Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Recommendation: The Women in the Walls - Amy Lukavics: Victorian Mansions and Disappearances

In THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS, Lucy and her cousin Margaret are hearing voices inside the walls of their Victorian home after Lucy's aunt disappears.

What intrigued me: Horror, horror, horror, give me all the creepy YA horror.

Bursting with talent

I've seldom read such effortlessly beautiful writing. There is not a single word too much in this book, Lukavics writes so infuriatingly beautiful that you can't help but be a little jealous of her talent. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS tells a fascinating yet very simple story without much of a complicated plot that is so, so, so enhanced and livened through the fantastic writing. Lukavics has a very atmospheric writing style that is so essentially eerie. It's incredible how much Lucy's voice sucks you into this story, makes you feel like you're wandering through this creepy Victorian mansion with her.

I started out slightly skeptical because of the setting - it surely isn't anything I haven't seen before, but THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS perfectly illustrates that you can write with the most overdone premise ever and turn it into a masterpiece, if only you put your own spin on it. And that's what Lukavics absolutely does. 

Peak Creepiness

When it comes to horror, I'm a reviewer that you wouldn't want to read your book. I'm hardly scared of anything. You need to be exceptional to scare me and that's absolutely what THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is. It feels a little like psychological horror, how Lukavics pretty much gives you zero information on whether these voices are real or not and what they exactly are throughout the majority of the story. Until the bombastic finale that's riddled with absolutely unpredictable plot twists, you'll find yourself questioning whether Lucy and Margaret are imagining things or not constantly. It's so well-done that I genuinely grew a little paranoid while reading and I surely loved the way Lukavics wraps it all up. 

A word of caution towards the end: if you're not a fan of open endings, THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS will be very difficult to part with. Personally, I just can't help but keep thinking about Lukavics' characters because the story doesn't quite have an ending. But that's part of the brilliance and what good horror should do in my opinion. It should leave you thinking about the gruesome creepiness for days. Lukavics certainly and effortlessly managed to knock my favorite creepy horror writers from the throne. THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is absolutely a book you should read if you like everything eerie and Victorian. 


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is exceptional. A masterpiece, really. Written with literary ease and multi-faceted atmospheric writing, this is more than just a recommendation - this is a must-read.

Note: Massive trigger warning for suicide, body horror/gore, emotional abuse, and cutting/self harm if you plan on reading this book.


Additional Info

Published: September 27th 2016
Pages: 278
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9780373211944

Synopsis:
"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



Have any horror books scared you lately?

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Monday, November 21, 2016

[Review] Trollhunters (#1) - Daniel Kraus & Guillermo del Toro: Trolls and Abduction

In TROLLHUNTERS, children are disappearing and supposedly abducted by trolls.

What intrigued me: I love del Toro's movies and was hoping for some creepy vibes.

Middle Grade Horror - Not YA

I think I went into this with the wrong expectations. TROLLHUNTERS is a story intended for a Middle Grade audience even though it seems to be marketed as YA. The writing reminds me a lot of the FEAR STREET books maybe with a side of Stranger Things and definitely comes across as Middle Grade horror. Protagonist Jim doesn't quite read like a fifteen-year-old, I feel like everything about TROLLHUNTERS just screams Middle Grade and it's quite irritating that it poses to be something else.

Del Toro and Kraus absolutely manage to capture this unique feeling of uneasiness that I enjoy a lot when reading books in this genre. However, even though the feeling is spot on, the world builing fantastic, it just wasn't my thing. I wasn't looking to read Middle Grade horror, but if you're specifically looking for that this will be an excellent and fun read. 

Great world building

The highlight of TROLLHUNTERS is a combination of the brilliant black and grey illustrations and the fantastic world building. I absolutely believed Del Toro and Kraus that this is something that could've happened - TROLLHUNTERS threads a fine line between horror and what I would probably most accurately describe as paranormal magical realism (totally just invented this). The trolls are such a fantastically eerie element of the story that absolutely feels organic and terrifying. TROLLHUNTERS makes for a terrifying bedtime story for badass kids. 

