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review 2018-10-10 22:13
The Ghost in the Glass House / Carey Wallace
The Ghost in the Glass House - Carey Wallace

In a 1920s seaside town, Clare discovers a mysterious glass house in the backyard of her new summer home. There she falls in love with Jack, the ghost of a boy who can’t remember who he was before he died. Their romance is a haven for her from the cruel pranks of her society friends, especially her best friend, Bridget, who can’t wait to grow up and embark on romances of her own. As Clare begins to suspect an affair between her mother and Bridget's father, she retreats to the glass house. But that haven begins to crack when she realizes that Jack has lied to her about his name . . . From a dazzling and fearless new voice comes a shimmering story full of wonder and mystery, in a world where every character is haunted by lingering ghosts of love.

 

I read this book to fill the Ghost Stories square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I found this story to be somewhat reminiscent of Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree (or maybe it should be the other way around, since this was published before The Lie Tree.) I think it was a combination of a main character who is starting to question a parent’s choices and the time spent in the cave by the sea, complete with perilous journey to get there.

Strangely, it also reminded me of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls, with the frenemy relationship between Clare and her BFF Bridget. Clare is a bit like Kate, with her desire to find true love and Bridget is a lot like Baba, longing to experiment with life, excitement, and boys.

Many people say that teenage girls become obsessed with horses when they are looking for a safe outlet for their love and attention. Clare hasn’t got a chance of finding a horse to lavish her care upon, but she finds Jack, the ghost boy in the glass house behind their rented summer home. What could be safer than a ghost for a first real relationship?

Not as strong nor as well written as either The Lie Tree or The Country Girls, it is still a pleasant story and I wouldn’t hesitate to offer it to a young adult.

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review 2018-10-09 22:41
Blood Moon / Alexandra Sokoloff
Blood Moon - Alexandra Sokoloff

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace. The only surviving victim of his rampage was a child…who is now wanted by the FBI for brutal crimes of her own.

Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt to track her down, despite feeling torn between his dedication to duty and his sympathy for her horrific history and motives. But when Roarke’s search unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman he seeks—and secretly wants—may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath. He just has to find her first.

 

I read this book to fill the Free Space square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

Bloody hell, what a good book! Make it 4.25 or 4.4 stars or something of that sort. An intriguing mash-up of the FBI profiler genre with a dash of the paranormal. Special Agent Matthew Roarke realizes that his morals have been compromised—he has come to identify with a woman who murders the men who prey on women. His partner is giving him the side-eye, not entirely trusting his judgement anymore, but his team still seems to be following his lead. When he chooses to re-open a decades old cold-case in the course of investigating Cara Lindstrom, his superior officer closes things right down again. Until it becomes clear that the Reaper is back and Cara is as interested in catching him as the FBI is.

Sokoloff knows how to build tension effectively and how to structure the mystery to keep me reading, reading, reading until the end. She is also gentle with the paranormal aspects of the story, never over playing them and leaving room for us to wonder if there’s a rational explanation.

Written well before the “Me Too” movement, this book still made me think about it, as women still take the brunt of domestic abuse, serial murder, kidnapping, sexual enslavement, and other forms of violence.

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review 2018-10-01 22:05
The Madness Underneath / Maureen Johnson
The Madness Underneath - Maureen Johnson

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends.

But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades - the city’s secret ghost-fighting police - are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

 

I read this book to fill the Baker Street Irregulars square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I jumped at the chance to read this second book in the Shades of London series, having enjoyed the first book so much. Although I liked this one just a touch less than the first one, it was still an engaging read.

I think the reason that I found the first book so charming was Rory’s school routine and her friendships. The banter of this Southern girl with her British school mates really made that book into a special thing. That’s why I would rate this book probably at 3.75 stars, because Rory is away from school for most of the story—she’s trying to persuade her parents to let her go back to school, or she’s back at school and realizing that she’s too far behind to be able to finish with her cohort (and therefore skipping school to do her ghostly investigations). Her ghost-fighting police friends are great too, but Rory doesn’t have the same kinds of conversations with them.

This installment also gets much more serious and there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end—I’ll have to go on to the third book to find out how things resolve for the Ghostbusters. Mind you, I was planning to do that anyway!

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review 2017-12-18 22:13
The Green Man / Kingsley Amis
The Green Man - Kingsley Amis

A ghost story for adults. Like all good coaching inns, the Green Man is said to boast a resident ghost: Dr Thomas Underhill, a notorious seventeenth-century practitioner of black arts and sexual deviancy, rumoured to have killed his wife. However, the landlord, Maurice Allington, is the solewitness to the renaissance of the malevolent Underhill. Led by an anxious desire to vindicate his sanity, Allington strives to uncover the key to Underhill's satanic powers. All the while, the skeletons in the cupboard of Allington's own domestic affairs rattle to get out too.

 

Maurice Allington is not the kind of guy you want to get mixed up with—he may be the well-known proprietor of the inn The Green Man, but he drinks far too much, ignores his wife and daughter, and spends his free time propositioning his friend’s wife. When he starts seeing things around the inn, we have to wonder if his drinking has finally addled his wits, for Maurice certainly doesn’t believe in the ghosts that he advertises to lure guests.

I remember a TV show based on this book, which I skipped based on how much the ads for it disturbed my peace of mind. Maybe I should have watched, because the book didn’t bother me a bit! I found Maurice to be completely unreliable as a narrator of his own experience—too alcohol impaired to be trusted—and since no one else shares in his visions/delusions, I was able to control my imaginative faculties and remain calm. As Maurice reflects a one point, “I thought to myself how much more welcome a faculty the imagination would be if we could tell when it was at work and when not.” But mine doesn’t work that way—it is often overactive when I would like it to mind its own business.

A good ghost story for people who normally don’t care for them.

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review 2017-10-30 17:50
What the #@&% is That? / edited by John Joseph Adams & Douglas Cohen
What the #@&% Is That?: The Saga Anthology of the Monstrous and the Macabre - John Joseph Adams,Douglas Cohen

Ranging from irreverent humor to straight out horror, What the @#&% Is That? grew from a meme on Twitter when iconic comic book artist Mike Mignola painted a monster. Nobody knew what the F it was, but they loved it.

Renowned editors John Joseph Adams and Doug Cohen then asked some of the best writers in the fantasy, horror, and thriller genres including Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, Christopher Golden, and Scott Sigler to create a monster story that included the line “WTF is that?”

This anthology is a feast for the imagination for anyone who loves monsters.

 

 

I read this book to fill the ‘Free’ square of my 2017 Halloween Book Bingo card.

 

Horror is not really my genre, although I use Halloween each year as an excuse to stretch my boundaries a little bit.  Short stories aren’t my preferred format either, so I expect for horror aficionados who enjoy short fiction, this would be an excellent anthology. 

 

As promised in the introduction, each story in this volume eventually has a character who asks, “WTF is that?”  As usual with short fiction collections, some are better than others (and not always the ones that you would expect in either the good or bad categories).  By and large, the pieces tended towards the playful rather than tremendously scary, which a casual horror reader such as myself can appreciate.

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