Dark Matter

By Blake Crouch

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: July 26, 2016

Published by Crown

My Rating: three-half-stars

Dark Matter

Cover image and summary from Goodreads:

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

I’ve never read any of Blake Crouch’s other books, but I quite enjoyed season one of the TV show Wayward Pines, based on his books. So when I read the premise of this novel, knowing how fun and twisty Wayward Pines was to watch, I was definitely interested in checking it out.

I’m kind of obsessed with the ideas of regrets, choosing a different path, multiple universes. If I had made a different choice somewhere along the way, what would my life look like? I can get lost in this kind of thinking. So the idea of this book really grabbed me. I won’t go into plot details because I don’t want to spoil it, but it was fairly simple to figure out the initial mystery. What I really enjoyed were the times the story explored the mechanics of the multiverse and detailed how characters were experiencing and possibly manipulating it.

There were some parts of the story that just didn’t register as much for me (spoiler-y, so highlight the rest of this sentence to find out: the various versions of Jason’s wife and son; I really didn’t like not knowing what happened to Amanda. End of spoiler), but I think that’s because I became more interested in the multiverse itself than in the characters!

This was certainly a fun, brain-bending read. Recommended!

Never Missing, Never Found

By Amanda Panitch

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

My Rating: four-stars

Never Missing, Never Found

Cover image and summary from Goodreads:

Some choices change everything. Scarlett chose to run. And the consequences will be deadly.
 
Stolen from her family as a young girl, Scarlett was lucky enough to eventually escape her captor. Now a teen, she’s starting a summer job at an amusement park. There are cute boys, new friends, and the chance to finally have a normal life.

Her first day on the job, Scarlett is shocked to discover that a girl from the park has gone missing. Old memories come rushing back. And now as she meets her new coworkers, one of the girls seems strangely familiar. When Scarlett chose to run all those years ago, what did she set into motion? And when push comes to shove, how far will she go to uncover the truth . . . before it’s too late?

I read Amanda Panitch’s Damage Done last summer and, while I didn’t find it as twisty as I’d hoped it would be, I enjoyed it. I was therefore really looking forward to her newest book, Never Missing, Never Found.

This book was a well-paced, twisty story and I loved the way the narrator’s flashbacks were incorporated in with the present story. And I didn’t quite sort out what was happening until close to the end of the book, which was fun. Compared to Damage Done, I enjoyed this book’s structure, story, and characters more.

I am really excited to see what Amanda Panitch writes next! Definitely recommended for YA mystery fans.

Project SPN Rewatch: Folsom Prison Blues

Project SPN Rewatch: Folsom Prison Blues

(As I mentioned in my post announcing this rewatch project, there will be spoilers!)

Season 2, Episode 19: Folsom Prison Blues

Image and episode summary from Wikipedia:

Following a tip from their father’s marine buddy, Deacon, Sam and Dean deliberately get themselves arrested in Arkansas to investigate a string of murders in a recently reopened cell block. However, FBI Agent Henriksen shows up and attempts to extradite them. Their public defender, Mara Daniels (Bridget Ann White), believes that they may have been falsely accused of many crimes, but says that they can only stall extradition for a week. To create a distraction in order to allow Sam to destroy what they believe to be the spirit, Dean gets into a fight with a fellow prisoner. However, the vengeful spirit of a nurse attacks Dean in the infirmary proving they were wrong about the ghost’s identity. He defends himself with salt, but she kills the other prisoner. Research reveals that it is Nurse Glockner, who used to kill infirmary patients and was later killed in a riot. She kills anyone who has committed a crime, regardless of how minor it is. Dean convinces Mara to locate where Glockner was buried, and the brothers decide to follow their escape plan. After getting into a fight with one another, they are taken away by a guard (Garwin Sanford)—Deacon. He helps them to escape. When Henriksen learns that Mara supplied the Winchesters with information, he forces her to tell him where she sent them. As the brothers dig up Glockner’s body and then salt and burn her remains, the FBI arrive at the wrong cemetery, having been lied to by Mara. The Winchesters dispatch Glockner in time to save Deacon and realize they are in more trouble than ever before now.

