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review 2017-04-06 04:01
Breathe: A Ghost Story - Cliff McNish

This is a story about 3 ghost children who met an untimely death in different places in the world but are all stuck ina house together while being bullied by the ghost of an old woman. The old ghost uses the children to help keep herself in the human world by draining the children's energy. One day, a woman and her teenage son move in to the old house. The ghost children try to keep them away but their efforts are unsuccessful. The old ghost possesses the woman in order to get close to her son because she missed having a child of her own. The 3 ghost children and the teenage boy work together to save the woman and send the old ghost into the afterlife. This is a book I would give to advanced readers depending on their maturity level. It is not a difficult book to read but some parts can become complicated. 


Lexile Measure: 680L

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review 2017-01-19 12:35
#Audiobook Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
Ghost Story (The Dresden Files, #13) - Jim Butcher,John Glover

Having been shot and killed at the end of the previous book, Changes, Dresden finds out he's in the Between, not quite dead, but not alive. Discovering that the “bad guys” somehow cheated when they killed him, he cannot move on until he finds out who killed him and why. So Dresden heads back to Earth as a ghost to solve his own murder; however, he gets caught up trying to save his friends in the process. With his own soul and eternal rest on the line, Dresden must learn the rules of his new existence before his time runs out.


After that somewhat scary ending to Changes, and the gap novella, Aftermath (found in the anthology, Side Jobs), I knew two things: Dresden was apparently dead, and Chicago was being overrun by some bad paranormals due to the power vacuum Dresden created in his battle with the Red Court. I was a bit leery to start this one out of fear I would get some lame ghost story (let’s face it, there have been some big letdowns in favorite series involving the death of a main character), but what I was treated to was a beautifully detailed, complex story that brought together many aspects of the series thus far.


Mr. Butcher successful sold me on not only the mythology behind ghosts in this world, but that Dresden is able to remain a productive investigator and crimefighter. The author creates a whole new set of rules for Dresden that govern spirits, including their use of magic, ability to manifest, and how they interact with both mortals and paranormals. The fact that it was relayed to listeners through Dresden’s own experiences, trials, and errors, made the additional information feel natural, like it was a given all along.


Ghost Story is emotionally difficult in a few ways. First, we witness what has happened to Dresden’s friends, family, and Chicago since his death six months prior. It’s not pretty, especially Karen and Molly. They are changed, and the state of the world is hard and dark. Things are messed up, and it hurts me as it hurts Dresden. Additionally, Harry must come to terms with the choices he made prior to his death. I really enjoyed Harry's introspections as he contemplated his actions and how he realizes the wrongness and excepts blame, knowing he'd do it all again. I've come to love Harry as a friend, and these moments of self-reflection allow listeners to learn more and grow closer; to accept Harry for all his dark and light. It also generally leads to a clue to help propel him forward. 


The mystery of Dresden’s murder, together with his attempts to save his friends from some fiendish spirits, is an excellent storyline. More so than ever, Mr. Butcher weaves all the aspects of Harry’s actions into one cohesive life lesson. I love how all the parts tied together by the end, reaching back several books in the process. I just adored the overall ending.


Once again, James Marsters works his magic with the narration. The book was originally released with a different narrator, but due to requests from fans, Audible rerecorded it with Mr. Marsters. I’m so glad they did. Marsters is Dresden, and to change it this late in the game would have been a shock to the system. There were some new nuances to the different characters, most notably Bob, as the characters have all changed in the aftermath of Harry’s death.


In the end, Ghost Story is yet another amazing tale from the Dresden Files, which should NOT be read out of order! Ghost Story was well written, if not a bit long and wordy. There is definitely an air of closure near the end, which gave it the feel of a final book in the series. But fear not, there is more Dresden to come, and I truly look forward to see how everything shakes out in the next title. 


My Rating: B+

Narration: A 

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review 2017-01-12 12:05
Music, mystery, beautiful writing and a story that proves reality is weirder than fiction
Ghost Variations: The Strangest Detective Story In Music - Jessica Duchen

I’m writing this review on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I was given an ARC copy of this book and I voluntarily chose to review it.

I enjoy reading in a variety of genres but have recently realised that I really enjoy historical fiction, as it offers me both, great stories and a background that’s interesting in its own right and that often offers me insight into eras and situations I know little about.

When I read the description of this novel I thought it sounded very different to what I usually read, but fascinating at the same time. A mystery surrounding a piece of music (a violin concerto) by a famous composer (Robert Schuman) that has been hidden for a long time. I love music but I’m not a deep connoisseur, and I didn’t realise when I read about the novel that the story was based on facts (it follows quite closely the events that took place in the 1930s, involving Hungarian (later nationalised British) violinist Jelly d’Arányi, and a concert Schuman wrote whilst already interned in an asylum) and included an element of the paranormal. It’s one of those cases when reality upstages fiction.

