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review 2020-02-28 10:04
Review: The Wayward Girls
The Wayward Girls - Amanda Mason

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

An enjoyable mystery with a paranormal twist. Takes place in a “then and now” form.  Sisters Loo and Bee live with their mom and dad and siblings in a rambling farm in the 1970s. Their parents are considered “outsiders” in their small communities. The kids are home schooled, the dad’s an artist. The mom wanted an easier life, and while it seems ideal on the front, it’s doesn’t sound as easy as it looked in the idea stage.

 

During one summer strange things start happening in the house and before long a slew of paranormal experts and professors, reporter and a medium are on the property interviewing the family, trying to get to the bottom of the mystery.

 

In the present day, the mom, Cathy, is now in a care home and Loo has been called home to come and see to Cathy’s care and needs. At the same time a modern day team of university students are conducting a paranormal research investigation Loo and Cathy’s former house which has been empty for many years now.

 

The chapters flip back and forth between what happened back then and what’s happening present day. It’s been a while since I read it so I can’t remember too much of the intricacies of the plot. Lots of characters, can’t remember anything that particularly stood out. It was a well written mystery that kept the pages turning.

 

Intriguing more in the past stages for me than the present. The present day sounded like a thousand other ghost hunter books/tv shows/movies but it was interesting in comparing the temperament of adult Loo to the child Loo in the past along with how she dealt with things back then and what she’s thinking/feeling now as the recent events unfold.

 

There were a few twists at various points which I had already guessed, however, that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel.  The twists were believable and the errors involved human and understandable, given the circumstances.  Some good family and relationship dynamics added into the mix.

 

All in all a very enjoyable read and definitely an author I would read again.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Books UK for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2019-11-04 12:00
Review: Music and Malice in Hurricane Town
Music and Malice in Hurricane Town - Alex Bell

I received a copy from Netgalley. 

 

This book was a lot of fun. I’ve read a few books by this author before and I’ve enjoyed them - this was something a little different. In a fantasy inspired New Orleans with a host of supernatural creatures, voodoo and magic being the norm, centred around a the mystery of a murdered voodoo queen. 

 

Main character Jude is a musician with a brass band who finds herself possessed by the dead queen who needs her help solving the mystery. Coming in to contact with a whole host of different characters from intriguing to creepy. Jude was a very likeable main character who discovered lots of things about herself as the plot progressed. Family and friendship played an important part. 

 

There were some rather disturbing bits towards the end. That being said it worked well with the plot and to be fair I didn’t guess or see it coming. Posed the questions for some interesting morality grey ares. 

 

There was some fantastic world building in mixing the familiarity of New Orleans with the Baton Noir fantasy version. The different types of magic and voodoo were explained very well - you don’t have to know hardly anything about the subject to work out what was going on. Quite a few interesting twists as well.

 

The plot was fast paced with plenty of action and little to no romance. A possibility hinted at with one sub plot which I personally would have loved to see explored. Left at an interesting ending - concluded the story but open for the possibility of more. I would definitely love to see more from this world. 

 

All in all enjoyable and fun. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Little Tiger Group for approving my request to view the title. 

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review 2017-09-14 11:42
Review: Bad Girl Gone
Bad Girl Gone: A Novel - Temple Mathews

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Oh dear. This was a hot mess of a book. I really didn’t like it much at all. For the post part it was okay, but then something at the end made me really want to throw something at it.

 

This book tells the story of teenager Eileen “Echo” Stone. Echo has a pretty decent life. She has two loving parents, and her boyfriend of 2 years, Andy, practically worships the ground she walks on. Then one day Echo wakes up in a mysterious location after blacking out, a sort of boarding house/orphanage surrounded by weird and mean kids of various ages and a strict matronly type lady over seeing everything.  

 

Echo is very confused and tries desperately to convince everyone she’s not an orphan. So with the help of the good looking Cole, the only person being nice to her, Echo manages to escape and runs home. Only to discover to her shock and horror – a car passes right through her. She’s dead. And has no memory of how she died or the last few months of her life.

 

The plot of the novel revolves around Echo solving the mystery of her murder and coming to terms with her memories of her life – she’s not the good sweet girl she seems to think she was.  She also has to learn how to be a ghost. The place she’s stranded in is a sort of a half way point, the other kids staying there are all ghosts like her, who have been murdered. They have to find their killers and dole out justice before they can “pass over”. Each ghost has a unique ability. Echo learns this quickly on her first revenge outing with the other ghosts. Echo’s power is (unsurprisingly) the rare and unique ability to take over human’s bodies and learn their memories and secrets. Only one other ghost has been able to do this in the last ten years or so.

 

The plot doesn’t actually sound too bad. The different abilities of the other ghosts and their backstories were mildly interesting. The actual story telling came across to me as kind of bland and rather boring. And I can’t actually say I liked any of the characters. Echo was a brat. She came across as moody and entitled and more often than not I found myself wanting to slap her. Granted, it can’t be easy seeing people you used to know and discovering you’re not as well liked as you thought, and discovering disturbing things about yourself you had forgotten. But I really just had no sympathy for this girl.

 

The boyfriend was madly in love with her and is understandably heartbroken. Echo is watching him go through this, she can’t communicate with him. And his parents and everyone else are already telling him she wasn’t so great – get over it. Hard to do when you’ve been crazy in love for some time. And of course the really popular mean girl who snubbed Echo has her sites on him and Echo is jealous. Again, understandable. But after two or three interactions, she finds herself enamoured with Cole.

 

At the same time she’s feeling very guilty about it. You can sort of see why she might feel conflicted. She’s had the same boyfriend for years, he’s still alive and grieving, but she’s sharing smoochies and new experiences as a ghost with a hot new guy. It’s a fairly interesting predicament, love triangle with a paranormal twist. Problem for this reader is I just hated the characters and as I said earlier due to my severe dislike of Echo I had little to no sympathy for her.

