Bookishly Ever After

By Isabel Bandeira

Source: Purchased

Series: Ever After #1

Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary

My Rating: three-stars

Bookishly Ever After

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary.

But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

I picked this book up for a cute, contemporary read and was pleased that its protagonist was so bookish!

This was definitely a cute book, but I couldn’t really get into it. It was a pleasant enough read, but kind of forgettable for me overall I think. Contemporary YA fans may enjoy this more than I did, and I know people who loved this book, so perhaps I’m the odd one out here.

This was not a bad book or anything – it just wasn’t one that will stay with me.

Heart-Shaped Box

By Joe Hill

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: December 22, 2009

Published by Harper Collins

My Rating: three-half-stars

Heart-Shaped Box

Cover image and synopsis from Kobo:

Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman’s noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can’t help but reach for his wallet.

I will “sell” my stepfather’s ghost to the highest bidder. . . .

For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man’s suit, said to be haunted by a restless spirit. He isn’t afraid. He has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts—of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed. What’s one more?

But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heart-shaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It’s the real thing.

And suddenly the suit’s previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door . . . seated in Jude’s restored vintage Mustang . . . standing outside his window . . . staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting—with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand. . . .

A multiple-award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.

I had the house to myself one weekend and for whatever reason, I decided that that was the perfect time to read a scary book. I decided to pick up Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, which I’d owned for a while. I haven’t read anything else by him, but I know people who really like his books so I figured the time was right.

I read the first 15% or so on my e-reader while I was out having a solo lunch at one of my favourite restaurants. And I’m so happy that I wasn’t home alone while reading it because, even though the rest of the book wasn’t all that frightening (to me), that first part of the book had some of the creepiest moments I have read. And I would have hated to be home alone reading those first few chapters.  Believe me, if you know me or have read this blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me say that I don’t really get scared (other than by bugs and thunderstorms), particularly by books. As much as I love a spooky or creepy book, the majority of the ones that I read don’t frighten me in such a way that they stay with me once I put the book down.  I love when a book creeps me out while I read it, but for the most part, when I finish a book or put it down, I don’t continue to be scared or frightened. And while that turned out to be the case with this book, I must admit that the first few chapters (and one small scene further on) scared me! (I will elaborate in a more spoiler-y way towards the end of the review – trying to keep it spoiler-free here)

So initially I was very creeped out and very interested in what was going on in this story. But once I reached a certain point (to do with who the ghost was and what it was up to), it lost a lot of its power over me. I wasn’t scared or creeped out as I had been at first. This turned out to be a story about a ghost haunting a guy for a specific reason, and while it was definitely interesting, I was able to read the rest of the book in a way that left me feeling more detached and not frightened. I was just reading about some things happening to a guy. But in those first few chapters, I was reading about some very creepy and spooky things happening to this guy and I was so spooked that it felt like those things were happening to me, if that makes sense. I was fully invested and frightened in those early chapters.

I ended up reading the whole book in one day. It was definitely a book that I didn’t want to put down! I wanted to know what was going to happen next, how it was going to end, etc. and I wanted to keep reading. I think the story propelled the book for me, rather than any interest in or investment in the characters. If you’re looking for a scary read, I do recommend this one; even though I didn’t love it, and I thought the last part of the book was nowhere near as good as the first part, it kept me reading.

Read on for more spoiler-y thoughts:

The creepiest parts of this book for me were the parts that occurred before I knew who the ghost was and why he was haunting Judas. Specifically, the first encounters, where the ghost is sitting in the chair in the hall and Judas has this sense that he should not look at the ghost, really frightened me. Those were the parts that I was so happy I read while I was out in the sun at a restaurant and not in my home alone! And the scene where Judas speaks with his assistant, who is sitting in his vehicle but not going anywhere, creeped me out too, particularly where Judas’s assistant says something along the lines of how he had looked right at the ghost and that he wished he had not done that.

Also, all of that stuff that Joe Hill did with the voice on the radio and the email that was sent to Judas was great. Definitely scary and again, took place early on in the book before I knew what was going on, which (for me) was part of what made it so creepy.

The other part of the book that really gave me the chills came later, while Judas was checking his voice mails. That message he listened to from one of his dead bandmates was definitely creepy, especially the part where he holds the phone up for Judas to hear the noise around him. It was basically a phone call from Hell.

This book was uneven for me, but it interested me enough to want to check out more of Joe Hill’s books!