We open at the Green River County Detention Centre, and hear a cellblock was closed down and is being opened up again. The construction guys are on site, and the cell is so cold that they can see their breath. You know what that means…I think a ghost just got out of that cell.

In another cell elsewhere in the prison, an inmate is reading on his bunk. The lights on the cellblock flicker and he goes to the cell door to look out. The clock has stopped and something passes by his cell. He yells to the camera for a guard, but the guard watching the monitors just sees distorted footage. He says into his walkie that he’s going down to B block. “Randall again”.

The guard knocks on his bars, telling Randall to cool it (he’s yelling that there’s something out there), turn out his light, and go to sleep. Randall goes back to his bunk and turns out his light. But as the guard is walking away, telling the other guard to turn out the lights on the cellblock, something appears behind him! A ghost! It suddenly gets very cold, and a door slams into the guards arm, trapping him. He sees the ghost approaching and screams. We see Randall in his cell, looking out from the bars. Turns out Randall was right.

3 MONTHS LATER

Sam and Dean are walking down a dark hall, with Sam telling Dean that he hates this plan. They break into some display case and remove some items. Then the cops show up and they’re trapped! The cops handcuff them. They’re getting their mugshots taken! Oh no they’ve been arrested. Dean seems to think this is funny.

Henriksen! He’s been after Dean for a while and this is the first time they’ve met in person. He wants to put them in supermax! Mail fraud, credit card fraud, grave desecration, armed robbery, kidnapping, and 3 counts of first degree murder…you know, when you look at it from a law enforcement perspective, these guys do seem like they’ve been up to no good. Dean’s in trouble.

Henrisken says their dad taught them well, the way they covered their tracks…and after all that, they get tripped up on a motion detector? Rookie move, Henriksen says.

Maura Daniels, a public defender, comes in. She’s been assigned Sam and Dean’s cases and she kicks Henriksen and his partner out. She tells them their arraignment won’t be until Tuesday, so they’ll be kept in Green River County Detention Centre until then. Given the charges, no judge will grant them bail. 5 other states have already filed extradition papers. The Winchesters are wanted men!

Cut to the boys getting off a bus in cuffs, heading into the detention centre. They’re inmates now. Dean promises Sam he won’t trade him for smokes.

They’re wearing orange prison jump suits and shown to their (separate) cells. Luckily their cells face each other. Yikes Sam’s cellmate is a big guy.

Later, in the lunch line, Sam tells Dean this is the dumbest, craziest thing they’ve ever done. Dean tells him this is all part of the plan. They just have to find this ghost, get rid of it, and they’re done. Dean tells Sam his escape plan is a 100% sure thing – wouldn’t have gone in otherwise.

4 people are dead so far from this haunting. Dean says just because these people are in jail doesn’t mean they deserve to die. He says they’re doing this for Deacon, who saved their father’s life and they owe him. They’re loyal and they pay their debts.

Dean seems to enjoy the cafeteria food. The brothers go over their list of ghostly suspects. Dean thinks there’s something in the old cellblock that was opened up (right when the deaths started) that’s keeping the ghost around.

Dean and Sam get into an altercation with one of the inmates and of course Dean won’t back down. Fight! Yikes! The warden or boss or whoever shows up and breaks it up. He gets Dean’s name and tells him this is not a good start. Puts him in solitary.

In solitary, Dean tries to talk to the inmate he fought with, who also got put in solitary, but it doesn’t go over well. Then the lights start to flicker and gets very cold. A ghost is near! Dean sees the clock stop outside the cells. Lucas, the other inmate, doesn’t listen when Dean yells at him to stay very still (would that even help? That would be the first time I can recall that being advice about how to deal with a ghost). The ghost kills Lucas. RIP.

