Posts Categorized: Read in 2014

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
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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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Book Review – Unravel by Calia Read

October 17, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, New Adult, Read in 2014 1 Comment

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

Book Review – Unravel by Calia ReadUnravel by Calia Read
Published by Ballantine Books on August 26th 2014
Pages: 324
Genres: Mental Illness, Mystery, Suspense
Format: Paperback
Source: Library Thing
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two-half-stars

Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine.

One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward.

Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind.

Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help.

A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past.

And now...everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he's real, and I know he needs me.

Do you believe me?

‘Listen closely. Hang on to every word. But most of all, please believe me.’

It’s been a full month since Naomi Carradine was involuntarily admitted to Fairfax Mental Health Institute. She’s adamant that she’s fine, healthy and ready to go home but the doctors are also adamant that it’s going to require more time for her to be ready. Her memories of the past leave her baffled and confused as to why her parents would ever put her in a place like this. As part of her therapy she begins to tell her story, her full story, and slowly the painful pieces of her life begin to piece back together.

Unravel was incredibly captivating from the very start. The story transitions between her present life in the mental health institute and various pieces of her past. I was thoroughly engrossed and eager to find out how Naomi got in the position she was in and with each new bit of information it continued to be intriguing but all conclusions I came to were shrouded in a haze and nothing made sense. I spent the majority of this book in a haze, questioning everything and disliking the character because of her actions.

It wasn’t pleasant, however, it still made for quite the page turner. It feels wrong to complain about the confusion the story causes only to have it all answered in the end, but I can’t help it. There were various instances where I was close to quitting, but as I said, it does make sense when you have the resolution but getting there is half the problem.

My main issue from the very beginning was the semblance of a love triangle that was happening. Naomi has returned home for the summer from college but is staying with her friend Lana’s parents as her parents are traveling Europe. Naomi went off to college, leaving behind Lachlan after the two professed their love for each other. Upon Naomi’s return, however, she meets Max and their tumultuous affair is sudden and instantaneous. It’s incredibly hot and super steamy but it came straight outta left field.

‘…if you listened very carefully, you would hear the sound of a faint tear. That was just the sound of my heart unraveling like a torn ribbon.
All from one touch.’

This is the 2nd time they’ve met.

‘The hunger I had for him was like an addiction. It controlled me. It took away the power I thought I had and controlled every single action I made.’

This is the 3rd time they’ve met.

It was an eye-rolling good time. In addition to their mad infatuation with one another right off the bat, Max was doing things for her that no new boyfriend would ever do, like get crazy angry when something bad happened to Naomi’s friend and subsequently helped her pay rent when she needed to move into her own place. Again, it all becomes justified in the end and makes much more sense in retrospect but there were sections that were so ill-fitting that it made it a tough pill to swallow overall.

Unravel is a New Adult novel that touches on the deep topic of mental illness. Having read books that featured similar storylines, I can’t say Unravel was my favorite or that it was even portrayed accurately. Not being a doctor, I could be completely off the mark but some things just didn’t seem logical. I did enjoy the psychological twists overall though because they were shocking and kept me guessing right up till the very end. Just a heads up, there is one, maybe two incredibly violent scenes of rape that were very hard to read about.

I’ve been very wary about branching out into New Adult because the subject matter never sounds like my cup of tea. Unravel seemed to possess an originality that I would enjoy so I took a leap of faith. While I wasn’t completely disappointed, I did expect more.

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Ominous October – The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud

October 16, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, YA 2 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 – The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan StroudThe Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 16th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Ghosties, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Hollow Boy, The Creeping Shadow

four-stars

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

The author of the blockbuster Bartimaeus series delivers another amusing, chilling, and ingeniously plotted entry in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

Lockwood & Co. Series

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The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud {PurchaseMy Review}

 

“Well, I make that one murder victim, one police interrogation and one conversation with a ghost,” George said. “Now that’s what I call a busy evening.”
Lockwood nodded. “To think some people just watch television.”

