Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Waiting on Wednesday – The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo #3) by Rick Riordan

March 14, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Burning Maze (The Trials of Apollo #3) by Rick RiordanThe Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
on May 1st 2018
Pages: 448
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Son of Neptune

The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor—and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles—somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon. . . .

About Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels for young readers, including the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, the Magnus Chase series and the Trials of Apollo. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. While teaching in San Antonio, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Today, eighty-six million copies of his books are in print in the United States, and rights have been sold into more than 37 countries.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

I’ve only just started reading The Dark Prophecy but I already know I’m going to need this one like air.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Early Review – Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

January 6, 2018 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018, YA 7 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed #1
on January 9th 2018
Pages: 336
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Illuminae, Hunted

three-stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

“The worthy will rise into the stars . . .”

In a time when resources on Earth are limited, power grids are failing, and families are only allowed to have a single child, the discovery of an extinct alien race possessing the technology to make life a little less uncomplicated is a shining beacon of hope. Of course, traveling to a different galaxy to a planet named Gaia is the only requirement. Amelia Radcliffe is a scavenger, on Gaia illegally with the intent to obtain as much tech as she can to not only buy herself a ticket off the planet but to also buy her sister back from the servitude contract she’s locked in. Jules Addison is a scholar and is on Gaia with the hopes of decoding more of the alien language. His father, Dr. Elliott Addison, was the first to decode the message received from the alien race, and the first to realize that while their technology may benefit life on Earth, it may not be for the best in the long term. Jules seeks to find evidence that his father was right and to find out what dangers lie with the technology left by this race of mysterious beings. The two end up teaming up to work their way through the alien temple in hopes of uncovering a solution to both of their issues.

First things first, I read very little YA these days but there was something extremely fun about this book that I enjoyed right off the bat. I found positive and negative aspects both in this story but I felt they balanced each other out, still making this an entertaining tale. It was very Mission to Mars (2000) meets Indiana Jones and while there was a budding romance that built up quickly, it never overtook the plot like some YA romances tend to do. I honestly didn’t buy how quickly they reached the point that they do by the end of the novel, but for some reason, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment as a whole. The characterization was nicely balanced with snarky, badass Amelia and prim and proper Jules, although at times it was hard to differentiate between the two because each would tell the story from their point of view in alternating chapters. The inclusion of puzzles as the duo worked their way through the alien temple was a ton of fun, although it was often vaguely written and hard to visualize exactly what they were dealing with. There was a lot of internal dialogue that I felt could have been cut out a lot, resulting in more actual conversation, and towards the end, I felt like stuff started getting to be a bit repetitive and/or drawn out for no particular reason leading to that inevitable cliffhanger. My overall enjoyment certainly lessened by the time I finished but the cliffhanger ending was incredibly curious without that predictable reveal of “I knew that’s what was happening” sort of reveal.

Despite this being yet another typical “teenagers save the world” sort of story, this puzzle of a plot is enough to get a reader invested into sticking around for the second part of this novel that won’t be released until 2019.

related-reads-blue

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel [Review]
Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach [Review]
Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

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Ominous October – The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud

October 5, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2017, YA 7 Comments

Ominous October – The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan StroudThe Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #5
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 12th 2017
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Ghosties
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

five-stars

After the dramatic events of The Creeping Shadow, the Lockwood team (plus Quill Kipps) deserve some well-earned rest.

So naturally they break into the Fittes Mausoleum, on a perilous mission to discover the truth about London's top ghost-hunting agency, and its sinister leader.

What they discover will change everything.

But there's little time to ponder. A near-miss at a haunted fairground is only the start - as the Fittes agency closes in on the team, an epic struggle commences.

With the help of some unexpected, and rather ghostly, allies, Lockwood & Co must battle their greatest enemy yet, as they move ever closer to the moment when the earth-shattering secret of 'the problem' will finally be revealed.

Jonathan Stroud once again delivers a rousing adventure full of danger, laughs, twists, and frights. The revelations will send readers back to Book 1 to start the series all over again.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]

“It was a time of beginnings, and a time of endings.”

