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review 2018-04-21 15:39
Nothing too terrifying I'm sad to report
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

I picked up Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey with the hope that it would be like the 13 Alabama Ghosts books I remember so fondly as a child (they still have the first in the series at the public library in my hometown). I don't fully believe in ghosts but I do fully enjoy reading ghost stories. Tales of haunted places in particular are fascinating because they're usually told with a kernel of truth at the center. However, Dickey seems to contradict himself at every turn in this book by retelling these ghost stories and then almost immediately debunking them. Further compacting the confusion, each chapter ends with a somewhat mystifying takeaway about why there seems to be so many 'ghosts' and 'haunted places' in the United States. (And this is despite the U.S. as we know it being a relatively young country.) He covers the gamut of places that could possibly be haunted. There's the typical cemeteries and old houses but there's also factories and even the rarer entire city haunting (Detroit for example).  Overall, I didn't feel satisfied because I think I was hoping for less analysis and more storytelling. I suppose this might be of interest in terms of a tour guide for places to check out yourself but it wasn't my cup of tea. 4/10

 

Of possible interest: Dickey is a member of the Order of the Good Death started by Caitlin Doughty which I'm sure you'll all remember from earlier blog posts. I have to say that I didn't find his writing nearly as compelling as hers. :-/

 

What's Up Next: Fly on the Wall by Emily Jenkins

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-04-20 04:53
Deliciously Creepy & Suspenseful...
The Carrow Haunt - Darcy Coates

The Carrow Haunt is Darcy Coates newest release. It's about a girl named Remy that gives tours of the famously haunted Carrow House. On one of her tours, a guest asks if she will proposition the owner to allow a group of people including Remy, to stay at Carrow House for a couple of weeks in order to study the paranormal phenomena up close and personal. Not willing to pass up a chance to experience some of the sightings she talks about in her tours everyday, Remy agrees to participate;  and the owner, a huge paranormal enthusiast, jumps on the chance, with the stipulation that she has to be included in the guest list too. None of the guests are quite prepared though, for the terrifying experience Carrow House has in store for them.  

 

So this is the second book I've ever read by Darcy Coates and I was just as impressed with it as I was with Craven Manor. I love a good ghost and haunted house story and she's delivered in both books. The Carrow Haunt was deliciously creepy and suspenseful! Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I'm definitely looking forward to reading a lot more of her books. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2018-04-18 22:34
"Big Vamp On Campus - Half-Moon Hollow 5.5" by Molly Harper - fun novella for fans of the Hollow
Big Vamp on Campus - Molly Harper

Visiting Half-Moon Hollow is a guilty pleasure that I indulge in when I'm looking for an éclair read: a lightning flash of escapist fun that is light and simple but packed with good things.

 

"Big Vamp On Campus" is a mini-éclair, a novella in the Half-Moon Hollow series, that focuses on Ophelia, one of my favourite characters, and captures her during a period of transition.

 

In previous books, Ophelia, a 400-year-old vampire who looks sixteen and wears a Hello Kitty backpack, has been the Big Bad: a power-hungry bureaucrat with a lethal temper and a reputation for spectacular acts of violence.

 

"Big Vamp On Campus" follows on from Ophelia's dastardly deeds in "The Dangers Of Dating A Rebound Vampire". Ophelia has lost her powerbase and is being punished by being sent to college "to engage in a normal college experience" so that she can demonstrate that she can control her homicidal impulses.

 

What follows is a pleasant slice of college life in which Ophelia gets to try out being normal by doing exotic things like making friends with nice people who have no agenda that she has to worry about or respond to. True, Ophelia still unleashes violence on her annoying vampire roommate but no actual torture is involved and the roommate really is unpleasant.

 

Ophelia was always more than a self-serving, paranoid, manipulative predator. With her blood-mate and her sister, she is capable of demonstrating passionate loyalty and her own peculiar brand of affection. What makes this book work is seeing Ophelia explore that side of herself and expand the radius of the circle that contains US rather than THEM.

 

This is a fun book for the fans but not the right place to start. If you're new to Half-Moon Hollow, I recommend that you go back to "Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs" and take the journey from the beginning.

 

I recommend the audiobook version, read with skill by Amanda Ronconi. Click on the SooundCloud link below to hear a sample.

