January 7, 2016

Review: Sage’s Eyes by V.C. Andrews

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

It was as if I had traveled through time and for a moment lived and understood the life I would never have.

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to – even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers-no adult-could possibly have.

So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things.

Expected Publication: January 26, 2016

I have been a huge fan of V.C. Andrews novels since I first discovered them when I was about 9 years old – so about 26 years ago. In fact, the first website I ever created was actually a V.C. Andrews fan and roleplay site called Midnight Whispers (and no, we will not discuss how ugly the first incarnations were) and I kept it around for years – approximately 8 years, in fact. I have loved both the original VCA books and even some of the books written by the ghostwriter, Andrew Neiderman – and chances are that if you have enjoyed a V.C. Andrews, you have read and also liked one written by Neiderman as he has written every one of the books since V.C. Andrews’ death in 1986. While My Sweet Audrina is my most favorite of all of the books, my favorite Andrew Neiderman written book is still Ruby. Interestingly enough, the Landry series is actually a tiny Easter egg in Sage’s Eyes.

I won’t lie. I miss the old magic of the older Neiderman stories. Even if they were slightly formulaic, they were at least intriguing and sucked you into the story. The newer ones … maybe it’s because they were so much shorter (instead of 5 book series they’ve been cut down to two books or even standalone novels that seem rushed) but the characters aren’t nearly as fleshed out, the storylines seem to become more and more outrageous, often feeling like things are added for simple shock value and they’re following trends – I highly doubt that V.C. Andrews would have ever written a vampire series … And sadly, Sage’s Eyes is no different.

I wanted to like Sage but quite honestly, in the attempt of trying to make her otherworldly and wise beyond her years, Sage just comes across as a bitter know-it-all who clearly needs to grow a backbone and learn how to confront her clearly unstable parents. The book was very slow, in fact it dragged. I felt like the same lines were said over and over again. “Your parents care for you, they know best.” “Don’t give up on your parents, Sage.” “Have you had any visions?” “Don’t talk about your visions.” Rinse and repeat. I was pretty sure where the story was going (for the most part) when Sage finds some interesting bones hidden in the house. I’m disappointed that the bones weren’t discussed further, which leads me to assume that there is a sequel in the works even though I haven’t found any information on a possible sequel. There were a few things that were left unanswered, besides the bones and I don’t understand why they were left that way, things that were mentioned several times, such as young appearances.

SPOILER: My biggest issue with this particular novel is that if you’re going to write a story about the Wiccan religion, which is an actual religion, at least get facts straight or don’t use the term Wiccan. If you want to write a book about magick and spirituality, that’s fine. Make up a magical religion for your character, call her a witch but don’t call it Wiccan unless it’s actually based in some sort of fact. Otherwise it’s a slap in the face to any actual Wiccans that are reading the story. I’d be just as annoyed if I read a book where the character was supposed to be Catholic and was portrayed like sacrificing newborns or stoning non-virgins was an everyday occurrence.

Sage’s Eyes isn’t the worst book I’ve read. But it’s also not very good and to have V.C. Andrews name on it, to me, is a shame. It doesn’t contain any of the old VCA or Neiderman magic. It truly feels rushed, is repetitive and seems incomplete. If you’re looking for a quick read, it certainly fits. If you’re looking for a gripping, family saga, this is not it. Personally, it wasn’t my cup of tea at all. I hate to be so blunt, but I am honest.

ONE STARS

November 5, 2015

Review: The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I wondered if karma really was a possibility. And then I decided right then that I wouldn’t, couldn’t allow myself to believe it. Not anymore.

Synopsis:
Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.

Then, on the fourteenth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?

Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

 

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers. Usually the darker, the better. So when Netgalley approved my request for this novel, I was ridiculously excited. The Girl With No Past has been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and while it was in fact thrilling, I don’t agree with the comparison.

I had a hard time getting into the storyline. Leah is very hard to read, which is all the point of the story, I know, but it doesn’t make for a smooth read. Once I got the feel for the the flow, I actually read it pretty fast and found myself wanting to know what happened in Leah’s past and who was taunting her now. It’s definitely an intriguing story and I don’t regret reading it at all. However I had some issues with the novel as a whole.

While complex, Leah actually isn’t a very strong character. Most of the time while I was reading the story I wanted her to grow a backbone and actually stand up for herself. I understand she felt horribly guilty for the past events but I feel that part of the reason she felt so much guilt was because of her lack of strength to begin with. There was no exploration into why she was so meek before her crime and that really bothered me. I wanted to see her stand up to someone, at some point and that never came.

Also, I felt that the climax of the story was just too much, too fast and I didn’t find most of it plausible. It’s hard to explain what I mean without spoiling the plot twist but I wanted, no, I needed more information as to what made one of the supporting characters do what they did in the first place. It just came out of nowhere and escalated so fast. I needed more exploration of what had caused so much rage and I felt cheated that I never got that.