Lockwood, Lucy, and George are back and at it again, diving straight into another perilous assignment this time involving the most dangerous Visitor they have yet to go up against. After a recent job goes awry and the recently excavated burial site has been looted, including a most peculiar bone mirror, Scotland Yard hires the trio to track down the object as it seems to leave nothing but death in its wake. In addition to that adventure, the strange skull in the corpse jar is talking to Lucy much more frequently and he seems to actually be of some help with their latest case, but whether he can actually be trusted is the real question.

‘There are other things in the house to fear, besides me.’

The skull’s communications with Lucy added a strange and mysterious side story to The Whispering Skull since this skull seems to know a bit about the secretive door that Lockwood has forbidden everyone from entering. It arouses her curiosity and she has enough on her mind as it is and can’t afford to be distracted. This case involving the bone mirror is far more intricate than any of them seem to think, and will involve many close calls before the final page is turned. I’m constantly enthralled with the cases of Lockwood & Co. and this one was no exception. Not quite as scary as I found their Screaming Staircase case to be, but it was certainly no less engrossing and was actually quite a bit more fascinating.

​​‘And a quick word of advice. No cheap comments at her expense. She’s easily offended and would probably disembowel you.’
‘Story of my life,’ George said.

Once again though, I find myself completely smitten with this cast of characters. The stories themselves are phenomenal and will no doubt keep you entertained, but Lockwood, Lucy, and George are characters you will wish could come to life and befriend you. The Whispering Skull succeeded in expanding our knowledge of the group and leading to tremendous growth in the characters themselves. The new addition to the trio was a surprising new favorite, but you can never go wrong with a hilariously snarky character even if he is a skull trapped in a jar. The skull had his malicious moments and certainly complicated things occasionally but really added a welcome level of hilarity to the story. I’m hoping we continue to see him in future installments.

Such fun and entertaining stories, I look forward to more tales of the group’s thrilling adventures and hope they take their time growing up. It will be devastating when they are forced to retire from ghost hunting. Once again, I must highly recommend this undervalued series that is perfect for all ages and for fans of mysteries, ghost stories and anything Victorian.

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Classic Curiosity – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

October 11, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Ominous October, Read in 2014 7 Comments

Classic Curiosity – Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
Narrator: Dan Stevens
Published by Audible on 1818
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Classics, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.

The summer of 1816 was named the “Year Without a Summer” after the eruption of Mount Tambora caused a long and dreary Volcanic Winter. With everyone keeping to the indoors, Mary, her future husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori all entertained themselves by telling ghost stories and then inevitably it was suggested they each come up with their own type of horror story. It was during this very summer that Mary Shelley, at the age of eighteen, came up with the initial concept of Frankenstein.

‘After days and night of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.’

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a man that through experiementation in both science and alchemy devised a way to combine pieces of human corpses and give them new life. Frankenstein is a legendary story and has become a pivotal part of our cultural understanding of the supernatural world, however, the novel is actually nothing like the classic movies involving lightning, screaming and Frankenstein actually being excited at his accomplishments.

His shock and awe quickly transforms into a horrific realization at what he was capable of and he ran away in terror, leaving the monster alone. We’re told Frankenstein’s story first and the steps that led to the monsters creation and the subsequent events as well. Frankenstein depicts him as a monster, thus the reason he is never given an actual name, but when we are finally given the story via the monsters point of view we realize this ‘monster’ is quite possibly anything but. His is a story of complete despondency that easily garners your compassion regardless of the pain and suffering he has wreaked. He may be a creation but is he still not a person? Is his creators ensuing abandonment to blame for his conduct because Frankenstein had a duty beyond just his creation? I believe it is. Without his creator there to teach him the ways of the world, he was forced to observe, learn and interpret on his own. So then it was his observances of society what transformed him into who he came to be? A matter of circumstance? He became an outcast of society because of his appearance and after a time became lonely and craved a companion. He sought out his creator so as to force him to duplicate his work.

