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Book Review: In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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Amazon.com – In The Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Adult

Plot: It’s 1592. Europe is in chaos. Religious factions have torn the region apart and witch-hunts have become a part of everyday life.

In the Company of Wolves follows three groups of travelers – a fearless female pirate roaming the North Sea, a priest and his wife escaping to England to avoid persecution, and a young thief from the slums of Germany looking for a better life. Each has a different reason for venturing out in such tumultuous times – fear, greed, family secrets.

Is the Werewolf of Bedburg still alive, roaming the countryside and killing innocent citizens? Many believe he’s still out there—that religious and political leaders have forsaken the truth in their cunning quest for power.

As each traveler searches for individual answers, these three seemingly separate stories converge in a place which may hold the key for them all. Based on true events involving one of the deadliest witch trials in European history, this tale of adventure, mystery, and the search for truth reminds us that, ultimately, no one is safe . . . in the company of wolves.

Opinion:

It’s September kids, and you know what that means! Eerie moonlight, creatures waking from the dead, torture chambers and stealing. Witch hunts and religious persecution, prostitutes and pirates. Poison, potions and pillaging!

Tis the season to be demented and murderous!

Welcome to Europe in 1592, where you can be burned alive for false accusations and having your own beliefs! Say hello to book 2 in the Of Witches and Werewolves series, In the Company of Wolves. OoOoOoOo…*dramatic fanning*…it’s gunna be a whirlwind!

With Europe in a religious tug of war for control and regular accusations of witchcraft and sorcery, no one is safe. Sybil Griswold and her husband Dieter have fled to England with their family, in hopes of starting a new life after escaping jail and killing a man. Hot on their trail is Gustav Koehler, a man hellbent on avenging the brother that Dieter killed and bringing Sybil and her family to trial. Back in Germany is Hugo, the younger brother of Sybil, who was left an orphan after the wrongful conviction of their father Peter Griswold, who was accused of being the Werewolf of Bedburg. Now living as a petty thief, Hugo’s life begins down a dark path as he is thrust into the throngs of murder and manipulation. Across the sea, we come to a ship called The Lion’s Pride. Rowaine Donnelly has just assumed the role of captain after castrating her predecessor, all the while searching for her father that is thought to be dead. Though living separate lives, these people are more intertwined in their own pasts and futures than they realize. Through turmoil and murder they are forced to trek in order to meet their goals, while learning more about themselves than they knew, along the way.

Due to this being the second book in the series, and the reader needing to read book one to know what’s happening, please see my review HERE to see how this series begins.

When I read The Devil in the Countryside I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive. Usually religious driven historical fictions are NOT my cup of tea, but as I started reading…I got HOOKED. Cory Barclay has such a talent from writing descriptive and “old-timey” stories that have a little fact twisted into every bit of fantasy he throws at the reader. With no surprise on my end, he did a fabulous job extending this addicting story with In the Company of Wolves. This series truly has what every dark mystery needs. It’s a who-done-it with carnage, accusations of sorcery, pirates, thieves, religious turmoil, shocking twists and a touch of romance. A ton of blood will be spilled during this read, but never fear, it isn’t THAT graphic.

Sybil and Dieter have started a new life in England, with the hopes of practicing Dieter’s newly shaped faith by means of a new church. They have made new friends and work towards living a simple life in peace, but that of course isn’t going to happen to these poor characters. Enter: Gustav Khoeler. Gustav has been tracking the couple for some time, unbeknownst to them, seeking revenge for the death of his brother Johannes. Gustav is a vile and disturbing character, and it seems that the crudest and most despicable acts happen in his company. Gustav is the true picture of a man that would do ANYTHING to get what he wants. By capturing the couple, Gustav plans to bring them to his father Ludwig Von Bergheim in Trier, where they will be put to trial and burned alive for their crimes. So ensues a chase, a capturing, another chase, and another capturing. Eventually running the group into a fearsome female pirate, by the name of Rowaine Donnelly.

