Top 5 Wednesday | Favourite Spooky Settings

 

 

This week’s theme is SPOOKTACULAR!!

I haven’t necessarily been spooked while reading them, there has just been something kind of eerie about each of these – whether it be the plot, characters or the setting. As you will see, I really fancy books which don’t feel like a particular time or place. So here we go!

5. Crimson Bound | Rosamund Hodge

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“Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.”

It was tough choosing between this book and Cruel Beauty because they are both pretty spooky. I decided on this one because of the lore that Hodge has written into the story.

This book was stunning. I sort of forgot just how wretchedly beautiful it was until I looked into it again. It is set in Durendal – a fictional city with a quite disturbing Great Forest.

Rachelle is our protagonist – Hodge’s interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood – and she is a protector, assassin and guard of the realm. Her main goal throughout the story is to end/stop the Devourer – this dark creature that wants to destroy the world.

The characters are intense and violent. The story is thorny and twisty. There are many dark creatures killing townspeople. It’s just a very spooky village!

4. The Raven Boys | Maggie Stiefvater

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“I guess now would be a good time to tell you,” He said. “I took Chainsaw out of my dreams.”

What makes this book so spooky is that you are never quite sure what is happening. You are kept on your toes. The story is told from many perspectives but you still aren’t 100% sure of people’s motives – you can’t trust everybody. And I love it when fantasy elements are wrapped into real-life situations. It raises the intensity of the story.

3. Her Fearful Symmetry | Audrey Niffenegger

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“There was only the cemetery itself, spread out in the moonlight like a soft grey hallucination, a stony wilderness of Victorian melancholy.”

This is about two sisters who are mirror twins. They are completely identical except that one sister’s organs are on the opposite side of the body, so it’s like looking into the mirror of yourself.

They inherit their Aunt’s flat and it is here that their unusually close relationship starts to crumble. The other inhabitants of the building have their own issues and they start to seep into the sisters’ lives. Mistrust and paranormal activity keep the sisters and the reader on edge. It was an intense and almost stressful book to read.

2. In the Shadow of Blackbirds | Cat Winters

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“We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.”

Not only is this one of my favourite books but it is one of saddest and creepiest. It explores one of the great questions: Are ghosts real? Is there an afterlife?

This book is atmospheric. Winters really encapsulates American life in 1918 – it’s close to the end of the war but many people are still dying, especially from the Spanish Influenza. Not only are the supernatural elements strong here, but it is also exploring the social elements of life for a 16 year old girl in this time. There is strength and horror and fear.

1. The Diviners | Libba Bray

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“There is nothing more terrifying than the absoluteness of one who believes he’s right.”

I am ashamed to say that I still haven’t finished reading this! I am currently listening to the audiobook which is either the greatest or worst decision I have ever made. The narrator is spectacular! Her accents and the story she is telling really places the reader in 1920s New York and I feel like I have stepped through time to see this story play out.

There are some pretty graphic murder scenes in this book and one of the creepiest villains ever – he just feels insubstantial and his motive for killing beyond “Because I want to and can” aren’t 100% clear yet. And the fact that he sings while hunting his prey really makes my skin crawl. So even though I am only about 1/4 of the way through the book this is by far one of the creepiest settings for a book that I have come across.

Honourable Mentions

  • Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Supernatural Murder Mystery with a side of quirky humour – count me in! There are creepy characters and the setting is atmospheric, but it wasn’t too spooky to me. Dry, hot desert doesn’t really scream “Bump in the night”.

  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This just missed out because the setting falls too much into the realm of surreal rather than spooky. An incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking story though.

 

October Reviews | 15 October – 21 October 2016

V for Violet | Alison Rattle | 15 October 2016 | 3 stars

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I started this week with V for Violet by Alison Rattle. I usually put in a book blurb so you can see for yourself if you would be interested. After reading the book I decided the best thing I could do for you is not tell you because any description you read is about 78% spoiler. No joke. They give away a bunch of things in the blurb which are meant to be secret and mysterious.

So I am here to tell you DON’T READ ANY GOSH DARN BLURBS FOR THIS BOOK!!

I will tell you that it a historical murder mystery set in Ireland and that is all you need to know.

I liked that I was reading about a character that wasn’t very likeable (no idea if that was on purpose or not) – she’s so angry and a little angsty and she reminded me of me at her age. “No one understands me, my interests are different, why don’t I fit in”…the whole shebang!

It’s hard looking at an historically-set book with a modern brain because all my feminist hackles are raised by the quite disgusting sexism and victim blaming in the book, but at least it feels a bit more historically accurate by not shying away from it. It’s tough being a proud and disgusted reader at the same time.

The romance is a bit insta-lovey but it wasn’t the focus of the book so it didn’t phase me too much. Just a tiny bit of an eye-roll occurred over the main character falling for the “bad boy”.

The Problem With Forever | Jennifer L Armentrout | 18 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“When Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.”