This is my first read of the classic and I must say it’s nothing like I was expecting. It ended up being a strange and eclectic blend of genres. It was science fiction, with the creation of a man from pieces of corpses, and it was gothic and horror, the dead coming back to life and wreaking havoc on the world. Neither of those were the sole purpose or point of this story; it only set the scene. At the heart of this story are the revolutionary and intellectual questions about life, death and existence. About scientific possibilities and how far is too far. And it’s about compassion and lack of it in this world. Was Frankenstein’s monster truly an outcast only because of his appearance, because initially he showed the utmost caring towards individuals and even saved a drowning girl at one point. Society saw the monster and judged him harshly based off that alone, never giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s a fictional accounting of a harsh world but it’s a rather truthful and distressing accounting. This is Gothic literature at its very finest and I’m so glad I finally conquered this incredible piece of work.

‘Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine. When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness.’

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Ominous October – Party Games: A Fear Street Novel by R.L. Stine

October 10, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, YA 3 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.

Ominous October – Party Games: A Fear Street Novel by R.L. StineParty Games: A Fear Street Novel by R.L. Stine
Series: Fear Street
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 30th 2014
Pages: 288
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Welcome to Dead House

two-half-stars

R.L. Stine's hugely successful young adult horror series Fear Street is back with the first new book in almost 2 decades. With more than 80 million copies sold around the world, FearStreet is one of the bestselling young adult series of all time. Now, with Party Games, R.L. Stine revives this phenomenon for a new generation of teen readers, and the announcement of new Fear Street books caused a flurry of excitement both in the press and on social media, where fans rejoiced that the series was coming back.

Her friends warn her not to go to Brendan Fear's birthday party at his family's estate on mysterious Fear Island. But Rachel Martin has a crush on Brendan and is excited to be invited. Brendan has a lot of party games planned. But one game no one planned intrudes on his party—the game of murder. As the guests start dying one by one, Rachel realizes to her horror that she and the other teenagers are trapped on the tiny island with someone who may want to kill them all. How to escape this deadly game? Rachel doesn't know whom she can trust. She should have realized that nothing is as it seems… on Fear Island.

R.L. Stine makes his triumphant return to Shadyside, a town of nightmares, shadows, and genuine terror, and to the bestselling series that began his career writing horror for the juvenile market, in the new Fear Street book Party Games.

“Someone is definitely playing games with us,” Geena said. “Only…” Her voice broke. “Murder isn’t a game.”

17-year-old Rachel Martin is ecstatic when her crush Brendan Fear invites her to his birthday party that he’s having on Fear Island. (She’s so ecstatic she doesn’t even let the issue of finding a dead animal between her sheets stop her!) The group of kids invited to the party take a boat to the island and problems start as soon as they arrive. Party Games is actually the first of six books Stine is planning as a new addition to his popular Fear Street series.

Party Games had a definite And Then There Were None feel to it, just with high schoolers, some decidedly cheesy moments and a consistent lack of common sense that failed to thrill. I was actually expecting a supernatural flair to this but that twist never came. It was interesting and had definite moments of excitement, but my younger self had been mentally squealing since I snagged a copy of this so I had some fairly high expectations.

For me, reading Party Games was a bit of an experiment. I was obsessed with R.L. Stine when I was a kid and I remember a time when I read nothing but Goosebumps and Fear Street books. It was the initial start to my love of horror novels, no matter how cheesy they were. And cheesy they are, or at least my adult self certainly thinks so. My younger self is slightly offended though. I took a stroll down memory lane and felt 12 years old again by picking this one up and despite my change in standards for what constitutes a ‘good book’ it was fun for that fact alone. Whatever helped me build my love of reading, be it cheesy Goosebumps or cliché Twilight books, I can only smile and be thankful for them.

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Ominous October – A Good Marriage by Stephen King

October 9, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014 3 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 – A Good Marriage by Stephen KingA Good Marriage by Stephen King
Narrator: Jessica Hecht
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 30th 2014
Length: 3 hours and 33 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-stars

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristen Connelly, Joan Allen, and Anthony La Paglia, Stephen King’s short story, “A Good Marriage” from Full Dark, No Stars is now available as a stand-alone audio edition!

