Mini-Review: Guantanamo Boy, Scarlet, The Stubborn Dead


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Guantanamo Boy

Title: Guantanamo Boy

Author: Anna Perera

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Khalid, a fifteen-year-old Muslim boy from Rochdale, is abducted from Pakistan while on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under the cruellest of circumstances. An innocent denied his freedom at a time when Western boys are finding theirs, Khalid tries and fails to understand what’s happening to him and cannot fail to be a changed young man.

Review: Story is eye-opening and thought-provoking. It’s not a book I’d normally pick up, but it’s an intriguing read all the same, and inspired by true events. At times, the realism was almost too much. The book was harsh, the torture sickening. The writing and characterization could’ve been a bit better though. It took a while to get into it though.


Title: Scarlet

Author: A.C. Gaughen

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Review: This book was pretty amazing. I LOVE Robin Hood. It’s always been one of my favorite stories, and I loved this fresh take on it, with Scarlet posing as a boy in Robin Hood’s gang of thieves, and slowly falling for Robin. Robin was amazing too. This is one of the best romances I’ve read in a while. Great story!

The Stubborn Dead

Title: The Stubborn Dead

Author: Natasha Hoar

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Ghosts

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Rachel Miller thought her next job was a run-of-the-mill haunting. As a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums it’s her duty to release trapped spirits from the earthly realm. But when called to client Sylvia Elkeles’s house, she finds a wraith who doesn’t act like he should.

The Order considers the wraith an extreme threat and Rachel may be forced to use a barbaric ritual to free him—a ritual that comes with a heavy personal price. If she fails to humanely release the wraith, she’ll have her supernatural abilities bound.

When Janus Ostara—local supernatural mob boss—shows up demanding her attention, and Sylvia keeps secrets that may place Rachel in mortal danger, she doesn’t need her abilities to know something darkly sinister is at play.

Between uncovering Sylvia’s disturbing motives, and avoiding Janus, Rachel has enough on her hands without dealing with a wraith who may not realize he’s supposed to be dead…

Review: The book drops us right into the middle of the story. The action picks up from the start, and the book turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Rachel is an intriguing protagonist. She has a great sense of humor, and she’s pretty awesome at what she does. The entire worldbuilding of this book was great, including the Order of Rescue Mediums, and the lore behind that.

Book Review: Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler

21412133Title: Nyctophobia

Author: Christopher Fowler

Genre: Mystery, Horror

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

An original thriller from bestselling author Christopher Fowler that reinventing the haunted house story.

There are two things you need to know about haunted houses. One, there’s never been an actual authenticated haunted house. Two, it’s not the house that’s haunted, but the person.

Callie is a young architectural student who marries Mateo, a wine importer, and moves to a grand old house in Southern Spain. Hyperion House is flooded with light, it also has a mute gardener, a sinister housekeeper and a sealed, dark servants’ quarters that nobody has the keys for. And although initially happy, and taking care of Mateo’s daughter, Callie can’t help being drawn to the dark empty rooms at the back of the house, and becomes convinced that someone is living in there.

Uncovering the house’s history, she discovers the shocking truth. As Callie’s fear of the darkness returns, she comes to understand the true nature of evil.

Nyctophobia is the best horror book I’ve read in 2014, and I doubt I’ll find a better book any time soon. The writing was exquisite, rich in detail, atmospheric and haunting. The book started out slow, and I expected to find a rather standard haunted house story, but this is completely different, and utterly, utterfly terrifying.

I had nightmares about this book last night, and I don’t think they’ll be the first. I don’t mind nightmares though, especially not when the cause is a book as amazing as this one.

In Nyctophobia, Callie has had a troubling childhood. Anorexia, trying to commit suicide, a controlling mother…When she meets Mateo, it feels like she’s finally getting her life back together. He’s a wine importer, originally from Spain, and years older than her. But to Callie it doesn’t matter – she’s in love, and Mateo is the best thing that ever happened to her. The two of them get married, and Mateo buys a grand old house in Southern Spain, named Hyperion House.

The house is strange, and an architectural miracle, which is great for Callie. She studied architecture, and wants to write a book about the house. The front part of the house is always bathing in light, and ideal place for a person with nyctophobia – fear for the dark. But the back part of the house, the servant’s quarter, are always in the dark, with a mountain looming over them.

As Callie and her family move into the house, she wants to investigate all the rooms, including the ones in the dark. However, the rooms are locked, the keys supposedly lost. The old housekeeper won’t share any secrets about the house, even though Callie feels she’s keeping quite a few. But then Callie starts hearing strange noises from the darkened rooms, shuffling, footsteps, furniture moving, whispers.

