Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott Review

Title: Even When You Lie to Me
Author: Jessica Alcott
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Have you ever had a crush on a teacher? A college professor? I'll be the first to admit to you all that I've definitely had quite a few, especially in my younger years. And for me, it was always the artsy types. The English teachers, who loved words as much as I did. It was safe, because it was a mere fantasy that would never happen. But this book completely takes it to the next level, and the result is searing, uncomfortable, sexually charged, honest.

The main character, Charlie, is not the pretty girl. In fact, the only reason that people in her school seem to halfway tolerate her is her gorgeous, charismatic best friend, Lila. Bookish, shy, and awkward, she knows that she doesn't fit in with her classmates. She meets her new English teacher, Mr. Drummond, who seems to truly, honestly understand her, as a person and as a young woman. I really could relate to Charlie, especially when we're talking about years in high school--insecure and bookish, unable to really fit in. It hurt me, often, to read just how much she was hurting, because I'd been in that same position before, wondering when I would blossom into someone worth knowing, worth caring about. (And I still struggle with that to this day.)

The affair that follows is, for most of the book, sexual tension, culminating in a hot encounter at her teacher's apartment. I'm not going to lie: there are parts of this book that were really hard to get through, even though the narration was absolutely hypnotic. I could see that Drummond was preying on Charlie's innocence, but I have to admit, their toxic sort of chemistry was one that I couldn't look away from. I also really enjoyed the way Alcott portrayed Charlie's budding sexuality--it was really frank, and honestly refreshing.

This book was hard to get through, but regardless, I enjoyed it. It was, at its core, at least to me, a coming of age story. The only thing that really could've been done better was the affair's impact on Mr. Drummond--I would've liked to see him punished in some way, and not just by Charlie. The bottom line: A searing and honest look at sexuality and what it means to be comfortable in your own skin, Even When You Lie to Me opened my eyes in the best kind of way. Next on deck: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Conversion by Katherine Howe Review

Title: Conversion
Author: Katherine Howe
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Where do I start with this book? God. I wanted to love it, I really did. I was so excited for it. And I loved the concept. The Salem Witch Trials has been a historical event that has fascinated me and captured my imagination for years, and I especially like hunting out fiction for it, seeing it through the unique light that the author shines upon this very dark and bloody period in history.

I've wanted Conversion since before it came out, and I was so excited when it finally came in at my library. I really liked the format of it: the contemporary chapters alternating with the ones Ann Putnam Jr. narrated, from the actual time period. But it was really slow in the beginning, and gleaning information was like pulling teeth. I wanted to love it, and I did love some of the book--I didn't hate it. But I definitely have mixed feelings.

Colleen Rowley is the narrator, and a student at the highly competitive St. Joan's School for Girls. I liked her as a character--she was funny and wry, and it was really refreshing to have a teenager's 'voice'. I could feel her tension and stress as, she not only struggles to keep her grades up, but the mounting pressure of the 'Mystery Danvers Illness of 2012' begins to affect her classmates--girls twitching, often with nervous tics.

I liked the mystery of it all--it was enticing and exciting--but it got confusing as the novel went on, what with the big cast of characters. I liked Colleen and all of her friends, as each was different in her own way, and quite memorable, but overall, the mystery, at least in the contemporary parts of the book, were a real letdown. I'm not sure why--I was just expecting more and I really felt unfulfilled.

The ending(s) were both satisfying, and did justice to the characters, but as I said, I just really felt let down. I was expecting more from Colleen's time period, and was disappointed. It wasn't a bad book by any means, but it just didn't blow me away. The bottom line: I really wanted to love Conversion, but the contemporary parts of the book were just a huge letdown--I was really expecting more. Next on deck: Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff Review

Title: The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories
Author(s): Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Stories
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff are three titans in the young adult literature industry. All are bestselling authors, two of which have series under their belts. They have also started a blog called 'The Merry Sisters of Fate', where most of the pieces in this collection first appeared. (That site can be found at: themerryfates.com.) I have read books from Yovanoff and Stiefvater, and will be looking into Gratton's work as soon as I'm able. (Norse mythology in young adult fiction? I am so excited for The Songs of New Asgard series!)