 

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review 2018-04-18 19:26
The School for Psychics
The School for Psychics - K. C. Archer

[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

An enjoyable fast-read when it came to the ‘psychic powers’ theme. I really liked the premise: a young woman who’s been making questionable decisions, and gets a second chance in a school for people with psychic abilities, where they’re trained to protect and server… but a few people on the inside have different agendas, and it’s a constant game of trying to figure out what’s at stake, and if it’s going to be a bunch of revelations, or something much more lethal. The powers the students have are varied, ranging from precognition to telepathy and even pyrokinesis, and I liked how the novel tried to bring a scientific approach to it: after all, they’re training people who’re going to end up working for the FBI or NSA.

The first scene also engaged me from the beginning, what’s with Teddy being banned from Las Vegas casinos, but still sneaking into one, disguised as a different woman, to hopefully win the money she owes a Russian crime boss, because otherwise her own parents will be targeted. Well, OK, nevermind that she should never have let things go that far, all the more if she’s so good at reading people at the poker table, but ‘questionable decisions’ being a key here, alright, I can go with that.

On the other hand, I never really got a good feeling for Teddy, or for the other characters. Some of them had a sort of ‘larger than life’ vibe, with their quirks (the animal medium who likes doing yoga naked, the ex-cop who’s a charmer and can literally set things on fire, the hacker who’s also an empath…); but they remained fairly one-dimensional. Teddy barely thought of her family except in the beginning, we know nothing of the others except for a couple of things like ‘his family’s rich and he has a boat’, and so when the story took a more action/heist-oriented turn, it was hard to root for them.

The other thing I didn’t like—and which contributed to my not enjoying the sotry as much as I hoped—was the globally juvenile aspects. These people are 20-something (Teddy’s 24, and Pyro must be at least 25 considering he served in the police for some time, and I doubt you just start there at 15 or so), but the whole Whitfield academy had a strong high school feeling, and I constantly thought I was reading a YA novel when in fact it was marketed as geared towards adult, with adult characters. I don’t mind YA in general, even though I have my gripes about a lot of books; I don’t think that ‘because it’s YA, it’s necessarily stupid and uninteresting.’ This said, the aforementioned gripes involve a certain number of tropes that I find cringe-worthy, such as the mandatory romance and love triangle, the professor who immediately favours certain students and begrudges the heroine and her friends, or the whole ‘school stars vs. misfits’ aspect. And those tropes were clearly present here, to the point of making me forget that those characters were, uh, two years from going to work for the FBI? Suspension of disbelief was then shattered every time forensics or the shooting range was mentioned; it’s like the story couldn’t make up his mind about whether it was meant to be about teenagers or about adult people.

Not sure if I’ll be interested in the sequel.

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review 2018-04-15 13:21
"Thunderbird Falls - Walker Papers #2" by C. E. Murphy - entertaining urban fantasy
Thunderbird Falls - C.E. Murphy


"Thunderbird Falls"delivered exactly what I was looking for this weekend: relaxing, escapist, entertainment that demanded nothing much from me except the suspension of disbelief and a willingness to open my imagination to astral plane encounters.

 

"Thunderbird Falls"follows on from "Urban Shaman". It deals with Joanne Walker trying to come to terms with being a Shaman when her preference is just to be a mechanic and not to believe in anything magical.

 

I liked the development of the relationships Walker established in the first book: the 70+ taxi driver with charisma and good humour, her love-hate there's-more-to-me-than-you-know Police Captain and her I-wear-nail-polish-because-I-like-it-and-it-unsettles-people Police Detective colleague. This gives the basis for a good ensemble cast for the rest of the series.

 

Walker spends a lot of this book revisiting her hidden-from-everyone-she-cares-about past. This is nicely done, striking a good balance between maudlin introspection and epiphany.

 

The plot is moderately complicated and brings in a whole coven of witches and some new and very scary bad guys. The astral battles are vividly described. What I liked most was that Walker is allowed to make a lot of mistakes in this book rather than glided along effortlessly as so many heroes seem to do. I also enjoyed the theme that explored the nature and use of sacrifice of yourself and others.

 

There was nothing in the book that made me go "Wow" but nothing that made me want to skip forward either. I enjoyed myself and cheered at the end. I'll get to the third book the next time I want a chilled weekend with a book.

 

 

 

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