Rowaine is a  truly fierce, empowered, and BADASS female. Not only does she castrate her own captain in order to take his place (yes, you read that correctly) but she has little to no fear and a whole lot of charm. Rowaine’s mission is to find her adoptive father, a man that is thought to be dead. Along the way she finds herself protecting Sybil and Dieter, who share various connections from their pasts. In agreement to help each other, Rowaine, Sybil and Dieter head back to Bedburg to find Rowaine’s long lost father. But being back in Bedburg is a risky place to be for Sybil and Dieter, considering they are still fugitives on the run. But what is interesting about the return to Bedburg, is that many characters from book one now believe that Sybil’s father WAS actually wrongfully labeled the Werewolf of Bedburg. Which of course continues the search for the real werewolf. Hmmmm….who done it, indeed.

While all this is happening, the reader also follows Hugo, Sybil’s younger brother that stayed behind in Bedburg. Hugo is by far my FAVORITE character this time around. He is young and fresh, but has a strong sense of morals and loyalty. But a few turn of events land Hugo in a place that he didn’t expect from himself, the apprentice to the torturer of Bedburg, the famous Ulrich. If there was a book based on Hugo’s travels alone, I would be on it before you could even give a release date. This kid has guts and spunk, and he will SHOCK you with what he does. He eventually ends up in the pit of this never-ending religious power struggle, and the role he takes on is an interesting one.

I feel like I am leaving you guys completely hanging here because there is SO much that happens in this story. There are some epic gun fights and show downs, especially near the end. There are new characters who make this story amazing, and some old ones who make it even better. Now this book focuses more on the select characters rather than the Werewolf of Bedburg, like in book one. But I imagine that book three will tie everything back together, giving the reader a nice assortment of both stories. I truly cannot express the level of writing and detail this author has given this series. Though it may feel like a long read, you will get hooked and won’t want to put the story down. This second installment has left me NEEDING to get my hands on book three, because I have to know what the author is going to me up with next!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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The Dark Beneath the Ice will be available for purchase on August 7, 2018

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

Amazon.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen/Paranormal

Plot: Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Opinion:

Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her”

So this was…interesting.

Marianne’s life has never been more out of control. With her parents announcing their divorce despite seeming to be so in love, her mother’s recent hospitalization, and the drama surrounding Marianne’s decision to quit dance; it feels like Marianne is drowning.  As she is sent to live with her aunt, strange things begin to happen in Marianne’s quiet world. Losing time, objects being moved without her moving them, strange knocking and banging on the walls, and the never-ending feeling of being watched. After a loss of time happens in one of Marianne’s classes, she attempts to reach out to the goth girl named Ron in hopes that her psychic mother may help her. But when communicating with whatever haunts Marianne only strengthens it, everyone close to Marianne is in danger. Something is coming for Marianne, and its angry at her for being shoved down and drowned. But in the end, Marianne may be the one being dragged beneath the ice.

Intriguing concept and idea, but a bit of a miss for me.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some positives! The story started out great in regards to the writing style. It was so descriptive and beautiful, I felt as if I was reading a more relaxed form of poetry. The writing feels like a well-choreographed dance, and I found myself having to read between the lines to figure out what these characters were hiding. It was constructed well, had an even tone throughout, and was a very quick and easy read. The theme that the author kept with through this story (as you can tell from the title) is a theme of being drowned or shoved down beneath ice. Marianne uses her memories of the river near her aunt’s house as a meditative tool when she begins to feel overwhelmed or scared. She pictures the calming feeling of her being submerged in the water, and the silence and security that comes with hiding under the surface.  The water is her safe place, and the ice on top of the water becomes her shield against anything negative. This theme is carried throughout the entire book, but becomes less of a symbolism and more of a….sighit honestly just becomes ridiculous.

As I started this read, I was really into it and devouring the words in order to find out WHAT exactly was going on. Is this a ghost story, is it a story of delusions and misconceptions, or is it a fantastical read about demons?! Halfway through the story I had decided that this was a ghost haunting/exorcism story that was about to be twisted and wild, and it was proving to be just that. Marianne would wake up at the piano in her aunt’s house banging on the keys in the middle of the night, or she would find herself up in front of her class at school being scolded by her teacher but having no recollection of what had happened. Things got worse after Ron, the goth/emo girl from school, tries to give Marianne a tame version of an exorcism. But even after enlisting the help of Ron’s mother, the physic, things turn dangerous. Knives floating in the air and being aimed at herself, bruises on her body, and a distinct pulling feeling that tries to drag her into the river and drown her.