This book completely blew me away. A collection of pieces from all three women, complete with drawings and notes in said pieces. It was an unusually formatted book, but I loved it. As both a reader and writer, it spoke to my soul. It was beyond thrilling to be granted a window into all three women's writing processes, as well as to read these beautiful, though often dark, stories. I'm not going to review it like I normally do for a short story collection, as there are just far too many to review one at a time. But you can also see, through this volume, the deep friendship that the authors share: as women, as authors, and as readers. This book was such a treat, in that the stories were so intensely personal.

This book really has me tempted to go to my library and grab as many books by these three as possible. The short stories in this collection were like brief, tiny windows into the worlds (and minds) of these blockbuster authors, and I enjoyed every single dark, twisted, crazy minute of it. There was not a story in this book that didn't speak to me in some way--I loved them all. It was such a fun journey into how these women think and work--it felt like I was being admitted to a secret world, the world of people who do what I do for a living: write, even when they want to tear their hair out. It was so fun.

What can I say? This book was just wonderful, and if anyone has ever been curious about the writing process, or love short stories, you need to get your hands on this must-have collection. I promise you, you won't regret it. The bottom line: A fun, and often dark, window into these writers' brains, The Curiosities is a fantastic, can't miss collection--a short story volume to be read by all who have a passion for stories and writing! One of my very favorite books! Next on deck: Conversion by Katherine Howe!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger Review

Title: Ghostly: A Collection of Ghostly Tales
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Short Stories/Anthology
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I was given a copy of this book through Netgalley by the publisher, Scribner, in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

It's fall, and you know what that means: rain, chilly nights, falling leaves, Halloween, Thanksgiving. But I'll be honest: Halloween is just my favorite holiday. I mean, candy? Costumes? Spooky movies and books? (Especially spooky movies and books!) It makes me feel like a kid again. Even now, at the age of 24, I still get excited for Halloween. And it's so much fun to get in the spooky mood with Halloween reads. Especially ones about ghosts. What's better near Halloween than ghosts?

This collection is edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry. I've read her first novel, and her second is waiting on my bookshelf. For the most part, I really enjoyed this collection, even though there were a few that were so archaic I couldn't really follow them very well.

The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe: 5 out of 5 stars. It wouldn't be a spooky story anthology without the king of horror himself! The narrator and his wife take in a black cat, as they both love animals, but cats especially. As the story goes on, the narrator begins believing that his cat is a supernatural force of evil, and the consequences of that madness are dire indeed.. Delightfully spooky!

Secret Life, with Cats by Audrey Niffenegger: 4.5 out of 5 stars. A story of female friendship, and old houses haunted by cats. I really enjoyed this one. The main character's friend leaves her a house shortly after passing away, and she discovers a gruesome secret when she stays a little bit too long.. This had a lot of black humor that I really liked.

Pomegranate Seed by Edith Wharton: 5 out of 5 stars. This story was more unusual because it was a domestic ghost story, with a wife suspecting her husband of having a secret affair when a mysterious set of letters, addressed to him, arrives. I really loved the ending of this story, and I will be looking for more of Wharton's horror fiction as soon as possible.

The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions: 1 out of 5 stars. This would be one of the few tales I didn't like; the prose was so hard to follow it was difficult to ascertain what was going on in the story. I really tried with this one, but it just didn't gel with me. The parts I understood were scary, but most of it I couldn't figure out.

The Mezzotint by M.R. James: 4 out of 5 stars. A friend of the narrator, who works for the art museum of Cambridge, comes across a piece of art that needs to be identified, that just might be haunted. This story was creepy in that the prose slowly turned up the scary factor--I love an author that can scare in a subtle manner!