I found that there was nothing overly wrong with this book, but after reading some reviews I realised that she was not great – sometimes even offensive – at representing Puerto Rican people. Knowing nothing about their culture I didn’t want to make some misinformed judgements about it, this is just a warning for those that may find themselves really offended by it.

My main issue was that it was just really predictable. Within 50 pages I had predicted almost every single thing that would occur in it. Conversations and thoughts were repetitive and it made the story drag on a bit. Only so much internalised agonising by the protagonist can be handled by me. People can struggle to converse in social situations and still think straight instead of being a complete mess at all times.

I don’t feel like this story added anything new or unique to our understanding of children welfare in America or things like social anxiety.

Like I said, not a great book, not a bad one, just majorly average.

Jack West Jr and the Hero’s Helmet | Matthew Reilly | 19 October 2016 | 4 stars

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“Late on Christmas Eve, decorated SAS officer and Egyptologist Jack West Jr is about to make a discovery that could rewrite history.

In the ancient Temple of Dendur, housed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, a legendary weapon has lain hidden for millennia.

But Jack is not the only person who knows about the artifact’s existence. As Jack examines the temple in the deserted museum, he is watched by a mysterious figure. A man intent on stopping him at any cost.”

THE HISTORY OF HOW JACKY BOY GOT HIS HELMET!! ALL THE SCREAMING!!!

Please tell me there are other Matthew Reilly fans here because this man writes the most fucking epic books! And I refuse to apologise for swearing. He deserves to be sworn over.

This was just a 20ish-page badass interlude that you can find here. It acts as a reintroduction to Jack and other characters (because sweet baby chestnuts it has been ages since the last book). I lubbed it ❤

The Four Legendary Kingdoms | Matthew Reilly | 21 October 2016 | 4.75 stars

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“There are sixteen contestants, but only one will survive.

The last thing Jack West Jr remembers is arriving for a meeting at a top-secret military base with his family in tow.

Now he awakes to find himself in a hellish scenario. Jack has been selected to take part in the Games, a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. If he chooses not to compete, both he and his daughter will be killed.

With the fate of the Earth at stake, Jack will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight ruthless assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him to the limit.

In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms.”

Well this is a first.

I legitimately felt giddy while reading this. Giddy. I only get this excited when squealing over smoochy kitties. It’s probably weird that I was smiling as much as I was while reading about a bunch of dudes murdering each other, but I like me for me 😉

But this, THIS, was everything. Worth the 63 million year wait.

Myth, action, heroes, legends, death, bizarre-o science that I don’t know even where to begin for fact-checking purposes, more death, friends, enemies, even more death.
Well, compared to his other books the death count isn’t actually that high. He didn’t George RR Martin us!

If you are reading this I don’t think you need to be told to read Reilly’s books, but I’m going to anyway. READ THE THINGS!

October Reviews | 8 October – 14 October 2016

Goodwood | Holly Throsby | 8 October 2016 | 2.5 stars

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“Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret.

In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens. Two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home.

People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear.

As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.”

I received this book as an review copy in a Dymocks competition and I was so ridiculously excited. I am in the middle of this giant crime binge and I thought it would be right up my alley. This book took forever to read – like 18 days – and I was a little let down by the end of it.

‘Chaotic’ is how I would best describe this book.

It’s like we are seeing events unfold through Evie’s eyes but she doesn’t feel like the protagonist, just a narrator. She was basically the relayer of information without being emotionally/physically affected by the missing people. The stronger chapters were those with Mack and Davo or Judy and Mrs Bart because I could feel the emotional trauma caused by the missing people.

Evie’s self-discovery being intertwined with the unravelling of the mystery of the two missing people didn’t feel right for me – almost like two different stories were mashed together incohesively.

It flips between characters and between tenses but there were no strong individual voices between them – I felt like I was being told events in the same tone so everyone blended together and it would take me time to discern that the narrator had changed.

I was expecting a mystery but the mystery element wasn’t too strong. I felt like this was more an exploration of the underbelly of suburbia. So if you are in people’s psyches then this may be more up your alley.

I Hunt Killers | Barry Lyga | 12 October 2016 | 4.25 stars

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“Jazz is a likable teenager. A charmer, some might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, “Take Your Son to Work Day” was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminals’ point of view.

And now, even though Dad has been in jail for years, bodies are piling up in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod. Again.

In an effort to prove murder doesn’t run in the family, Jazz joins the police in the hunt for this new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?”

This, this, is what I’ve been needing in my life!

If this is what it’s really like in the head of a sociopath then consider me terrified. Jazz fully understands that he grew up in a fairly unhealthy environment and it shaped him. He is manipulative, obsessive, cunning and intelligent.

I love that this book boils down to a kid on the road to self-discovery but he is trying to figure out if he is or is not a killer. He knows that he is capable, but it’s an actual effort to remind himself that people matter. Not something the average Joe needs to worry about! It’s a book about choices – about nature vs nurture.