What is going on in her new house? How is it connected to the previous owners? Can she protect the people she loves?

I know it may sound cliché, but one it’s revealed what’s going on…well, I was shocked enough to nearly drop out of my chair, and then I was so terrified I had to glance behind my shoulder every now and then. There is no blood and gore, but the horror slowly creeps up on you, until it soaks into your skin and doesn’t let you go.

Amazing. Horrific. Terrifying. The best writing I’ve read in ages. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me, but I can do nothing but recommend it.

Mini-Review: Haint Misbehavin’, Striking Back, Slide


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Haint Misbehavin’

Title: Haint Misbehavin’

Author: Maureen Hardegree

Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Ghosts

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

The start of a fun middle-grade series, The Ghost Handlers, follows Heather Tildy, an Atlanta teen with a troublesome habit of attracting ghosts. Middle-child Heather has enough to worry about with sisters, boys and school. Now that a trouble-making girl from the 1800’s is poking her nose in Heather’s business, her life has taken a supernatural turn for the worse! Before her life can get better, she has to figure out how to help the ghost move on. Debut author Hardegree is a veteran short-story author for the well-known MOSSY CREEK HOMETOWN series. She plans multiple titles in this warm and funny YA series. “Ghostly fun!” ~Gillian Summers, The Faire Folk Series “A fun package of crushes, quests for popularity, and summertime antics, tied together with a paranormal bow. Fans of Meg Cabot’s Mediator novels will find much to like in Haint Misbehavin’, the first of Hardegree’s Ghost Handler series.” ~Trish Milburn HEARTBREAK RIVER (as Tricia Mills), Razorbill

Review: This was a fun, light ghost story for teens and middle graders. Heather is a great protagonist. She’s definitely not perfect – she has the habit of attracting ghosts, has multiple skin and respiratory allergies that make her stand out from the rest, and she’s geeky in a fun way. This book was light-hearted but kids will be able to relate to the characters and story just fine.

Striking Back

Title: Striking Back

Author: Mark Nykanen

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Justice is coming.
These men like to hurt women. Now it’s payback time for an unknown murderer who’s slaughtering the abusers in ways that mirror the ugly violence they forced upon the women in their lives. As the death count grows-and media interest explodes-innocent people could get caught in the killer’s revenge.
Los Angeles therapist Gwyn Sanders keeps her ugly family history to herself. More than twenty years ago, when she was still a teen, her violent stepfather died a grisly, mysterious death. Gwyn knows all the secrets but she’s not talking about the past-she’s too busy trying to change the future by breaking the cycle of domestic violence. The men she counsels aren’t saints, but maybe she can change the mindset that makes their lives-and the lives of the people closest to them-so miserable.
But when someone starts killing her controversial clients, Gwyn becomes LAPD’s primary suspect. After all, there’s the unsolved mystery of her stepfather’s bizarre death. Maybe Gwyn has a hidden desire for justice that’s far from therapeutic.

Review: Gwyn Sanders is an intriguing as it gets. She can easily relate to her patients because she has an ugly family history herself. When her worst clients start getting killed, Gwyn becoems the primary suspect. Her stepfather’s bizarre death was never solved, and that’s not working in her advantage either. The book was twisted at times, and very intense. The characterization was spot on.


Title: Slide

Author: Jill Hathaway

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth–her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Review: The moment I read the synopsis for Slide, I knew I had to read this book. Everyone belives Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep: when she passes out, she slides into someone else’s mind and experiences the world thorugh their eyes. That’s how she’s certain that her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself, but was murdered. Now it’s up to Vee to unmask the killer before he strikes again. There were quite a few twists and surprises, and the book definitely has a high creepy factor.

Book Review: Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story

18243288Title: Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story

Author: Diane Setterfield

Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Mystery, Paranormal, Horror, Ghosts

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who “could go to the good or the bad.” And indeed, although William Bellman’s life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him.

At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife’s fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called “Bellman & Black” . . .

I feel cheated. When I saw Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story at our local book shop, it was in the “horror” section. When I looked it up, the title mentioned “a ghost story”, so of course I had to ask for a review copy, because I absolutely freaking love ghost stories.

Alas, this is not a ghost story.

What is instead is an atmospheric, but slow, slow, utterly snail-like slow, story that shows little development for the first hundred-or-so pages and even then, barely picks up the pacing.