Honeysuckle Cottage by P.G. Wodehouse: 3.5 out of 5 stars. This story, at least at first, read to me more like a reluctant love story than a horror story. But, as it went on, I really enjoyed the creepy factor. James Rodman, a crime author, discovers a young woman and her dog, and as the story goes on, the infallible James finds himself falling in love with this pretty new boarder..

Click-Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman: 5 out of 5 stars. I first came across this story in Gaiman's newest book, Trigger Warning, so it was familiar. The thing about Neil Gaiman is that he scares readers in a way they don't often expect. The narrator, babysitting his girlfriend's little brother, gets told a scary story of darkness by the child, and ends up paying the price. Wonderful!

They by Rudyard Kipling: 2 out of 5 stars. This was creepy, most definitely. (I love stories where the ghosts are kids!) But the prose, from so long ago, was difficult to follow and understand, as I'm only familiar with The Jungle Book. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable.

Playmates by A.M. Burrage: 5 out of 5 stars. This story was particularly frightening. The main character's young ward begins to play with shadows, with invisible beings, scaring her benefactor and everyone else in the house. Again, I love dark, subtle humor, and this story hit the nail on the head in that aspect.

The July Ghost by A.S. Byatt: 4 out of 5 stars. This story really touched me on a personal level, as Byatt's own son died in a car accident. A couple begins seeing the ghost of a beautiful young boy, who appears when they least expect it, and it ends up tearing them both apart. This story really rang of loss to me, and it hurt me in the best kind of way. One of the best stories in the collection.

Laura by Saki: 5 out of 5 stars. This story was darkly funny and more than a little bit terrifying. Laura and Amanda, two best friends, are talking about dying, and hilarity, accidents, and terror ensue in rapid succession. This story is one of the reasons I love Saki.

The Open Window by Saki: 5 out of 5 stars. Again, this story is a contender for my favorite in the volume. A group of friends is waiting on a dark, rainy night for a set of their friends to come home. This was what I considered a story of 'classical' terror, and my favorite part was the ending. Amazing!

The Specialist's Hat by Kelly Link: 5 out of 5 stars. Oh, Kelly Link. Where have you been all my life? This is probably my favorite story of them all. Samantha and Claire, twins who live in a spooky castle, end up with a babysitter for the night. And when they find The Specialist's Hat, they discover that some of the ghost stories they've heard just might be true.. So delightfully spooky!

Tiny Ghosts by Amy Giacalone: 4 out of 5 stars. This story wasn't traditionally scary--in fact, it really struck me more as humorous. The main character, Angie, and her husband, discover their house inhabited by tiny, quite mouthy ghosts. This story was so funny, and I really enjoyed the ending.

The Pink House by Rebecca Curtis: 5 out of 5 stars. This story scared the pants off of me. It was so spooky. A woman is hosting a dinner party at her house, and she begins to tell a ghost story that is quite personal. I loved the subtly creepy feel of it, the way the hairs of the back of my neck. It was so raw and it felt real. Wonderful!

August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury: 5 out of 5 stars. This collection also wouldn't be quite complete without the father of science fiction. This story was definitely spooky, but it seemed to me that it was more a parable about the constant dependence of technology and its power to change our entire lifestyle. It was so scary, especially because it rings true of this day and age. The ending was perfect!

The bottom line: This collection was wonderful--a must-have for those getting ready for Halloween and any spooky story junkie! Next on deck: The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The White Rose by Amy Ewing Review

Title: The White Rose
Author: Amy Ewing
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Series: The Lone City, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

This is going to sound a little bit off topic, especially for a book I feel so strongly about, but, I really love my library. I go to that place almost every day. And that's how I found out about this series. I love dystopian novels, even though nowadays you see them all the time. (though I'll never forgive Veronica Roth for that horrible ending..) and my librarian, after reading it with her daughter, ordered a copy for me so I could read it.

And as I've said before, sequels are scary for me, especially when I particularly enjoyed the book preceding it. But I'm so happy to say that The White Rose didn't let me down in the slightest! With just as much oomph of The Jewel, The White Rose completely captivated me from start to finish, and as someone who waited for this sequel with bated breath.. Well, Amy Ewing did a fantastic job. I can't wait for the final book in this powerful, thought-provoking trilogy!