The world of TROLLHUNTERS is fantastic, spell-binding, and the trolls are nothing short from terrifying and unsettling. For a younger audience this definitely is a must-read if you enjoy stories on the spookier, creepier side. I wish TROLLHUNTERS had been published when I was in the Middle Grade reading age!


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TROLLHUNTERS is the book I wish I would've come across when I was eleven or twelve. The perfect horror read for Middle Grade readers, but because this isn't what I was looking for or expected, it didn't really impresss me.



Additional Info

Published: October 31st 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne Fliegt
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 978-3-453-27049-7

Synopsis:
"In San Bernardino, California, children are going missing. 

The townspeople don't believe the rumours of trolls, but fifteen-year-old Jim Jnr knows that they're a very real threat. At night, is anyone safe? 

TROLLHUNTERS is a funny, gruesome and undeniably del Toro-esque adventure perfect for teen readers and fans of Pan's Labyrinth."
(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like reading Middle Grade?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

[Review] Something Wicked: A Ghost Hunter Explores Negative Spirits - Debi Chestnut: In which I'll be sleeping with the lights on





In SOMETHING WICKED, a ghost hunter gives an introduction to negative entities, how they come into our lives, how they operate, and what they are exactly.


What intrigued me: I love reading about the supernatural.

Absolutely terrifying...

Instead of just bombarding with knowledge and giving this as a text book feel as I feared, Chestnut alternates between pure information input and personal experiences. I absolutely enjoyed the little stories about the demonic spirits (or negative entities) she encountered and sometimes even forgot that I wasn't reading fiction. 

SOMETHING WICKED is truly a terrifying read. Just thinking about these evil creatures coexisting with us is absolutely unsettling. Even more reason to pick this up and educate yourself about the different types of entities, and the way you might have accidentally already invited them into your house.

There is just something about SOMETHING WICKED that makes me deeply uncomfortable. While I did want to read this just as a nice past time, because I half believe in anything paranormal and half just needed a good ghost story, it did somewhat convert me into actually, fully believing that we're surrounded by benevolent creatures. Chestnut doesn't necessarily force her beliefs on the reader, she states quite a couple of times how she is open to all religions and everyone's beliefs. The only thing that she is adamant about is that if you're being haunted by something wicked, you'll know. 

...and very fascinating

SOMETHING WICKED balances somewhere between being a strictly informative non-fiction book and a memoir, telling the scariest anecdotes I've read in a while. If you're a horror fan and have problems getting scared, pick this up. Trust me, I will be sleeping with the lights on tonight and I'll definitely be hyper sensitive to anything that even remotely seems like I'm in an otherworldly presence. 
More than once I felt a shiver down my spine reading this, not because Chestnut is pushing it and trying to scare, on the contrary, her narration is pretty straight-forward and clean, but because to me true facts are always scarier than any fiction could be.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

SOMETHING WICKED is a fantastic read for those with a healthy curiosity about the paranormal. Even if you're a non-believer, there are quite the fascinating ghost stories in this that may or may not convince you to overthrow whatever you believe in. But caution: this is honestly one of most terrifying reads I've encountered.



Additional Info

Published: July 8th 2016
Pages: 240
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Genre: Non-Fiction / Spirituality
ISBN: 9780738742175

Synopsis:
"Forget what you know or think you know about negative entities. Unless you are one of the few who have encountered a demon, it's almost impossible to grasp the depth and scope of such pure evil and how these creatures can enter someone's life and completely turn it upside down. Something Wicked explores the topic of negative energies, dark forces, and exorcisms with fresh eyes so that you may come to your own conclusions."

Do you believe in ghosts?

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Review] Nightmares & Dreamscapes (#1) - Stephen King: 90% filler and Eerie Conclusions. You call that horror?






