April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Kids Books

Book Review: Unwritten

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Author: Tara Gilboy
Pages: 198
Published: November 16, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Gracie knows that she was rescued from a story by her mom. She had to tell her after she started having incredibly realistic dreams and visions of a beautiful woman and a fire. But all that her mom will tell her is that she saved her because she died in the story. She knows the authors name and that her mom doesn’t like the author, but her mom refuses to tell her anything more than that and changes the subject whenever she brings it up. She also knows that her best friend Walter was also saved. But he doesn’t know. Now Gracie has a chance to meet the author in person and ask her what really happened in the story. Should she go against her mom’s wishes and try to find out the truth or trust that her mom is only keeping her safe?

 

This one was adorable. I love the idea of the main character being rescued from a story. The two plot lines worked out really well together and I never felt like it was too far fetched of an idea to pull off. I think my only issue is how dark one of the main plot points was. For a middle grade I thought it was a little graphic but I guess if you look at all of the stuff that happens in books like the Harry Potter series that it wasn’t too bad. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I read it in one sitting. I really hope we get more books about Gracie!

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April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Book Review: Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

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Author: Chip Conley
Pages: 256
Published: September 18, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, Ageism, Business
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Wisdom at Work provides invaluable insights for professionals at any age. Chip Conley discusses his time working with Airbnb as both an advisor and intern and how he had to overcome the severe dichotomy that exists between “millennials” and “baby boomers”. He argues that we need to bring back the idea of mentors in order to overcome some of the ageism that exists in the workplace and I have to agree with him. In order for younger generations to thrive while beginning their careers and older generations to continue thriving, both need to come together and recognize that they each have a lot to offer the other.

His examples of older adults providing guidance to start up companies in Silicon Valley offered the most insight that I’ve seen when talking about ageism in the workplace and how to get past it. This is definitely one that I’m going to purchase a hard copy of once it is released and I know I’ll continue to come back to it year after year. I enjoyed the tips that he offers while also providing real world examples of older adults joining new companies. I’m still not a fan of the “if I can do it then anyone can” mentality, but overall I felt that this particular career advice book has a lot to offer and would definitely recommend it.

April 2018 Reviews · Horror Reviews

Book Review: The Halloween Children

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Author: Brian James Freeman & Norman Prentiss
Pages: 189
Published: October 2014
Genre: Horror, Holiday>Halloween, Paranormal
Rating:  3.5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Harris loves both his kids. Whether or not his wife believes him is another story. He works as the handyman for the Stillbrook Apartment complex where they all live while his wife works from home offering tech support. Their two kids couldn’t be more different from each other. Mattie (Matt) is meticulous, considerate, and inquisitive. He takes his time, keeps to himself and asks a lot of questions and it’s pretty clear that he is Harris’ favorite. Amber is outgoing, creative, and messy. Her and her mother stick together more often than not. Even though Harris and his wife aren’t getting along anymore, at least their kids are happy…right?

The closer it gets to Halloween the more frustrating the apartment manager becomes. Now she has decided that any celebration is going to be considered a liability and has asked Harris to distribute fliers around the complex letting everyone know. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if his wife hadn’t decided that she needed to spy on the kids after a recent incident and if the neighbor who he can’t stand wasn’t picking right this second to ask him for favors. All he needs to do is make it through Halloween night and then everything can go back to normal.

This one was weird. Good weird. But also really graphic. I would have given it a higher rating if it weren’t for an entire section of the book being dedicated to talking negatively about someone that may or may not have had a disability. That part was kind of a let down. I don’t think that it really added anything to the story and honestly it would have been a stronger story without it.

Overall I thought it was really creepy. I love the idea of not knowing whether or not the kids can be trusted and of course anything written about Halloween is going to be fun to read.

April 2018 Reviews · Horror Reviews

Book Review: The Night Sister

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Author: Jennifer McMahon
Pages: 322
Published: August 4, 2015
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Fantasy
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Amy, Piper and Margot used to be best friends. That is, until something happened in the summer of 1989 that caused Amy to begin ignoring them. Up until that point the three were inseparable and could be found hanging out on the property of the Tower Motel which was once a thriving motel off route 6. Now as adults, Piper and Margot (sisters) haven’t spoken to Amy in decades and don’t really consider her a part of their lives anymore until Piper receives a call from Margot stating that Amy was found dead along with her husband and son and that Amy is the only suspect. Forced to confront old demons, Piper and Margot must go back through their years with Amy to determine what really happened the night she was killed and figure out if it has any relation to what caused them to stop talking back in 1989.

This is my second novel from Jennifer McMahon and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite horror authors. Her books have a slow burn and are more atmospheric than anything else, but overall I think I prefer that with her storytelling. You become enthralled in the lives of the characters and need to know what is going on that is making everything so messed up. I thought I had this one figured out a few times but was wrong each time. I was surprised by the outcome of The Night Sister and I’m still not sure if I love it, but it was entertaining.

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Kids Books · Series/Trilogies

Book Review: Trapped in Room 217

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Author: Thomas Kingsley Troupe
Pages: 136
Published: September 1, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror
Rating:  4/5

I received this one from NetGalley for review.