Bob Anderson, Darcy’s husband of more than twenty years, is away on one of his business trips, when his unsuspecting wife looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers she doesn’t know her husband at all, but rather has been living with a stranger. This horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, could be the end of what Darcy though was a good marriage…

‘Did she know everything about him? Of course not. No more than he knew everything about her […] There was no knowing everything, but she felt that after twenty-seven years, they knew all the important things. It was a good marriage, one of the fifty percent or so that kept working over the long haul. She believed that in the same unquestioning way she believed that gravity would hold her to the earth when she walked down the sidewalk.

Until that night in the garage.’

Darcy and Bob Anderson have been contently married for 27 years. Together they have two children and they own a successful mail-order business that deals in collectible American coins which cause Bob to be away on travel frequently. During one of his trips, Darcy goes in search of batteries in the garage after the TV remote dies. In her search, she finds disturbing pornographic magazines that she would never have dreamed Bob would ever read but that ended up being the least disturbing thing she found in the garage that night. The most disturbing was a little wooden box that she herself had given Bob which contained a blood donor card, a library card and driver’s license of a Marjorie Duvall. Marjorie Duvall had been on the six o’clock news recently after she was found murdered by a suspected serial killer named “Beadie”.

Stephen King has said Dennis Rader, otherwise known as the “BTK killer” was his inspiration for A Good Marriage. Dennis Rader was a serial killer that murdered a total of ten people between the years 1974 and 1991. He was a seemingly innocuous member of his community; president of his church council, Cub scout leader and married with two children. No one ever looked at him twice until he was finally caught and convicted of his crimes in 2005. A Good Marriage is a short yet disquieting read that makes you wonder just how well you know the ones you love. Darcy and Bob were married for years and she never once suspected that her loving husband was capable of such brutality; never thought that the serial killer on the news could be the man she married.

My initial response to the ending of this story was discontent. The more I thought about it though, I can’t deny that this still managed to be an adroitly written story that manages to uncover the hidden darkness in all of us, leaving an all encompassing unsettling feeling as a reader. King’s short stories are always my favorite reads of his, although this one definitely left me wanting. I felt more detail was necessary to properly end this tale and I was honestly expecting a twist that never came. Jessica Hecht did a fantastic job with the narration though and really brought Darcy’s nightmare of a situation to life.

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Ominous October – The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

October 7, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, YA 9 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 – The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on August 29th 2013
Pages: 416
Genres: Ghosties, Horror, Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy, The Creeping Shadow

four-half-stars

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

“My view is: with you and George on my team, nothing can stand in our way.” […]
“Thank you,” I said. “I hope so too.”
​Lockwood laughed. “There’s no ‘hope’ about it. With our combined talents, what can possibly go wrong?”​

Lockwood, Lucy, and George are a talented team of psychic investigators living in an alternative type of London where the young carry rapiers and hunt ghosts, otherwise known as ‘Visitors’ for a living. With their combined talents nothing should go wrong, but as that wouldn’t be any kind of fun, things do go terribly, terribly wrong. The bottom line: they’re in debt after their client sues them because the team unintentionally burned down her house after they tried to rid it of its ghostly inhabitant. This debt must be paid in a timely manner or they risk losing everything, including the disbandment of “Lockwood and Co.” When a dangerously risky but lucrative job falls into their lap, they immediately accept not stopping to consider the dangers.

This series introduction is basically Ghostbusters if they were teenagers and if Dan Akroyd’s part was played by a girl. Or if Harry Potter and the gang were ghost hunters. In other words, the whole dynamic of this story and its characters is off the charts wonderful and is easily one of my favorite reads of the year. The world this group lives in is one where the young start their careers early since the side effect of aging is also losing any psychic ability they possessed when they were young. Their work is forever perilous and in addition to their rapiers, they carry other basic forms of protection: salt, iron, and silver. Salt bombs and magnesium flares are often useful as well. It’s an easily imaginable world where the dead never quite stay dead.

The Screaming Staircase is told from the point of Lucy, the newest member of Lockwood & Co. She possesses an unusually heightened sense of hearing when it comes to Visitors and comes to London hoping to join an agency where she can put her skills to good use which is how she ends up employed at Lockwood & Co. Lucy is a headstrong girl that believes in her talents but is never boastful about them, Lockwood is a charismatic leader that is often rash and fails to contemplate situations before diving into danger and George is the often grumpy and moody but skillful researcher of the group. An affinity is quickly formed between the three despite all odds and the fact that they live and work together.

