August 2014 Book Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Horror Reviews

Book Review: The Walls Around Us

Author: Nova Ren Suma
Pages: 319
Published: Expected March 24, 2015
Genre: YA, Horror, Paranormal
Rating: 4/5

A new YA ghost story about two best friends, Ori and Violet. They met while at ballet practice and had been inseparable from ages 7 to 15 when they were forced to be apart as a result of Ori going to juvie. Violet has been continually harassed by fellow ballerina’s during practice and one day the girls harassing her show up dead behind the ballet studio. Both Violet and Ori are found covered in the girls’ blood, but Ori is the one holding the box cutter and is sent to the Aurora Juvenile Detention Facility.

Amber is Ori’s future roommate at Aurora and has been wrongfully charged with killing her abusive step-father. At least, that’s what the rest of the girls on the unit believe. After losing her roommate during a mass break-out when each cell was somehow unlocked and all the girls set free, Amber is informed that a girl she has been hearing about in visions will soon become her roommate. 

Beautifully written and definitely eerie, The Walls Around Us did an excellent job of telling a true ghost story from the perspective of three different girls with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing the entire time. A solid new addition to the horror genre and a great new novel from this author.

 

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August 2014 Book Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Series/Trilogies

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen
Pages: 448
Published: July 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 5/5

The Queen of the Tearling was an absolutely brilliant fantasty novel by this author. This tells the story of 19 year old Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn as she begins her journey as the Queen of the Tearling. Once she turned 19 she was told it was her turn to take the throne, but with it came a few problems. The main one being that her uncle had been trying to have her killed her entire life and the second was that her mother made a deal with the Red Queen to provide them with a supply of Tearling citizens each year in order to use as soldiers. 

The story follows Kelsea throughout her travels to the Tearling and really embraces what it means to be a 19 year old girl in this particular setting. Johansen did a great job of storytelling and world building in a way that kept you begging for more throughout the entire story. Beautifully written and a great start to the Queen of the Tearling series. Can’t wait for the next one to come out! Definitely deserves a 5/5.

Horror Reviews · July 2014 Book Reviews

Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Author: Shirley Jackson
Pages: 160
Published: October 31, 2006 (First published 1962)
Genre: Adult, Horror, Mystery
Rating: 4/5

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a classic horror novel by the great Shirley Jackson. This is the story of two sisters that live in the Blackwood House with their ailing uncle. Both sisters seclude themselves from the rest of the neighborhood and feel judged constantly by the townsfolk. Everyone is aware of one fateful night at the Blackwood House when most of the family was murdered during dinner. 

I really enjoyed this story and will definitely be reading it again at some point. Shirley Jackson is a must-read for all horror buffs and this is a great place to get started. It was definitely one of the eeriest stories that I’ve read in a long time and kept me guessing throughout the entire story.

Horror Reviews · July 2014 Book Reviews

Book Review: Help for the Haunted

Author: John Searles
Pages: 368
Published: September 17, 2013
Genre: Adult, Horror, Mystery
Rating: 4/5

Sylvie Mason’s parents are anything but normal. They are often called to help out families that have children being afflicted with mysterious symptoms resembling possessions. One night Sylvie’s parents receive a phone call that will change the course of their lives forever. 

After leaving the house with Sylvie in the car, her parents head to a local church to meet with a previous client. That’s when everything goes wrong. Her parents are murdered and now only Sylvie can figure out the truth behind who their killer was. 

This was an excellent horror read. The author did a fantastic job of telling a story through the eyes of a young girl and I enjoyed every minute of it. Help for the Haunted is a fun crime thriller novel that all horror fans can enjoy. It did remind me a lot of the Warren’s and I’m not sure if that was the intent, but it definitely had aspects of The Conjuring in it. 

I gave this book a 4/5 because it didn’t blow me away, but it was enjoyable enough to keep my attention throughout the entire story.

August 2014 Book Reviews · Series/Trilogies

Book Review: Under the Shadow of Darkness (Apprentice Series #1)

Author: James Cardona & Issa Cardona
Pages: 155
Published: February 24, 2014
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

Under the Shadow of Darkness is book one in the Apprentice Series. Bel has recently graduated from a specialized school as a magician’s apprentice. As an apprentice to the great Nes’egrinon, Bel has been given the opportunity of a lifetime, if he can survive long enough to finish his training that is. The only two apprentices that Nes’egrinon has had in the past have both died and as Bel continues to interact with Nes’egrinon, the mystery surrounding him grows. 

After a terrifying interaction with the ghoul-kind while tending to horses, Bel begins an epic journey along with his master, a fellow apprentice that has always tormented him, Kerlith, and Kerlith’s master Muolithnon in order to uncover the origins of the appearance of the ghoul-kind and save life as they know it. 

I was given this book in e-book format from the author for review and am very happy that I had the chance to read it. This was a brilliant start to what will hopefully continue to be a fun and adventure filled series. Definitely unlike any other YA fantasy that I have read recently, Under the Shadow of Darkness had one of the best plot lines that I’ve encountered so far this year. 

My only issue with the story was the dialogue. While appropriately corny at times, I felt that the dialogue of one character in particular (Nes’egrinon) went a little overboard when trying to make him appear quirky. As a well known and powerful archmage, I was hoping that Nes’egrinon’s dialogue would have been more intimidating. While some of what he had to say definitely took me out of the moment when reading this story, it was not enough to detract from the plot altogether. I feel comfortable giving this book a solid 4/5 and am very excited to see what will come next from these two great authors. 

August 2014 Book Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Horror Reviews · Kids Books

Book Review: The Swallow: A Ghost Story

Author: Charis Cotter
Pages: 320
Published: Expected September 9, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror
Rating: 4.5/5

Polly has a crazy family. She has twin brothers that she calls the Horrors, an older sister named Lucy that is too focused on herself and a baby sister named Suzie that isn’t too bad, yet. She also has had a bunch of foster siblings throughout the years. Her entire family acts as if she doesn’t exist except for the Horrors who never leave her alone. All Polly wants is to see a ghost. 

Rose is an only child. Her parents are never home and her grandmother recently passed away so she is stuck at home with the housekeeper. She is also constantly surrounded by ghosts. All Rose wants is to be a normal kid. 

Polly and Rose develop an unusual friendship. Each having the one thing that the other desperately longs for. The Swallow was a beautifully written ghost story about two young girls trying to understand the world they live in. 

A must-read for all ages.