I thought the crime was interesting and well-plotted. Just an all-around pretty great book about killers and definitely a series that I need to continue.

Top 5 Anticipated Pre-Orders for 2015

SO SO SO SO SO!!! THERE ARE NEW BOOKS COMING OUT OVER THE NEXT 5 MONTHS THAT ARE JUST EVERYTHING AMAZING IN THE WORLD AND I CAN’T EVEN!

Here are my Top 5-ish. I am going to pretend that I can’t count and that will be why there are more than five here. Cough.

Here. WE. GOOO!

On the 1st of September, 2015:

Top5 Queen of Shadows

This is legitimately one of my favourite series at the moment and I can’t wait to read more about Celaena. I feel like I have been waiting for this book for a bajillion years – which is a completely accurate measurement of time.

On the 8th of September, 2015:

Top5 Stand Off

JDGJKFGCVNXMCVIUSYJSKFOAISGJHDFJGFKHGDFGFPSGITUEJFDDVL!! <– This is the only way I am able to express my feelings about this sequel.  Just a tad excited.

On the 6th of October, 2015:

Top5 Carry On

Now I am not the biggest fan of Rowell’s – don’t get me wrong, I love her books and I am excited for this but I am not making inarticulate screeches because of it. I am hoping for a winner here.

On the 20th of October, 2015:

Top5 Career of Evil

Queen Rowling – as Galbraith – is back! I absolutely adore her crime novels and I can’t wait to mentally munch on this.

On the 3rd of November, 2015:

Top5 The Revolution of Ivy

These are my feelings:

On the 10th of November, 2015 we have two releases. TWO!

Top5 November 9

Yes. Yes…ALL THE YES!

Top5 Soundless

A new book by one of my all-time favourite authors? Put me down for 57. Thanks.

Book Review: In The Woods

Not to be mistaken by the glory that is Into The Woods…

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… but this lovely little little murder mystery instead:

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“As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.”

This book had some issues but was an overall good read. I legitimately read the majority of it in a seven-hour reading session. My brain hurt afterwards.

Let’s start with the story

I am going to forewarn you and tell you that this is the first in a series; I did not realise this until after I read it and was frustrated because *spoiler warning* the 1984 crime isn’t solved.

Anyhoo, I loved how it unfolded. At times it was tedious but only in the best of ways – it helped you feel the exact same frustration that Ryan and Maddox experienced during their investigation. I think it was a little misleading to say that there were similarities between the 1984 crime and the most recent one. I think French was trying too hard to make a connection so that it would affect Ryan psychologically and emotionally more during the book. I also guessed what would happen in the end as the hints dropped throughout the book were far from subtle. Don’t get me wrong, it did not ruin the reading experience for me one little bit – I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it happen.

Now the characters

This is Ryan boiled down to a rather inspiring quote from the book:

“What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this – two things: I crave truth. And I lie.”

Ryan is a bit of a douche: “emotionally crippled” would probably be a bit of an understatement. He likes explaining a lot of things in detail and sometimes this is helpful but sometimes it is irrelevant. GET IT TOGETHER MAN!

Maddox is BOSS. You want to be her because she is such a badass. The relationship/partnership between these two makes me ridiculously jealous as well. French has written the dialogue between these two very well; you can imagine that they spend the majority of their time together as they bounce off each other really naturally.

The evil-doers will give you the heebie jeebies (which I maintain is a real state of being). They range from psychotic to beyond pathetic, and straight on to depraved.

The rating

4 out of 5 delicious stars. I don’t know if I will continue with the series, but I will probably keep track of what happens in them as I really want to know what happened in the f***ing woods in 1984. It’s eating at me.

 

 

Book Review: In The Shadow Of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

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Third book of the year and it is a whopper.

“In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death.”

Just turn around and look, I told myself.

I squeezed my eyes shut and counted silently to three.

One.

Two.

Three.

I flipped myself over. Opened my eyes. And found a dead man next to my bed.

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This book will wreck you. There is no easier way of putting it.

You start off thinking it is going to be an historical romance novel, then you think it will be a romance novel that hurts. Then it goes on to become a supernatural feast of awesome! Then it scares the bejeesus out of you (I legit had goosebumps). Then the pain.. Oh, the pain. And it ends up being a mystery novel! Like, WHAT THE FRACK!

Oh, and the sass!

“The road ahead may be rather upsetting for a sixteen-year-old girl. I’m afraid your delicate female eyes and ears will experience some ugliness.”
“Oh, you silly, naive men.” I shook my weary head and genuinely pitied their ignorance. “You’ve clearly never been a sixteen-year-old girl in the fall of 1918.”

You need to get on this book and escape into one of the saddest periods of time in history and experience this eclectic, heartbreaking story. And an oddly-named bird: Oberon. Please name your future children thus.

I apologise for any pain this may cause you.

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