Discussion: Finding the Perfect Scary Book

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I love a good horror story. It’s really no secret. Every single year when the Halloween season rolls around, I’m on the search for all things scary — books, movies. I want to be looking under the bed for monsters, I want to jump at noises, and I want to be wary of looking over my shoulder when reading something scary.

I know, I’m a little weird.

But what makes a good horror book? Is it the characters? The setting? The build-up? The suspense? In all of my searches, I have yet to find something that is truly scary and I tend to chalk that up to the fact that horror books don’t have soundtracks.

Right?

Pop in any good horror movie and I’m sure you will be scared by the eerie music in the background … BUT turn that music off and I bet it’s not so scary. I’m like that when I pop in The Shining. It TERRIFIES me to watch it, but if it’s on in the background on mute, I’m totally fine with it.

When it comes to books, there can be suspense, but real life is also going on all around you. Right at the build-up point where you can feel the hair on your arms start to stand on edge, someone might ask you about dinner, the phone might ring, or your stomach might let you know it needs a snack.

Real life can be a suspense killer when it comes to reading a scary book.

But just imagine — if there was a soundtrack, something to set the mood, MAYBE a book would be scarier.

Of course, maybe I don’t find certain books scary because of all the detail that is included in books. When you watch a scary movie, we see everything play out with our eyes (obviously). We don’t have to read all the detail of the setting or what the character is doing.

And maybe, it can be a case of wandering eyes, something I am SO guilty of when reading. You know how authors like to put those mini-cliffhangers at the end of chapters? Well, if I’m on the page on the left and the chapter ends on the right, at least 8 out of 10 times, I’ll glance over to the right-hand side to just see what’s happening next.

Again, instant suspense killer.

Maybe I’m just destined to never be scared by a book, or maybe there’s nothing out there that’s all that scary. Or maybe movies have ruined scary reading for me. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to just open my mind when I’m reading something scary, trying to not overthink the book, and really trying to just get into the story. For me, the scariest horror books (well, the scariest to me) are the ones with a spooky setting — like a mental asylum, or a tiny island — with characters who are apt to looking over their shoulder for creepy things. I don’t find gore all that scary, but if you put in ghosts and psychological thrillers, you may have me scared.

What makes a good horror book? Are there any books that surprised you with how scary they were? 

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Discussion: The Great Series Debate

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I’m pretty sure that I’ve talked about series books MANY MANY times on the blog. There are a lot of series books out there, it almost seems like everything has to be a series book these days. It’s not just paranormal romance reads, oh no! ANY book, it seems, can be turned into a series. But are there too many out there?

What makes a good series?

For me, I love a series where I can pick up ANY book in the series, read it, and feel content. I like books where there’s a new and exciting situation happening in each installment, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. I like to have a definite beginning and a definite resolution.

What makes a BAD series?

You know how people talk about the dreaded second book syndrome? That is what makes a bad series. Personally, a bad series is where the beginning is the first book and the resolution is the last book, with some filler in the middle. It’s terrible when you read a second book in a trilogy and it feels like a second book, like the middle of a stand-alone book. Not much happens to really engage the reader and the book just happens, rather than excites.

So why are there so many series books …

Honestly, I have NO idea why everything must be a series these days.

There are some authors that continue series books well past their prime, including spin-off after spin-off until the series is done until death, rather than ending on a high note. Then there are some series that are brilliant from start to finish, where each book brings something exciting to the series. They’re either related by a certain place or element, but with different characters or storylines in each book, OR we get to learn more of the characters as the book continues on — but the same thing still remains, the book can stand alone and has a definite beginning, middle, and end.

The series debate is something I think about often — especially when I’m adding a new book I just bought to my lists on Goodreads only to see it’s part of a series. There are so many series books out there these days that I’m usually more apt to buy something that ISN’T part of a series just so I can read that one book and be done.

There’s also the problem of a series being broken up between three really short books. Is this a YA thing? Do authors think that attention spans can’t handle a longer book? Or is it the publisher? Are publishers asking for more series books?

Either way, it is of my opinion that series books are kind of being done to death — especially in the YA category. I’d rather see an author branch out with each book, writing new things that excite me, rather than sticking with the same old, same old.

Do you think there are too many series books out there these days? Why do you think everything is becoming a series? 

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Discussion: Love triangles, insta-love, and other love-related things that irk me in YA

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I love a good YA read — especially a good ROMANTIC read. I love a YA book that makes me feel all the butterflies I’ve felt in my stomach for some of my first loves — and still feel for my husband these days.

BUT when I think of romance in YA books, I sometimes don’t think about the boy or the girl, or the first kiss, or the awkwardness — instead, I think about the insta-love and the all-encompassing type of love such young people are feeling.

Insta-Love & All Encompassing Love

LOTS of people have griped about insta-love in YA books. While I do agree that I may had felt infatuated with someone when I was that young, I have to admit that it just doesn’t seem normal. Are books teaching kids that it’s okay to just immediately dive head first into love and to want to give EVERYTHING to someone so soon? To think that the first love of your life is your soul mate?

Yes, I know that this DOES happen, but it seems like it happens in LOTS of YA books. Is it a realistic thing that should be written about often?

Love Triangles

Another romance thing I see in YA books is the love triangle. Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m SURE a love triangle has happened at some point for some people, but it seems like it happens in MOST YA books nowadays. I don’t think I ever encountered a love triangle when I was growing up, but it feels like YA books show young people that a love triangle is the norm. Would it be wrong, then, if you’re NOT part of a love triangle? I mean, some people just can’t find that ONE person until out of high school — would books with love triangles make them feel different because they haven’t been able to find at least ONE love?

Love triangles happen way too often in books, in my opinion, and if I don’t think of myself, I really haven’t encountered that many youths who are constantly part of one. Is a love triangle a realistic thing? Or can it be something that we can do without in most books? Is it just a tension creator?

When it comes down to it, I’m sure that everyone is picky about the romance in their books and maybe I wouldn’t gripe about it as much if I were talking about an adult read. That might make me seem judgemental and biased, but insta-love, all encompassing love, and love triangles just doesn’t seem to be that realistic to me when I think about YA books.

For me, I much prefer a slow build kind of love in my YA romance — something that’s more, and here’s that word again, realistic. A love where people can get to know each other first, maybe they knew each other all along but never saw each other in that way, or maybe they’re complete opposites and forced into a situation that makes them get to know one another better. Either way, it just seems way more … true to life.

What do you think of these different kinds of love in YA books? What kind of depiction of love do you prefer to see?

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