After the events of The Creeping Shadow, the group set off to prove the Skull’s story right: that Marissa Fitts hasn’t actually been laid to rest and she’s been posing as her granddaughter Penelope for years. As the title implies, they do indeed find an empty grave. How Marissa could possibly remain alive and looking as young as she does remains a mystery. The mystery of the empty grave isn’t the only thing occupying their time though. They’re battling the Fitts agency to remain in business when Marissa announces that all small agencies will be absorbed into one and they must also deal with a fairground haunted by La Belle Dame Sans Merci (The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy) who psychically enchain her victims after alluring them with her beauty. Never a dull moment with Lockwood & Co.

“We’ve worked wonders to get here, and we won’t panic now. If we’re right, there won’t be anything to worry about. If we’re wrong, we deal with it, as we always do. […] But we won’t be wrong. We’re on the verge of something big here. It’s going to be good!”

Kipps adjusted his goggles dolefully. “Since when has anything good happened in a crypt? It’s going to be bad by definition.”

It seems rare that a series possesses such a fantastic story in addition to a brilliant cast of characters. It always makes me cringe when books are constantly being compared to Harry Potter, but the friendship dynamic in Lockwood & Co. is certainly comparable. Of course, it also has that Ghostbusters/X-Files angle that sets it apart. Lockwood himself is quite the complex character with a growing death wish that comes to a peak in this final story. His dark backstory gets dealt out in small servings involving a sister that was ghost-touched at a young age and parents that both died under mysterious circumstances. We see all this through the eyes of Lucy and while the two have been developing an almost reluctant romance since the start of the series, it deserves mention that it never overwhelms the story itself or any of the supporting characters. I originally picked this series up because of my love for a good ghost story and while I’m not often scared by them these days, Stroud still manages to include lines that’ll leave tingles down your spine.

“Her jagged mouth opened in welcome; she was like a deep-sea fish swallowing her prey. As she hugged him close, blue veins of ice ran swiftly down his skin. [Name omitted] limbs jerked and thrashed; he tried to speak, but could only make a gargling sound as he was drawn back into the dark.”

Being that this is the series finale, there’s always the issue with wrapping up all loose ends. What happened to Lockwood’s parents? What caused the rampant increase in hauntings in recent years? How has Marissa Fitts managed to retain her youth for so long? Who is the skull in the jar and what will become of him? And of course, what will become of Lockwood & Co.? I’m notoriously displeased with the majority of series endings but I’m so relieved that this wasn’t the case with The Empty Grave since I’ve been a diehard fan from the very beginning. It retained the perfect balance of creepy and humor (with help in that department from Skull) and resolved unanswered questions without giving it that “and they all lived happily ever after” type of ending that I so dislike. I started Ominous October back in 2014 and The Screaming Staircase was one of the first books I posted about. It’s always heartbreaking to see an amazing story come to an end but I was so pleased to see these fantastic characters get the story they deserve. Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly, and even Kipps… but I’ll still miss Skull the most.

“These spirits are a bit showy,” the skull said. “All that hooting and cackling. You don’t see me doing that. I ask you, where’s the class?”

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Ominous October + #Giveaway! The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

October 28, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2016, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ominous October + #Giveaway! The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan StroudThe Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co., #4
on September 13th 2016
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

four-stars

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them--and only them--to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

About Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Jonathan grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy as well as Lockwood & Co. from Disney-Hyperion.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review/

grey-review

After an ominous glimpse at the future, Lucy decided it was best to part ways with Lockwood & Co. She transformed herself practically overnight into a successful freelance agent (with the help of the talking skull in a jar that she carries around with her) that have many vying for her services. When a knock on her door early one morning brings Lockwood back into her life, requesting her services in a most important job, she struggles to decide which is the right path for her.  Lucy begins to realize though that the premonition she foresaw for Lockwood just might happen with or without her presence. The jobs the group takes on though continue to increase in the risk involved and Lucy realizes she’d be hard-pressed to say no to the opportunity to work alongside him and the group once again.

‘It was a bit annoying not being able to sleep, but it was a change being kept up by moral conundrums rather than Wraiths and Specters. Doubts, like ghosts, gain strength in darkness; even with the dawn I wasn’t sure I’d done the right thing.’

