|Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano
I received a copy of this book from Disney Press via NetGalley
in exchange for a fair and honest review
The Chimes, by Charles Dickens
|The Chimes, by Charles Dickens, narrated by Richard Armitage|
Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake
Girl from the Well, by Rin Chupeco
The Girl from the Well, by Rin Chupeco
Genre: Teen Horror / Suspense
Reason for Reading: This book was provided by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Tarquin (Tark) Halloway has been haunted his entire life. With a mentally ill mother and a caring father who works too much, he feels he has no one to talk to about the strange lady that slinks through mirrors and makes Tark do terrible things. But when he meets a roaming spirit, Okiku, they both begin to remember what it is to be human. With the help from Tark’s cousin Callie, Okiku and Tark must rid himself of his haunting.
My Thoughts: Let me tell you, if I had read this book when I was 14, I would have been sleeping with the lights on for weeks. The spookiness / imagery is reminiscent of Japanese horror films that The Grudge (Ju-On: The Grudge) and The Ring (Ringu) were based on. (Have you seen the originals? Not the American remakes. Watch the real thing. Darn spooky! That’s what The Girl From the Well is like.) Same evil-ghost-child-with-long-creepy-hair-staring-at-you-in-crazy-fast-did-that-actually-just-happen-flashes feel to it.
Part of Rin Chupeco’s spooky genius is her narration style. The story is narrated from the POV of the ghost, Okiku. Often, it reads like a 3rd person omniscient narrative, because Okiku mostly observes rather than acting. I often forgot I was reading a first person POV, and then suddenly Okiku would say something in the first person, and it was like she had just appeared out of nowhere. Like a ghost. Spooky. And then, sometimes Okiku would describe herself in the third person – a description of a ghost as Callie or Tark would have seen. This gave Okiku’s character a sense of otherness. She felt inhuman. Ineffable.
Overall, I think this was an fantastic book, and I look forward to reading more of Chupeco’s works. I miss the old days when ghosts were ghosts and monsters were monsters. I applaud Chupeco’s work as one more for the #reclaimhorror team. (Ok, I just made that hashtag up, so technically she’s the first on the team. But it’s all good.)
Rin Chupeco: Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well is her debut novel. Connect with Rin at www.rinchupeco.com.
The Ghost Box, by Catherine Fisher
The Ghost Box, by Catherine Fisher
Genre: Middle School Fantasy / Reluctant Readers
Reason for Reading: In exchange for an honest review, this book was provided by Myrick Marketing & Media, LLC via Netgalley.
Synopsis: When Sarah discovers that the ancient tree outside her window is haunted by the ghost of a boy, she is both terrified and fascinated. The ghost boy gives her a beautiful old box and begs her to find a key to open it. But soon, Sarah’s pesky goth step-brother Matt is sticking his nose into her business. Can Sarah find a key to the box without Matt figuring out what’s going on?
My Thoughts: This book was written specifically for middle-school-aged reluctant readers. I’d say the interest level / maturity is for a 10 to 12 year old, but it is second grade reading level. For that target audience, I think this is a wonderful novel! The plot is just the type of story I loved reading when I was in the 4th grade, and the difficult dynamics between Sarah and her step-brother are something that a lot of kids this age will relate to. And, these dynamics end with a message of cooperation, teamwork, and new understanding. So there’s a great message to the story, too. If you are struggling to find books that are age-appropriate for your dyslexic child, I highly recommend this book. In fact, I wish there were a lot more books like this available. The more our reluctant readers enjoy their books, the more likely they are to become readers.
The Drowning Girl, by Caitlin R Kiernan
The Drowning Girl, Written by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Narrated by Suzy Jackson
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Reason for Reading: This was one of the nominations last year for the World Fantasy Awards
Synopsis: In The Drowning Girl a young schizophrenic woman, Imp, tells the story of her meetings with Eva Canning – a ghost? a mermaid? a werewolf? a normal, disturbed young woman? As Imp’s mind roils in schizophrenic fantasy, the readers are left wondering how much of the story is reality and how much is fantasy.
