drama, characters with plenty of baggage, a bit of violence, and romance typical of a Maas book.

At this point, I’m about 600 pages in and so far so…relatively good. It’s definitely a bigger book than it needed to be, the writing is questionable at points, and I’m still confused about elements of the world building. Still, for the most part, I’m enjoying it. I’ve heard that the last 200 pages get pretty crazy so I’m looking forward to finding out what happens.


The Institute – Stephen King

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In September of 2019 I was making my way through Stephen King’s newest release, The Institute – a sci-fi, fantasy, thriller mix. It involves a group of kids being abducted for their telepathic and telekinetic abilities and taken to a secret facility in Maine (it’s always Maine). Here, they undergo testing to enhance their powers for some mysterious reason before being sent to another part of the complex after which they are never seen again. This was King’s first book in a long time focusing on child characters, which he still writes fantastically. It was very well received, even scoring a win for best horror novel in the 2019 Goodreads choice awards (I wouldn’t consider it much of a horror book though).

I enjoyed The Institute but not as much as I did IT. The characters were certainly likeable and the story did build up to an action packed (if somewhat rushed) climax. Yet, the pacing was a bit too slow in some sections and the neatly packaged ending was disappointing. There was also something missing from it that I still can’t quite put my finger on.


These are two very different books so comparing them is tricky. They both involve fantasy elements I suppose but that’s where the similarities end – vastly different settings, characters, lengths and moods yet still enjoyable. Of the two, I would say that House of Earth and Blood is my preferred read but only because my love for magical creatures comes out just ahead of my obsession with humans with superpowers. I will say though that these are two books that could have had smaller page counts and improved story momentum in spots.

What book were you reading this time last year? Was it more or less enjoyable than your current read?

Books To Avoid During a Pandemic

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of lists centered around books that are perfect for occupying one’s time during the social isolation periods of a pandemic. There’s long books, uplifting books, gripping books, and everything in between. But what about books you SHOULDN’T read? Ones full of the world ending, awful viruses and infections, and post-apocalyptic wastelands. Probably not something people want to be thinking about at the moment, huh? So, why not look at a couple of them anyway?

The Stand – Stephen King

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I’m pretty sure a lot of people predicted this book would show up. Like IT, The Stand is a doorstopper of a read at over 1100 pages and is considered to be one of Stephen King’s best. The Stand is set in a post apocalyptic world in which 99% of the population has died as a result of a super flu. The scattered survivors end up drawn to two camps led by very different individuals. Nebraska is home to Abigail Freemantle, a 108 year old woman who supposedly receives visions from God. In Las Vegas, Randall Flagg reigns – a man with supernatural powers who thrives off death and destruction. It’s a story about the struggle between good and evil and how quickly things like human greed and corruption can flourish when allowed to do so.


Year One (Chronicles of the One 1#) – Nora Roberts

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Another book, another population murdering, world ending virus. However, if you like your apocalyptic stories mixed with fantasy, this is the one for you. In Year One, the plague (“The Doom”) is rooted in magic and after the decimation of humanity, magic starts to spring up rapidly among the immune survivors. Some fall on the light side of things – faeries, good witches, clairvoyants, etc. Then there are those gifted with dark powers who are interested in torture, rape and murder. To make matters worse, the government is also rounding up survivors in the hopes studying and testing them to determine the reason for their immunity. The book follows three groups of characters as they flee the city in search of safety and a new start.


Contagion – Erin Bowman

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Now for something different, Contagion is a YA sci-fi read. Much like in the movie Alien, this book involves a team from a small ship called ‘Odyssey’ responding to an SOS signal from a mining crew on a distant planet in the hopes of carrying out a search and rescue mission. When they arrive, they find a bunch of dead bodies, rotten food and an abandoned site. And so, as you’d expect, they try their best to find out what happened. The next thing they know, an unknown contagion has infected the crew with potentially catastrophic consequences if it gets out. Not exactly comfort reading in today’s climate, huh? Also, there may or may not be some space zombies and a fight for survival thrown in the mix.


Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

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Like The Stand, Station Eleven is a book which involves the wiping out of 99% of the population by means of a flu. In this case, “The Georgian Flu”. The book focuses on two timelines. The first details the lead up to the outbreak in which Arthur, a stage actor, is attempting to reboot his career by performing Shakespeare. Instead, he dies on stage and shortly after everything changes. The second skips forward into the future to follow the lives of several survivors and shows how they connect with one another through a group of actors and musicians called The Traveling Symphony. It’s a novel about nostalgia but also about just surviving versus actually living.


The Fireman – Joe Hill

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Time for a different sort of pandemic from your average flu – one that involves the spread of highly contagious spore which causes black and gold “scales” to appear across the skin prior to spontaneous human combustion. I guess Coronavirus doesn’t sound so bad after all… The story revolves around a nurse named Harper who, after contracting the spores, disregards a pact she made with her husband to kill themselves if they were ever infected. This is so she can hopefully live long enough to deliver her baby. When her community begins to devolve into chaos and her husband abandons her, Harper finds aid in the form of a mysterious figure known as The Fireman, who has somehow learned to control and use his Dragonscale affliction.


Blindness – José Saramago

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In Blindness, we, again, have a very different epidemic. The book begins with a man spontaneously losing his sight while waiting at a traffic light. He then sees a doctor to find an explanation for his condition who, after some time, also goes blind. All of a sudden, the city is rife with it, bright-white blindness spreading from one person to the next without warning. In an attempt to halt it, authorities confine those affected to an empty mental hospital where a criminal element soon takes over. Among it all, the doctor’s wife somehow retains her sight and does her best to look after those trapped but without revealing her unaffected vision. It’s a bleak view of society and a terrifying look at what people will do out of fear. Fun fact, this book won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.


The Maze Runner Series – James Dashner

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This might not apply to the first book as much because the full context for events doesn’t become apparent until further in. Still, the series as a whole fits this list. *major spoiler warning* In The Maze Runner books, the world has been affected by a man-made disease known as ‘The Flare’, intended to reduce the world’s population due to limited resources. Instead of eventually disappearing as planned, the disease mutated, became airborne and spread across the world, reducing those infected to savage, cannibalistic beings. In an attempt to combat it, the group WICKED was formed and began to conduct experiments on the small percentage of the population who were not affected by the The Flare (such as sticking them inside a ginormous maze), hoping their brain patterns/responses would reveal a path to a cure.


The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton

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A team is deployed to retrieve a military probe, recently returned to Earth after a mission to take samples from the outer fringes of space. They quickly become uncontactable. Then the aerial satellite images of the closest township, Pidemont, Arizona, come through – the entire population deceased, as if they simply dropped dead in the street. The government quickly initiates ‘Operation Wildfire’, putting a small group of scientists in a race to discover how to stop a deadly alien organism, needing only a few seconds incubation, before it becomes catastrophic. This is the book for those who love highly scientific and technical based reads.


Wilder Girls – Rory Power

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If the whole quarantine element is what keeps you up at night, maybe avoid Wilder Girls. Also, body horror, because there’s a fair bit of that here if you’re squeamish. The book is about a bunch of girls from a boarding school on an island off the coast of Maine being infected with some kind of crazy and painful, body altering disease called the Tox. The girls are kept isolated on the island where they’re forced to deal with limited supplies (ain’t no chance to go to the shops and panic buy here), bad weather and aggressive animal attacks. It’s dark, atmospheric and mysterious.


And there we have it, nine books to avoid reading during the current COVID-19 pandemic if you want to keep those anxiety levels and crazy dreams about the end of the world under control.

In all seriousness though, I hope you and your families are all doing well, staying safe and remaining isolated as much as you possibly can. As much as I like to joke about all this apocalyptic fiction type stuff, this is in no way our current predicament. Things may seem frightening, stressful, and lonely right now, but just know that you’re not alone. Despite all the darkness, things will be okay again. It’ll take some time, but we’ll get there. In the meantime, take up a new hobby, write that book you’ve been putting off, play Animal Crossing: New Horizons til your fingers cramp, whatever keeps you sane.