This is a short story collection full of supposedly scary short story tales.

What intrigued me: I haven't read a book by Stephen King before and I'm in a massive reading slump, so reading a scary short story collection seems like a good idea!

Not scary, not even remotely horror!

My favorite thing about this is probably the foreword. The stories weren't what I expected them to be. I was hoping for a lot of scary reads, but this is just a random collection of mediocre short stories.

His ideas are very unique, inspiring, and interesting, but in no way what the title NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES suggests. You aren't going to find anything remotely creepy in here, most are just tales about weird people with weird goals, but scary and nightmare-ish is a completely different thing. As it is I was somewhat entertained, but this is just not what the short story collection is advertised as and it's very disappointing, especially because this is my first Stephen King read.

However, I do enjoy King's writing style to some extent. It's easy and quick to read, but I think he overdoes it with the character building. That's also why most of his stories have very weak and slow beginnings that make you want to quit before you've actually gotten to the story. Especially for short stories, you don't need to know about the protagonist's parents and grandparents, or any other specific character building element. I was hoping for the stories to terrify me from beginning to the end but most stories can only deliver a small somewhat eerie conclusion and are 90% filler.

Individual stories & ratings

  • 1. Dolan's Cadillac ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A widower is trying to murder the guy who's responsible for his wife's death by digging a hole and burying him and his expensive car alive.
Opinion: Not scary, just insanely boring. and long-winded. I could hardly finish this.

  • 2. The End of the Whole Mess ★★★★★

Plot: A brilliant prodigy finds a way to cure humanity from its original sin. But for a price.
Opinion: I loved this so much, it's so interesting to see how the mind of a highly intelligent character works. I would love a full-length novel about this. Some continuity issues and an unsatisfying ending, but overall SUPER interesting. Again, not scary though.

  • 3. Suffer the Little Children ★★★☆☆

Plot: Mean teacher is the only one that realizes all children in her school are possessed by monsters.
Opinion: Another boring one. The premise is very interesting, but it's not very scary and too much is left open. 

  • 4. The Night Flier ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: Reporter seeks out someone whom he believes to be a serial killer that thinks they're a vampire, but the guy actually turns out to be a vampire.
Opinion: Horrible. Such a slow beginning, so much unnecessary monologues and backstory, and a very, very disappointing creature that isn't scary in the least. A very long story that feels like I 100% wasted my time even bothering with this one.

  • 5. Popsy ★★★★☆

Plot: A gambling-addict-turned-child-abductor abducts a monster spawn.
Opinion: I loved this. Less annoying backstory as in the previous stories and a convincing monster story, that I really, really liked. Not as scary as I wanted it to be, but another candidate that I'd like a full-length novel of.

  • 6. It Grows on You ☆☆☆☆☆

Plot: A mysterious house keeps on growing and adding new wings even long after its owner died.
Opinion: The worst case of please show instead of tell I've ever witnessed. So much backstory oh my god. Seems very pointless to me.

  • 7. Chattery Teeth ★★★★☆

Plot: A man picks up an evil hitchhiker and gets saved by a joke item.
Opinion: Interesting and a little eerie. Though too much gore for my taste. 

  • 8. Dedication ★★☆☆☆

Plot: A maid consumes eats her boss' semen to work a magic spell so her child would grow up to be as talented as him
Opinion: The main flaw of the story is that it's told in retrospective. It's also really weird.

  • 9. The Moving Finger ★★★☆☆

Plot: There is a moving finger perking out of someone's drain and they really don't like it.
Opinion: Super weird. I don't know if I thought it was scary, more bloody, actually. It was okay, but I missed the ~logical explanation~ part.

  • 10. Sneakers ★★☆☆☆

Plot: The ghost of a murdered man comes back to sit on a toilet and wear dirty sneakers.
Opinion: Not a fan of public restroom horror or whatever this is. I was glad to have at least one ghost story in this though.