This book begins only moments after The Jewel ends. I don't want to give too much away and spoil it all, but I'll say that Violet and the characters from it don't disappoint, as well as new ones with compelling histories and memorable personalities. The pacing was completely breakneck; I couldn't put it down. (In fact, so I could enjoy it more, I made myself deliberately stop. Lol.) And that ending! The ending was even more explosive than the first one! Please don't tell me I have to wait another year for the third one! What am I supposed to do before then?

In all seriousness, though: I need the third book, and will be waiting with extreme anticipation and impatience for the next installment! Wonderful! The bottom line: The thought-provoking and satisfying sequel to the bestseller The Jewel, The White Rose was absolutely fantastic! Next on deck: Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger!

*The photo used above was from Amazon--it is not mine and I do not claim credit for it, but used it as rather as I would've used a gif.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne Review

Title: Everything She Forgot
Author: Lisa Ballantyne
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars

This book was given to me by the publisher, William Morrow Paperbacks, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

I love mysteries and thrillers. I'm drawn to them, lately, more than other types of fiction, and the bite has gotten even worse with Halloween coming up in two weeks time. I love the constant, creepy, anxious feeling that I get when trying to figure out who did it, and mysteries done well are really rather satisfying for me, especially when I don't make the jump halfway through the novel.

Maybe it's one of the side-effects of binge-watching Scooby Doo all the time?

Whatever the cause for my recent addiction, I was really excited to receive a copy of this book. When one thinks of thriller and mystery fiction, especially of the whodunit variety, I'm sure Lisa Ballantyne is up there with the titans: Ann Rule, Sandra Brown, Tana French. I was very excited, but for some reason, while the ending was satisfying in a way I enjoy for a mystery--all the loose ends tied up--something about Everything She Forgot just let me down. Maybe I picked the wrong book of hers? I'm not sure.

Not to say, of course, that the book wasn't enjoyable. It was a good book. The three main characters, Margaret, Big George, and Angus, were all flawed in their own ways. Margaret trying to tread water when she ends up in a huge pileup, unearthing memories from a childhood event that happened years ago, Big George, the mobster with the heart of gold, and Angus, the disgusting, misogynistic reporter, holy and devout to everyone he meets, save those closest to him.

The mystery of the book itself was intriguing, enough to pique my interest, but it was frustrating, because through eighty percent of the book I kept getting distracted by other details. I don't know how to explain it--I have so many mixed feelings about this book, and despite it all, I really liked it, regardless of its flaws. I'm definitely going to be giving The Guilty One a shot when I'm able. The bottom line: Though at times frustrating and confusing, Everything She Forgot is a compelling thriller that focuses deeply on characters--I really enjoyed it! Next on deck: The White Rose by Amy Ewing

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore Review

Title: The Weight of Feathers
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Wow. Just.. Wow. This book. This book is definitely a favorite, and one I will treasure forever. The author dedicated it to her husband, with the words, 'for being the boy I fell so hard and so fast that I will never forget what it feels like to be seventeen'. This book brought back so feelings for me, the feeling of first falling in love with my husband, with a connection so tense and beyond anything I'd ever felt for anyone else before.

I loved this book. There were definitely elements of a Romeo and Juliet, forbidden romance vibe, but it made it all the sweeter for me. And then there were the characters, one Spanish, the other, French, and the two cultures that melded throughout the novel. (Each chapter is introduced with a nugget of wisdom from one of the two cultures.) The writing was gorgeous, captivating, so much so that I devoured almost half the book in a single sitting.

But it wasn't just the prose, or the characters, though that definitely helped. It was also the dark, almost silent family secrets lurking in the background of both characters' families--that was one of the reasons this book was just so compelling for me. The Corbeaus and the Palomas, eternal enemies. One French, one Spanish. Two families who often come close to one another, as they are all performers, but never cross without some blood or violence.