It all starts with our protagonist, William, who shoots a bird with his catapult when he’s eleven years old. This event haunts him for the rest of his life, and offers disastrous consequences later on. A nice idea, and it might’ve worked well, if this book hadn’t been so…you guessed it, slow.

The characters are paper-thin, and even the protagonist lacks personality. He feels like only half a person, something quickly mixed together for entertainment purposes, but only half-finished. The suspense is lacking, both because I couldn’t care about the characters due to their lack of personality, and because the pacing is too slow to build up any real tension.

There’s no fear, no excitement, no horror. Instead, it’s a bland read from start to finish. I hadn’t read the author’s first book, but although it has rave reviews, I will probably skip it based on how boring “Bellman and Black” proved to be.

Book Review: Meeting Place of the Dead by Richard Palmisano

20791449Title: Meeting Place of the Dead

Author: Richard Palmisano

Genre: True Haunting, Non-Fiction, Ghosts and Hauntings

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Come with us as we investigate a place that has so many spirits it is impossible to even hazard a count. A place that seems warm and inviting, but this is only an illusion a ghostly trap to lure you in. On this journey we discover hidden secrets, violent ghosts who find enjoyment in attacking the living, and entities that disguise themselves as children. Discover why a paranormal investigation group with more than thirty years of experience had to shut down its investigations and walk away from an incredibly haunted property.

Meeting Place of the Dead has a logical build up: we start with the first investigation, then go on to the next, etc. We get a rundown of everything that happened during a specific investigation, and sometimes we get smaller chapters in between that deals with research into the property the group is investigating and its history, or about what happened on cameras the investigators installed during a previous investigations.

So while the build up is logical, and that would suggest that the book would be a strong, non-fictional account of what happened at this particular house, it lacks credibility. Let me explain. We follow a group of paranormal enthusiasts as they enter a supposedly-haunted house, equipped with high-tech video cameras, a ghostbox, and EVP meters. From the first minute they arrive there, they establish a connection with the entities (plural) that inhabit the house. Now, one entity I’m willing to believe. Two, sure. Three? Maybe. But we’re talking dozens of entities here. Ghosts who may not have any connection with the house at all, but who just dropped by to have a chat with our paranormal group.

Maybe something is wrong with their equipment, I don’t know, but it sounds like one heck of a coincedence that they encounter this many ghosts in a house not even reputedly haunted. The house’s reputation is a bit tainted, but it’s nowhere near as horrible as one would expect from a house inhabited by this many spirits.

Then the group brings in a bunch of mediums who more-or-less tell the same thing, except with some twists here and there. They find a spot where they suspect a child’s corpse is hidden, but nothing is there, with leads me to question the mediums’ credibility. Also, the way the author tells us everything is more like a video transcript, like he’s just typing whatever happened on video.

The story is repetitive, mostly because of the strange video-transcript-like writing style, and overall, lacks credibility. The focus is mostly on investigating, which is good, but completely lacks in the historical research department. I would’ve like to learn more about the house’s history.

Book Review: The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2) by Jonathan Stroud

14059024Title: The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2)

Author: Jonathan Stroud

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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.

I’m absolutely and utterly in love with the Lockwood & Co series. When I reviewed the first book, The Screaming Staircase, I had no choice but to give it a 5-star rating, considering it was easily one of the best books I’d ever read. The Whispering Skull, the sequel, is no different at all.

The world Jonathan Stroud has created in his books is downright amazing. It’s an alternative version of London, one overshadowed by ghosts and other entities. In the sequel, Lucy, Anthony and George are back, and they’re still struggling with Visitors, quarrelling with Kipps, and trying hard to establish a reputation for themselves amongst the other, more reputable agencies. Fortunately they’re in a better position than in the first book – after solving The Screaming Staircase case, their reputation has vastly improved, and they get more job offers.

Then a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor with a bad reputation. The trio shows up for the excavation, and all goes well – until George’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he takes a closer look at an object hidden inside the coffin. Afterwards, George acts strange, but neither Lockwood nor Lucy looks for anything behind it. That is, until they hear the contents of the coffin have been stolen by a thief – and the object inside the coffin is potentially more dangerous than anyone realizes.

On top of that, the ghost jar starts acting up again. Lucy is the only one who can hears its whispers, but this time around, the jar seems to have an even more sinister message from the beyond.

As inspector Barnes asks for the trio’s help to locate the stolen object, he also enlists Kipps and his team – and the challenge is on. But if they want to defeat the evil hidden inside the coffin, they may have to find a way to work together, or this might be the one job that’ll get them killed.