  • 11. You Know They Got a Hell of a Band ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: A couple on a road trip encounters a town full of dead musicians.
Opinion: Too much gore for me and a very weak premise.

  • 12. Home Delivery ★☆☆☆☆

Plot: An old-fashioned zombie outbreak story.
Opinion: Nothing special, very boring!


Overall Rating:

★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Not as your first King read. I was disappointed because I was looking for something super scary. It's an okay short story collection, but the title is very misleading.



Additional Info

Published: June 30th 2009
Pages: 897 (1+2)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Adult / Horror
ISBN:  9781439102565

Synopsis:
"A collection of short stories, several being published for the first time, offers a spine-tingling journey to the nightmare world created by a master of sheer terror and grotesque imagination."
(Source: Goodreads)

Can you recommend some good scary reads?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

[Review] Horrorstör - Grady Hendrix: Zombies in Ikea






Strange things are happening at Orsk, an Ikea knockoff store in Ohio. When the store closes, the cameras automatically shut off so in order to investigate some employees have to work a night shift.

What a strange, strange concept. I was expecting a terrifying read with a possibly super twisted ghost or monster story, but got a very gory, very unsettling read that is more reminiscent of a Supernatural episode than an actual horror novel.

More parody than horror

You can't review this novel without appreciating the formatting. The design is phenomenal. If you put this book next to an Ikea catalog, you'll end up accidentally grabbing the wrong book eventually. It's so convincing, so beautiful, and just perfectly illustrated. As for the story, I'm disappointed. I expected too much, probably went in with the expectation to read a horror novel when it's more of a satirical ghost story. Not even a ghost story to be honest, the focus is heavily on ridiculing retail stores and their philosophies. It's entertaining, but to me the potential got pretty much wasted. 

For everyone who reads a lot of horror it's obvious what will happen and there is more gore than actual horror. I'm all for spine-tingling reads that make you want to sleep with the lights on, but "Horrorstör" is definitely not that. Regardless, it's a decent read, simply not what I was looking for.

Wasted potential

I didn't really connect to the narrative firstly because the characters aren't that important to the story. It's told from a mix between omniscient and character-centric narration, focusing mainly on Amy, an employee that thinks she's in a dead-end job and just waiting to be transferred into a different store when the hauntings start. Hendrix only draws the side characters very roughly and none of them get an actual ending, making the book end on a very weird note that just left me unsatisfied. 

There are a couple of super interesting characters. From the ghost fanatic Amy to Matt who's pretending to be into ghosts just to get into Amy's pants, to the store manager Basil who's convinced to do the right thing always, to Ruth Anne, the sweetheart who's been working at Orsk forever,  whom you just have to love. There is just so much wasted potential and because the whole thing doesn't get resolved and the hauntings are just sort of happening, I was bored very quickly. Not a fan of gore either, so this one is just not for me.


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're looking for something fun and don't mind graphic descriptions of disgusting things and bodily fluids - go ahead. This isn't a horror novel per se. If you want to have a good chuckle about the peculiarities of working in retail, pick it up! If you're looking for an actual horror read, you might want to skip this one.



Additional Info


Published: September 23rd 2014
Pages: 248
Publisher: Quirk
Genre: Adult / Horror
ISBN: 1594745269

Synopsis:
"Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom."(Source: Goodreads)



 Did you ever get lost in an IKEA? Come on, admit it.


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Friday, March 4, 2016

[Review] Monsterland - Michael Phillip Cash: Jurassic Park - Now With Vampires and Zombies!





In MONSTERLAND, Wyatt is invited to the opening of a theme park showcasing vampires, werewolves, zombies, and many more terrifying creatures.


What intrigued me: Excellent blurb and premise.