My thoughts: I’m having a hard time coming up with viable thoughts about this book. I just don’t know what to think! I was interested throughout; I always cared about Imp – and about her girlfriend Abalyn – but I never knew quite what to think. Which, I suppose, is the point of the book? Kiernan did a fantastic job of spiraling Imp’s writing in and out of control, and the pacing of the spirals was quite amazing. This is a skilled bit of writing. Likewise, Jackson was a superb narrator for this role. Her inflections were perfect for hinting at whether Imp was “in control” or “out of control” when certain passages were read. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy open-ended stories, especially those stories with an aura of unreality.
Anna Dressed In Blood, by Kendare Blake
Written by Kendare Blake, Narrated by August Ross
Reason for Reading: I wanted to check off category 12 in Reading Outside the Box
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance / Horror
Cas Lowood has always worked alone on his quest to dispatch murderous ghosts and discover the demon who killed his father. But when he moves to Thunder Bay everything changes – first, he has an explainable fascination with Anna, the ghost he’s come to kill; second, he accidentally picks up a team of teenagers who insist on tagging along as he rids the world of Anna’s horror. And Cas isn’t quite sure he wants to kill Anna anymore…
I picked this book up because of the fascinating cover art. (Yup! I’m one of those people.) I’m glad the cover was so awesome, because I enjoyed the book. Yes, it was sort of a copy of the TV show Supernatural, but that’s ok. Every story has its origins in another story, right? This book was fun and quick – I enjoyed the mystery and characters. If you like teen ghost stories, this would be a good book to pick up. But I recommend you pick up the physical book and not the audio book. Ross annoyed me with his too-clear annunciations, his pauses, and his slow reading. It ruined the rhythm of the narrative, and made the dialog fall flat. There were several times I wanted to give up on the book just because the narration was annoying me – and I generally am pretty laid back about audio books.
The Aviary, by Kathleen O’Dell
Reason for Reading: Real life book club
Clara Dooley has lived her whole life in the decrepit Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is the care-taker of the elderly Mrs Glendoveer. Clara’s mother keeps her hidden away from the outside world, claiming that Clara’s health is fragile. At 12, Clara has come to an age where she wants to test her boundaries – and just such an opportunity arrives when her elderly patron passes away, a new girl moves into the neighborhood, and the birds in the aviary begin to speak to her. With her new friend, Clara must discover the secrets of the Glendoveer mansion, and decide whether the birds are friends or foes.
This was a cute little ghost story / mystery for children (probably girls) ages 9-12. It used the basic adults-don’t-want-to-share-secrets format, while keeping the adults likable and intelligent. The two little girls were adorable and fun. And the birds, once they started developing characters, were a very interesting twist. I found this book an engaging and quick read. Highly recommended for lovers of middle-grade ghost stories / mysteries.
Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch
Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Reason for Reading: Real-life Book Club
Peter Grant is a bumbling, easily distracted constable on the fast-track for a paper-pushing job. His luck unexpectedly turns when a ghost approaches him at a murder scene. Apparently Grant does have a talent – he can see dead people. Suddenly, he is adopted as the sole apprentice of Detective Chief Inspector Nightengale, who heads the supernatural division of the police. Grant is up to his ears in weirdness as he tries to solve the murder while learning the ropes in the unexpectedly supernatural world. I mostly enjoyed Midnight Riot for its interesting world-building and a lot of dry humor. The character of Grant was likable enough – even if he was bumbling – and I suspect I’d grow attached to him after a few books in the series. The plot tended to stray a bit more than I prefer, though. Nothing too bad, mind you, but there were a few moments where I wondered if we were still trying to catch the murderer or just enjoy the scenery. I prefer a little more focus. But these passages were never very long, and the book was, for the most part, quite enjoyable. I’m sure I’ll pick up the next in the series some day.
As for the narration by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith…I think his cadence, tone, and delivery was done perfectly for our character. He was so dead-pan with the dry humor that I sometimes only caught the humor by delayed reaction. Which made it funnier. 🙂 On the other hand, he was a rather loud (and wet) breather. I figured at first that this was put on for the character effect – but then I realized that such breathing would be difficult to fake unless he narrator was really congested. So…the loud breathing wasn’t enough to put me off, but it might be enough to put SOME people off.