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review 2016-08-05 04:08
Scary Squirrels at Summer Camp
Frenzy - Robert Lettrick

Wow. I honestly did not expect to like this as much as I did. This book is scary, nail-biting, compassionate and somewhat realistic. But I am glad that my summer camp experiences were never this intense.

 

I don't want to give anything away, but I will say this is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of death. There are a lot of crazy "rabid" animals. There are good kids and bad, brave kids and cowards, and there are a lot of slow revelations about the kids' backgrounds.

 

This book is fantastic if you like a realistic story with a heavy dose of fright. 

 

This is on the 2016-2017 Sunshine State Nomination list of books for grades 6-8. And it is good for those grades and above, but I will suggest to our elementary librarian that we leave it out of our collection. As I always say, you know your kids. This book is intense, but if you have a budding horror fan (as I was as a preteen), they will probably love it.

 

Think:

 

Cujo (King) + Zoo (Patterson) + summer camp - adults = a fantasticly frightening experience

 

Recommended to:

Budding horror fans in grades 6 and up. (Avoid if you are sensitive to animal death or are squeamish in general).

 

 

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text 2015-10-28 01:35
Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Horror Books I Really Enjoyed
It - Stephen King
I Am Not A Serial Killer - Dan Wells
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer - Van Jensen,Dusty Higgins
Batman/Dracula: Red Rain - Doug Moench,Dennis O'Neil,Malcolm Jones III,Kelley Jones,Les Dorscheid,Eric Van Lustbader
Unwind - Neal Shusterman
Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake
Frenzy - Robert Lettrick
The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier
Feed - Mira Grant

This entry is brought to you as part of the theme sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish.  I'm pretty sure that since this is Halloween themed, there are going to be many interesting entries for this one.

 

So, on Halloween, many would think of candy, Halloween goodies, and dressing up in all kinds of costumes (my personal favorite was dressing up as Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Disney version.  The costume I had actually had coins sewn onto the sash of the skirt.)  They would also think of spooky stories.  I wouldn't consider myself the kind of person who scares easily (*knocks on wood in the hopes that she doesn't end up eating her words later on*), but there's something cathartic about being scared in a good book.

 

So this entry's dedicated to some horror (either themed or genre) reads that I personally enjoyed.  No particular order here, just going with the flow.

 

It - Stephen King 

 

1. "It" by Stephen King

 

Seriously, is anyone surprised I'd put Stephen King on this list?  I could probably list many of his books, but "IT" genuinely scared me while at the same time leaving me not terrified of clowns for life.  (I'm serious - I do not find clowns horrifying. I actually like creepy carnival environments or carnipunk themed stories.  It's the theme to one of the manuscripts I've been working on the past year.  Living animatronics- a la Five Nights at Freddy's, though? That...does terrify me to a certain extent, but depends on how it's done.)  I'm due for a re-read of this book (and basically many of SK's early works), because many of them I haven't read since my teens/early 20s.

 

I Am Not A Serial Killer - Dan Wells 

 

2. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

 

Basically, I could put the whole John Cleaver series on this list, but there's something about "I Am Not a Serial Killer" that left its mark on me.  There are genuinely terrifying moments in this YA crossover series, and some of it is a battle of internal and external demons (some literal, some not).  I enjoyed it because John's voice appealed to me with dark, candid humor, blended with harrowing moments the serial killer struck (and yeah, I knew its genre leaning from the get go).

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury 

 

 

3. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

 

I thoroughly enjoyed "Something Wicked This Way Comes" - it's part horror, part coming of age, and the writing - to me - was beautifully poetic while having some genuinely creepy tones to it throughout the narrative.  I also probably loved this one given my love for creepy carnival environments (see explanation above for "IT").  The movie adaptation I thought was very well done for this.

 

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer - Van Jensen,Dusty Higgins 

 

4. Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins

 

I honestly did not even know this book was a thing until I browsed the first volume of this comic at my local library, then got a galley for the entire series from NetGalley (which I've yet to review).  But OMG, this was dark.  And funny.  Pinocchio breaking off his nose to use as an attack stake to kill vampires?  The concept of it was brilliant, and kudos for the creativity in the backstory.  This was a mashup of a classic story with a horror theme that worked rather well, and I'm glad I read it.

 

Batman/Dracula: Red Rain - Doug Moench,Dennis O'Neil,Malcolm Jones III,Kelley Jones,Les Dorscheid,Eric Van Lustbader 

 

5. Batman - Red Rain

 

While on the subject of comics, I remember Batman - Red Rain rather vividly. The Batman franchise has had a number of holiday themed comics that stood out to me (I think I remember the one called "Haunted Knight" that I liked as well.)  But this was the first where I looked at the story drawn between Batman and Dracula and went "Well...darn.  That's a good parallel."  It had some dated elements to it, but I was drawn into the story and I'll admit it didn't let me go even in this first part of a respective series.