Poor writing and flat characters

The premise of MONSTERLAND is pretty much an accident waiting to happen. It's very reminiscent of Jurassic Park, but ultimately the premise couldn't quite be fulfilled to the extent that I would've liked - mainly because of the writing. I found it too descriptive, from lengthy landscape descriptions to changes in point of view and flat characters. All characters are very much clichés, act predictably and are involuntarily, almost cringe-worthily funny while doing so.

My least favorite thing are the frequent changes in POV that just make it impossible to sympathize with the characters. Generally this novel would have benefited tremendously from being written from person's POV. 

Generic and not scary

While I was initially intrigued by the blurb, there isn't much more to this novel than that. It's very predictable. Following the example of the Jurassic Park movies, MONSTERLAND never quite manages to develop originality and it just isn't flattering. Even the very generic, poorly-written villain couldn't improve this. I was hoping to be scared, to have that eerie feel from the Jurassic Park movies, maybe even the occasional jump scare. Overall, I wasn't scared, I wasn't even remotely unsettled, which was what I was hoping to get from MONSTERLAND.

For me, MONSTERLAND isn't able to stand on its own, always overshadowed by the so much better movies which clearly were the inspiration for this.


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

MONSTERLAND has a nice idea, but absolutely fails in the execution. I would love to see this topic executed once more, but with better writing.



Additional Info

Published: 2015
Pages: 284
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9781517180676

Synopsis:
"Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong? "(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite horror novel?

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

[Review] Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) - Kendare Blake



17-year-old Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter, always on the road to find ghosts to kill.

When he stumbles upon the local lore on Anna Korlov, a ghost that has killed every single person who set foot in her former home, he instantly becomes obsessed with her. When he finally attacks, Anna does something he hasn't seen any ghost do before - she spares his life.

What intrigued me: I love a good ghost story!

Great Premise - Slow Beginning

The premise is great, but it lacks in execution. The story doesn't really start until page 100 and it's annoying. The side characters are unnecessary and it makes no sense for Cas, an experienced ghosthunter, to drag local teenagers into this, when he's known for being a loner. I feel like the side characters that Cas makes friends with at school, are just an excuse to hit off an unnecessary love triangle.

I feel like a lot of the book could have been cut and I wished that Blake just cut to the slack sometimes. The novel could have started with Cas being spared by Anna and you'd have a kickass beginning right there. I don't understand why there's the need for so many random side kicks that are just annoying.
Also, I believe that Cas would have worked better as a character if he'd been written as an adult. He's too comfortable in his skin, conceited, and doesn't feel like a teenager at all. He's not believable.


A Fluffy Ghost Romance? Uhm... 

I don't think it's even a romance. It's as insta-love-y as it gets. Cas the ghost hunter and Anna the ghost he has to kill, instantly fall madly in love with each other. Then again, Cas doesn't come across as a professional when dealing with Anna. There is just not enough reason for him not to attack her on the spot. His early attempts at killing her seem sloppy, making me question why he's such a renowned ghost hunter, when he's actually pretty rubbish at his job. It doesn't make sense either that Cas takes the help of Carmel, Thomas, and Co, Why would he endanger innocent civilians?

Aside from the ridiculously long build-up, the insta-romance, and the poorly-written protagonist - the biggest problem of this novel is that it just isn't scary. Not even for half a second. There are maybe two or three gory scenes that are pretty gross if you imagine it, but the writing isn't vivid enough to make me see the whole thing in front of my eyes. I didn't even happen once that I felt like I was diving into the story, the writing just doesn't do it for me. This may also be due to the way Cas narrates the story - he flips between monologues, flashbacks, and the present events so often that you don't have the time to get really lost in any of the scenes.


Rating:

☆☆

 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

Nope. Not scary. I only read this because I was looking for the perfection combination between scary and romantic. This is just weird.




Additional Info

Published: October 17th 2011
Pages: 316
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9780765328656


Synopsis:
"Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life."   (Source: Goodreads)



Can you recommend a great YA Horror book to me?

