The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

The Dead HouseThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked parts of this book. The concept is very interesting and I liked that I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on in the very beginning of the book–unfortunately, I still couldn’t figure out what was going on well into the book either.

Ever read a book where there are so many different ideas competing for space that none of them really get fully explored? That was what I thought about this. The writing was good, the characters were interesting, but there were just so many different things going on that it all mashed together and became…something. Not something that I could figure out.

This is a rather long book, and in the end, I didn’t really get why things happened as they did or why it required so much space. I didn’t hate this book, but I would say that liking it as a whole would be being a bit generous.

If you enjoy reading very unusual books, then this might be a good one for you to check out.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry

Corridors of the Night (William Monk, #21)Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry

One night, in a corridor of the Royal Naval Hospital in Greenwich, nurse Hester Monk is approached by a terrified girl. She’s from a hidden ward of children, all subject to frequent blood-letting, and her brother is dying.

While William Monk’s River Police fight to keep London safe from gun-runners, Hester takes on a new role at the hospital, helping to administer a secretive new treatment. But she slowly realises that this experimental cure is putting the lives of the children at risk. Attempting to protect the young victims, she comes under threat from one rich, powerful, and very ill man who is desperate to survive…
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a difficult time with this one. Whilst there were parts of this book that I found fascinating, there were other parts that I couldn’t stay focused on and I felt went unresolved.

I have read a few other books in this series, and I found this one to be a bit darker and more moody than the others. I liked the characters just as well, but the story lines at first seemed to be separate and I was interested in the husband’s half of the tale, but it was that part that seemed to be left unfinished. So…I’m not sure what to think.

This is a very atmospheric book. The descriptions are good and the actions of the characters are both understandable and believable, but I still found my mind wandering off occasionally.

If you are into medical mysteries–and like the idea of early science, this book will please you.

I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I’m glad I read it–and that’s about all the opinions I’ve got for this one.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. Al opinions are my own.

Murder at Malenfer by Iain McChesney

Murder at MalenferMurder at Malenfer by Iain McChesney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those in line to the Malenfer estate are succumbing to terrible ends – but is it a supernatural legacy at work, or something entirely more human and evil?

Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward headed to Paris at the close of World War I, where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.

Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s overwhelming guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death … and the curse.

***Note: This book was previously published under the title “The Curse of Malenfer Manor”.***

My review:

** I didn’t realise when I picked this book up through Netgalley that it was a book I had already read–curse of the faithful reader. But I wanted to make a quick note here, before the review I had written previously–that I read it again, and enjoyed it again, perhaps even more than the first time. This is a book that has so much to offer, and I decided after consideration, that I am amending my 4 star review to a 5 star. If I can read it a second time and still feel wonder–it deserves all 5 stars. Highly recommended.

It may seem strange, but sometimes the most complicated books are worthy of the shortest reviews. This is a book that it is hard to review without giving away something that would be better discovered by the reader, so this will be pretty basic in an attempt not to give away anything crucial.

I liked this book for a variety of reasons. It was more than just the average “ghost story” or paranormal book. This is a complex tale that weaves together the past and the (then) present. It involves many characters and histories. I was thoroughly impressed that the author managed to tell such a complicated story while making everything make sense to the reader and never faltering with plot holes.

The atmosphere of this novel borders on Gothic and has a certain dark quality that fit perfectly with the story. One thing that made this book really stand out for me was the way the characters were introduced. I had a sense that I knew each one personally. This is a difficult thing for a lot of authors to accomplish.

I didn’t see the ending of this book playing out the way it did and that was important to me. I love when you get a surprise at the end and things don’t go as you would expect them to.

The questions were all answered, the plot tied up nicely and there were no loose ends at the finish. This is a truly excellent book.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

Two Years, eight months and twenty-eight days

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight NightsTwo Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub–Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights—or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, where beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty, Pretty words. This author is good at language and has a history of writing some of the most beautifully arranged sentences out there. That happened somewhat in this book as well, but to me, it seemed like there was a lot of effort put into contrasting and a lot less effort put into creating a story that was exciting and readable.

Honestly, there are some really long sentences in this book and sometimes that is okay with me, but for parts of this–they were so long and wordy that I forgot what the author was originally talking about.

There are two stories going on in this book simultaneously and I think it is highly possible(it was for me anyway,) That you will really like one and not find much meaning in the other.

As far as being magical realism, this book pushes the envelope toward fantasy. The world is not exactly what one expects to see in magical realism and one of the main stories revolves around a mythical being.

I didn’t think this was a bad book and I’m sure there are many who will love it, but for me, it was just okay.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Black Earth by Timothy Snyder

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and WarningBlack Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder

A brilliant, haunting, and profoundly original portrait of the defining tragedy of our time.

In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first.  Based on new sources from eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, Black Earth recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close to us, more comprehensible than we would like to think, and thus all the more terrifying.
The Holocaust began in a dark but accessible place, in Hitler’s mind, with the thought that the elimination of Jews would restore balance to the planet and allow Germans to win the resources they desperately needed.  Such a worldview could be realized only if Germany destroyed other states, so Hitler’s aim was a colonial war in Europe itself.  In the zones of statelessness, almost all Jews died.  A few people, the righteous few, aided them, without support from institutions.  Much of the new research in this book is devoted to understanding these extraordinary individuals.  The almost insurmountable difficulties they faced only confirm the dangers of state destruction and ecological panic.  These men and women should be emulated, but in similar circumstances few of us would do so.
By overlooking the lessons of the Holocaust, Snyder concludes, we have misunderstood modernity and endangered the future.  The early twenty-first century is coming to resemble the early twentieth, as growing preoccupations with food and water accompany ideological challenges to global order.  Our world is closer to Hitler’s than we like to admit, and saving it requires us to see the Holocaust as it was — and ourselves as we are.  Groundbreaking, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, Black Earth reveals a Holocaust that is not only history but warning.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rarely do I give any book having to do with the Holocaust more than three or four stars, as I usually feel like the information has just been recycled. This book, however, deserves all five stars.

Whether you are an historian or simply have an interest in this subject, ‘Black Earth’ will be very eye opening. In this detailed account, the author offers a broader look at the events leading up to the more commonly discussed and recounted Holocaust.

Instead of starting at the height of the Nazi regime and continuing forward, Timothy Snyder gives his readers a basis of information to help them understand how one event led to another and ultimately changed the face of history.

This is an extremely well-researched, very organised book that will answer your questions and leave you feeling more knowledgeable for having read it. I was greatly impressed by the depth of information available here and the way it was presented.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more of the story of the Holocaust and the people affected by it. Very provoking, very interesting.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

#RomancingSeptember Day 7 Love Aflame by Pamela Beckford @poetrybypamela

ionia martin:

Pamela writes some incredibly moving and hot poetry. Check this out!

Originally posted on Rosie Amber:

Welcome to Day 7 Of #RomancingSeptember

2015 cover

Our guest today is Pamela Beckford and her book of love poems called Love Aflame.

Love Aflame

Where is your home town?

I live in Northeast Indiana

How long have you been writing romance?

I started about 3 years ago writing poetry and it quickly became love poetry

What is your favourite sub-genre of romance?

I like something with a good story, not just romance – I’m not much of an erotica reader though.

Love Aflame is a books of poems, how many are there?

First I use various poetic forms. It sounds like a short poem would be easier to write, but I find that restricting the number of syllables can force me to be very intentional with my words to get the desired effect. I do include a description of each poetic form for the readers though. There are 60 poems about love and…

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Convalescence by Maynard Sims

ConvalescenceConvalescence by Maynard Sims

Who will protect the children?

Fourteen-year-old James has seen his family wiped out by tuberculosis in the England of the 1960s. When he is sent to the country to convalesce with his Uncle Thomas it seems a welcome respite. But his uncle is strange, and clearly has a dark secret. The huge house is secretive too, with whispers and cries in the night. Gradually James meets other children, some real, some apparently ghosts, but all of whom have been hurt by the uncle. Will James be next?

In an eerie novella of repressed depravity, Maynard Sims conjures nightmares from the fears of childhood.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book follows the old style of terror, where things are slowly revealed, allowing the reader to wait in suspense for what is going to happen next. From the beginning it is hinted that there is something strange going on in the large house where the main character has been sent to recover from an illness, but it is not said exactly what.

For the most part, I thought this was a really interesting book with just enough suspense and unusual qualities to keep me excited about turning the pages. It isn’t a terribly long book, but that serves it well. The reader has enough of a chance to get to know the characters, without the length seeming oppressive.