Henriksen is approached by Daniels, the boys’ lawyer. She tells him there are some weird inconsistencies with the charges. Various witnesses swear the brothers saved their lives. Henriksen says wherever these guys go, people die. Their lawyer thinks there’s more to this. But Henriksen doesn’t buy it. He’s very dismissive of her. Rude!

Sam is cleaning the floor of a bathroom with Randall. Sam tries to talk to him. He asks about the night the guard died – what happened, what did he see? Officially they say the stress of the job got to him (the deaths have all looked like heart attacks). Randall asks Sam why he’s inside, and Sam says because he’s got an idiot for a brother. Randall says this is way better than the old cellblock, and confirms for Sam that Mark Moody (their ghost suspect) was there. Sounds like Mark was beaten by a guard the night he died.

In the yard, Dean is playing poker with an inmate, who is pissed off when Dean wins. Haha. Dean has won a lot of cigarettes.

Sam tells Dean what he learned about Moody, and Dean tells Sam about Lucas’s death by Moody’s ghost.

Sam says the blood in Moody’s old cell – so much they had trouble cleaning the cell – could be the remains that need to be burned in order to get rid of his spirit.

Back in the cafeteria, the boys are planning something. Dean approaches Tiny, Lucas’s friend from earlier, and gets into a fight with him. (Fun fact: that is Cliff, Sam and Dean’s real bodyguard/driver).

While everyone is distracted, Sam sneaks into the kitchen to get supplies to fight Moody’s ghost and burn his remains.

Dean gets taken to the infirmary while Sam is sneaking around the prison (escape via laundry chute?). He enters Moody’s old cell. There’s an old blood-soaked mattress in there and he salts it and burns it.

In the infirmary, Dean talks to Tiny, apologizing for earlier. Dean says he can’t say why but he had to get him angry, and he’s sorry. Tiny says it’s ok. Truth is, he has self esteem issues.

Dean sees a ghost! It isn’t Moody! It looks like a woman. She comes right over to them. Dean grabs some salt from his lunch tray and before he can do anything, the ghost attacks him! She’s in his cell and he throws salt on her. But Tiny is not so lucky. Dean hears Tiny dying in the infirmary cell next to his.

Later Dean tells Sam that the ghost isn’t Moody. But Sam called Deacon and told him it was done, and they’re getting out tonight. Time for some quick research!

Dean and Sam ask Randall about the nurse. Her name was Nurse Glockner and she worked in the 70s at the prison. She was nasty. There were stories about guys who went to the infirmary with a cold and then were in a body bag. There was a rash of heart attacks. She killed them but it was rumour only – never proven.

Sam makes fun of Dean for how easily he seems to fit in in prison, haha.

Sam says they’re leaving tonight, no matter what.

Dean goes to speak with their lawyer, asking her to look into Nurse Glockner. How did she die and where is she buried? He tells her that this is the best way that she can help him. He tells her that he and Sam are not the bad guys.

In the yard, they argue over leaving tonight vs staying another day. The boss/warden/whoever he is breaks up their fight and they talk in an empty room. It turns out this is Deacon! He uncuffs them and asks if it’s over. Sam says no, it wasn’t Moody – it was some nurse. Dean wants to stay but Sam wants to leave. Deacon tells them their lawyer left an envelope for them – it’s information showing Glockner died in the old cellblock during a riot, and tells them where she’s buried.

They promise Deacon they’ll get rid of it. He says he can’t thank them enough – he was asking a lot and they came through. He says their father raised them right. He hugs them and lets them escape – but not before he lets Dean punch him, telling him to make it look real.

The boys make their way to the Impala, and Dean says he wishes he could see Henriksen’s face. Uh oh, alarms going off at the prison! They get the heck out of there.

Deacon has to explain to Henriksen how Sam and Dean got away – he says they got the drop on him and escaped. Henriksen is really pressing him. Then he’s pressing their lawyer about their conversation, following which (3 hours later) Dean just happened to escape.