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

[Review] The Kill (The Forbidden Game #3) - L.J. Smith


In THE KILL, Julian has kidnapped Jenny's boyfriend Tom and her cousin Zach and taken them with him into the Shadow World. In order to get them back, they have to play one last game with him. If they lose, Jenny is Julian's forever.


Fantasically Structured

I don't know what it is about this series, but I couldn't put this one down either. The structure of all three novels being constructed like games makes it very easy to follow the story line and even easier to just read them in one go.

The Shadow World is modeled after the amusement park Joyland they have visited before. I was slightly disappointed with that. I was hoping for the Shadow World to be created more like a surreal fantasy world, rather than an imitation of the real world. Amusement parks can be scary, but I was rather bored by the setting than intimidated.

The Same Thing All Over Again

I really enjoyed THE HUNTER and THE CHASE, but to be honest all three novels are just repeating the same thing over and over again. Julian wants Jenny, she prefers Tom, so Julian invents crazy games to kill her friends. The novels all struggle with portraying the characters and simultaneously trying to keep up this weird love triangle that is just poorly executed.

Julian isn't explored enough as a character to be interesting and appealing, and not for one second I rooted for them coming together and her ditching Tom. Julian always puts emphasis on how she's the light to his darkness, yadayadayada, but doesn't really show that he's in love with her. There are no truly sweet scenes between them, they only kiss when he practically forces her to and therefore the ending of it all doesn't make sense. They just don't click as a couple and he just annoyed me throughout the series.

I was hoping for him to change or show some character development the entire time - which he does when he has a slight breakdown towards the end - but it doesn't feel like character development. It just feels like a cheap attempt to make the reader sympathize with this poor little misunderstood demon prince that didn't really mean to kill anyone.


Rating:


★★★

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

The execution of THE KILL could have been better, but overall it's a quick and alright read. I liked the previous novels better. Having read all three I can say that Smith just should have left it at THE HUNTER and refrained from creating a whole series.


Additional Info

Published: July 1st 1994
Publisher: Brilliance Corporation
Cover: Brilliance Corporation, 1994.
Genre: YA / Horror 
ISBN: 1441875433

Synopsis:
"It was Julian's last challenge before he disappeared into the Shadow World, taking Jenny Thornton's boyfriend Tom and her cousin Zach: ?If you want them, come on a treasure hunt. But remember: if you lose, there's the devil to pay.? Jenny, Audrey, Michael, and Dee have burned their bridges, leaving their families behind, to enter the Shadow World with a set of runes, magical letters that open the doors of hell. They?re lost in an amusement park nightmare, at Julian's mercy as they look for Tom and Zach. Jenny's only clue is a gold coin, Julian's gift, and Julian himself, more beautiful, more seductive, more dangerous than ever. And determined to make her his bride. . ."

Can You Recommend A Super Scary Read to Me?


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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Review] The Chase (The Forbidden Game #2) - L.J. Smith


In THE CHASE, Jenny and her friends think they have escaped the mysterious Shadow Man Julian. Little do they know that the intruders that took the game at the end of  THE HUNTER are already trying to figure out what it is. When they release Julian - whether on purpose or not - Jenny, Tom, Dee, Audrey, Zach and Mike have to watch their every step. Julian is back, and he wants to play a game.

Couldn't Put It Down!

I don't know what it is about L.J. Smith's writing, but I couldn't, for the life of me, put this novel down. When I had to other things I was just thinking about the novel and wishing to go back to reading. I love, love, love the idea still, and I love how it's reminiscent of Jumanji (the book was actually published before the film) - but with more angst and more blood.

Just like with the first novel, I couldn't identify with Jenny. She's just as unapproachable and unlikeable as Elena from her Vampire Diaries Series. Even after having read the first novel I still didn't really know who was who! Smith does her best to add description all the time and little hints so you can picture everyone in your head, but only halfway through this one I could finally keep up with the characters. Every single character is this novel has their distinct obsessions and interest, but it took a very long time for me to actually "get" the characters and start to like them.

