The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger: A Review

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Title: The Case of the Deadly Doppelganger (Dr. Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural #2)

Author: Lucy Banks

It’s only been a couple of months since his mother died and he discovered that ghosts and spirits are real, but Kester is part of a whole new life now. One with friends, sort of, and a father, albeit an odd one, and maybe even a girlfriend. He’s got a purpose too, working at a supernatural agency that deals with ghosts. Kester can open a door into the spirit world that lets the departed pass over. At least, he did it once. Now he’ll have to do it again – before anyone else is killed.

A malicious spirit is hunting down the residents of Lyme Regis and killing them in their homes. Kester and his friends will have to move fast and overcome some personal rivalries if they want to succeed.

I really liked this series when I discovered it last year and I was so excited to win an ARC from NetGalley for the second book. If you like funny mysteries or mysteries with a little supernatural aspect thrown in, you will totally love these!

Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this one for free. My opinions are all my own.

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Halloween Horror

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Happy Halloween! In honor of the hauntingly horrible holiday, I have a throwback review to share. Enjoy and have a bewitching evening.

Dracula

by Bram Stoker

Themes: love, death, blood, sex, evil, gender roles, mental illness
Setting: Transylvania – duh!, and England, late 19th century

Is there anyone who doesn’t know something about the story of Dracula? I think it would be almost impossible to come into this book, knowing NOTHING about it, but I am sure there are lots of others who haven’t ever actually read the book. (Or seen the real movie, either, for that matter.) But I decided it was time to read this one and see what it’s all about.

It was harder to read at first than I thought. We start off with young solicitor Jonathan Harker, on his way to stay at Dracula’s Castle. WHAT! What are you thinking! Don’t go there! Then I had to remind myself – he’s not being an idiot. He’s never heard of the count. Nobody has. This is where it all begins. It came up again later, when I was exasperated at how slow these people are to recognize what was going on. Don’t they know a vampire when they see one? Well, no. They don’t. This was one of the very first vampire stories, and much of the myth begins right here.

Other than that, it was really very easy to read. It was exciting and well written. The story is told in first person, in journal form and a few letters, which makes it easy to know what the participants are thinking and feeling. It makes it even spookier to here Dr. Seward describe what he saw when they broke into the Harker’s bedroom to find – well, I won’t give it away, but it was VERY creepy.

It wasn’t perfect. There was a long, somewhat slow section when Lucy Westenra is being pursued by this PRESENCE, that comes in through her window at night. I couldn’t believe how long that took. That was when I reminded myself that no one was supposed to know about vampires, so they could hardly be expected to figure it out. But it still took too long. Lucy would be attacked, she would almost die, they would save her, they would relax their guard, and then she’d be attacked again. Hurry it up, already! But once that came to it’s dramatic conclusion, the story picked up pace again and didn’t slow down after that.

I really am not a vampire fan. I am absolutely in the ‘vampires are evil’ camp, Team Buffy for me. But I don’t read vampire books much. Still, this is a classic, and I think that anyone who likes a good scary story would like it. I really liked my edition, which had a couple of essays in it. (As always, don’t read them until you finish the book!) The one in the front covered the history of the vampire myth, and the significance of Dracula in creating many of the things we think of when we think of vampires. It also had a run down on some of the classic movies, including a version starring Christopher Lee as the count, which I would like to see, just for fun. But the essay in the back highlighted some of my basic reservations when it comes to bloodsucking fiends – the sexual perversion inherit in the story. He goes through the book’s most graphic scenes and explores the sexual subtext in each scene. Very well written, and very persuasive as well.

It’s not a total gorefest or anything, but I wouldn’t recommend this book to my 13 year old, for example. But if you haven’t read it, thinking it’s too old-fashioned, or too hard to read, or too over the top, you should reconsider and give this one a chance. 5 stars.

Afterdeath: Review

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

35274633Title: Afterdeath

Author: Benoit Chartier

Synopsis:

Death is a country we see through the tiny keyhole of an immovable door.
Raised by their grandmother after their parents’ death, Chloe and Olivia Borders are now in mourning for Rose. The Alzheimer’s that forced them to be split into separate foster homes has taken their last living family member. As a way to rekindle their friendship, the twins commit to a road trip— which spells their demise. Now the question is: What comes after, and how will they get back to life?