 

Unwind - Neal Shusterman 

 

6. "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman

 

So I know that this is a YA dystopian series, but it counts as horror.  Namely because once you read the process of what "unwinding" is like...it's horrifying.  I loved this book so much.  Shusterman just does description so well.

 

Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake 

 

7. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

 

I found the first book in this series to be the best and the most successful in creating its creepy and distinctive characters, and it's one of my favorites in terms of establishing a narrative ghost story as well.  It was fun in moments too.

 

Frenzy - Robert Lettrick 

 

8. Frenzy by Robert Lettrick

 

"Frenzy" was middle grade horror done right, especially in the vein of rabid animals attacking and killing off the cast of characters in the midst of a camp site.  I didn't expect to be so emotionally drawn into it.  It was one of those narratives where I'm like "NOOOOOO, PLEASE DON'T DIE! DON'T SAY HE'S/SHE'S DEAD!"  Yeah.  It was like that.

 

The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier 

 

9. The Birds by Daphne DuMaurier

 

This story is the reason why I look up to the sky and hope a flock of birds do not come swooping down to peck me to death.   I'm not especially terrified of birds, but I mean, the narrative gives one second thoughts.

 

Feed - Mira Grant 

 

 10. Feed by Mira Grant

 

Because bloggers saving the world from zombies equals...a whole lot of chaos and political turmoil.  The Newsflesh series had many harrowing moments, and the ending of this really got to me on an emotional level (though arguably, with events of the series, one could say it's not the whole story, but it still packed a punch for me).

 

Until next entry,

Rose

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text 2015-01-01 07:00
Rose's Favorite Reads of 2014 Part I: Interesting Facts and My Top Ten
Hate List - Jennifer Brown
Prep School Confidential - Kara Taylor
Thin Space - Jody Casella
Frenzy - Robert Lettrick
The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison
The Martian - Andy Weir
Lies We Tell Ourselves - Robin Talley
The Belief in Angels - J. Dylan Yates
By Megan Hart Flying - Megan Hart
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

It's that time again when I name some of my favorite reads and various book superlatives for the present year.  For those of you who aren't familiar with my superlatives lists, I bring you the lists from previous years that I've featured on my main blog and BookLikes blog (Note: it looks like my 2013 list was incomplete, but I figure I'll share that one anyway).

 

Rose's Favorite Reads of 2012: Part I

 

Rose's Favorite Reads of 2012: Part II

 

Rose's Favorite Reads of 2013: Part I

 

Rose's Favorite Reads of 2013: Part II

 

This superlative list will be two posts in total.  This post will kick off that series, starting with some interesting factoids and a list of 10 of my favorite books from this year  Let's do this.

 

***

 

So, in total for this year, I've read 168 books (maybe slightly more because there were some I didn't mark, but I know it was less than 200), which is way, way less than my total from 2012 (which was 365 books), and far less than the goal I set for myself this year (450).  

 

Some interesting tidbits:

 

First book I finished in 2014: "Garden of Lost Souls (Flin's Destiny #2)" by Erik Olsen (4 stars, Children's/Middle Grade Fantasy)

 

 

 

Last book I finished in 2014 (technically): "The Silent Wife" by A.S.A. Harrison (4 stars, Adult, Mystery/Suspense)

 

 

 

Longest book I read in 2014: "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn (560 pages, Adult, Suspense/Thriller)

 

 

 

Shortest book (not a novella or short story) I read in 2014: "Out of Sync" by Amanda Humann (103 pages, Children's/Middle Grade)

 

 

Shortest short story/novella read in 2014: Mrs. Maddox (Beautiful #1.5) by Jamie McGuire (2 stars, New Adult/Romance)

 

Longest short story/novella read in 2014: "The Nekkid Truth" by Nicole Camden (2.5 stars, Adult/Mature, Erotica)

 

 

Breaking down my reads by age group:

 

Children's/Middle Grade: 10 books

Young Adult: 41 books

New Adult: 36 books

Adult: 39 books

Non-Fiction (various age ranges): 42 books

 

So technically, I had about an even spread of reading through most categories, save for Children's/Middle Grade.

