Posts Tagged: Ominous October

Ominous October – Psycho by Robert Bloch

October 20, 2015 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2015 2 Comments

Ominous October – Psycho by Robert BlochPsycho by Robert Bloch
Published by The Overlook Press on 1959
Pages: 208
Genres: Classics, Horror
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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four-stars

Robert Bloch's Psycho captivated a nation when it appeared in 1959.

The story was all too real-indeed this classic was inspired by the real-life story of Ed Gein, a psychotic murderer who led a dual life. Alfred Hitchcock too was captivated, and turned the book into one of the most-loved classic films of all time the year after it was released.

Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can't help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife.

“I think perhaps all of us go a little crazy at times.”

When Mary Crane stops for the night in a tiny, obscure little motel she thinks nothing of the odd but seemingly nice manager Norman Bates. All she’s concerned about is getting cleaned up and resting before she sees her fiancé the next day. The two are going to finally be able to start their life together after Mary stole $40,000 from her employer. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan for Mary Crane.

Psycho is one of those mandatory readings for any horror fan and while this one isn’t completely terrifying, it’s realistic enough to get under your skin. Norman Bates’ character is in fact based off a real life murderer, Ed Gein, who in the 1950s killed two women but dug up the graves of many women in order to practice human taxidermy. When police searched his house, things like a wastebasket made of human skin and bowls made from human skulls were found. Bloch didn’t have Norman Bates share the obsession with human taxidermy, however, both men did have a strange obsession with their mothers. The victims Gein dug up were said to all resemble his own mother. Bloch did an impeccable job at introducing Bates as a sympathetic character. He’s been misguided his entire life by his overbearing mother who constantly instilled a belief in sin and that women are nothing but evil. The man is a murderer yet is he worthy of the sympathy felt? Quite the moral conundrum.

‘Mary started to scream, and then the curtains parted further and a hand appeared, holding a butcher’s knife. It was the knife that, a moment later, cut off her scream.
And her head.’

Personally, I hadn’t even seen the film before reading this so shockingly enough I went into this completely oblivious to the truth behind the story. What a fantastic twist.. even if I did see it coming. Bloch’s writing is incredibly fluid and despite the time that has passed since its original publication manages to read without the feel of a classic. It’s a shame that Bloch didn’t write more horror novels but I’m definitely going to have to seek out some of his short stories.

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Classic Curiosity – Hallowe’en Party (Hercule Poirot Series #36) by Agatha Christie

October 30, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Ominous October, Read in 2014 0 Comments

Classic Curiosity – Hallowe’en Party (Hercule Poirot Series #36) by Agatha ChristieHallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot Series #36
Published by HarperCollins on November 1969
Pages: 336
Genres: Classics, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: And Then There Were None

two-stars

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples...At a Hallowe'en party, Joyce - a hostile thirteen-year-old - boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the 'evil presence'. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer...

While preparing for the upcoming Hallowe’en Party, thirteen-year-old Joyce Reynolds begins boasting about a murder she claims to have been a witness to many years ago. The reason she gives for not coming forward sooner was she didn’t realize it was an actual murder until recently. For the most part, no one took much notice of her ramblings but someone apparently did. At the Hallowe’en Party, Joyce was found drowned in the apple-bobbing tub. The immediate reasoning for her own death seems to be the death that she witnessed.

Tis the season for a good murder mystery and what better than a murder mystery which occurs at a Halloween Party? This was my train of thought going into this one but that thought quickly derailed. This is my second Agatha Christie book (my first being And Then There Were None — it pains me to rate a Christie book so low after that one) and my first foray into the Hercule Poirot series and even though I’ve been told that they all manage well as stand alone’s, that you can jump right in at any point, Hallowe’en Party was clearly a poor starting point. I started reading this in print and was at first enjoying it but once Poirot began his investigation I kept wanting to put the book down in favor of more interesting things like laundry and vacuuming. I tried powering through but I failed when I began to think I was so out of it I was forgetting to turn the pages and was reading the same passages all over again because the many people he interviewed all had the same. exact. things to say about Joyce. Poirot’s investigation seemingly led no-where yet he was able to postulate exactly who the killer was with little to nothing to go on. Good for you, Poirot. I guess that’s why you’re the detective and I am not. It was all very wearisome though. I switched to listening to the audio after a bit so I could multitask and have exciting times in laundry folding as well.

Poirot was quite a character but I haven’t given up completely on him; I do still anticipate reading the earlier installments (Yes, Dani, like Murder on the Orient Express). He was like a quirky, French version of Sherlock. I’m at least thankful that Sherlock isn’t weird about his facial hair as Poirot clearly is.

‘There was only one thing about his own appearance which really pleased Hercule Poirot, and that was the profusion of his moustaches, and the way they responded to grooming and treatment and trimming. They were magnificent. He knew of nobody else who had any moustache half as good.’

I’m not sure I’d call it “magnificent” but it’s certainly something.

For those of you that are looking for a perfect theme read for Halloween night, alas this isn’t one I’d recommend. Not only because it’s one of the least interesting mysteries I’ve read as of late but even though the murder takes place on Halloween and the rest of the book centers around that, the actual “Halloween” aspects of it last only a few short pages.

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Book Review – The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

October 25, 2014 Dani Dani's Reviews 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.

Book Review – The Good Girl by Mary KubicaThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Published by Harlequin MIRA on July 29th 2014
Pages: 355
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-stars

"I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." 

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems….

“I’ve been following her for the last few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I’ve never spoken to her. I wouldn’t recognize the sound of her voice. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Meet Mia/Chloe. Mia was kidnapped by a stalker with the intent to extort money from her very wealthy and prominent father. Chloe is the girl who returns to her family while Mia remains trapped by her own subconscious after the horror she faced.

The Good Girl relies heavily on cliché; It has a pretty, little rich girl who loathes her wealth and status, a kidnapper with a conscience, a dickish detective with a heart of gold, and totally aloof, distant parents that Mia detests with little foundation. I never grew to care for Mia – not when she was cold and crying in her captor’s lair, and not after a shell of her former self had been returned to her family. I never disliked or feared her kidnapper, but I took larger issue with him sprouting a conscience after abducting someone.

“But there’s the gun. She sees it. And in that moment, things change. There’s a moment of recognition. Of her mind registering the gun, of her figuring out what the fuck is about to happen. Her mouth parts and out comes a word: ‘Oh.’”

“Oh” precisely sums up my reaction to this book. It didn’t get scary psychologically and the suspense built within one chapter would quickly diminish with the frequent chapter breaks that not only change point-of-view narrators, but also had temporal shifts before and after the kidnapping. The result was jarring and confusing, not mysterious.

I think the largest problem this book had was me as a reader. I just recently finished two awesomely creepy books about missing women: Gone Girl and The Collector. On the heels of those 4-star works, this novel didn’t stand up. It was conventional and predictable, even in the midst of its “major” shocker (which I won’t spoil for you).

If you’re looking for a genuine thriller about a kidnapper, check out the oldie but goodie Along Came a Spider by James Patterson. Want something about a rich girls who you don’t hate, go for Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar.

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Ominous October – American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

October 24, 2014 Bonnie Adult, 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 – American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson BennettAmerican Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
Published by Orbit on February 12th 2013
Pages: 662
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Sci-fi
Format: Paperback
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Foundryside

four-stars

Some places are too good to be true.

Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map.

In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.

After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother's home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother's past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different ...

From one of our most talented and original new literary voices comes the next great American supernatural novel: a work that explores the dark dimensions of the hometowns and the neighbors we thought we knew.

‘…it is always quiet near homes like this, and it is always ill-advised to venture out at night in Wink. Everyone knows that. Things could happen.’

After her estranged father suffers a stroke, Mona Bright uncovers documents revealing she inherited a house from her late mother in a town called Wink, New Mexico. Not having anywhere to call home she decides to set out to see this house in this strange town that she has never heard of. Wink becomes extremely hard to find, not being on any maps as Wink was a town built around an old research station that her mother apparently worked at which was shut down in the 1970s. Once Mona finally does discover the town it appears to be a picture-perfect little town, however as time passes she realizes that there is something about the Stepford Wives type of perfection that is extremely unsettling as well as the information she uncovers about her mother, Laura Alvarez. The memories Mona has of her mother are of an extremely troubled woman that one day took a shotgun into the bathroom with her and the discovery that her mother was actually a quantum psychist at the lab in the 70s is baffling to her.  Mona begins an investigation to uncover the mystery of her mother and her presence in the mysterious town of Wink.

‘Some places in Wink are more than one place. Some places take you places you never expected. Rooms within rooms, doors within doors, worlds hidden within a thimble or a teacup.
You just have to know where to look.’

While the initial mystery that drives Mona is the mystery of her mother, she slowly begins to be consumed with the complete enigma of the town and its inhabitants instead. The story is told primarily from the point of view of Mona, but we are also given snippets through the eyes of some of the townspeople where we can see firsthand just how incredibly strange it is to live in this picturesque little town. American Elsewhere contains extremely vivid characterization; it doesn’t matter how much time is spent focusing on the individual each one is unforgettable whether because of the imagery alone or the shockingly horrific stories that correlate with these people.

The build-up to the final resolution is exhilarating despite the daunting amount of pages you’re up against as a reader. While you may be able to pick up on some obvious hints as to what is truly going on in Wink, Bennett still manages to throw in some shocking twists that will definitely surprise you. Make no mistake, this is not some simple story of a strange suburban community; American Elsewhere is an amazing example of intricately structured plotlines and also the complete defiance of genre boundaries. I went into this book fairly blind (I definitely recommend this) and found the hefty dose of science fiction blended with a good amount of horror to be quite unexpected. American Elsewhere left me thoroughly impressed and will most assuredly be picking up more of Bennett’s works.

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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
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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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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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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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
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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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