Week In Review

July 24 – 30

 

via GIPHY

Hello! Happy Sunday! Yesterday was a busy day with lots of time spent out of the house, so today is all about staying inside, drinking coffee, and reading.

New books:

Last weekend my mom and sister were visiting and of course, we had to stop at Chapters!

I picked up Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, and I still have to finish Vol. 2 so I’m excited that I can just binge a whole bunch of Ms. Marvel now!

I also pre-ordered the paperpack of William Ritter’s Ghostly Echoes, which arrived the other day. For a moment I thought it was my pre-order of the fourth and final book, The Dire King, and got really excited! I’ve read Ghostly Echoes but didn’t have a copy for my shelf. Now I do, so I can reread the series before reading the last book! (I really love this series and I’m so sad it’s ending!)

I picked up a couple of holds from the library too. While I was there, I realized I had a fine to pay (25 cents). I told the woman at the counter that it was possibly my first fine since I’ve had my library card (five years) and she teased me about it! I hated having that fine and I feel so much better now that I have wiped it out.

Anyway, I picked up copies of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel and Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead.

I also purchased a copy of Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips for my Kobo.

Books read:

I’ve finished two books in the past couple of weeks:

And I Darken, Kiersten White; and

Eliza and Her Monsters, Francesca Zappia.

I thought both books were great!

Current reads:

I’m still rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I started to read Kasie West’s Lucky in Love.

Reviews:

I had three reviews posted in the last couple of weeks:

The Last Neanderthal, Claire Cameron;

Final Girls, Riley Sager (which I really enjoyed, but this article, among others, gave me lots to think about re: male authors using female pseudonyms); and

The Party, Robyn Harding.

Now it’s time for more book and coffee!

 

via GIPHY

The Party

By Robyn Harding

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Published by Gallery/Scout Press

My Rating: three-stars

The Party

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

I was really intrigued by this book, and read it in a couple of days. It was such a tantalizing set up: a terrible incident at a sweet sixteen slumber party, in a house where the family is not as perfect as it seems from the outside, with chapters from different characters’ perspectives, showing the reader who is keeping secrets from whom, circling around what really happened that night.

I definitely got a Herman Koch The Dinner vibe from this book, so if you read and liked that, The Party is probably a book that you’ll be interested in.

One thing that I kind of liked was just how infuriating and awful everyone was! Each character did things that drove me nuts, making it really difficult for me to decide who I believed and who I was rooting for. A story full of unlikable characters is maybe not something that appeals to all readers, and it doesn’t always work for me, but it did here.

Towards the end, things got a little boring for me, and then when I finished, I wasn’t sure how I felt.

SPOILER! Skip to next paragraph to avoid spoilers.  Did I find out what really happened the night of the party? I don’t think I did, but that’s what I most wanted to know. In Hannah’s chapter showing the night of the party, she didn’t see what happened because she was making out with Noah. But then at the end, in her text, she said that she saw Lauren push Ronni. So if that was a lie, then I don’t actually know what happened. Grr. End of spoilers!

So I have mixed feelings about this book. I found it really gripping until the end, sadly. But if you want to read a book full of annoying people treating each other horribly, this might be the book for you!

Final Girls

By Riley Sager

Source: Purchased

Series: n/a

Publication Date: July 11, 2017

Published by Dutton

My Rating: four-stars

Final Girls

Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

I was super excited to read Final Girls!! I’d heard great things about it, and the synopsis definitely made it sound like this was my kind of book. I pre-ordered the ebook and started reading on my lunch hour on release day. From the first page, I didn’t want to put it down. I ended up reading the whole book in one day.

This was gripping and the characters were, at times, infuriating – and I was so into it! It was kind of like watching a scary movie at times, because I kept wanting to yell at someone not to do/say something that they were clearly going to do/say anyway, just like I do when watching movies.

I loved the way the story jumped back to the night at Pine Cottage, slowly revealing more about what happened that night. And early on, I developed a theory that turned out to be right, which made me happy, but I didn’t actually see everything coming, which made me happier.

I didn’t trust anyone in this story, but I could see why Quincy would want to trust Sam. I liked the way the idea of the ‘final girl’ was explored in this story. It was such a fun read, and it reminded me of how much I liked the (unrelated) 2015 movie ‘Final Girls’ starring Malin Akerman, Taissa Farmiga, and Nina Dobrev (go watch it!).

This was a really fun, absorbing mystery/thriller, and I will probably be book-pushing this on people all year! Recommended!