Can somebody explain to me though what the fascination that everyone has for Jenn she's just too perfect.

An Extraordinary Plot That Saves the Day!

The odd thing is, that it doesn't even matter that I didn't like her or any of her friends. I am absolutely and utterly in love with the story idea, the whole "Teenagers play a magical game and it goes wrong" thing. The first one felt like reading a horror movie in an alternate universe where the characters aren't too stupid to see the obvious traps and run into the monsters arms. Having this novel extended into a series is like watching what happens after that movie and it's just so unique and interesting. I haven't read a single YA novel that had JUST the plot line for the horror in it and didn't settle for a mediocre romance side plot.

Yes, we do have the relationship between Jenny and the antagonist Julian, but that's a completely different thing. It's absolutely interesting and he's a terrifying character that I just can't figure out at all. Of course it's again very unrealistic that the super villain falls for the girl, but Smith does her best to explain everything logically. I can't understand why this novel series isn't extremely popular, it has everything I've been missing in YA Horror in the last couple of months, even years.

Another striking thing about this novel is that you can absolutely tell a lot of planning went into writing the series. There are some things that the characters say or do that just leaves me speechless. The little riddles that Julian gives them during the game for example are just brilliant. The way she manages to maneuver her characters out of every oh so dangerous situation is absolutely genius. Seriously, usually I tend to roll my eyes at magical solutions for problems, but the way L.J. Smith solves the characters' challenges is amazing. I'm in awe.


Rating:

★★★

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I love L.J. Smith's writing and I love her beautiful mind. She always manages to come up with new concepts that I'm eager to read about and this novel is no exception. I'm convinced that this is one of those novels that I'd probably reread times and times over and that's a very rare thing. Can't wait to start the third one! I haven't been disappointed by L.J. Smith so far and I can gladly recommend this series. Start with the first novel though, you're missing out!




Additional Info

Pages: 288
Genre: YA / Horror

Synopsis:
"Jenny's friends are lost one by one to a ghostly wolf and a phantom snake, instruments of the sinister but attractive Shadow Man, who has returned from the Shadow World with a deadly game called ""Lambs and Monsters.""



Have You Read Any of L.J. Smith Novels?

What Is Your Favorite Novel By Her?

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

[Review] The Hunter (The Forbidden Game #1) - L.J. Smith: The Birthday Party of Doom

In THE HUNTER, Jenny buys a mysterious boardgame from a handsome Cyberpunk and gets sucked into the Shadowworld along with her friends.
What intrigued me: I love her Vampire Diaries books.

Incredibly Captivating

I've said it before and I'm going to say it again: L.J. Smith knows darn well what she's doing. There's a reason both her Vampire Diaries series and The Secret Circle series got turned into tv shows. She just writes captivatingly. This isn't the first time that I've started a novel by her and noticed that the way she develops the stories makes it impossible to quit. I've had a hard time putting this novel aside and actually trying to get my sleeping cyle back on track because I just wanted to know what this all this about. 

The novel is about Jenny and her friends, a bunch of high school students that just want to celebrate Jenny's boyfriend Tom's birthday and need a boardgame that they can play. So naturally goes ahead and walks into the next shop, not knowing that this is going to be a major mistake. The boardgame they're playing isn't really what they think it is: It's not a game. Something evil in the form of Julian, an unknown supernatural creature, is luring them all into their deaths by confronting every single one of the friends with their biggest fears. The boardgame directly sends them into a victorian-style mansion with every room containing a nightmare of one of the friends.

Very Structured and Easy to Follow...but Kinda Cliche

THE HUNTER is structured very linear, each nightmare leading to next. You can't possible lose track of the action and with every passing chapter it's very easy to know how far along you are in the novel. I love that and I'm a big fan of clear-cut straight-to-the-point literature. THE HUNTER is exactly this. While I do love the structure and the theoretical stuff in this, I am actually a bit disappointed with the specific nightmares. They're all very cliche (which is perfectly fine because I believe that humans all have generic fears that date back to ancient times) and solved way too easily. 