Despite the incredible story, that’s fascinating in its own right, Jessica Duchen does a great job of bringing all the characters to life. The story is told in the third person mostly from Jelly’s point of view, although later in the book we also get to hear about Ully, a character that although not based on a real person brings much to the equation, as it offers us a German perspective on the story. Jelly, who lives with her sister, brother-in-law, niece and their dog, despite her many admirers and some failed romances, is single and dedicated heart and soul to her music. I easily identified with Jelly, although our vocations and personal circumstances are very different, but I appreciated her dedication and love for music and for her family, her horror at the social and historical circumstances she was living through, her difficulties fitting in, as a foreigner living abroad, and her awareness of the challenges and limitations she was facing due to her age. There are very touching moments, for example when Jelly goes to visit her secretary and friend at the hospital and gives an impromptu concert there, when she organises a tour of concerts in cathedrals, free for everybody, not matter their social class, to collect funds for the poor, and when she becomes plagued by self-doubt, due to her personal circumstances and to her failing health. Jelly is not perfect, and she appears naïve at times, showing little understanding of issues like race or politics, limited insight into her own beliefs about the spirit world, her feelings and hesitating about what to do in her personal life, but she is a credible and passionate human being, and she gets to confront many of her fears by the end of the book.

Apart from the gripping story and the background behind the discovery of the concert, there is the historical context of the 1930s. As Schuman was a German composer, somehow it became a matter of national importance to recover the concert and claim it as a German work. The changes in Germany, the atmosphere of menace and threat, the rise of dangerous nationalism, and how that was also reflected in Britain, where the sisters lived, was well reflected and built into the book, especially when, at first sight, it seems to be only marginally relevant to the central mystery. As several characters observe in the novel, a piece of music is not ‘just a piece of music’ any longer and everything becomes vested with particular significance, thanks to manipulation and propaganda, no matter what the original intention of the composer might have been. I suspect most people who read this book won’t be able to resist comparing the historical situation then to our current times and worry.

This novel is a joy to read, one of these cases when the story and the writing style are perfectly matched and one can almost hear the music flowing from the pages. A wonderful novel that I recommend to anybody interested in the period and in good writing. I’ll be closely watching this author in the future.

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text 2017-01-02 18:23
TBR List, or 7 Owned Books to Read in 2017
Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges,Andrew Hurley
Twilight of the Empire - Simon R. Green
Little, Big - John Crowley
The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Ghost Story - Peter Straub
Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons

Like most readers, I have a boatload of books I own that I have yet to read. This year, I will read 25 of them. Here are the musts.


1. Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges,Andrew Hurley   Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges  

    I've read a bit of Borges, and have deeply enjoyed it. That's why this is here.


2. Twilight of the Empire - Simon R. Green    Twilight of the Empire - Simon R. Green  


   The Deathstalker series is the only one I have yet to read by Green, and these are the novellas that introduce that universe. I own the whole series, so I should maybe get started, yeah? Besides, Space Opera rocks!


3. Little, Big - John Crowley  Little, Big - John Crowley  

   I've started this a couple of times, and got distracted. Not this year! It's la lyrical beauty that can't be rushed, but I will make the time.


4. The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly  The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly  


    I've read and loved the Gates series, as well as Connolly's second collection, Night Music. I started this one years ago, and will actually follow through this time.


5.  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke  


    Another one I got distracted during (are we sensing a theme?), this is a serious beast of a book, but I've loved what I've read, and the depiction of Faerie is unique, to say the least.


6.  Ghost Story - Peter Straub  Ghost Story - Peter Straub  


   A genuine horror classic that I've been threatening to read for about a decade. There is no reason I haven't read this yet.


7.  Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons  Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons  


   Another big mother(shut yo mouth), this fell into the must list after I read The Terror last year. That one started slow, but was frigging awesome. I'm hoping this one kicks in a little quicker.


There's my seven must-reads from my ridiculous TBR pile, but there's a lot more where those came from. At least 18, some even more imposing.

As imposing, anyway.

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review 2016-12-26 09:55
Ghostly Romance
Between Us - F.E. Feeley Jr.,Carrie Anne Kennedy,David Bridger

I don’t read (or watch) scary stories as a rule. I’m all for murder and mayhem, but horror… not so much most of the time. This blurb, however, intrigued me so I decided to overcome whatever preconceived reservations I might have and dive in.


The start of the story lulled me into a false sense of security. But the playful banter was soon replaced by the first apparition and the creepiness kicked off. As soon as it did I remembered why I so rarely read creepy stories; they make me feel too much. My stomach churns and I get jittery. It gets too much and I close the book only to open it again two minutes later because I HAVE to know what happens next, except that I don’t want to because NERVES, but I do because I can’t stand the tension of not knowing. LOL. It’s an experience I both love and try to avoid. And the more invested I am in a story the stronger those feelings become.


Yes, I did get quite invested in Between Us. Me, the self-confessed wimp who doesn’t deal well with either angst or tension, fully enjoyed the wonderfully torturous combination of romantic uncertainty and ghostly scariness. In fact, I was really impressed that the romance and ghost storylines in this book are perfectly balanced. All too often I’ve come across books in which one storyline ends up taking precedence at the expense of the other. Not in this book; romance and ghostliness play next to each other and one enhances the other.


I liked Jeremy and Roger, enjoyed the way they interacted, and I loved the premise of the story. While this is a fully formed story without an open ending, I would love to see more of them. And given what Roger’s secret is, and considering that he’s met and recognised Cindy (yes, I'm being vague on purpose), I could well see more spooky adventures for these two men. I would most definitely read them.


This was my first encounter with this author and I can safely say it won’t be my last.Between Us packed a whole lot of story into relatively few pages and did so very well. While I wouldn’t have minded more words, the story didn’t need them. If F.E. Feeley Jr can hook me this much in under fifty pages I can’t wait to find out what’ll happen when I pick up a full length novel.


Overall I highly recommend this book if you'd like to add more ghosts and romance to your Halloween.

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