And most important of all, stay positive.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018 but Didn’t (Because I Suck)

There are so many books on a bookworm’s TBR in a given year. So. Many. And as the months progress, we add a whole bunch of new releases and discover books we should have read FOREVER ago. Before you know it, it’s towering over you and you’re facing the question of which book do you read next over and over and over again until you either die or the year ends. As you’d expect, this means that a lot of them are bound to get left out by the time you hit December. There’s only so much time!!! Once again, I ask, WHERE IS MY TIMETURNER?

Anyway, here are 10 books that didn’t make it onto my 2018 reading challenge (some may not have even made it onto my 2017 challenge…awkward…) but let’s cross our fingers and hope they have better luck this year. I mean, it’s a 50%-50% chance – unless of course it’s over 500 pages, then it’s more like a 20% chance of getting read.

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The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

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REASON: It’s a pretty decent size meaning transporting it will be difficult. It’s also an expansive, new fantasy world with a whole lot of new world building details so I really need to be in the mood for it.

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Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

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REASON: I need to re-read Strange the Dreamer first because my memory sucks and I’m worried I’ll start it and then go, ‘what is this’, ‘who is that’, ‘when did that happen’ over and over until it’s over.

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What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

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REASON: No idea. I just kept picking other YA contemporaries to start instead. I think maybe I might also have lost a bit of momentum after I read some mixed reviews.

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Saga, Vol. 2 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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REASON: I really need to sit down and read through this in the space of an afternoon. It’s not something you bring on the train (blood & boobs might make for some awkward morning trips). So my lame excuse is that I never made the time for it when I should have. Too busy doing gosh knows what.

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Winter (The Lunar Chronicles 4#) – Marissa Meyer

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REASON: I really want to buy this in hardback to match my copies of Scarlet and Cress (we’re just ignoring the fact that Cinder is a paperback). Unfortunately, that means I have to order it online on Book Depository and IT NEVER SEEMS TO COME DOWN IN PRICE. Basically I’m waiting until my wallet won’t hurt getting it.

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The Song Rising – Samantha Shannon

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REASON: I managed to do my reread of The Bone Season but didn’t make it to The Mime Order. This means, once again, I didn’t make it to The Song Rising. Once I reread book two I can go into this one with all the facts fresh. Damn, memory. Then again, at this point the time between rereads for books one and two is probably getting so long that I’ll be lost anyway. *sigh*

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The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

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REASON: I didn’t buy this one until the last few months of 2018 so I think maybe I just had other priorities? Not sure. I’ll get there.

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City of Glass – Cassandra Clare

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REASON: Okay, I’m very, very slowly working my way through Cassie Clare’s books again. One day far, far into the future (as it’s looking now) I’ll be able to read Lady Midnight and actually have a clue what’s happening. CoG & CoFA will be rereads but the rest will be new (I gave up on the series previously). I did reread books 1 & 2 in 2017 but progress has stagnated since then. Still, I’m expecting a resurgence in 2019. Here I come The Dark Artifices!!

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The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus 4#) – Rick Riordan

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REASON: In my defence, I did read like 5 Riordan books in 2018 so it’s not such a big deal that I didn’t get to this one. I read books 2 & 3 in The Heroes of Olympus series back to back so I needed a teensy break before moving forward. I also need to buy it and because I like the US covers better, once again I need to order it.

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Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King

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REASON: Have you seen this book? It’s so big it makes paperweights cry. I have other enormous books on my bedside table that I need to finish first before I can even think about dealing with this brick. I want to but it’s going to take some time.

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Which books missed out on being added to your 2018 reading challenge? 


For Top 10 Tuesday topics, see Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Tuesday: Backlist Books I Want to Read

I’mmmmm backkkk! It’s been about a month and here I am again, ready to get stuck into some Top Ten Tuesday fun.