 

The actual plot itself as Echo uncovers what happens to her, is quite intriguing and to be fair, quite surprising and disturbing when the truth about what happened is revealed. I didn’t actually guess or see it coming. The investigation is really what kept my interest as Echo and Cole with the help of the other ghost kids dig into Echo’s past and look at the suspects.

 

This is a bit of a big spoiler for the end of the book but it really pissed me off and I want to rant about it.

 

After solving the murder, Echo still hasn’t moved on. She’s decided she needs to say goodbye to the people who loved her. Mom and dad and boyfriend Andy. Okay. Makes sense. However, she’s decided the way to help Andy move on without her is find him a new girlfriend. Not to say her goodbyes, leave him alone and let him grieve, hopefully in his own time he’ll accept things, deal and move on. It’s only high school, he has his whole life ahead of him. No, Echo decides that he needs a girl to help him. He’s been flirting tentatively with Dani, the mean popular girl. So Echo decides she’s going to “help” them get together with her ghost powers.

(spoiler show)

 

Dani and Andy have a date. Dani has a more out-going style of dress and makeup tastes than Echo. So Echo spies on Dani as she’s getting ready. Dani’s really excited – but Echo knows Andy likes her to dress a certain way, do her make up a certain why. This really really pisses me off to no end. Why should any girl have to change their appearance to suit what their boyfriend likes if they like things done a bit differently? If he doesn’t like the way she dresses or how she does her make up, then it’s his fucking problem and he can deal with it or find someone else.

(spoiler show)

 

 

 So Echo hides the clothes and makeup she knows Andy won’t like. And Dani doesn’t seem to freak out or anything. She goes on the date in the clothes and the subtle make up Echo left for her. And it’s a success. So successful that Echo with her ability of possessing people has finally hit on the idea of possessing Dani so she can be with Andy again.  Why this didn’t idea didn’t circulate before in Echo’s mind is a bit beyond me. Especially since she’s been possessing people throughout the story to learn their secrets. Which would have made for a more interesting plot, with the moral implications of this decision. Which she deals with fairly rapidly.

(spoiler show)

 

 

This particular part made me really hate the book, which I already didn’t like much. It was definitely an interesting idea, the story and characters just didn’t work for me at all. It’s concluded but left with a possibility that it could be a series. I certainly wouldn’t read any more of this.

 

Not for me at all.

 

Thank you Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-07-16 17:48
Ghosts of the Civil War by Rich Newman
Ghosts of the Civil War: Exploring the Paranormal History of America's Deadliest War - Rich Newman

I am ready to pack my suitcase and head out for all the spots in this book. I have actually visited several of the places in this book but now I want to go back and recheck them all with this book as my field guide. I have been to Gettysburg more then once and have experienced things and even have some photos of things. I have been to Chickamauga, I even lived in Kennesaw , and have been to many more of the battle fields. I am a huge Civil War Buff, I also love Ghosts and Ghost stories. A lot of the stories in this book I have heard before but some I have not. To me this book was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2016-10-18 11:40
Review: As I Descended
As I Descended - Robin Talley

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I pre ordered this one, as it had been on my wish list for ages and then jumped at the chance as soon as it was on Netgalley, and had a happy dance when I got approved. (Though it did take me shamefully long time actually finish). I’m not sure what it was – but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I was hoping to.

 

Great cast of characters and double plus points for diversity, but there was just something missing from this one for me. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. The plot was interesting, and I could pick out the Macbeth parallels. I didn’t study Macbeth in school, so I can’t say how accurately it related, but looking from a few reviews I’ve read it’s a really loose retelling.

 

I think I struggled with it towards the end because it got very weird and very confusing, at least for me. Though I was fairly surprised by the ending, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but on reflection I suppose it suited the Shakespearian tragedy feel.

 

The novel tells the story of Lily and Maria, who attend a very posh boarding school on what used to be a planation. There have been stories and rumours of ghosts on campus for many many years and more than a few tragedies and deaths. Lily and Maria are a couple, even though they are both still in the closet. They want to be done with high school and go to college together. Lily has her ticket to Stanford set, but Maria doesn’t. Maria believes her only option is to win the Cawdor Kingsley Prize scholarship. There’s just one problem in their way – golden girl Delilah Dufrey also head of the line for the Cawdor Kingsley Prize.

 

Delilah is the most popular girl in school – she appears to be friends with both Maria and Lilly. The opening scene is them all hanging out with some other kids doing a séance where weird things start happening right away, there may be a ghost in the room and there’s hints that Maria has some sort of understanding or communication powers with spirits which she is in deep denial of. So Lilly and Maria plot to get Delilah out of the running so Maria can win the prize.

 

It’s an interesting take on how far would you go to stay together and go to be the best you can. With a lot of morality issues as well – which at first seem non existent in this school setting. But some as things progress and the plot gets twistier –there’s that underline attack of conscience and nagging doubt as things quickly descend into darkness and madness.

 

There’s lots going on with ghosts and spirits and something to do with the history of the plantation where the school was built on. Spanners thrown into Maria and Lilly’s happiness when other students start to realize what’s going on – namely Maria’s best friend Brandon and his boyfriend Mateo start putting the pieces together.

 

(The other thing this book has going for it is there isn’t a single hetro couple that gets any focus – which was awesome – it’s all about Lilly and Maria and Brandon and Mateo).

But as the novel goes on and things get creepier, it seems the effect of guilt with the atmosphere in the school and the ghosts takes its toll on everyone’s mind. And this was where it got very confusing, (for me anyway).

 

But it was certainly a gripping read, even if it was weird towards the end.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Mira Ink UK for approving my request to view the title.

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