Jayla and her brother Dion get to start spring break early! After their dad receives notice that he is needed in Estes, Colorado for a job the family moves into the Stanley Hotel for a week. Upon entering the hotel Jayla is in awe of how fancy it is, but quickly gets freaked out when she hears an older couple mention something about the room they will be staying in, room 217. On their first night in the hotel both Jayla and Dion have a ghostly encounter that puts both of them on edge and ready to leave, but is there more to the hotel than meets the eye?

 

I thought this one was cute. I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Dion and Jayla and how they were able to navigate the move into a strange place together. I also liked that this book was different from basically every other book written for younger readers in that the adults actually took the kids seriously. And of course we can’t overlook the setting for a kids book. Who doesn’t want to read about the Stanley Hotel? Overall I thought this was a fun read and I’ll definitely continue on with the series.

April 2018 Reviews · Kids Books

Book Review: Walking in the City with Jane

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Author: Susan Hughes (Illustrations by Valerie Boivin)
Pages: 36
Published: April 3, 2018
Genre: Children’s, Biography, Picture Book
Rating:  3/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Walking in the City with Jane is a children’s book about Jane Jacobs, a journalist turned activist devoted to protecting communities.

I really enjoyed the illustrations and love the idea of writing more books for kids that are based on actual people. I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a kids book on city planning and I can definitely remember not having these types of books when I was little. That being said, it didn’t really work out for me. The timeline went by incredibly fast. I kind of wish that the focus would have been more on how she decided to become involved rather than childhood-adulthood-activism within a few pages.

I agree with a few others that a picture book doesn’t seem to be the best way to get across the story of Jane Jacobs life. I like the idea of teaching kids about her though!

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Poetry Review: The Hatch

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Author: Joe Fletcher
Pages: 120
Published: June 1, 2018
Genre: Poetry, Horror, Fantasy
Rating:  3.5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

I don’t claim to have any understanding of poetry at all and I feel like that really impacted my ability to enjoy this collection. There were so many poems that I know had a deeper meaning than what I was getting, but I had no idea what I was reading. That being said I found the writing really beautiful and did really enjoy some of the ones from section two. I think The Wake and The Hatch are probably my favorites of this collection.

A dark and weird collection of poetry I would recommend this one for poetry lovers and horror fans.

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Book Review: Obscura

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Author: Joe Hart
Pages: 348 (ebook)
Published: May 8, 2018
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Sci Fi
Rating:  5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Dr. Gillian Ryan has had a rough few years. After her husband developed a new pervasive form of dementia called Losian’s (which has no set age of onset) they got into a car accident that severely damaged her leg and led to her current addiction to painkillers. On top of that, her husband passed away shortly after their daughter was born (who now also has Losian’s) and now she found out her funding for Losian’s research is being cut. Basically everything sucks for Gillian. That is, until an old college friend reappears in her life and offers her a position with NASA that could change everything but would require she leave her daughter for at least six months. Gillian has to decide if the promise of funding for her research is worth the precious time spent away from her daughter who could pass away at any moment.

This one was all over the place (in a really good way). Working in Gerontology I fully went into this one expecting to hate a horror story written about dementia. But Joe Hart did such a fantastic job of not only taking the real emotions that come with dementia (loss, anger, fear, frustration, helplessness) and created a world where people actually care about it (more than just those that work in the field and those with family members that have it). I found myself fully invested in Gillian’s story and needed to know what the hell was going to happen next to her. The entire time I was playing guessing games with myself to determine what could possibly go wrong next and was pleasantly surprised to be wrong every time! It’s always a bummer when a story is predictable and this one wasn’t at all.

I highly recommend this one for horror fans. It had just the right amount of WTF moments mixed with reality to make it truly terrifying at times. An excellent read.

 

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Book Review: Tin Man

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Author: Sarah Winman
Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
Published: May 15, 2018 (originally published July 27, 2017)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT
Rating:  5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Michael and Ellis became best friends when they were 12. A relationship borne out of tragedy that spurned a beautiful love story…ish. Half of the story follows Ellis from the time he met Michael until adulthood as a widow from his wife Annie. While the other half is from Michael’s diary.

I didn’t originally plan to pick up Tin Man because it’s not a genre I typically go for (contemporary, adult fiction), but it has quickly become one of my favorite reads of 2018 so far. Both endearing and heartbreaking, Tin Man is everything that I didn’t realize I needed in a book. The characters are written beautifully and the relationships are complex and tragic but still believable. I found myself rooting for so many different storylines and in the end I think I would have been happy with anything the author decided to do. I highly recommend everyone pick this one up.

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Horror Reviews

Book Review: The Atrocities

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Author: Jeremy Shipp
Pages: 104 (ebook)
Published: April 17, 2018
Genre: Gothic, Horror, Fantasy
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Ms. Valdez has taken a new job as a governess for Isabella. So far her experience has been…weird. After navigating a maze outside of the house where she was confronted with grotesque statues she was finally able to enter the home but has not yet been able to meet Isabella. No one will tell her much about the girl other than that she was in an accident and now needs help. Is this the job that she signed up for?

This one left me guessing the entire time. I was sure that I knew what the answers were going to be as I was reading and being introduced to each new character, but of course not. Shipp did a great job of taking some of the weirdest concepts and combining them with the traditional story of a new governess meeting a strange family. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and can definitely recommend it!