Is it just me, or are there about a zillion and one amazing looking books released every few months? I go to cross one anticipated release off my TBR list only to find I have to add five more to it. For this reason, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in new releases and neglect the poor book babies which have been angrily screaming, ‘You promised to read me last month’ for about five years.

I also need to consider that every so often I find my reading tastes and interests change or expand a little. This tends to open my eyes up to a whole bunch of amazing books from years ago which I may not have been aware of before. For example, I only really started getting into YA contemporaries last year which means I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of the super popular books in that category.

Here are ten books published at least 2 years ago which I’d like to read at some point:

Image result for siege and stormSiege & Storm – Leigh Bardugo (2013)

I now own all three books, and having finally done my re-read of Shadow and Bone at the end of October, I’m planning to push on to Siege & Storm soon. I’m looking forward to finally getting a proper introduction to Nikolai, who people can’t seem to discuss without swooning. I didn’t mind book one but I wasn’t in love with it. Still, I’m willing to give the rest of the series a go because 1) Leigh is awesome and 2) I’d really like to read King of Scars when it comes out.

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Related imageFangirl – Rainbow Rowell (2013)

As I mentioned above, I only jumped on the YA contemporary bandwagon last year so I’m still working my way through the so called holy grail books of the genre. Fangirl seems to be one of them. Weirldy enough, I’ve already read Carry On which came after (and only because of) this book so it’ll be interesting reading the fan fiction sections. Hopefully I find it as cute and relatable as people (constanty) keep saying it is. I mean, I am a bit of a hermit and I have written fan fiction so the odds are in its favour.

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28165439The Long Walk – Richard Bachman aka. Stephen King (1979)

I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled across this one. I think I may have been googling lists of the best Stephen King books? (Totally normal bookworm behaviour, of course). This one peaked my interest. It’s about a race in which 100 boys have to keep walking above a certain speed for as long as possible. They have three warnings and if they exceed them, they get murdered. Winner gets whatever their heart desires. It sounds super dark but really compelling. It’s also a reasonable length, unlike some of King’s more famous pieces, but then again, he published this one under a pseudonum. I’m hoping it’s an interesting read.

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10576365The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken (2012)

I’ve mentioned this one on some other lists recently so apologies for being an uncreative and repetitious dork. I was never super motivated to actually read TDM until the movie came out but everyone raves about these books so I think I need to find out what the fusss is about. Also POWERS. I LOVE POWERS! I’m hoping to find some loveable characters but I’m a little worried about the book just feeling like every other dystopian YA I’ve read. I also tend to get bored with over the top military/government organisation involvement in certain kinds of stories so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen with this one.

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16069030The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski (2014)

This series seems to come up a lot in YA fantasy/dystopian circles, especially when people are talking favourite ships. I’ll admit, the books look a little trashy – the covers give me some serious The Selection vibes (which my guilty pleasure lovin’ self had sooooo much fun with) and I’m worried there will be a heap of tropes, instalove and a lack of proper development. STILL my curious brain cannot be dissuaded. I have to do it. I’m hoping they end up being as enjoyable as everyone says. If so, they’re short reads and they’ll look gorgeous in my bookshelf, triple win!!

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10626594The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater (2011)

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been in the bookstore, picked this one up, thought about buying it and then decided to hold off. The plot sounds really exciting (intense live-or-die race involving water horses? Um, Yes!) and I’ve heard a heap of good things about it (it’s slow but really atmospheric and poignant). Plus, it’s a standalone so no need to wait years for pesky sequels which may or may not live up to expectations. I may not always adore Maggie’s books but I have to admit that she always has interesting characters and concepts.

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943402Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist (2009)

I’ve been curious about this one ever since I saw the american adaptation years back. I’ve now seen both the Swedish and US versions so I’d really like to read the source material to see how it compares. After how romanticised vampires have become in literature over the years, it’ll be cool to read something with a darker, scarier, and more violent approach towards them. I’ve heard it’s quite intense and creepy so it should be a good change of pace.