Lucy, Lockwood and George are amazing. I loved their dynamics in the first book, and here, they’re spot on again. Lockwood is still as secretive as ever, but part of the veil covering his past, is lifted. We see him in a more positive daylight, not just some Indiana Jones-type who doesn’t care much for his companions. Lucy is a lucky girl to work with him, that’s all I’m saying. Talking about Lucy, she is still struggling with her own powers, and part of what makes her interesting is how real the struggle feels. She’s afraid of her abilities, afraid sometimes of the ghosts closing in on them, and that fear is real and palpable. I also liked her bickering with George – you’d think the two of them would get better along after what happened in the first book, and maybe they do, but only up to some point. There’s still too different to really get along.

The plot is fast-paced, and once again, completely blew me away. Everything about the book screams originality, from the setting to the plot (creepy object found in coffin, and the trio having to run all across London to retrieve it) to the characters. The world-building is hands down amazing, and the author should get an award for that feat alone. Everything matches, everything works, and the end result is simply amazing.

This is my favorite series ever, and I can’t wait to read the next part. Mr. Stroud, you better get writing, or I might have to sent a Type 3 your way.

Book Review: The Dead Are Watching: Ghost Stories from a Reluctant Psychic

20786094Title: The Dead Are Watching: Ghost Stories from a Reluctant Psychic

Author: Debra Robinson

Genre: Non-Fiction, True Haunting, Ghosts

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Psychic Debra Robinson investigates hauntings and helps send spirits to the other side. A haunted factory owner’s suicide and guilt over leaving his son permeates the building but lifts after Debra’s assurances that his family is okay. A strange and terrifying investigation of an unreported murder with the body stuffed down an outhouse changes lives. Ongoing visits in Debra’s own home keeps her family on edge. Terrifying and inspiring true stories pulled from Debra’s life round out her new work with more evidence of the afterlife from those who’ve found that love survives beyond death.

The Dead Are Watching is the second book I read by Debra Robinson, and I enjoyed it. Debra has a vast collection of stories to share, and all of those storeis deal with the supernatural. This book was filled with dozens of accounts, some of them more interesting than others.

I wish there were more facts presented though, more history about the cases. Often we get cold readings, or just the author’s impressions of what’s going on. While interesting, it’s not a lot to rely on – if we could get history, or people’s ideas about it, that might help. A lot of the stories focused on James as well, Debra’s deceased son. While I understand her need to write about this, I wouldn’t have minded if there had been more variation in the cases she discusses in this book, since her first book largely focused on James as well.

The writing is solid, and engaging. It has a light undertone though, which caused me to feel not even a single chill, although I was reading about ghosts and the like, and if there’s anything that usually manages to scare me, it’s ghosts. I did find most of the accounts believable (although, like I mentioned, other witnesses or a history of what was happening could’ve helped).

If you’re a fan of true haunting books, this one is a good choice. Not the best I read, but definitely one of the better ones. Doesn’t go over-the-top in Hollywood-horror style, but instead focuses on the afterlife and ghosts in an entirely different way – with warmth and compassion.

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

17661402Title: MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1)

Author: Hillary Monahan

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts, Gothic Horror

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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?

It’s hard to review a book you’ve fallen in love with, and I’ve absolutely fallen for the plot, characters, and the sublime writing that is hidden in the pages of MARY: The Summoning. This is one of the best YA gothic horror novels I’ve read in my entire life – and I’d recommend it to just about everyone.

Shauna’s best friend, Jess, is obsessed with summoning Bloody Mary. But whereas Shauna thought it was just a stupid, silly party game, it turns out to be so much more. Once Mary is correctly summoned, and not in the clumsy way most urban legend stories say you have to summon her, then…well, the shadow creeping along the mirror, and the bony fingers reaching out from the afterlife, are sufficient to give Shauna nightmares for the rest of her life.

For Shauna, Kitty and Anna, one encounter with Mary is sufficient for a lifetime, but Jess demands they summon her again. And again. Until their circle gets broken, and Mary is freed…

Mary’s ghosts starts to haunt the four friends, appearing in mirrors, any reflecting surface – which is just about anymore – and trying to grab them and pull them into the afterlife with her. Shauna, the main target of Mary’s attack, needs to find out more about Mary’s history in order to stop the vengeful ghosts. Loyalties and friendship are tested, and what is revealed, may be shocking to all of them…

Shauna is one kick-ass protagonist. At the start, I thought she was a little passive, willing to follow Jess, no matter what she did, but she soon grew a backbone and started to stand up for herself. I disliked Jess with a passion, but that’s not at all surprising considering what happens in the book. If you want to know what, you’ll just have to read it for yourself, though.