But there were plenty of things I did quite enjoy about the story. I loved the flashbacks. It helped give a lot more background and helped to flesh out some of the characters some more, plus it was a great way to break up some of the current day storyline. I also enjoyed the “who dun it” moment when Leah’s taunter was revealed. I had a moment of “Aha! I thought so!” But I won’t lie, I had thought that of a couple other characters as well so the revelation was quite satisfying as well.

All in all, while I felt the story had several faults, I did enjoy it and it did keep my attention fairly well. I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

THREE STARS

October 13, 2015

Book Lust: 13 Creepy Reads for Halloween

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Oh October. The first full month of Autumn, the scents of nutmeg, cardamom, apples and more and of course, HALLOWEEN. Halloween is like Christmas for me. I’ve always loved it. Costumes, scary movies, creepy music, Halloween candy and best of all, thrilling books. Books have always been creepier to me than movies. You use your imagination when reading and sometimes, the imagination can be the creepiest weapon in your arsenal. So just in time for Halloween, here are 13 of the creepiest books I’ve read. Some downright scary, some more chilling than scary and spanning YA and adult novels.

Click covers for more info:

Horns by Joe Hill
I actually saw the movie before I read the book. I loved the movie and I love the book more. Lots of creeptastic imagery plus I love how Ig Perrish used his “special power” against the people in his life. Some of the unfiltered thoughts were heartbreaking but the mystery behind his girlfriend’s brutal rape and murder holds you pretty riveted the entire way through.

 

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (YA)
A book that has spawned two sequels (which I haven’t read yet) and is about to become a major motion picture directed by freaking Tim Burton. I originally had a hard time getting into the story but once I did, I devoured it. And I refused to read it in the middle of the night because of how eerie it was. Mysterious Island? Check. Abandoned orphanage? Check. Creepy photos? Check.

 

 

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake (YA)
Never has a YA book ever creeped me out so much. I literally had to convince myself to sleep for two nights in a row. There is a supernatural romance to the story but the majority of the novel is filled with descriptions of gory murders, a vengeful ghost with black eyes and a bloodstained dress and the perfect dark and foggy atmosphere.

 

 

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
I have a hard time when anyone says the movie was great because it’s clear they never read the book. Warm Bodies is dark, gritty and very gory. Lots of blood and brains. It’s not cutesy like the movie made it. I cannot wait for the sequel and the prequel is also extremely well done.

 

 

 

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews
This may seem like a weird choice but considering this standalone V.C. Andrews novel deals with a cruel cousin, a young girl with a swiss-cheese memory and a violent assault it is one of the scariest novels I’ve ever read because it deals with the cruelty of humans — even the ones who are trying to help us the most. A psychological thriller way ahead of it’s time, it has remained a favorite of mine since I was 13.

 

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Technically classified as a middle-grade novel, it’s eerie enough to satisfy most adults. A quick read about a young who escapes to an alternate universe through a hole in wall of her house and encounters her “other parents” who slowly take over her life and try to steal her from her real parents.

 

 

This is Not A Test by Courtney Summers (YA)
Take a zombie apocalypse add in PTSD and you end up with a horror novel complete with tons of blood gore and twists and turns until you have no idea which end is up. It’s shaky and disjointed and perfect for a cold Halloween night. Just, don’t go outside. And if you appreciate YA novels, read Courtney Summers other novels. You won’t ever regret it.

 

 

Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon
A thriller that opens up with a murder of a young girl that eerily reminds the town of a crime that was committed three decades before. Del, an outcast, was brutally slain and nobody was ever found guilty. This gritty murder mystery is combined with a fascinating ghost story that will definitely have you leaving lights on in the house at night.

 

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (YA)
A supernatural thriller (and the first in a trilogy) of the only survivor of a building collapse which has completely destroyed her memory and has left her with horrifying visions and the power to cause harm and even death to those who threaten her.

 

 

 

IT by Stephen King
Literally the only King book I’ve been able to get through and I loved it. A killer clown? An encounter with a dead older brother? A town terrorized for generations? Oh yes!

 

 

 

 

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho isn’t actually a horror novel but it is completely disturbing and terrifying. Patrick Bateman is literally the epitome of a psychopath and his actions are quite scary. Definitely not for the faint of heart but I consider it one of the scariest books I’ve ever read.

 

 

 

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Hey, psychological thrillers are creepy as hell and this one happens to deal with cutting, murders of two young girls and the reporters own demons as she tries to discover the truth and ends up uncovering old family secrets.

 

 

 

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
The first in a quartet, Harper Connelly has an unusual gift – she can sense the location of a dead body AND share their last moment – all thanks to being struck by lightning. Filled with shady characters, plenty of bodies and lies everywhere, this cozy mystery is creepy enough to thrill a Halloween fanatic.

 

 

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are some creepy books that you love to read near Halloween? Leave a comment and let me know!

ALSO Don’t forget that my “It’s Autumn in the PNW” giveaway ends on October 19th at 12am PST! AND join me on Thursday, October 22nd for my “What I’m Thankful For” linkup! Write up a post of all the things you are thankful for and link it up!