While Lucy’s apprehension about re-joining the group, albeit temporarily, was understandable, I sure did love to see the gang all back together. Lucy, Lockwood, and George always had a fantastic team dynamic and the addition of Holly in The Hollow Boy did cause things to go somewhat askew but fortunately that wasn’t for good. Holly has become a full-fledged, active member of the team, her and Lucy have repaired their personal rift, and she even briefly shows a bit of her badass side much to my satisfaction. Skull still manages to keep his spot secured as my favorite character of the bunch though, despite his partial absence in this tale. His snarky commentary is so very comical.

You’ve got a good thing going here,” the skull said. “It’s called independence. Don’t throw it away. And, speaking of throwing things away – your dress. Too tight.
“You think so? It looks all right to me.”
You’re only looking at the front, love.
An altercation ensued here.

What with Skull’s partial absence, George stepped in as a suitable replacement for the time being.

“George.”
“What?”
“We’ve got to destroy the circle. That monster flare of yours. Now might be just the time for it.”
“What? Big Brenda?”
“You’ve given it a name?”
“I’ve grown kind of attached to her.”

When the group begins investigating why someone could be stealing powerful sources, this leads them to convoluted conspiracies, ghostly experiments, and all sorts of danger. Stroud still manages to deliver on the creepy too. Extremely unnerving lines that’ll make your eyes widen from unseen horrors. I loved seeing Lucy operating successfully solo but it was such a joy to see her back with the team again. Stroud leaves us with yet another stunner of a cliffhanger that will leave fans of this series both anxious and nervous for future dangers in store for the team.

‘There are many new questions to answer, and our investigations have only just begun.’

style-3-giveaway

Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Disney-Hyperion, I have a most excellent prize pack to giveaway! One winner will receive the Lockwood & Co. series. (all 4 books!) and a pumpkin-carving kit to get into the Halloween spirit!

Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on November 11th, 2016.

prizepack

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

May 18, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan StroudThe Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #4
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 13th 2016
Pages: 464
Genres: Ghosties, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them--and only them--to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

About Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Jonathan grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy as well as Lockwood & Co. from Disney-Hyperion.

It’s rare that I’m able to keep up with series releases these days but these books are so damn good that I’m willing to drop everything when a new one comes out. The summary kills me though. ANOTHER cliffhanger?! Stroud, come on man. You’re killing me.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Ominous October – The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud

October 29, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2015, YA 5 Comments

Ominous October – The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan StroudThe Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #3
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 15th 2015
Pages: 385
Genres: Ghosties, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Creeping Shadow

four-stars

As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.'s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city. Can the team get past their personal issues to save the day on all fronts, or will bad feelings attract yet more trouble?

Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [PurchaseReview]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase Review]


The trio are at the top of their game and their camaraderie has never been better, so it comes as quite a disappointment when Lucy arrives home one day to find the boys have added a new member to the team: Holly Munro. On top of dealing with the new member of the team, Lucy is struggling to come to terms with her developing powers of being able to communicate with spirits and is torn between the desire to investigate them more and in keeping herself and her team safe. In addition to all that’s going on with the group, a recent surge of supernatural activity has all the psychic agencies in London joining together in the fight, including Lockwood & Co.

My adoration for this fantastic series continues and I dread the day when the trio grows up and subsequently loses their ghost hunting abilities. The Hollow Boy is once again another solid installment that continues some fantastic character building and even adds a new character to the mix. I’ve seen a lot of readers express displeasure in Lucy’s attitude towards Holly, calling her catty and petty, and while I also originally felt disappointed in the immediate girl-hate, I could also understand it. Lucy is upset at the immediate change the house undergoes with Holly’s presence as well as the immediate closeness Lockwood shows her. She’s understandably jealous which quickly puts the brakes on any closeness the two girls could share. Jealousy, while hard to control, is alas a fact of life. Holly’s presence managed to throw a proverbial wrench in the comfort and familiarity Lucy was just beginning to feel and I don’t think it was unreasonable for her immediate response not to be “Hi, you’re a girl and I’m a girl! We’re going to be the best of friends.” It is what it is and I don’t like Lucy any less because of it.