Cut to the boys at Glockner’s grave, and Sam tells Dean the lawyer-client privilege doesn’t apply to her conversation with Dean. Henriksen is threatening the lawyer, and she tells him that Dean wanted her to research a prison nurse who died in 1976. She doesn’t know why. They wanted to know where she was buried and she told them what she found out.

Cop cars descend on the Mountainside Cemetery, looking for the bros. Meanwhile, the bros are digging up the nurse’s grave to salt and burn the bones. The copes approach in tactical gear! This is serious!

Back at the prison, the ghost of Nurse Glockner attacks Deacon!

The cops are running through the cemetery! Sam and Dean are salting and burning the bones! They do it just in time, and the ghost goes up in flames in time to save Deacon’s life. Phew.

The copes don’t find Sam and Dean – because they are not at Mountainside Cemetery. They’re at Green Valley Cemetery! Nice job, lawyer!

Sam tells Dean they’re in big trouble now. Henriksen will for sure be after them now.

Overall thoughts:

Another really good episode! And again, a MOTW episode. It doesn’t move the larger arc along, but it calls back to John Winchester and I like the idea that the boys got themselves in prison on purpose, to get rid of a ghost. And I love that Henriksen’s character shows up.

Lore:

-Ghosts/spirits

Ghostly Echoes

By William Ritter

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss

Series: Jackaby #3

Received from the publisher via Edelweiss, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Publication Date: August 23, 2016

Published by Algonquin Young Readers

My Rating: four-half-stars

Ghostly Echoes

Cover image and summary from Goodreads:

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

I really love this series. It’s fun and combines mystery, historical fiction, and supernatural elements – three of my favourite things – into one fantastic series.

I was thrilled that this third book in the series focused more on Jenny’s backstory. We learn more about her life, death, and relationship with Jackaby. Additionally, we learn much more about Jackaby himself, including his past and how he came to have ‘the sight’. It was so interesting and definitely left me wanting to read more!

Ghostly Echoes does a great job of connecting the mysteries of each book with a larger overarching story for the series. I’m really looking forward to the next book, which, sadly, I’ve heard is to be the final book in the series. I can’t wait to see how everything will come together for these characters I’ve come to love.

As in the previous two instalments, the writing in this book is just fantastic. There’s humour, but there is also a tinge of melancholy, and weaving the supernatural elements into the story occasionally adds  a touch of darkness to it all.

This series is one of my new favourites, and I can’t wait to add Ghostly Echoes to my bookshelf. Highly recommended!

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

By Paul Tremblay

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: June 21, 2016

Published by William Morrow

My Rating: four-stars

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

Cover image and summary from Goodreads:

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her fourteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace in the woods of a local park.

The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend his disappearance. Feeling helpless and alone, their sorrow is compounded by anger and frustration. The local and state police haven’t uncovered any leads. Josh and Luis, the friends who were with Tommy last, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock— rumored to be cursed.

Living in an all-too-real nightmare, riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. She believes a ghostly shadow of Tommy materializes in her bedroom, while Kate and other local residents claim to see a shadow peering through their own windows in the dead of night. Then, random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear—entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the woods of Borderland; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connected them all and changes everything.

As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened becomes more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

I picked this up because I read and enjoyed Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts. I read this book in two days and really enjoyed it!

Like A Head Full of Ghosts, this book had its creepy moments! And I really enjoyed the way the story showed the reader not just Elizabeth’s perspective, but Josh and Luis’s as well. This is one of those stories where I thought I knew what was going on, then started to doubt and question, and then by the end, I wasn’t entirely certain what to believe. But the ending was kind of heart-breaking, and I was frantically reading to try to figure out what really happened.

While I picked up my copy from the horror section of my bookstore, I thought this was more of a mystery/suspense story, with some elements of horror. While it wasn’t frightening in a horror way, there were elements of this that frightened me (and it would be a spoiler for me to say what they are but if you read the book you can probably figure it out).

This was a really absorbing story, and I think if you enjoyed A Head Full of Ghosts you’ll enjoy Disappearance at Devil’s Rock as well.