Just about everything about this book is perfect. The writing is great, and at times the descriptions were so creepy I nearly crawled into my closet to hide. The characters each have distinct personalities, and it’s easy to keep them apart. The mystery about Mary was intriguing too, highly supsenseful, and not at all what I expected.

But the best part? This book was deliciously creepy. Creepy in a way I didn’t expect – the kind of fear that crawls under your skin and makes you look over your shoulder every once in a while, expecting to see Mary’s ghost. That fear, the gothic horror fear that not a lot of books manage to convey. This one does, though.

Highly recommended, especially to people looking for a solid gothic horror novel, and well, for everyone who wants a good scare.

Book Review: Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

19486754Title: Ghost House

Author: Alexandra Adornetto

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

From the New York Times bestselling author of Halo comes the start of a beautiful and powerful new series.

After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own.

After reading Halo, and not enjoying it all that much, I was hesitant about picking up Ghost House. Ultimately, my love for ghost stories decided for me, and I gave it a shot. I wasn’t dissapointed. The story is engaging, it has some original elements, the writing has improved from the Halo series, and characterization was slightly better as well. It still won’t land on my list of favorite books, but it’s a great improvement from the author’s first series.

That said, the book lacks passion. Anyone could’ve written it. The characters are bland and boring. Life-altering events, like the death of Chloe’s mom, are completely glossed over. Why should she feel pain over what happened to her mom when she has a new guy to swoon about? Yeah, right. The plot is uninspired. A girl loses her mother, moves into a large house with her grandmother, and starts seeing ghosts. She falls ofr a ghost named Alexander, and that brings about the rage of his former lover, Isobel.

Grange Hall is lifeless and dull, which is not what would be expected of a haunted mansion. It seems to be a reflection of the personalities of the characters. Chloe is a cardboard figure without real emotions. Alexander is your standard mysterious hero hiding secrets. The antagonist is as one-dimensional as the other characters, and her motives are never truly explained, or how she became such a powerful spirit.

Chloe is judgemental, dull, and has as much chemistry with Alexander as she has with a bed, a chair, or anything else. Which means: nada.

Also, I fail to grasp why Isobel gets all the blame. Why is it right that Alexander blames her for something that happened to her, and something she has no control over? For those of you who read the book, was this just as mind-blowing to you as it was to me? Isobel is another victim, not some evil tyrant. Makes no sense whatsoever. Why is she supposedly to blame for everything?

The book ended up being a dissapointment. The idea was good, but the plot failed halfway through, and the characters lacked depth.

Book Review: Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles

18579790Title: Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles

Author: Stacey Graham

Genre: Non-Fiction, True Haunting, Ghosts

Rating: 2 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Finding a one-of-a-kind antique doll at a garage sale is a great feeling–until you bring that doll home and discover it’s haunted. Objects with restless spirits attached to them can quietly invade a home through auctions, antique dealers, estate sales, garage sales, and inheritance. This spooky collection examines a wide variety of haunted items, from screaming skulls to demonic dolls, and how they affect the owner’s life. Haunted Stuff provides true accounts of possessed possessions, often found in the strangest places. Discover chilling stories of the island of haunted dolls, the tumbling coffin, Rudolph Valentino’s cursed ring, and even the Queen Mary ocean liner–one of the largest haunted items of all. Experience these true accounts that will make you look closer at the antiques on your shelf . . . and wonder if that creepy doll just blinked.

Haunted Stuff was a ‘blah’ read. It covers a lot of ground, but doesn’t mention the accounts in detail, and a lot of things mentioned in the book have been mentioned elsewhere, over a bazillion times. It lacks originality, and the cases aren’t interesting either. There’s no new perspective. Everything is just rehashed from material that can be found elsewhere. The author didn’t do investigations on site, and she has no experiences with haunted stuff herself, or if she does, she doesnt elaborate them here.

The stories were familiar for the most part. Some were new, but those didn’t even make up a quarter of the book. It’s nothing more than a mish-mash of urban legends that have been recycled a dozen times, or the more famous hauntings everyone knows about. I was hoping for original cases the author investigated herself, or cases that didn’t make it to the headlines at least a dozen times before.

Ultimately, a dissapointment.