The aspect of these novels that has been most satisfying is just how creepy they can be. Stroud’s writing is on point and because the entire novel isn’t a creep-fest the sections that do terrify really sneak up on you making them all the more effective. The descriptive detailing is enough to sufficiently get under your skin. Here’s just a taste of what I’m talking about:

‘I watched that notch of darkness.
I watched as something moved into it.
It came from the right-hand side beyond the arch, a human figure crawling on all fours. Scarcely blacker than the blackness all around, it dragged itself along on knees and elbows with a series of slow, slow, jerking movements. Now and again it advanced in swift scuttles, as a hunting spider might…’

I think it’s quite possible the word scuttle makes anything terrifying. Nothing should scuttle. *shudders*

This series is quite the underrated gem possessing a fantastic set of characters (plus a talking skull that adds a layer of comedy to this haunted tale), an intriguing alternate reality of sorts, and a subtle horror that is woven throughout the story. The ending sets up much anticipation for the next installment and I for one will be eagerly awaiting it.

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Early Review – Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

July 9, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Middle Grade, Read in 2015 1 Comment

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert BeattySerafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Published by Disney Hyperion on July 14th 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

Disney Hyperion presents an exciting new novel for children & adults: a spooky historical mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.

"Never go into the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul."

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in her grand home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to sneak and hide.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

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“…our world is filled with many mysteries, things we don’t understand. Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, both dark and bright, and they will ensnare your soul.”

Biltmore Estate is large enough to have kept a secret for over a decade: deep within its basement lives a man and his daughter, named Serafina. Serafina’s father is in charge of the building’s maintenance but he would be tossed out in a heartbeat if it were discovered he also resided there. And Serafina is a whole different matter. Curious about the world around her and of her own past, she’s no longer able to keep herself confined to the basement, especially when she witnesses the murder of a young girl. Her body was never discovered and by the following morning, another child was missing. Serafina is determined to help these people find their lost children, even if it means disclosing her secret.

Beatty created a most mysterious girl with Serafina, who is described as having golden eyes and strangely enough, four toes instead of the normal five. Those differences only add to the air of mystery surrounding her and keep you wondering what it is that makes her so special. She’s a girl with a good heart and a kind soul that you can’t help but admire. Befriending the owner’s of Biltmore’s nephew, Braeden, makes this story even more charming. The two quickly hit it off, despite their obvious differences in social class, and they both team up convinced that they’re going to be able to find these children. Through her friendship, Serafina starts seeing the world through a new set of eyes, only seen before through the pages of books. She sees the good in the world but because of the man in the black cloak, she’s also uncovering the bad as well.

‘She was beginning to see how difficult it was to determine who was good and who was bad, who she could trust and who she had to watch out for. Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.’

Serafina possesses a definite horror but isn’t quite as terrifying as it is charming. The unique heroine is definitely the spotlight of this tale with her most uncommon story of her life and how she came to reside in the Biltmore Estate basement. While some parts of the book did seem to creep along very slowly and some aspects weren’t left sufficiently explained, it was still ultimately a satisfying supernatural tale of mystery that will no doubt delight children and adults alike.

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Early Review – Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus

July 3, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel KrausTrollhunters by Daniel Kraus, Guillermo del Toro
Illustrator: Sean Murray
Series: Trollhunters #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on July 7th 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Strain, The Night Eternal

three-stars

"You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They're patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you've paid so much attention to in mirrors? It's delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don't cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites."

Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino—one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named "Tubby" who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

From the minds of Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus comes a new illustrated novel about the fears that move in unseen places.

“It’s a terrible thing, isn’t it? To be dragged under?”

In San Bernadino in the late 1960s, almost 200 hundred children went missing in what became known as The Milk Carton Epidemic. Children weren’t allowed on the streets past sunset, but on the day of Jack Sturges birthday, he and his little brother Jim were having too much fun on their bicycles to notice the sun was slowly making its exit. When Jack raced ahead towards the Holland Transit Bridge, Jim quickly lost sight of him. From the shadow of the bridge came a sight so terrifying that Jim could only run away in fear. Black fur, horns, claws, and massive teeth chased him home that day and while he managed to survive, he never saw his older brother Jack again.