 

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Image result for the name of the windThe Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss (2007)

I’ve been putting this one off for a very long time for three reasons. First, it’s not a small book  and 2018 Ashley seems to find that frightening. Second, I’ve heard it takes some time to really grab you. Third, it’s taking Rothfuss FOREVER to write the series, and who needs that pain and suffering in their life? However, pretty much everyone who loves fantasy has really enjoyed this series and I’m looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about. Please don’t end up being boring and disappointing.

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Image result for the well of ascensionThe Well of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson (2007)

I’ve had this book in my bookcase for a few years now and I keep putting it off because I know I’ll need to re-read The Final Empire before I read it. My memory is basically swiss cheese these days and I remember nothing about book one. Okay, nothing other than the fact that the magic system is super cool and that Sanderson actually surprised me by killing off a major character before the climax. This is another series everyone who loves the fantasy genre gushes about. I enjoyed the first book and it’ll be interesting to see where the series goes after how it ended. Sanderson is a really amazing writer so it’ll be nice to get some more exposure to him.

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Image result for since you've been goneSince You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson (2011)

Morgan Matson is another one of those YA contemporary authors that people seem to really enjoy. I read the blurb of this one and though it’d be a great choice for my first book of hers. The cover gives me such Summer vibes so don’t be surprised if this one shows up on a summer reads related post later on. I really love reading about well written female friendships in books and it seems ike Since You’ve Been Gone will have one at it’s core. Give me some cute moments and make me feel all the feelings, pretty please!


What are some of the backlist books sitting on your TBR at the moment? Why haven’t you gotten around to them yet? Perhaps you’re like me and keep getting distracted by shiny, pretty new releases! 

Top 10 Tuesday: Books by my Favourite Authors, and Authors with the Potential to Become Favourites, that I Still Haven’t Read

After thinking about this week’s TTT topic for some time, I came to the rather bizarre conclusion that unlike my teenage self, adult me does not have that many favourite authors. *jaw drop* Why, you ask? Well, while I do read a lot of books, I’ve noticed that they seem to come from a much wider array of different authors than they used to. In other words, I don’t read enough books from particular authors for them to BECOME favourites. You can see why this would be problematic for a list like this.  Then there’s the other issue that for some of my favourite authors I don’t actually have any books (already released, that is) still to read.

SO.

To make up the numbers I’ve decided to extend this list to also include authors that I’ve read something from and would like to see more of. In other words, books I’m keen to read by authors with the potential to become favourites. Let’s get stuck in.


Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King

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I’ve read a few of King’s novels now and largely enjoyed them. I bought this brick of a book (typical SK) shortly after it came out but I still haven’t tackled it. I’m expecting it won’t happen until I hit a holiday period but I’m definitely still determined to get there. There have been some mixed reviews on this one but the blurb continues to suck me in.

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Image result for the storyteller jodi picoultThe Storyteller – Jodi Picoult

During my high school years I consumed Jodi Picoult novels like a machine but I haven’t read one for some time (not for any particular reason though). They’re always emotionally crushing but I just love how well done her characters are. Plus I respect her willingness to tackle some really heavy issues through her writing. This one relates to WWII German history and with an average goodreads rating of 4.27 I’m expecting it to be a great one to get me back on board with her books.

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Image result for the archivedThe Archived – Victoria Schwab

Schwaby. How I adore you. I’ve had this one on my GR to-read shelf for what feels like FOREVER and I still haven’t got there. With the recent release of both The Archived books in one release, The Dark Vault, I’ve been reminded of just how much I want to read this one. I mean, it’s set in a library, that should be enough alone.