I won't lie, though: Parts of this book were particularly hard to get through, so much so that I had to get up and walk away to avoid screaming in rage, or crying, in pain or frustration. That was just another reason why I loved it. This book made me feel so much, touched me to the heart and soul.

I know that this is McLemore's debut novel, but.. Could you please write another book? Please? The love story, Lace and Cluck, and the incredible characterization. God, I loved all of it, even as the frustration mounted and the families infuriated me beyond measure. Lace, headstrong, brave, just coming into her own as a person as well as a young woman, and Cluck, the one no one wants around, the misfit, the ugly duckling in a family of beautiful, sure-footed swans. I loved them both.

But what really sold this, as I said before, were the shocking twists and turns involving both families, hiding dark secrets and clinging to lies. I've seen Romeo and Juliet stories time and time again, but none have ever touched me like this. The bottom line: A beautiful love story wrapped in dark family secrets and lies, with a few dashes of coming of age angst, The Weight of Feathers is a gorgeous debut--absolutely amazing! Next on deck: Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn Review

Title: The Shadow Behind the Stars
Author: Rebecca Hahn
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book was given to me by the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

'A life contains a thousand stories, but we know them all. And they always end the same way: snap.'

I'm a total nerd for mythology, from every culture, but the one that I happen to be most familiar with is Greek. I had quite the passion for it from a young age, and even now, at 24, go hunting for books that contain elements from the canon. I just love seeing the gods reinterpreted for the sake of a good old fashioned story.

What do you think of when you think of The Fates of Greek mythology? For me, it's always this:

But the story that Hahn presents completely blew my mind, and completely spins a story that is both seductively compelling and utterly heartbreaking, for the young adult set. God. There really aren't enough words to describe just how much I loved this story. It was a tale of love, friendship, and humanity--it was dark, beautiful, heartwrenching, and it really rang true of a story that was well-loved.

There are three sisters of Fate, Xinot, the old one, Serena, the middle-aged, and the youngest, Chloe, who happens to be the narrator of the novel. The Fates are solitary creatures on a small island, somewhere close to Greece. They enjoy and find purpose in their work, and are content, in a way that mortals are not. But that all changes when a young woman, Aglaia, comes to their door, and changes their lives forever.

First off: The prose was what drew me into the story. The pacing wasn't breakneck, so some readers may have a hard time sticking with this one, but that's not what mattered, at least for me. The writing was gorgeous, lush and descriptive and utterly hypnotic when I started reading. And then there's Chloe herself, who regards mortals with mixed feelings, in turn. Awed, inspired, indifferent? She was a very dynamic character, and her narration was perfect.

Her sisters, too, are equally compelling: Serena, who is quick to love anything that shows her affection, despite her inability to die, or to interfere with human affairs. Xinot, of all of the Fates, showed the indifference I expected in one of the Fates. But that all changes when, Algaia, a beautiful and troubled young woman, comes to stay at their hovel, disrupting the women's routine, brought by pain and tragedy.

What really made me love this book was its characters, as well as its premise. As much as I like to think of pillars of the Greek myths, I've never thought of them. But whatever I would have, it was changed completely by Hahn's telling. This book was beautiful, and at times, incredibly painful, ringing of Chloe's helplessness, and what it really means to be human, to have pain and suffering but beauty and joy as well.

I don't want to reveal much of the plot; this book is best read going in blind. But fans of love stories, Greek myths, fantasy and historical fiction will love The Shadow Behind the Stars, if they stick with it! The bottom line: A gorgeous, tender love story wrapped in fantasy and Greek mythology, The Shadow Behind Our Stars is not to be missed! Next on deck: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke Review

Title: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys
Editor: April Genevieve Tucholke
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Am I the only one who's incredibly excited for Halloween? No? Yeah, I figured as much. During the month of October, probably more than any other month of the year, I crave scary books, in order to get into the creepy mood. And I'm sure I'm not the only one, either. I love Halloween reads. It just prepares me for one of my favorite holidays. And if any of you are looking for a great Halloween read, pick this book up. Run to your local library or bookstore and purchase this book. This has got to be one of my favorite short story collections, ever. Hands down. Bar none. There wasn't one I didn't enjoy! I promise you, you won't regret it, because this was my face after reading this amazing collection of gory, creepy, spooky tales:

Because I like to be incredibly thorough, I really like giving the whole book a rating, and then each story individually, so I'll stop talking and get to the review already. (Lol.) Also, the theme is stories inspired by various horror movies, and novels. Okay, for real this time, here we go:

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma: 5 out of 5 stars. Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film, The Birds, and Rear Window. I loved this story, told with Suma's signature, sleepy, dark flair, flirting with the line between real and imagined events. A group of friends sees that a girl has moved in with their creepy, lecherous neighbor, and end up drawn into a grisly murder--wonderful!

In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan: 5 out of 5 stars. This story was inspired by one of my very favorites--Alice in Wonderland, of course! This story has got to be one of the most gory of the collection. A forest, ruled by the elusive and frightening March Hare, is frequented often by a young woman named Cassie. I liked this story, not just because it went back and forth, because it had the same dark playfulness of the original.

Emmeline by Cat Winters: 4 out of 5 stars. Inspired by an old vampire horror movie. This one was a little hard to follow, but it was highly enjoyable nonetheless. A young woman named Emmeline lures a young soldier up to her ruined bedroom, where he nearly meets his death. I loved the dark, Gothic feel of it, as well as the tones alluding to what--and who--the monster really was. Really enjoyable and dark!

Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo: 3.5 out of 5 Stars. Inspired by Frances Farmer by Nirvana. A mother and daughter, Kara and Jaycee, reunite after Jaycee's court-mandated stint in rehab. It was really creepy, genuinely so, and I liked the way that they incorporated Hollywood into the horror. The ending was amazing, but I wish Bardugo had been more clear in what exactly the monster was. (Perhaps that only added to the terror?)

Hide and Seek by Megan Shepherd: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Inspired by The Crow and Final Destination. Expanding on a character in local folklore, this tale tells of Crow Collum, and the girl who beats him at a game of hide and seek. I really liked this one, its gore factor, the way the author incorporated lore I was unfamiliar with, and of course, its unlikely heroine. Wonderfully told!

The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige: 4 out of 5 stars. Inspired by The Omen and Frankenstein. This story was highly enjoyable. Marnie, the resident misfit, begins experiencing strange things happening at her school.. She's suddenly able to control things with her mind, and when she meets the hottie of her dreams, she discovers that it might not be so bad to be a monster.. Seriously spooky! Loved it, despite it being a little confusing.

The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke: 5 out of 5 stars. Inspired by I Know What You Did Last Summer and Carrie. This is quite possibly my favorite story of the whole collection. I really loved this story. It was creepy and oddly tender, full of guilt and what it means to really be yourself. Theo and his friends, all drunk, end up hitting a classmate one rainy fall night, and as a result, all end up with their dreams shattered, and Theo himself goes mad. So amazing!

Fat Girl with a Knife by Jonathan Maberry: 4 out of 5 stars. Inspired by Zombieland and Night of the Living Dead. This story was frightening, but it was also quite humorous, in a black kind of way, if you're into that kind of thing. What would I expect from the King of Zombie fiction himself? Dahlia is a girl that gets bullied and picked on, who doesn't take crap from anyone. She's having a pretty crappy day already, when, you guessed it! Zombies begin to eat her classmates! Delightfully funny and really relatable.

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff: 5 out of 5 stars. Inspired by the film Psycho and Mudvayne's 'Nothing to Gein'. 5 out of 5 stars. I'll be honest: This book scared the pants off of me. Straight off. A boy named Justin longs to meet his true love, a girl he met online, and ends up with his dream coming true. But, be careful what you wish for.. (Even though I kind of saw what it was inspired by, it was still terrifying. Jay Kristoff, why haven't you written any horror novels?!)