Years later, Jim’s son, Jim Sturges Jr. is fifteen years old and lives alone with his paranoid father. Ever since he lost his older brother, his father has been terrified of the dark. Steel shutters cover their windows, ten locks secure their front door, and the flood lights and security cameras pick up anything that lurks outside. Jim never quite understands his father’s paranoia, that is until the day that he’s dragged through a hole beneath his bed and sees his first troll. And his lost Uncle Jack who is somehow just as young as he was the day he went missing. He’s told that the Sturges family belongs to a line of trollhunters, that the battle between humans and trolls has been going on for ages, and that he’s the next in line to step up to the task. Jim’s life is never quite the same again.

“This is the only thing I’m good at. There are times when you have to do the right thing, no matter how scary. […] If I don’t fight now, right now, when am I supposed to fight?”

Trollhunters will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, The Blackwell PagesThe Kane Chronicles, and the multitude of series’ that center around kids/teenagers burdened with the task of saving the world. Trollhunters is tagged as YA but the goofiness that is typically present in Middle-Grade fiction is flying high in this one. But there are also several instances of profanity (asshole and bastard are two I remember off the top of my head) so it’s clear this author-duo was possibly trying to entice an audience of various ages. I’m just not sure the way they went about it is necessarily a recipe for success. The fact that it’s marketed as horror doesn’t necessarily help either, especially since it’s really not. Children stolen from their beds at night (by monsters nonetheless) should be straight nightmare fuel but it never quite reached the level of terror I would have expected since the intensity was constantly lessened by the presence of goofy humor.

I’m a huge fan of del Toro, so this became an immediate addition to my TBR, but what most intrigued me about this one is the difference in the fantasy focus: trolls. I’ve read plenty of vampire, werewolf, and faerie stories but a troll story? Can’t recall a single one. But these aren’t the trolls of my generation either.

Oh, no. These trolls are nasty, ugly things that like to snack on humans like they were tasty kernels of popcorn. While the horror was somewhat lacking (except for that bit about the troll fetus that takes up residence inside humans for the night? oh. my. god. Wire my mouth shut, I’ll just breathe through my nose, thank you very much), the gruesomeness is actually pretty intense. For a glimpse of what these disgusting trolls actually look like, check out some of the artwork by Sean A. Murray. One thing I have to note about the artwork, and due to the fact that I read an ARC I can’t be certain this is necessarily the case in the finished copy, but the artwork never coincided with what was occurring in the story. A certain scenes artwork would be shown 20 pages later which kind of threw you off from the scene that was currently happening.

Naturally, this is a start to a new series since various questions were left unanswered. I hope that some thought is put into future installments because at this point I can’t see how they can be anything but repetitive. Trolls try to take over, battles happen, people die, good wins. The story often dragged at times and lacked any twists that would have helped keep me (or any reader) engaged. Less goofiness, more horror, and much more excitement are all I’d like to ask for in the next installment. Still worth the read, but not nearly as thrilling as I had hoped for from an author duo like this.

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Waiting on Wednesday – MARY: Unleashed (Bloody Mary #2) by Hillary Monahan

June 17, 2015 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday, YA 5 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – MARY: Unleashed (Bloody Mary #2) by Hillary MonahanMARY: Unleashed by Hillary Monahan
Series: Bloody Mary #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 8th 2015
Pages: 256
Genres: Horror
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: MARY: The Summoning

Mary in the mirror.
Mary in the glass.
Mary in the water.

Mary lurks in the emptiness, in the darkness . . . in the reflection. That is, until Jess unleashes her into the world. Now Mary Worth is out and her haunting is deadlier than ever.

No one is safe.

Shauna, Kitty, and Jess must band together to unearth the truth about Mary's death to put her soul to rest for good. Their search leads them back to where it all began-to Solomon's Folly, a place as dangerous as the ghost who died there a century and a half ago. Quick sand, hidden traps and a phantom fog are the least of their worries. To stop Mary, they need to follow a dark string of clues and piece together a gruesome mystery that spans generations.

But time is running out.