What was most enjoyable about The Screaming Staircase was how smart and well-refined it was written. The world was built up sufficiently and without any sort of info-dump, the characters were given an adequate amount of back story to keep the reader interested while still leaving us with questions and the subsequent answers to look forward to and the level of eerie was completely on point. This ended up being the perfect combination of entertaining and haunting and the mystery even kept me guessing. A most impressive first installment in a brand new series from Stroud, I will not only be picking up the next installment (okay, to be honest, I’m actually already reading it) but I’m now anxious to pick up his Bartimaeus series as well. Highly recommended for readers of all ages that like their mysteries just a bit eerie.

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Ominous October – The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

October 4, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014 2 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.

Ominous October – The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar CanteroThe Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
Published by Doubleday on August 12th 2014
Pages: 368
Genres: Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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two-stars

A mesmerizing novel...what begins as a gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero's wholly original, modern-day adventure.

When twentysomething A., the European relative of the Wells family, inherits a beautiful, yet eerie, estate set deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never knew he had a "second cousin, twice removed" in America, much less that his eccentric relative had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together with A.’s companion, Niamh, a mute teenage punk girl from Ireland, they arrive in Virginia and quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and an opulent lifestyle. Axton House is haunted... they know it...but the presence of a ghost is just the first of a series of disturbing secrets they slowly uncover. What led to the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze – and what does the basement vault keep? Even more troubling, what of the rumors in town about a mysterious yearly gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?

Told vividly through a series of journal entries, cryptic ciphers, recovered security footage, and letters to a distant Aunt Liza, Edgar Cantero has written an absorbing, kinetic and highly original supernatural adventure with classic horror elements that introduces readers to a deviously sly and powerful new voice.

‘…all those pathetic lonely people fooling one another into their clumsy games of afterlife and cosmic relevance just to avoid noticing the nauseating sadness of their real lives. How could it sink that low?
That’s how I used to feel, bound by reason to boredom.
And then along came Axton House.’

The main character, known only as “A.” inherits Axton House, a mansion in American, after a second-cousin twice removed by the name of Ambrose Wells commits suicide by throwing himself from his bedroom window. Strangely enough, Ambrose’s father died the same way. At the same age. A. travels to America to get his affairs in order and with him comes Niamh, a mute teenager who communicates throughout the novel via notepad. The two soon immerse themselves in the mystery of the house which they find involves a secret society and many mysterious coded messages.

The Supernatural Enhancements is a Gothic mystery with a sole ghost and a strange sense of eclecticism. Unfortunately, it ranks right up there for me with The Quick in terms of absolute pointlessness. The story is told through various means including audio and video recordings, A’s day to day diary and a most disturbing dream journal, letters to an ‘Aunt Liza’, as well as various excerpts from books that they use in their research. It definitely had a Night Film feel regarding the unique way of telling the story but the story itself bounced around far too much and left far too much confusion in its wake. The strange codes that the two must unravel in order to progress further in solving the mystery should have been fun but instead I found them to be a tedious addition since us as readers had little to no chance of solving them ourselves so the pages and pages of detail regarding how they solved it only resulted in causing me a headache of epic proportions.

The characters themselves were mysterious and quirky but not in the most appealing way. We’re given very little detail on the two (other than the fact that they’re X-File fans which should have caused me to like them on that principle alone, but no) or anything about A. (or why he’s only referred to as A. because that’s just weird) or Niamh and their strange relationship; only that Niamh likes A. but she’s underage so it’s pointless. Or so we’re led to believe. The two sleep in a bed described as “big enough for each of us to throw an orgy without her guests disturbing mine”. And she apparently sleeps there because she’s there to protect him, which makes total sense.

Actually, it never ends up making sense. None of it does. The characters don’t make sense nor their purpose, the bad guys, or this secret society. The mysteries are seemingly explained but in a quick and careless way that is meant to be quirky and interesting but left much to be desired. The Supernatural Enhancements had a promising initial feel that, as Rory put, felt like “a lighthearted, simpler cousin” to The House of Leaves — just minus the use of mirrors. It regrettably fell flat for me.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski {Purchase – My Review}
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan {Purchase}

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Ominous October – The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira Grant

October 3, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, Short Stories 6 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.