M by Stefan Bachmann: 3 out of 5 stars. Inspired by the film M and the TV series Upstairs Downstairs. This story was confusing. The blind main character, Misha, for whom the story is named, struggles to solve a murder in her mistress's crowded house. I really liked the Gothic and historical themes of this story, but it was slightly hard to follow. Nonetheless, the ending made up for it.

The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu: Inspired by the films What Lies Beneath and Los Ojos de Julia: 4 out of 5 stars. I really liked this story because it contained supernatural elements, mixed with good old psychological thrills and terrors. It was a really skillful blend of both, resulting in an unearthly and terrifying tale. Richard has his whole life ahead of him, when he finds his closet to be haunted, and goes mad. Loved the way the terror just escalated as the story went on.

A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman: Inspired by the film Kuroneko. 5 out of 5 stars. Told with the rhythm of a folk or fairy tale, this story was supernaturally scary. Nara, a young woman, and Mowich, a young hunter, meet through less than savory circumstances, and he and his friends end up paying with their lives. Loved the lore in this story, as well as the characters and pacing.

Stitches by A.G. Howard: Inspired by Frankenstein. 5 out of 5 stars. Yet another contender for my favorite story of the volume, this story was incredibly creepy. Born to a drunk father, Sage Adams is not a typical young woman. And when her father comes to her with a gigantic check in exchange for various parts of his body for an experiment, she steps up to the plate to make him whole again, and she just might find love along the way.. Gory and creepy, but tender--I loved the ending!

On the 1-5 by Kendare Blake: 4 out of 5 stars. Inspired by the films The Hitcher and Death Proof. I was very excited for this story--Blake is one of my favorite horror novelists. But I felt a little let down. It was gory, and scary, as per Blake's M.O., but the monster aspect was confusing and kind of hard to follow. The bottom line: A dark, creepy, and gory set of tales perfect for preparing for Halloween, I loved this collection--amazing! Next on deck: The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Cage by Megan Shepherd Review

Title: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Cage, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Megan Shepherd, you've done it again. I loved The Madman's Daughter, and I almost love your sophomore novel more. Wow, just wow.. After reading this book, this was my reaction:

All I can do for a moment is just sit here, in shock. This book. This book was amazing! Probably one of my favorite books--ever. And I'm not just saying that. I'm a junkie, for all sorts of stories, but the beauty about ones with aliens is that it can be interpreted in many different ways, despite their recent spike in popularity. Where do I begin with this book?

Well, first of all, I'll explain the concept in the best terms I can: What do you get when you mix in a zoo on a distant planet, several distrustful teens, aliens, and forbidden love? You get something close to The Cage. It was a wonderful novel, full of Shepherd's signature twists and turns, as well as a very hot love triangle, along with excellent world-building and, for good measure, some serious Lord of the Flies elements. The result is explosive, terrifying, and most of all, a portrait of what humanity really is.

This book scared the crap out of me. Scared me to death in the best kind of way. I love it when a novel makes me feel something, as well as a story that opens my eyes and makes me think. For me, that is the best kind of tale. This book will remain in my heart and head forever. I'm still in shock.

And the ending! That ending! But, as usual, I'm all over the place, so let me go back and explain. Cora, Lucky, Leon, Mali, Nok, and Rolf all wake up on a distant planet, in an environment that, at first glance, looks like paradise. But, as the stress escalates, and their captors, the Kindred, begin to explain why they were brought there, everyone turns on each other. (So. Creepy!)

And that's not even counting the scorching, forbidden love affair budding between Cora, the main character, and Cassian, a Kindred who clearly has secrets of his own, despite his growing attraction to her. God, that part of the book was so raw and heartbreaking. (My poor heart!)

I know this sounds cliche, but I just loved this book, everything about it. Megan Shepherd has definitely improved from her first novel, and there had better be a sequel! (Hopefully I don't have to wait too long!) The bottom line: A survivalist story, a love story, aliens, a cage--this book genre-bounces in the best kind of way--I loved The Cage and can't wait for more from this promising series! Next on deck: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke!