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review 2018-04-13 18:55
Mary: The Summoning Review
MARY: The Summoning - Hillary Monahan

Source: Library


Mary: The Summoning does the Bloody Mary legend good. Hillary Monahan moves the story along with a purpose, and by the time you’re done with the first book, you need the second one on-hand immediately. (I’ve already reserved the second book at the library.) We do get a complete story arc in Mary: The Summoning, so it’s more of a gleeful “Must read book 2!” than a frustrated cry. I want to know more about the revelation of the connection to Bloody Mary, and I want a certain someone to get their comeuppance. (And also, why did Mary orient on Shauna to begin with? What made her choose her? Inquiring minds need to know!)


I felt like the interactions between the four friends was very real feeling in Mary: The Summoning. And, by the end of it, I was cheering a few of them on when they finally did what needed to be done. Things were frequently very tense between them, but they also demonstrated a certain maturity when push came to shove and they needed to overcome their differences. Also, it was nice that the parents of some of the kids felt a bit more present in this book. Even though there were still some of the usual tropes like the MC being in a one parent household, the mom was still there. Even if she wasn’t always physically present, she was always texting her kid, checking up on her, letting her know that she was loved and such. It was a nice, positive reinforcement of how a parent can stay in touch with their child in today’s world.


The scenes where Mary was on the other side of the window, trying to get through always creeped me out. I don’t think I’ll be looking in my mirrors any time soon for longer than I absolutely have to. There were elements incorporated that I had never of before in conjunction with Bloody Mary. (However, seeing as how I never actually did Bloody Mary when I was little, I don’t know if they were new elements or what.) The salt on tape thing was definitely a neat trick, though, that you can see a crafty teenager coming up with. Mary: The Summoning has lots of deliciously creepy scenes to keep perpetually tense. 


Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. One of the biggest faults to Mary: The Summoning is that Mary herself is too Samara-esque. The author does a great job of reminding you exactly how creepy that demon/dead girl movement is from the movies. Which is a problem considering Mary is supposed to be her own freaky character. It’s an awesome thing to be able to remind readers of something that utterly freaked them out, but you don’t want to go too far and make it into a clone, which is kind of what happened here.


Also, and this is something I seem to have run into a few times lately, but the main character Shauna, is just so… blank. Is this a thing in YA books that  I’m just now noticing? Do they now try to keep the main characters as blank as possible so that the reader can insert themselves in the story? If so, it sucks. Give us characters who are feisty or quiet. That like loud music, or don’t like music at all. Give us sarcasm, wit, or even timidity. Just don’t give us a character so bland that you can’t remember her bloody name halfway through the book!


Overall, while Mary: The Summoning could be a bit better, I was very pleased with what I read. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2. Hillary Monahan is a solid writer, and this is a great book in the YA Horror category. And there wasn’t even a love triangle in it, imagine that! 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-17 01:47
{ARC} Book Review: The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

Forgive the lateness of this review and I hope that it does not give the impression that it’s because I hate the book. As a matter of fact, the Hollow Girl is the best book that I’ve read in 2017. If you know me, I don’t normally read horror stories because it’s not just my genre and you know, nightmares. But after reading the synopsis, I knew that I had to pick it up and told myself that “Let’s try this for once.” And so I did.


Oh boy, no regrets so far because after page 1, there was no turning back. The story consumed me, the characters captivated me and the twists shook me. Hillary Monahan really took her time in fleshing out the characters and in weaving the story that it wasn’t cumbersome or convoluted but not simple either. The story centers on a Romani Gypsy, Bethan, who’s being groomed by her grandmother to succeed the latter as the tribe’s green healer. Her life is pretty much alright except for one thing: the tribal leader’s son, Silas, is trying his damnedest to harass Bethan. And then, one night, what Drina (Bethan’s grandmother) and Bethan dreaded happened. Bethan got raped and her friend died protecting her.


The incident was the turning point for Bethan. Though she and her grandmother were peace loving individuals, they did not hesitate in deciding that Silas and the boys who played accomplices must pay. So the tale of darkness and revenge began. And it was damn satisfying seeing Bethan and her grandma made corpses out of the boys. Cue evil laugh. Kidding aside, there was more to this book than the killings. Rape is such a delicate subject, even more so the aftermath. The victim traumatized and stigmatized while the suspects go seemingly underpunished. With the Hollow Girl, my heart really cried for Bethan and her grandmother but I literally rejoiced as they sought retribution from Silas and his friends. Happiness that turned into awe and sadness again when the twist was revealed.


This book, essentially, has all the things that I love in a story despite it being horror. There’s heart, darkness, revenge, and nuanced characters that will surely make your reading experience a memorable one. Cheers to you, Hillary Monahan.

Source: waywardkitsune.com/2018/02/arc-book-review-hollow-girl-hillary-monahan
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review 2016-08-08 00:00
MARY: The Summoning
MARY: The Summoning - Hillary Monahan RTC
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review 2015-12-04 11:57
Not sure how I feel about this...
MARY: The Summoning - Hillary Monahan

Some of the aspects, like the building up of suspense and plot, were truly well done.   I had a hard time coping with the narrator's best friend, though.   It was a good idea to use Shauna as a narrator for a couple reasons.   One being that the plot would have been far different if she'd narrated, and the structure really needed someone close to Jess, but not Jess, to narrate.   Kitty and Anna were less tolerant of Jess, and Shauna was closer to her, so she became the logical choice of narrator.  


Even with Jess as a main character who wasn't the first person in the first person POV, though, she could get overwhelming.   She exhausted me as a reader.  I didn't like her.  I didn't like her so much I kept putting this book down in frustration.   I kept getting annoyed with the other characters for going along with her ideas.   I kept getting annoyed with them for forgiving her.   I was just plain annoyed by Jess.   I didn't quite consider her a character I love to hate, and I do have those.   Cordelia in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example.   Love to hate her, at least until she got a little less Mean Girls.  Jess, though?  I just plain hated her.   There was no enjoyment whatsoever, which made this a really rough read given how much she was in it or people talked about her when she wasn't in the book. 


I felt a little sick over how much influence she had over everyone at the end, too.   I can't see myself reading the second of these books for fear of how this author writes these types of characters.   


I simply didn't love anyone else enough to compensate for Jess.   So it was pretty much a wash for me, but more enjoyable than not, so three stars. 

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review 2015-11-04 19:10
Bloody Mary, Book 2 Mary: Unleashed - Hillary Monahan

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.

So, funny story, I was planning on reading this one today (Friday 30th October). But last night I couldn't sleep and thus decided to read this. And then 2 hours later I closed the book. Did I sleep much afterwards? Hahaha, no, not really. But I really really wanted to read this book, and I decided to take the consequences that come with reading a horror book at around 1am with it. :)

I am really glad I read the book, but I do have to say that I prefer the previous book over this one. The previous one was so much more creepy, Mary was way awesome, you had creepy mirrors and other reflective stuff, the hauntings were super super spooky and had me on the edge for quite a bit. It was a true Bloody Mary book. The deaths that happened there felt so much better executed. While here it just felt like some slasher movie, and while it was still gory enough for me, I still wish for something different. And sure, Mary is still creepy, we still have a few occasions of mirrors/reflective glass, but it is now mostly running/seeking out what is wrong with Mary, why is she haunting people, and to make sure that Mary doesn't do anything bad any more. And yeah, that was fun for a bit,
but it got a bit boring after a while. Especially since I kind of expected some epic ending, and was disappointed it was all this simple as just doing that thing. Even the characters were surprised and are now wondering about stuff.

The characters were really great, we got Shauna, Kitty, Cody, Jess (urgh I hated her), Dell, and also several newer characters that were fun to meet. Shauna was pretty good, and I loved how she tried her all. Tried to help Kitty. Tried to help when stuff really hit the fan. I loved Cody, I was so happy for her and she is such an interesting character.

The only character I didn't like was Jess. It seems that she just couldn't give a rat's ass about other people. I hate that attitude, and I find it disgusting that she would do all that. I am still not entirely sure if she just was stupid, or if she really craved the attention she so sought out.

The book is (once again) peppered with letters that tell us about Mary. There are letters from various people, and they were pretty interesting to read. Quite soon I already had a vague suspicion what happened to Mary, and also who did it. As the letters continued, as the story progressed that vague suspicion turned into a clear image and I just was waiting for the end to come to let me know if I was right or not. :)

What else? Ah yes, I have to give bonus points to an amazing cover design. With the hardcover you have a sleeve with one image, but you remove the sleeve, you will see a totally new cover on the front of the book. :D

Would I recommend this book/series? Yes, yes I would. If you want to be creeped out, if you never want to look in a mirror or anything reflective after this one, then be sure to check this one out!

Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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