 

Breaking down my reads by star rating:

 

5-stars: 20 books

4-stars: 41 books

3-stars: 35 books

2-stars: 40 books

1-stars: 32 books

 

Rose's Top Ten Reads of the Year:

 

            

 

In no particular order of rank:

 

Hate List - Jennifer Brown: Definitely one of my favorite reads of the past year, it practically reduced me to tears by the time I finished the book, and I read the book in both audio format and physical.  It's the story of a young woman who copes with the aftermath of a tragedy, in which her boyfriend shoots multiple students at her high school before turning the gun on himself.  After getting in the line of fire herself, she has to both cope with her physical and mental scars to come to terms in the aftermath of the tragedy.  Brown's account is so vivid and realistic, especially getting into the eye of the character here.  It's one that cemented Jennifer Brown as one of my favorite YA authors.

 

Read my review of "Hate List" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

Prep School Confidential - Kara Taylor: Kara Taylor is another of my favorite up and coming YA authors, and if you haven't checked out this series yet - it's a fun one.  I loved "Prep School Confidential", not just for its fiesty heroine, but believable characters and overarching mystery.  There aren't a lot of standout mystery titles I've come across in YA, but this one is funny, smart and harrowing to follow.

 

Read my review of "Prep School Confidential" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

Thin Space - Jody Casella: Jody Casella's narrative in "Thin Space" really struck a chord with me, not just because of its viewpoint of a boy's loss of his twin, but with an interesting twist on events as his narrative comes to pass.  It was amazing, and one of my 5-star reads of the year.

 

Read my review of "Thin Space" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

Frenzy - Robert Lettrick:  Dude, I haven't read a survival horror this year that struck me as strongly as "Frenzy", and it's a middle-grade book!  Robert Lettrick creates a potent narrative surrounding a very dimensional cast that's funny, developed, and kept me on my toes throughout the work. This is one read that I was exposed to on NetGalley and I bought it as soon as it was available.  I'm really glad I had a chance to read it.

 

Read my review of "Frenzy" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison: "The Silent Wife" took a little while for me to get into, but it ended up being well worth the journey.  A slowly unfolding suspense and eye into a deteriorating relationship, with an unexpected direction to events.

 

The Martian - Andy Weir: My favorite read of the year, hands down.  Andy Weir's account of a man stranded on Mars and his journey of survival and path to rescue is well drawn, well-researched, and hilarious. Mark Watney's voice leaps through the page.

 

Read my review of "The Martian" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

Lies We Tell Ourselves - Robin Talley: A wonderfully told narrative during a volatile time in American History - I really loved this honest narrative told between two girls who must confront their differences and each other during the Civil Rights era.

 

The Belief in Angels - J. Dylan Yates: Probably my favorite New Adult/Literary book of this past year - it's a wonderfully told meeting of generations - between a young woman growing up in a dysfunctional family during the 1970s and her grandfather, a survivor of the Holocaust.  Beautifully written and evocative.

 

Read my review of "The Belief in Angels" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

Flying - Megan Hart: Megan Hart's "Flying" pleasantly surprised me this year, providing a refreshingly developed narrative of a woman navigating the rough turbulence of her relationships while contending with issues within her family.  I loved the development of the characters, the intimacy of the narrative, and the feisty heroine.

 

Read my review of "Flying" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

and last but not least:

 

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn: I guess you guys saw this one coming.  With a wonderful use of unreliable narration and developed characters in the midst of a deteriorating marriage and whirlwind events, Flynn's narrative is distinct and despite my love/hate relationship with the book, I enjoyed the journey. It left me thinking long after turning the final page.

 

Read my review of "Gone Girl" on Writing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

 

That's all for this entry.  My Superlatives for the year are coming in the next part.

 

Cheers,

Rose

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review 2014-01-13 01:20
Review: Frenzy by Robert Lettrick
Frenzy - Robert Lettrick

Reviewer's Note 1-12-2014:  You guys are actually going to end up being able to read this review early since BookLikes is the only place I'm posting the review on for now - not my blog, not GR, but here.  Reason I'm doing this is because I want to go ahead and talk about this book and submit it to NetGalley and the publisher for posterity.  It'll get posted on my other sites a little closer to the release date since I plan to schedule it that way.  And this post/review will get bumped up also around the release date as well, but I'm noting that this is the original date I wrote this review on just so that people will know.  I hope you guys enjoy the review and if you choose to pick up the book that you enjoy that too.  I really enjoyed this one - it was fun and creepy!

 

Initial reaction: A solid 5-star read from my first experience with Robert Lettrick. "Frenzy" is equal parts enthralling for adventure, survival and horror after an outbreak at a camp turns the animals wild, and equal parts humor and engaging for the characters presented and how they take it upon themselves to survive. I was really impressed with this middle-grade work and would highly recommend it.

 

Full review:

 

I have enough reactions about Robert Lettrick's middle grade horror book "Frenzy" to talk about it for days.  I didn't expect to be blindsided by this read at all, but I remembered seeing it on NetGalley and the blurb intrigued me enough to pick it up.  I used to read a ton of middle grade horror and thought "Oooh, camp survival horror story oriented towards middle grade/YA readers?  I'm there.  I'm definitely there."

 

I didn't expect it to connect with me like this though.  Heath is the primary perspective character, but the way it's written is in third person, so it toggles between a group of kids who are all spending their time trying to adjust to the ins and outs of summer camp. The amount of characters may seem like a bit to swallow at first, but they're easy to get to know.  

 

And it becomes easier when the body count starts rising after the scheme of events in this novel.  Yeah, this book does not skimp on character deaths, and some of them *hurt*.  Dude, they hurt.

 

The way the characters are developed is refreshing compared to most because you get an idea of their motivations and they have more dimension than even most YA books I've picked up (and are PROACTIVE characters, I can't stress that enough).  

 

Heath is a boy who believes in doing the right thing, playing peacemaker, but at the same time he has his own mischievous streaks.  Floaters (or Miles) appears to be a brash bully who can't swim, but he's really someone who's been given a hard time in his life and tries to redeem himself where he can.  Will is a boy who believes in approaching everything from the perspective of chess, and makes no apologies about using people to his own ends in the same way as set pieces.  Emily and Emma are twins who enjoy horses and riding, but don't quite bargain for going on the run with a group of boys.  Molly is young, but while she might be a little on the fearful side, she knows how to step up to the plate when she needs to. Cricket's a good sidekick and willing to take chances if he needs to; he's loyal to Heath and the boys share a friendship that comes through on a number of occasions.  And there are other characters in the supporting roles that define this rather colorful ragtag bunch.  The story starts, at least with their account of going to camp, but as the story progresses forward - not everything is harmonious about Camp Harmony.

 

Especially when the creatures start to go crazy.  It starts with wolves, moves to a furious porcupine who appears to have what people think is rabies, and then all heck breaks loose.  Suffice to say, the kids end up trapped.  No adults, very little supplies, Very little time to figure out what to do.

 

"Frenzy" does an excellent job of keeping the harrowing encounters coming fast among the group as they clash with the animals keeping them on the run.  It manages to do so not just with heavy costs in the mix, but also by building a good rapport with the characters and even giving humor in spot on points through the narrative.  Granted, some of the humor may be cheese, but I was surprised by how fun the narrative came across, even through its darker moments.  It builds upon the place details well to set the stage for the story and ultimately each place where the characters move through goal-wise.  I thought there were parts where the pacing struggled a little, but usually it would pick up after a time and then bulldoze its way to more harrowing moments and revelations with the characters.

 

I was also surprised by how well the character development/definition came across.  Even as there were moments that I wanted to throttle the characters (I.e. Will, but judging from the way the other characters reacted around him, I wasn't the only one!), I still ended up understanding their motivations, even sympathizing with them as they adapted to their respective situations and each other.  Not very much romance to speak of in this novel either - it mostly focuses on the rolling action, the suspense/thriller/chase of the group fleeing the animals and deciding what to do when they hit a group that doesn't agree with them.   

 

I'll admit I didn't see the revelation over Heath's decision/condition until it hit, and that gutted me - making it more amazing that he was able to do all these things in the group in the heat of the moment and also speaking towards his push for survival.  He stepped up in many ways through the story from beginning to end, and it was cool that he was as self aware as he was to be able to act and react when one challenge presented itself after another.

 

And character deaths?  As I mentioned, some of the ones featured in here hit hard for emotional impact.  When the story starts, there are some that go in passing, but aren't unrecognized, but as the group becomes more centralized and there are fewer to follow, they have more considerable weight.  The kids really go through a lot, and you can get that impression through the novel as they push towards what they believe is the route to safety, and also discover more than they bargained for in terms of the cause of the animals turning towards what they dub the "Flash."

 

Overall, this is a novel that really impressed me and kept me on my toes the whole time I read it, and I really enjoyed not just the eerie and harrowing aspects, but I also had a good laugh in many places in the narrative - with the rapport of the characters, the bit humor, and even some of the twisted camp songs that peppered through the chapters of the work.  I think Lettrick hits the genre and appeal of it spot on, and I can't wait to read more of what he has to offer if "Frenzy" is any indication.

 

Overall score: 5/5 stars

 

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Disney-Hyperion.

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text 2014-01-12 23:49
Reading progress update: I've read 290 out of 290 pages.
Frenzy - Robert Lettrick

Finished. Verdict? Awesome. Just all around awesome. I'm not going to say that it didn't have some flaws in the mix, but I really enjoyed "Frenzy." The well-defined characters, the peril they faced, the relationships, the bit humor (some of the poetry/songs were corny, but I could live with that - they were camp songs) - just the whole package.

Solid 5-star read. Review to come.

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