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Image result for one true loves taylor jenkins reidOne True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I completely fell in love with Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo last month and I’m now determined to read some of her other novels. One True Loves is considered to be one of Reid’s best novels so I’m hoping lightning strikes twice. It’s a completely different story from Evelyn Hugo but I’m expecting to find more beautifully done characters and great writing. A woman whose husband dies in a helicopter crash and turns up alive years later after she’s already remarried? I’m ready for ALL the emotions!

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Image result for the song risingThe Song Rising (The Bone Season 3#) – Samantha Shannon

Here’s another one that’s been on my shelf for ages. I really want to read it but I’m being held up by the fact that I need to do a re-read of The Mime Order first to ensure I know what the hell is going on. At this rate Sam’s enormous tome The Priory of the Orange Tree (which also looks great) will be released before I finally read The Song Rising. Get cracking, Ashley!

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9275658Legend – Marie Lu

At this point I’ve only read Marie’s Warcross duology but after these two, I’m very keen to see more. Her Legend series seems to be extremely popular and has quite a high average GR rating, so I’m thinking this will be the one I tackle. However I am a little bit worried about it including a too quickly developed romance.

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12983171I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella

Sophie is another author that I used to read a lot of back in the day but haven’t for some time. Her books are light contemporaries which are always a bit of fun. They make me laugh and are great pick me ups when you’re feeling down. Sure, some of it gets repetitive from time to time but this one sounds cute anyway. The concept here is that the MC, Poppy, finds a lost phone which happens to belong to the ex-PA of cute businessman, Sam. Poppy starts trying to manage Sam’s life using the phone and as you can imagine, hijinks ensue.  Cue romance.

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Image result for unwind neal shustermanUnwind – Neal Shusterman

Picking up Scythe by Mr Shusterman earlier this year was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in 2018 and the sequel, Thunderhead, was pretty damn awesome as well. NS’s worldbuilding skils are amazing and by the looks of the synopsis for Unwind, Scythe wasn’t just a fluke. The plot of this one sounds fascinatingly creepy and I’m extremely intrigued. The idea that teens between the ages of 13 and 18 can be simply killed and their organs shuffled on to other people without their consent sounds terrifying. Bring it on.

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28421168Renegades – Marissa Meyer

I could just as easily have put Winter here but I’ve gone with Renegades. I’ve read the first three books in Marissa’s The Lunar Chronicles series and have had a great time with them. I think she’s great at balancing more dramatic writing against humour and her ideas are wonderfully creative. For this reason I’m really looking forward to reading more from her, especially since this one sounds epic.

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37922797Iron Gold (Red Rising 4#) – Pierce Brown

Yes, I know, I know. I keep bringing this one up because I still haven’t gone back and finished it. The bloody thing has been sitting on my bedside table with a bookmark in it at about page 200 since April. APRIL for crying out loud. I love this series and Pierce’s writing is amazing so I know I’ll get there eventually but when, that’s always the question.


Which books by your favourite authors are you yet to read? And which authors are you eager to see more from?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Quotes

Look at me, actually doing the set topic on the week it’s scheduled. Shock. Horror! Let’s get the usual out of the way: TTT is a weekly meme that was created by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish but it’s now run by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

I don’t usually keep a record of quotes I like from books so I had to do a bit of searching for this topic and the books I’ve read recently definitely were fresher in my memory. At first I couldn’t decide whether to go with quotes I love in general, meaning the list could  potentially include ones that crack me up because they’re so hilarious, or whether it should just be ones that are meaningful to me or beautifully written. I’ve decided to go with the latter. So here are a couple of bookish quotes that I quite like and I hope you do too.

1

“I am haunted by humans.” – Death

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

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2

“I place my hands over her ears and tip her head back, and kiss her, and try to put my heart into hers, for safekeeping, in case I lose it again.” – Henry deTamble

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

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3

“He came. He left. Nothing else had changed. I had not changed. The world hadn’t changed. Yet nothing would be the same. All that remains is dreammaking and strange remembrance”. – Elio

Call me by your Name – Andre Aciman

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4

“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.” – Simon Spier

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

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5

“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”

Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

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6

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling

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7

“We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”

It – Stephen King

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8

“..what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.” – Katniss Everdeen

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

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9

“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” – Julia Romana

My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult

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10

“Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon . . . is not the dragon the hero of his own story?” – Alexander H.