Review:

Twin sisters Chloe and Olivia have drifted apart since their parents’ deaths. Now that their grandma is dead, the two decide to become reacquainted with a sister road trip. They both die. That sounds like a spoiler, but it happens early in the book, and the real story is about what happens AFTER Death. Hence the title, get it? Right.

So what does happen next? Let’s just say it’s NOTHING like you might expect. Olivia is a serious Christian, Chloe an agnostic, and both of them are in for a shock when they get to the other side. First of all, there’s still plenty to do and no sign of the Pearly Gates. Instead they meet some dubious new folks who claim to be there to help, but it’s hard to know who you can trust and who wants to kill you. Again.

It all gets a little confusing and kind of depressing, TBH. I had to push myself to keep reading. It doesn’t help that Angelica, their new companion, flips back and forth between seeming like a good gal and then a bitch. I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to like her or hate her, but she just confused me instead.

In the end, this one was quite original, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. I think it was a case of a bad fit. It sounded like something I would like, but I guess I was in the mood for something lighter.

10 Spooky Stories

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It’s dark and spooky out there. And only going to get darker and spookier.

Why not stay inside in a nice warm room and read? I’ve got some suggestions here for some perfect books to fit the season. Let’s start with the family friendly stuff before getting into the truly terrifying, shall we?

  1. Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Honestly, my kids found this much less scary when they were young. But when they got older – that sewing on buttons instead of eyes?! Pretty freaking horrifying.
  2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, also by Neil Gaiman. More atmospheric than truly scary, but a lovely ending. Perhaps more late summer than fall.
  3. The Thief of Always by Clive Barker. All four seasons in one day. Sounds charming, but maybe a little too possessive?
  4. 163919 Full Tilt by Neil Shusterman. An evil carnival. Still appropriate for this time of year, and as a bonus, let me include Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury if you’ve never read that one. Both get right inside your head.
  5. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Odd sees ghosts. Mostly it’s guys like Elvis. But sometimes they’re not so friendly.
  6. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. This one makes you think more than scares you, but it’s so good that it’s worth reading.
  7. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Timely and terrifying.
  8. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. Who are they and why do they come in winter?
  9. The Keep by Paul F. Wilson. When even the Nazis are afraid, you know there’s trouble.
  10. Dracula by Bram Stoker. If you haven’t read the original, you’ve got to do it. So. Creepy.

That’s my list for this time of month. None of them are very new, with the exception of Lovecraft Country, but there good scary reads all the same. What’s on your list?

Living the Good Death – a review

standalone-sundayTitle: Living the Good Death

Author: Scott Baron

Synopsis:

Wearing nothing but psych ward pajamas and fluffy slippers, the odd girl wasn’t really dressed to kill. Being the Grim Reaper, however, she felt confident she could make it work.

Review:

She thinks she’s Death. Is she right? That’s for readers to figure out as they read the entertaining new book by author Scott Baron. As the girl (she doesn’t have a name for half the book) goes through her new life, she experiences the normal human needs of hunger, fatigue, and going to the bathroom. She also makes enemies and falls in love.

The reader, meanwhile, is never quite sure whether the girl really is Death or whether she’s imagining it all. Sometimes the story makes you think she couldn’t know thar unless she was human. It was a fun idea, but I was really ready for some answers.

I liked the secondary characters in this one a lot. The doctor was a little too evil to be believed though, and the ease at which he’s able to get the girl admitted to a mental hospital without her consent was totally unrealistic. That bugged me enough that I almost quit reading. But the ending was good so I’m glad I stuck with it.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, but my opinions are my own.

 

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

22304616._SY540_Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy/Horror Novella

Silence is an innkeeper, but if you’re thinking of a friendly, garrulous sort who likes to gossip with the patrons, you’re far off. Silence is grim. Most folks are pretty grim, here on the outskirts of the forest. She’s also a bounty hunter, and between both jobs, she’s barely making enough to provide for her 14 year old daughter and her ward. Now she’s heard of a fat bounty on a known criminal, currently sitting downstairs in her tavern.

Silence and her daughter William Ann wait for the right moment, then follow to get the bounty. They’ll have to track a whole group of men, kill them, and bring back the body of the one they want, all without getting killed by the men or attacked by the shadows who dwell in the forest.

Of the two, the forest shadows are far more deadly. One touch and you’ll start to wither. Only silver can stop you from becoming like them. There are rules to keep you safe, but even when you follow the rules, there’s never any guarantee. But Silence needs that bounty.

Sanderson is really one of my favorite writers. I loved how he painted such a vivid picture of a grim world and a tough woman determined to keep her family together no matter what it took. Haunting and mesmerizing, you have to read this one.

Two DNFs

I’ve got a couple of recent DNF (did not finish) that I thought I’d mention. Sometimes people are surprised by how fast I read, but they don’t realize that I count ALL books I read, including the ones I try, but just don’t like for whatever reason. Here are a few I didn’t finish lately.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan

This one was just what it sounds like, a collection of stories about Greek heroes written as though told by Percy Jackson. I love Percy, but when he’s telling someone else’s story, I find him a little more annoying than when he’s telling his own. My main problem here though is that I really already know most of these stories, so I wasn’t interested in reading them again. There was one in there I hadn’t heard, but I know about Daedalus and Theseus and so on. Just wasn’t interested.

Belle Dame Sans Merci by Astrea Taylor

Belle is a cool heroine, but for some reason reading a story set in Hell was stressing me out! I skimmed this one, so I mostly read it and then skipped to the end. I’m betting this one has a sequel. If you like stories about demons and stuff like that you’ll probably like it more than I did.

 

Book Review: Fred the Vampire

Title: The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (Fred, the Vampire Accountant #1)

Author: Drew Hayes

Genre: urban fantasy, comic horror

How I heard about this book: Familiar author

Format: Audiobook

Source: Kindle Unlimited

I really like old Fred the vampire accountant. He’s a funny guy. There was a lot about the world of this story that I wanted to know more about. The book was a collection of several adventures, starting with Fred’s 10 year high school reunion. The story starts with Fred already having been turned into a vampire. In fact, we don’t learn much about how it all started until the last story in the collection. His reunion kind of takes a downturn when a group of werewolves turn up and start devouring the alumni.

I liked all the characters, but  I *LOVED* Bubba! The worldbuilding was was well done and it was genuinely funny. I laughed out loud more than once.

But there was too much swearing in here, especially for an audiobook. I’m not sure if I want to read the next in the series or now. The narration was done by fellow Utahn Kirby Heybourne, and he does a really good job. But like I said, I got tired of hearing the F-bomb so many times.

Bubba alone is worth 1 star, so overall, I’m giving this one 3.3 stars.

Book Review: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost

Kester is having a hard time since his mom died. He doesn’t have a job, he has no friends, and no plans, but he does have a lead. His mom mentions something before she dies, a Dr. Ribero. Kester decides to follow up and finds himself in a whole new world. One where there are ghosts.

This reminded me a little of the Jonathan Stroud series, Lockwood & Co. Ribero’s group of ghost hunters is similarly short-staffed and underappreciated. But this, while still a really clean read, is geared more for adults than kids. The staff is a lot pricklier too, but I did like the whole bickering crew. I hope this is the first of a long series, because I really want to read more. Thanks for the chance to read it.

I received this for free in return for a review from NetGalley, but my opinions are my own.

Book Review: Companions of the Night

Reading Decathlon, book 9

Companions of the Night

by Vivan Vande Velde

Setting: modern New York college town

Plot: Kerry agrees to return to the laundromat before bed to pick up her brother’s teddy bear. But when she gets there, she finds the owner and some friends have captured and beaten a guy. They claim this Ethan is a vampire and refuse to let him or Kerry go. Kerry helps the guy escape only to find that he is in fact a vampire. Now someone has kidnapped her family and they’re going after her next. Kerry and Ethan team up, but can Kerry trust him with her family’s safety?

Pros: Um, it was short?

Cons: It was confusing?

Honestly, this one didn’t stand out much for me. I read it while waiting for the doctor today and it was good to pass the time. I did like the ending. Kerry was able to be smart and made some good decisions. I really appreciated that she wasn’t some starstruck vampire groupie. But I can’t say that I really liked it. 2.5 stars