As chilling facts come to light, Mary inches ever closer to her prey. Can Jess, Shauna, and Kitty break Mary's curse before it's too late? Or will history repeat itself until there is no one left to call her name . . . ?

About Hillary Monahan

Hillary Monahan is Eva Darrows is also an international woman of mystery. Holed up in Massachusetts with three smelly basset hounds, she writes funny, creepy things for fun and profit.

Bloody Mary series

Book Review – MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary Monahan

MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary, #1) by Hillary Monahan {PurchaseMy Review}

I think we all go through phases where our genre of choice changes. For the longest time it was Historical Fiction for me. Then there was Urban Fantasy and then a long period where I loved all things Post-Apocalyptic. Then came Horror. The first MARY book was very impressive and definitely left me with chills. Cannot wait for this conclusion story!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!

dvd-pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Ominous October – MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary Monahan

October 23, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, YA 5 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ominous October – MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary MonahanMARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
Series: Bloody Mary #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 2nd 2014
Pages: 256
Genres: Ghosties, Horror, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-half-stars

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

‘Mary moved fast. One moment she was distant, the next her hands smacked against the mirror. Her fingers flexed, and then the clawing began, a shrieking squeal of razors cutting across glass. I jerked back, forcing myself to maintain the handhold. There’d been no noise during the last summoning. Now, the sound was undeniable.’

When Jess uncovers the secret to properly summoning Bloody Mary, she convinces her three friends Shauna, Kitty and Anna to join her to see if it will indeed work. The candle is lit, the salt is poured beneath the base of the mirror, hands are linked and her name is called three times. None except Jess expected her to actually appear, but she does. Being unable to see her clearly during the first summoning, Jess convinces the girls once more but makes slight modifications to the ritual beforehand. When the girls bound hands are broken mid-ritual, Mary has an instance of freedom and marks Shauna’s back with her razor sharp claws. Mary is no longer bound by the mirror and appears in any and all shiny surfaces, eager to drag Shauna in with her. The girls must uncover the story of Mary’s life before she began haunting and murdering anyone who dared called her name before a mirror.

‘Mary’s face tore through the mirror, twisting and writhing feet away from me. Her jaw snapped like a rabid dog’s, a string of green saliva hanging from her maw like she hungered for flesh.’

MARY: The Summoning manages to draw up memories of my teenage years when sleepovers consisted of horror movies, Ouija boards and attempts to summon Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror. Fortunately, those summoning’s never quite panned out since my friends and I were not aware of the salt trick. The creep level of MARY is fathomless and only gets worse as the book progresses, but it never fully frightened me. Maybe I’m desensitized to scary due to too many horror novels or maybe I’m just older and know better not to go say Bloody Mary’s name in a bathroom three times so I have nothing to truly fear. What was definitely on par though were the incredibly detailed descriptions of Mary and her gruesomeness that will definitely give you the heebie-jeebies.

‘She was more spider than ghoul right now, one of her elbows bent in instead of out, her feet flat to the ground so she scurried instead of walked. Her back was arched too low. Her head dangled at an unnatural angle while her white serpent tongue thrust out from between her lips, licking our scent in the air.’

Aside from the typical cheesy horror film antics of four teenage girls being complete morons trying to summon serial killer ghosts, a fascinating aspect of MARY was the details that were uncovered about the time when Mary was still alive and kicking. The book is interspersed with actual letters from Mary Worth to her sister Constance detailing her day to day life between 1863 and 1864 when she died at the age of seventeen. The letters paint a horrific picture of her life before she died and certainly makes sense when she considers her current existence. There were still many questions to be answered, the full story is still largely unknown, and will hopefully be explored much more in the next installment. I’m hoping for additional character development in the next installment as well. The girls all felt very stereotypical, just acting out their requisite parts as being there just to be haunted by Mary, and their history is only briefly explored. Jess definitely garnered the most interest from me and I’m intrigued to learn more about how the author chooses to portray her motivation behind the obvious obsession with Blood Mary.

MARY: The Summoning is perfect for fans of supernatural horror stories that will thrill you but not leave you completely terrified. But you might not look at mirrors the same for a while.

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