The Night Circus – Erin MorgensternDivider

What are some of your favourites?

Love Ashley

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Villains, Criminals & Other Nasties

As usual, TTT is a weekly meme by the The Broke and the Bookish and it’s currently on hiatus so that means picking whatever takes my fancy from the list of previous topics. This week I’m doing villains. In no particular order here are some of what I consider to be the best:

Voldemort (Harry Potter Series –  J. K. Rowling)

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Snake-like face, soul split into multiple pieces in order to cheat death, set on murdering teenagers year after year… yep, as if I wasn’t going to put him on this list.

Ramsey Bolton (A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin)

I’d wager that when you think about the crappiest of the Song of Ice and Fire villains your mind either jumps to a) Joffrey Baratheon or b) this little shit:

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When your favourite past times include flaying, raping, dismemberment, and feeding people to your dogs, you definitely deserve a spot on a top 10 villains list.

It or Pennywise (It – Stephen King)

Books don’t usually manage to scare me, but I’ll admit that for most of this novel I was a little bit nervous. If you aren’t afraid of clowns, this’ll help you understand why someone could be. A creepy, clown shaped, ancient entity that can make your worst fears a reality and spends his time eating children…

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Nope. Nope. Nope. I’m out.

Amy Dunn (Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn)

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I wish I could find a better way to describe Amy than this, but here it is: This bitch be crazy. Like verging on sociopath material. In a book full of shades of grey characters, it’s saying something that Amy’s able to stand out. I won’t say much about the why and how because SPOILERS but trust me, she belongs here for a reason.

The Darkling (Shadow & Bone – Leigh Bardugo)

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This is probably one of the few likeable villains on my list. And by likeable I mean I actually sat around thinking: if this guy basically succeeded in killing everyone else in the book right now, I’d probably be cool with that. That is some solid charisma right there. I can’t even explain it, he’s evil. Really, really evil. But do I like him more than the love interest? Yep, 100%.

Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket)

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Count Olaf isn’t what you’d call a successful villain but you do have to give him points for determination. No matter how many times he’s defeated by three intelligent orphans, he’s back at it in the next book with another not so brilliant plan, a terrible disguise, and and high levels of self-confidence.

 

Annie (Misery – Stephen King)

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The second of the two King villains on this list. Anyone who will smash your legs with a sledgehammer to get you to write a novel, uses individual hairs as a security system, and can survive being hit in the head with a typewriter is someone to be very, very afraid of. Annie is, to put it bluntly, freakin’ crazy.

Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal – Thomas Harris)

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I love intelligent villains. Sure, crazy ones are fun on occasion but having a villain that actually poses a challenge for the hero in more than just a physical sense is fantastic. Hannibal is a great example of this. He’s articulate, calculating, suave, and well, happens to be a cannibal. While he’s not actually the central villain of either of these novels, there’s never a moment when you’re not wondering exactly what’s going on inside his head and suspecting that it’s something sinister.

The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis)

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Anyone who can manage to turn sweets into something dodgy is bad news in my books. Sure, there’s the turning people into ice sculptures, killing Aslan, stopping the change of seasons and well, kind of removing all joy from the world, but honestly, for me, her biggest act of villainy is probably stopping Christmas from ever happening. How dare she! I LOVE Christmas.

The Witch King of Angmar (The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien)

So originally I was going to put Sauron in this spot but then I realised that he kind of does stuff all and just sits around on his fiery butt while everyone else does all the work for him. And then we have this guy…

 lotr lord of the rings nazgul witch king of angmar GIF

Head of the Nazgul, rides a massive dragon-like creature, almost kills Frodo with a poisoned blade, wields a mace like a nutjob, and is just generally creepy as all hell. No man can kill this guy. Lucky we had Eowyn.