The one thing that bothered me about this book, is that I felt like due to the repeated use of the word “almost,” that things were only kind of happening or about to happen, rather than actually happening. Some examples are “almost palpable,” and “almost tangible.” I like it when my characters just go ahead and do things, rather than when they almost do.

Otherwise, I thought this was a good read and that it was worth the time to check out. Recommended for those who like mysterious, spooky tales.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

HoodooHoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.       Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first.       Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an odd little book. It is somewhat reminiscent of Lemony, and yet an idea all on its own. I really liked the main character, Hoodoo and his family, but at times I didn’t feel like the story lived up to the full potential it had.

It takes a while for the story to find the right pace and fully develop, but when it does it is a joy to read. This story will keep kids and adults alike interested in what is going to happen next in the unusual life of this little boy.

I wasn’t thrilled with the choice of repeat phrases, as it on the verge of being insulting to the reader. Still it was a fun story and deserving of a look.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of EvangelineThe Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, The Gates of Evangeline is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is fascinating, there is no question about that. From the first few pages I was hooked and I didn’t want to put it down.

Charlie is a strong character and although she has a lot of unexpected events occur in the beginning of the story, she doesn’t heavily overreact or do anything that would seem particularly out of character, save for the one act that ties the rest of the story together–a necessary plot device used by the author, and one that I could appreciate.

I loved the atmosphere of this story and the plantation home setting. The structures were beautifully described and I really felt I could see the same things the main character was viewing. I was particularly impressed with the descriptions of the swamp and surrounding territory, including New Orleans–though it was perhaps a more positive perception than some visitors get from the city.

I won’t say that I gave this four stars instead of five for the language and the comparisons the author made to the people of Louisiana and Texas compared to a New Yorker with a college education–others already have. Frankly, having not lived there and only been a visitor to the south and to Texas, I likely would have done the same thing–dialogue is a tough nut to crack.

What I will say, is that I couldn’t totally get around the idea of a sick, dying old woman seemingly being completely out of it and then acting as though she were able to clear the fog and have a perfectly rational conversation as she wished.

Otherwise, I thought this was a brilliantly crafted novel and recommend it to anyone looking for a good, deep mystery with a lot of unexpected revelations.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

the Three-Nine Line by David Freed

The Three-Nine Line (A Cordell Logan Mystery, #4)The Three-Nine Line by David Freed

More than forty years after their release from the notorious “Hanoi Hilton,” three American prisoners of war return to Vietnam to make peace with their most brutal former captor, a guard whom they’ve dubbed, “Mr. Wonderful.” The U.S. State Department hopes reconciliation will help cement a major trade agreement between Washington and the Vietnamese. But when Mr. Wonderful is found murdered, the three ex-POWs are accused of the crime and the multi-billion dollar deal threatens to unravel. Enter pilot, still-aspiring Buddhist, and former military assassin Cordell Logan.

Working with a newly formed covert intelligence unit that answers directly to the White House, Logan is dispatched to Hanoi to identify the real killer as the trade agreement threatens to implode. What he soon uncovers proves to be a vexing and increasingly dangerous mystery. Who really killed the guard and why? Unlocking the answers will test every ounce of Logan’s ingenuity and resolve, while risking his life as never before.

Like its three predecessors in the Cordell Logan mystery/thriller series Flat Spin, Fangs Out, and Voodoo Ridge, The Three-Nine Line is a classic, pulse-pounding page-turner. Legions of loyal readers and critics alike, from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal to Noir Journal and the Associated Press, have hailed the series for its taut writing, finely wrought characters, flashes of wry humor, and full throttle pacing. The Three-Nine Line may well be the best yet.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was thrilled to see another book in this series and it didn’t let me down. If you haven’t started reading these books yet, hurry up and do so, what are you waiting for?

David Freed has brought us another interesting Cordell Logan mystery. The main character has already been through the wringer in the previous books and lived to tell about it, and what the author has in store for him this time around will excite you and make you nervous for him all at the same time.

I loved that Kiddiot made a big appearance at the beginning and that even though the story changed, some of the familiar elements were kept. Reading these books make you feel like you are returning home.

This novel has the perfect measure of danger, intensity and intelligent and quirky writing. Recommended to those who love to live at the edge of their seat.

Looking forward to seeing what David Freed does next.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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