Pub: Apr 1, 2014
Clarissa fends off the unwanted, increasingly frightening attentions of a work colleague.
Sometimes I read books that make me feel let down, not necessarily through any fault of their own, but simply because I’d had higher expectations. So when this book was compared to Before I Go To Sleep, I had expected to be hanging on the edge of my seat, guessing until the last page, and though this definitely was a thriller, it lacked the mystery and suspense I was expecting.
What I liked: I feel strange saying I liked parts of this book, because really, this book was horrifying, mostly due to the very real nature of abuse, obsession, and stalking that the main character dealt with. BUT it did make me think, and I like books that make me think.
What I didn’t like: The point-of-view alternates between Clarissa writing in 1st person POV and the narrator describing her life in 3rd person POV, which I found highly distracting. Also, because Clarissa’s journal only described her encounters with Rafe (her stalker), it was a bit ‘spoiler-y’ to start a new scene knowing, oh, he’s going to show up again in this scene.
Heads up: disturbing subject matter, violence, descriptive sexual content (including a rape)
Nightmare by Robin Parrish
The daughter of renown paranormal investigators goes looking for answers after seeing her missing friend’s face in a amusement park haunted house.
Doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe. Everybody has a ghost story.
This book was different than what I had expected, and in some ways, that was neat. The even-numbered chapters follow the main character Maia and her friend Jordin as they investigate various haunted real-life locations around the United States, which I found interesting (though I’d also already read a lot about these places from other sources). The odd-numbered ‘present-day’ chapters follow Maia and Jordin’s pastor-in-training-boyfriend as they try to figure out what happened to her. Let’s just say, it gets rather sci-fi and way weirder than I had expected.
Maia, as a narrator, was a bit hard to love. As someone exposed to the paranormal her whole life, she was a bit of a know-it-all and I didn’t really buy into her motivations for her actions. The ending, like I said, got a little weird, but I thought it was an interesting book that brought out some good thinking points about angels and demons, ghosts, and the paranormal.
NEW this week…
Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer
3 of 5 stars
With the 1906 San Francisco World’s Fair as the backdrop, Delia is haunted by the ghost of a murder victim as her killer once more terrifies the city.
A murder investigation was a macabre jigsaw puzzle, splashed with blood and the remnants of someone’s life.
This historical murder mystery ghost story borrows from many serial killer investigations, most obviously that of the Zodiac killer (though that occurred decades after the setting of this book), and the grim details and sense of fear are intense throughout the story. The characters in this novel are particularly well-written, with relationships that felt genuine and strengthened the story.
On the flip side, there were still some unanswered questions that left me feeling somewhat less satisfied at the end of the story:
For instance (highlight for spoilers) –
- what happened to the other officer who had gone missing?
- why did the killer target Gabe’s father to begin with?
- what happened to the killer while at his uncle’s that caused such a change in him?
- why had Jack’s father kept his mother’s murder secret?
- who were Teddy & Beryl?
- how did Aileen know to ask Delia for help anyway?
- why all the Egyptology?
I also think that the killer may have been a bit too… two-dimensional. I was sincerely hoping for some sort of twist or shocker ending but was kind of disappointed when they figured out who it was and — sure enough — that’s who it was. It was almost too easy, and made me wonder why it had taken them thirty years to figure out who it was.
Overall, though, good ghostly murder mystery with a bit of history and romance thrown in as well
NEW this week…
Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell
4 of 5 stars
After going over the local waterfall, Callum Harris wakes up in a world where everything is a warped version of itself, and everyone is treating him very strangely.
Maybe it’s that simple. I’m crazy — or more like damaged. I sank to the bottom of a raging river; I would have drowned, but the cold kept me alive, and now this is my brain fizzling and popping, making me believe in some imaginary other life.
The book summary promised it was good for fans of Neal Shusterman, and since he happens to be one of my favorite authors, I figured I’d give this one a try.
This quick read is exciting, intense, and somewhat mind-boggling, all things that I enjoy in a thriller. The story plays out similarly to how I expected, but the strange situations that Callum finds himself in as he tries to figure out what has happened kept me guessing and flipping page after page. The ending was satisfying, but I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel, since there are still some loose ends that weren’t completely tied up.
Callum did seem a bit slow on the uptake as far as realizing that something strange was going on, though I suppose in a situation like that, you would try to come up with any other explanation.
Overall: A gripping tale that will pull you under.
NEW this week…
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
2.5 of 5 stars
Annaliese is found after being missing for a year with no memory of her past except for strange visions which make her wonder if perhaps she isn’t who she thinks she is at all.
“I think I must have gotten carsick,” I said feebly.
“Annaliese was never carsick.”
The mom didn’t seem to notice that she had referred to Annaliese as if she was a different person from me, a person who now existed only in the past tense.
Well… that was… intense. What I thought was going to be a psychological thriller/mystery turned out to be more of a paranormal thriller/horror, and a rather gritty one at that. Although it was not at all what I expected, it kept me guessing and kept me wanting to read on to see what would happen. Most of the characters seemed to have some sort of complexity to them, and the familial relationship was refreshingly positive.
That being said, there was way more gore, casual sex, gore, violence, and — did I mention gore? — than I normally prefer to read about. Add onto that Insta-Love with a guy whom I was pretty convinced was a stalker and a whole bunch of flashbacks and I can’t say it was one of my favorite YA books I’ve read lately, but it was certainly different.
Overall: Gory, creepy, but an interesting premise.
Light by Michael Grant
Gone series #6
Pub: Apr 2013
4 of 5 stars
The children trapped in the FAYZ make one last stand against the gaiaphage and prepare themselves for the end of the barrier.
“I’m not losing you because you played fair. You’re not getting killed. You’re not dying. This isn’t some doomed last mission. Do you understand me? This does not end with me crying and missing you every day for the rest of my life. This ends with us walking out of this nightmare together. You and me…”
The Gone series is one that I began back in January of last year, and one that has entertained, terrified, and kept me up late each time I picked up a new book.
This final book did not disappoint. If anything, it exceeded my expectations, wrapping up the series nicely, tying up the loose ends, and giving readers ending that was filled with both sorrow and hope for the future. Just when evil seemed to have the upper hand, sacrifices were made and unlikely heroes stepped up, providing an incredibly satisfying end to the FAYZ. It’s great to see how the characters have grown and developed throughout the six books.
Heads up: As in previous books of the series, Light contains violence, gore, sexual content, swearing, and some of the most nightmare-inducing imagery ever. It is not for the faint of heart.
Overall: A satisfying and appropriate ending to the series.
4 of 5 stars
This short story collection features strange and eerie tales, including precursors to Shusterman’s Everlost and Full Tilt novels.
He flatly denied the existence of Jim-Jim Jeffries. Marty was convinced it was just a made-up story, designed to keep small children from crossing dangerous streets to get ice cream. Well, he wasn’t a small child anymore. He didn’t believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or Jim-Jim Jeffries.
Neal Shusterman is one of my all-time favorite authors, but this was my first read-through of any of his short-story collections, and I was not disappointed. Each tale is full of suspense and psychological thrills that are worthy of The Twilight Zone, and together, as a collection, they exhibit a wide variety of imaginative elements, ranging from ghost stories to monsters to tales of revenge. While definitely macabre, Shusterman avoids being gory or overly gruesome; most stories would be deemed more “creepy” than “gross.”
My favorite short story in this collection was Screaming at the Wall, a new look at time travel that’s more strange and bizarre than it is scary.
Readers should be aware, however, that while twisted and strange, these tales aren’t necessarily the things of horror movies, and certainly not one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. Though the warning on the back cover would convince you otherwise — they’re unlikely to induce nightmares, though they certainly may give the reader a serious aversion to punch bowls, chandeliers, and glass bathtubs.
Overall: A compelling and imaginative collection of strange and eerie tales.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
2 of 5 stars
When the governess of two small children begins to see strange apparitions around her charges, she suspects there may be evil presences controlling their actions.
It was gruesome, as, on Christmas Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be…
True, this novella is not your typical Christmas story. In fact, the only reason it could be classified as such is because the narrator tells others the tale at a Christmas party, which, presumably, is somewhat of a tradition of the narrator’s (though I have no idea why). This book is likely a lot more fitting for Halloween, but undoubtedly falls under the category of a classic I had never before read, so I included it in my list.
I spent most of the time reading this book thinking, “WHAT on earth is going on?” only to come to the end and ask myself again “WHAT on earth just happened?” This is definitely a psychological thriller in the fact that the reader has no idea what is real, what is made-up by the characters, and what is merely in their minds. And in that aspect, it was interesting… except…
There is no real resolution. The ambiguity of this story leaves nearly everything up to the reader’s interpretation, from the ghostly sightings themselves to the children’s part in them, to the concluding events of the story. So much of the ‘suspense’ of the story was built up by nothing happening — but by the governess implying or worrying or thinking that something might be happening or could have happened.
Overall: A classic ghost story with a lot of buildup and suspense but very little of anything evil or frightening actually occurring.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
4 of 5 stars
When golden girl Amy Dunne disappears, the trail of suspicion seems to lead directly to her secretive husband Nick, who tries desperately to prove his own innocence and puzzle out what really happened to his wife.
I suppose those questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?
I’ve been hearing hype about this book for quite awhile, and picked it up not honestly expecting to succumb to the up-too-late-because-I-can’t-put-it-down claims people were making, but I did. The book starts with a good-marriage-gone-bad story with prose and a mood that reminded me of one of favorite books, Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned. As secrets are revealed, my whodunnit opinion changed about half a dozen times, and even I wasn’t quite prepared for the psychological twist in part two.
This book does contain some rather smug, selfish, self-destructive, and, well, sociopathic characters, and with the first-person perspective, the reader bears the full brunt of this. I can understand, on the basis of this alone, why some people REALLY did not like this book. I also don’t know that I was entirely satisfied with the ending; I don’t know what I wanted to happen, but after the back and forth insanity of the rest of the book, the resolution seemed a bit… blase and out of character.
Heads up: Parts of the book include references to and descriptions of murder, violence, domestic abuse, infidelity, kidnapping, sexual encounters and crudeness, rape, drunkenness, drug use, lying, manipulation, blackmail, cursing, swearing, and crude language.
Overall: A psychological thriller that just keeps getting more and more insane and twisted as the book progresses.