Ominous October – The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira GrantThe Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira Grant
Series: Newsflesh #3.3
Published by Orbit on July 15th 2014
Pages: 112
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Zombies
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

four-stars

Outside the classroom walls the Rising was spreading, but inside was a carefully protected sanctuary against the growing threat.

Or so the teachers and students thought.

On what will be the last day in the teaching career of Elaine Oldenburg, who fans of the series know as Foxy, she must fight to survive and protect her students when the zombie outbreak shatters the safety of her school.

‘We forget sometimes how easy it is for the survivors to look back on history and judge those who came before. It’s simpler when there is a villain, when there is a reason for things to have gone so terribly, terribly wrong. […] Sometimes there is no reason for things to go wrong. They just do.’

The year is 2036, twenty-two years since the Rising and life is no less dangerous. Despite those dangers though, some parents still choose to place their young children in public school systems (elementary and middle school) in order for them to fully develop their social skills before changing over to a fully virtual school system as most people have already done. Security has been increased and precautions have been made, however, the dangers were still lurking. The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell is the story of Seattle’s Evergreen Elementary School tragedy; a tragedy that painted a clear picture that those dangers were lurking closer than anyone thought.

The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell is a riveting and suspenseful novella set in the same world as Grant’s popular Newsflesh trilogy. The story follows Alaric Kwong and Mahir Gowda in current day 2044 who are conducting research on the tragedy trying to find the cause of it all. Flashbacks to 2036 are told from the point of view of teacher Elaine Oldenburg and show the flaws of the ‘secure school system’ she thought she worked in. Her desperation to survive and to keep as many of the children safe as possible is palpable and even knowing that all sorts of wrongs are likely to follow, the reader can’t help but hope for a miracle. Incredibly thrilling for a mere 112 pages, (although there is also an excerpt from Parasite at the end)Mira Grant continues to impress with her boldness. The ending was fairly inconclusive and I certainly wanted more but for all my fellow Newsflesh fans out there? This is a must read.

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Book Review – Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

September 30, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 2 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.

Book Review – Broken Monsters by Lauren BeukesBroken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Published by Mulholland Books on September 16th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Shining Girls, Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing

three-half-stars

A criminal mastermind creates violent tableaus in abandoned Detroit warehouses in Lauren Beukes's new genre-bending novel of suspense.

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?

If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.

If Lauren Beukes's internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.

“…everyone will see what they are supposed to see.
They will bring all their eyeballs, and all their minds will open like doors, and then maybe they will all be free too.”

Detective Gabriella Versado’s new case takes priority over all: the top half of a young boy is found fused together with the bottom half of a young deer. This is not the only strangely mutilated body found but what is also found are doorways drawn in chalk that seems to have some connection with the deaths. Broken Monsters alternates the story-lines of Detective Versado, Layla, her 15-year-old daughter, Jonno Haim, a new to Detroit journalist, Thomas Keen “TK”, a homeless man and Clayton Broom, the man responsible for the atrocities appearing around Detroit. Each of these individuals will each play their own important role in bringing a stop to the darkness that threatens to consume the city.

Broken Monsters was one of my most anticipated of the year after The Shining Girls was a favorite of mine from 2013. Her writing style continues to impress and captivate and her ability to come up with unique (albeit twisted) stories will keep me picking up her novels. Broken Monsters easily takes your typical crime thriller beyond your preconceived notions and injects it with a horrid deformity. It’d normally be brutal enough, a story dealing with the murder of a young child, but Beukes gives her serial killer an alter-ego/dream that is consumed with the intent to change the world by making his presence known by creating these ‘monsters’. In an attempt to explain this dream, the story took an unexpected supernatural turn that inevitably provided no explanation at all leaving me unsettled and with an overabundance of questions. A horrific yet well-written crime thriller, Broken Monsters will undoubtedly leave you disturbed.

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