11 Scary Books To Read For Halloween

Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down. I love dressing up and playing around. I love handing out candy. I love horror movies and scary books.

I was looking back and realized I’ve never done a Halloween book list. How is that even possible?

I have no idea, but I’m fixing it now.

In no particular order, 11 fun and scary books:

Unknown-5Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King

This is classic vampire horror set in a claustrophobically small town. As more people become vampires, a small group needs to figure out how to survive. The body count is high and the vampires are nasty. If you’ve never read it, it’s held up to the test of time pretty well.

Unknown-10The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

It’s a terrifying story about a haunted house, and demonstrates beautifully how an author can use a reader’s imagination against them.


Rebecca, by Daphne duMarier

It’s a classic for a reason. The unnamed narrator is stuck in a creepy house with the shadow of her husband dead first wife and a housekeeper who hates her. What really happened to Rebecca?


Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris

The Silence of the Lambs gets more love, but I found the first novel in the series to be the creepiest. A serial killer is killing families, and Will Graham has come out of retirement to hunt him. Alternating between Graham’s point of view and the serial killer’s, the book ups the tension until the terrifying climax.

Unknown-7Hell House, by Richard Matheson

This book combines two of my favorite things, haunted houses and psychological horror. Not only do people go into this house voluntarily to investigate creepy things, but the house begins to attack their sanity.

Unknown-1The Girl From the Well, by Rin Chupeco (YA)

Okiku is a restless spirit who kills people who kill children. She’s single-minded and perpetually furious. But then she meets Tark, a teenaged boy whose body contains a barely contained evil spirit. Okiku decides to help him fight this spirit contained inside him. This is more creepy than terrifying, but it is fantastic.

Unknown-6House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski

Reading this book is a serious commitment.  Not only does it clock in at 705 pages, but it’s also got footnotes, pages that need to be turned to be read, and other weird things. It’s a crazy story of a guy who finds a manuscript referring to a haunted house that gets larger than it should be, and what happened to a family who tried to investigate their new house. The manuscript says it really happened, but as Johnny tries to find out more about if the haunted house really existed, he becomes more obsessed with the manuscript and begins to lose his mind. It’s crazy and creepy and a fantastic reading experience.

Unknown-2Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (YA)

It’s a YA anthology of short stories. Many of the stories are creepy and pull zero punches. It’s good, solid horror that runs the gamut from bloody to psychological (and some of the best stories had both).

Unknown-4The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black (YA)

When Tana wakes up after a party, she finds everyone there dead except for a chained up vampire and her ex-boyfriend (who’s been bitten). For reasons she can’t even fully understand, she rescues them both and takes them to Coldtown, where vampires have been quarantined. The vampires there have their own TV show, and while the present a glamorous, sexy face to the world, the truth is that their world is just as bloody and terrible as you’d expect from a bunch of vampires.


And the Trees Crept In, by Dawn Kurtagich (YA)

Like House of Leaves, this is another book written in an odd style, with journal entries and odd formatting. When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s house, all they know is that they were fleeing from their abusive father. They didn’t know that the house was cursed or their aunt was crazy. After their aunt retreats to the attic, Silla and Nori try to keep the land going, but nothing grows. And the trees are creeping closer. It’s magnificently creepy, especially if you live surrounded by trees, as I do.


The Mask, by Dean Koontz

When Jane ran out in front of Carol’s car and had no memory of where she came from, Carol and Paul immediately feel connected to her, and take her in. But as strange things begin happening, they realize that maybe there’s more to Jane than they originally thought.


Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I could do an entire list of just Stephen King books. And I left off all the classics, like Dracula and Frankenstein because those are too obvious.

What are your favorite scary books?

Sexy Costumes

Yep, that's me.  Halloween 2011.

Yep, that’s me. Halloween 2011.

When I was in my 20’s, I dressed in some sexy costumes.  Who doesn’t use Halloween as an excuse to step a little out of the comfort zone?  However, I really think the “sexy” costumes are getting a little out of hand.  (Is this me being old?)  Halloween is a FALL holiday, and I’m seeing costumes that don’t cover much more than a bathing suit’s worth of flesh.  Is freezing really sexy?  No one has ever said to me, “Those goosebumps look great on you.”