Now we come to the biggest advantage and simultaneously also the biggest disadvantage of the novel: The characters. This has and will always be L.J. Smith's biggest weak spot. Let's face it: Every single one of her novels features the superstrong female protagonist that is emotional but doesn't take no shit when her family and friends are threatened. But oh, shock, there is suddenly the supersexy blue-eyed , dark kinda guy who she really shouldn't think about, but kinda does. He's a bad dude and she should stay away from him and throughout the series she will fall in love with him. So who will she choose, her nice boyfriend, who aside from being really nice, is a cardboard cutout, OR the supersexy blue-eyed hottie who will dooom her forever (but is a good kisser) ????


Overall: Do I Recommend?

All criticism aside, I really enjoyed THE HUNTER. It's extremely well-structured, maybe cliche, but overall an insanely fun read. I'm probably going to buy the sequels just because ... yeah I'm totally in love with L.J Smith's novels.


Rating: ★★★★☆


Synopsis:

"When Jenny Thorton and her friends open the mysterious white box given to her by Julian, they discover a mysterious game and enter a house of horrors full of their worst nightmares."


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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[Review] Bad Girls Don't Die - Katie Alender

Alexis' sister Kasey is obsessed with dolls. She only thinks it's a little weird, until her sister starts acting strange.

When they find out she's possessed by a doll, Alexis has to do everything she can to save her.

What intrigued me: I love horror in all forms.

I liked Alexis. She is a typical YA protagonist but still not as delusional or immature like Juliette from SHATTER ME or Laurel from LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD.

There's a strange vibe around Kasey though, she is supposed to be twelve or fourteen, but acts like a nine-year-old. That’s where you can tell that an adult's writing this. 

In general there is a lot of awfully convenient action going on. I just have to go ahead and spoil some stuff to prove my point. I feel like I can't really express my opinion on this without spoiling the ending. The whole novel builds up to (what you hope is an) epic climax and then just flip-flops like a fish on dry ground and leaves you disappointed. Here's what I noticed:

SPOILERS: 
Don't read if you don't want to get spoiled!!!

WHAT A SURPRISE that Alexis happens to know the girl whose family was destroyed by the very same ghost that now possesses her sister.
WHAT A SURPRISE that Megan (unlike any other 21st century mean girl) suddenly was eager to help and instantly became Alexis’ best friend.
SURPRISINGLY this happend when she needed someone to provide her with information that only Megan had.
WHAT A SURPRISE that Megan knows how to get rid of a ghost. Yeah, exorcisms were also my favourite pastime acitvity at 16.
...

Also letting Kasey live in the end? Come on. It’s a ghost story, this is supposed to be an awesome hybrid between YA and horror! I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t even feeling any human emotion to be honest. I just read on, hoping that there would be something extraordianary coming, besides creepy-girl-in-the-corner-at-dark clichés. Well. She just kept the latter ones coming.

Also you can’t write a dark story without actually remotely touching dark subjects. Tragic backstories are alright, but as a reader I am more interested in the present than suicidal teenagers or arsonist ghosts in the past. Make sacrifices in the present! Else, by letting everybody live, it just seemed like a cheap excuse to write another ten sequels which I am not going to read. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?


Usually I would say this is a nice YA read. But luring readers in by saying this is a horror story, only with teen protagonists, when it clearly isn’t, is just cheating.
The crammed-in romance plot annoyed me and therefore I didn’t care about Carter or his tragic backstory. Most characters only have short appearances in order to fuel the plot and then get dumped into character nirvana.



Additional Info

Published: April 21st 2009
Pages: 346
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN:  9781423108764

Synopsis:
"Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.

Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?"(Source: Goodreads)


 Have you read any good horror novels lately?

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