Plus, what happened to being scary or having fun?  Sexy and nurse go together, but sexy and Freddie Krueger??  (Freddie is a burned up weirdo… just sayin’.)  He’s supposed to be scary.  He murders people!  I think it’s cool to dress up like him because I love the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.  But to make scary be sexy (unless you’re being ironic or sardonic) seems just odd to me.  Like writing to convicted murderers looking for romance.  And a sexy nun?  I’m not religious, but that just seems disrespectful.

I guess it all boils down to what Halloween is about for you.  For me it’s a time to watch scary movies, dress up and have a lot of fun.  I like to look good but I don’t have to be “sexy.”  I like ghosts and witches and vampires and Freddy and Jason.  I like giving out candy and smelling pumpkin and apple spice.  I like when it gets too cold to wear skimpy clothes and when leaves crunch under my feet.  I love going to haunted houses and getting the jolt of fear, just for a second.

I don’t like freezing various parts of my anatomy off or having to worry that if I bend over, I’ll be showing off parts I prefer to keep covered.  The bottom line is that Halloween is for fun, and should be about whatever is fun for you.

This year, I’m dressing up as a sugar skull.  I can’t wait to see how my makeup turns out.

While we’re on the subject of sexy costumes: Here’s a link to men dressing up in sexy Halloween costumes.  I love this one.

Here’s another one to 32 sexy costumes that don’t really make sense.  I agree with many of them.  I just shook my head and wondered why.  Especially the crayon.  Who ever looked at a crayon and thought, “I’d hit that?”

So what’s your vote on Halloween costumes?  Sexy or not?  And do you find anything skimpy to be sexy, or does it have to make sense?

Home-made Halloween

You can't see the spiders in this picture, but I assure you... they're there!

You can’t see the spiders in this picture, but I assure you… they’re there!

Halloween is my absolute most favorite holiday.  I love everything about it.  I love that it happens in fall, when it’s cool and crisp but not cold.  I love horror movies and people trying to “scare” me.  I love the costumes, and I love wearing black.  The only thing I don’t love is the candy.  (Yes, I know.  But give me french fries over candy any day.  Hey… holiday idea… something involving the consumption of french fries! But I digress…)

I started to think about my costume this year.  Every year for the past several years, I’ve wanted to be Alice in Wonderland, either the Disney version or a Steampunk version.  And every year, by the time I go costume shopping, the selection of Plus sized costumes is extremely limited.

I realized that I have never owned a store bought costume.  Never.  Not in over three decades of dressing up.  I’ve never gone to Wal-Mart or Target or the Spirit store and actually purchased an entire costume.  I’ve purchased props, like a witch’s hat, a wig, wings, fangs, makeup, craft items, or shoes.  But never a full costume.  I’m not sure why that is.  Honestly, I don’t remember ever wanting a store bought costume.  Most of the fun was in making up the costume, piecing together different things and coming up with something unique.

I’ve been lots of things over the years.  Last year I was a spider spirit, with netting sewn all over a skirt and an old black shirt, spiders hot glued on my webs.  I’ve been a witch, a vampire, a hippy, a devil, a black cat, and probably many other things I’m not remembering.  One of my proudest costumes was in high school, at a party I got a pity invite to.  It was a costume party, but I was the only person who showed up.  I used fake blood all over a white lab coat, smeared my face with purple eye shadow, and made up my lips and eyes with black lipstick.

Realizing this, I finally understand why I haven’t been able to find the perfect Alice in Wonderland costume… I haven’t made it yet!  I don’t know if it’s going to happen this year or not.  But when it does, it’s going to be great.

Do you make or buy your costumes?  What was your personal favorite costume ever?

30 Days of Gratitude- Day 1

IMG_1476Day 1 of the 30 Days of Gratitude Project. 1. I’m grateful that I had such a wonderful Halloween/ Anniversary yesterday. Nearly perfect days like that don’t come along all that often. 2. I’m grateful for my strong body that allows me to do everything I need/ want to do. 3. I’m grateful I have a job and partner I love, so that going to work isn’t something I dread!

Oh, That’s Scary!

Happy Halloween, people!  It’s my most favorite holiday.  What’s not to like?  Costumes, candy, people acting ridiculous and the more ridiculous, the better.

I love horror movies and horror stories, but very little scares me.  I seldom get that lovely shot of adrenaline.  Even in haunted houses, I mostly just laugh.  A few years ago, I went to a haunted house with a friend who doesn’t do “horror.”  She told me afterward (after she screamed and bruised my arm with her iron grip) that her brain shuts off and she no longer “thinks” about how it isn’t real.  My brain never does that.  My brain always knows it isn’t real and probably couldn’t happen.

There are some movies that scared me though: The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Rec.  I almost liked The Ring until (SPOILER ALERT)  the bad guy turned out to be a kid.  I mean, seriously??

Books that scare me: The Shining by Stephen King, The Mask by Dean Koontz, and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

So it got me to thinking about what scares me, what would make good elements in a horror story.

First, for me, it’s important that the monster isn’t something that is tangible.  If you can see it, touch it, kill it with a gun or knife, then it’s probably not scary to me.

Second, the paranormal scares me more than reality.  With something paranormal, it doesn’t play by the same rules that govern you or I, so it’s less predictable.  Less predictable is more scary.

Third, psychological horror is WAY scarier than blood and gore, but a good combination of both goes further than either one alone.  The suggestion of horror is better than stating it, but if the tension builds and builds with no pay off, it generally feels like a rip off.  Essential elements of psychological horror are suspense , anticipation, and dread.

Fourth, characters the reader cares about.  If the reader doesn’t care about the characters, their situation won’t affect the reader the way the writer intends.

Happy Halloween, and happy horror writing!

Gateway To Hell



Halloween has sure come a long way since its origin.  All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, was thought to be the one night of the year when the barrier between the living and dead was the thinnest.  People dressed up in costumes to fool spirits into believing that they were one of them, and therefore the spirits wouldn’t bother them.

Some people still believe that on Halloween, the 7 gateways of Hell open up.  One of these places is Stull Cemetery in Kansas.  Odd things have rumored to happen over the years.  In the last 10 years or so, no one is allowed near the cemetery at midnight, supposedly to reduce vandalism.  However, in 1999, a group of reporters went to the cemetery near midnight on Halloween to film what would (or wouldn’t) happen.  At around 11:30 p.m., they were told they had to leave.  My guess is that the reporters weren’t going to destroy anything… so what were the caretakers trying to hide?  It does make me wonder…


‘Tis the Season… To Be Frightened!

Halloween season is back!  For me, it’s a month-long celebration with decorating and finding the best haunted houses.  Arizona has been rather disappointing in the haunted house department.  I found one last year that was fun, but not particularly frightening.

I’m pretty psyched that this year, AZ has one that’s made the list.  It’s called 13th floor, and I can’t wait to try it out.

This year, I’m going back East to Pennsylvania so that I can more fully enjoy the season.  I’m hitting my perennial favorite: Shocktoberfest in Sinking Spring.  I’m also going to try Eastern State Penitentiary.  I’ve been there for a daytime tour, and it was pretty creepy then.  I have high hopes for the Halloween tour.

I’ve included a couple lists to help you find your own Halloween adventure.



Halloween Hangover

The sad little candy wrappers are still sitting on my coffee table and the buzz of a good haunted house lingers.  We’ve watched horror movies this month until they’re coming out my ears.  Today is November 1.  What do I do now?  Halloween is over, and I’m not quite ready for it to be yet.  I’ve gained a couple pounds from all my celebratory activities this weekend, but now it’s time to get back to real life.  I’m not going to be ready to take down my Halloween decorations until Thanksgiving, and I dread going into stores today as I know they’ll have Christmas decorations up as if Halloween never existed.

Of course, I’ll still be playing spooky music today.  (On my iPod, since apparently the radio doesn’t play Halloween type music the way they play Christmas music… probably starting today).  I’ll still be reading horror and probably watch at least a few more scary movies until I convince myself that the season’s over.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop watching… It just means that I’ll be out of denial and accept that November has arrived.

Costume Comedy

Love him or hate him, Stephen Colbert is a fountain of interesting ideas.  Personally, I think he’s hilarious.  But then, I like most people who are satirical.  He’s come up with a new website: http://www.spookyordooky.com/.  Basically, people upload costumes and people vote if they’re spooky or dooky.  They run the gamut from things that are actually scary, like zombies, all the way to things that are “true to life” scary, like Octomom.  If you need costume ideas or just a good laugh, this is a great website to check out.

Have fun!