However, how this turns out just DOES NOT ADD UP.

*Watch out, there’s a puddle of SPOILERS down there*

Nearing the end of this story I had a thought that MAYBE this was all just a symbolism for Marianne figuratively drowning herself in her hardships and woes and BLAH BLAH BLAH. MAYBE there isn’t actually a ghost or anything haunting her, MAYBE it’s just her.

Well, guess what?

It was literally both of those things.

It was her own “shadow self” trying to drown her because Marianne had pushed her “shadow self” beneath the figurative surface, and the “shadow self” wanted out because the “shadow self” was actually the original Marianne, and the Marianne that is now Marianne isn’t actually the original Marianne. The “shadow self” is actually the first Marianne, but in the end they are actually both Marianne.

Makes total sense right?

-__-

Apart from that complete mess, the character of Marianne that the reader follows during this read proves to be another negative in my eyes. Marianne is, simply put, annoying as all hell. She felt a bit dull, emotionally confusing, and extremely desperate and needy in a way that made me scrunch my face up in a “WTF” sort of way. She has this fabricated idea of friendships in her head that I just didn’t follow. She was so worried about looking needy all the time, but it just made her look doubly needy and a little stalkerish. She just wasn’t my cup of tea. Ron on the other hand, was a more agreeable character for me. This could be because of my tendency to favor the weird gothy kids though. But Ron proves to be a strong character, she is willful and a “take no s**t” kind of gal, and I love her for it.

Also as a heads up, there is a bit of LGBT moments that happen in this story. They are very tame and mild, so if this is your thing or isn’t, just a warning in advance.

All in all, that ending really ruined the story for me. It started out promising, I loved the writing style, but the main character and the conclusion just didn’t hit the mark for me. I appreciate where the author was trying to take this story, but I don’t think she was able to take this book to the place it needed to go. The ending just didn’t feel completely thought through, and the delivery was a bit lacking. Of course, this is just my own opinion, and not all readers share my thoughts. If you think this might be a story that interests you, then I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

2-stars

 

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Book Review: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough will be available for purchase on October 3, 2017.

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

 Amazon.com – 13 Minutes: A Novel by Sarah Pinborough


Barnesandnoble.com – 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flatiron Books, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this—it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Opinion: *Sigh*…do you feel it guys? October is coming. Oooooh the leaves are beginning to fall; the air is starting to smell like brisk air and dying trees! Girls are buying pumpkin spice lattes, and those lovely goths and wickens are patiently waiting for Halloween. So here I am, giving the gift of words to put you in the mood of October…if you haven’t yet transitioned. A story with drownings, blindsides, almost decapitation (I’m exaggerating) and skanky girls!

AH! Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit quite like attempted/actual murder and scandal! Oooooo…spirit fingers!

It was a shock to everyone when the body of Natasha Howland was found washed up on an embankment, but an even bigger shock to find her alive. With no recollection of how she ended up in the water that night, Natasha tries desperately to find out what happened to her. With the return of her former best friend Becca, they work together to try and make sense of what the police have found out thus far. But with Natasha’s best friends Jenny and Haley acting strange, she begins to think that they might have something to do with what happened to her. Only time will tell what really happened that night, and only Natasha knows the truth.

I must say Ladies and Gents, this one will keep you guessing. This read will pull you in and keep you interested, in more ways than one! The obvious is the mystery of how poor Natasha ends up in the freezing water that night, which caused her to die for 13 minutes. But little does the reader know that s**t is about to get REAL. This book has it all! Some light drug use, a reenactment of Mean Girls, psycho girlfriends, stoners, adults behaving VERY badly, manipulation at its FINEST, and a dose of that good ol’ murder! Oh! Can you feel the tingles?! I sure can. I love a bundle of characters that makes me yell and curse out loud. I found myself rooting for every character at one point, but suddenly…everything began to shift. But just when I was about to shout “AAHHHHH HAH”, it all shifts AGAIN! These b****es are sneaky guys, very sneaky.

After Natasha wakes up in the hospital, the doctors report that she can’t remember the events that led up to her accident. We start to see her best friends, Haley and Jenny, acting strange and secretive, and Natasha even asks for Becca while in the hospital. This starts to feel as if everything is being set up and made too obvious from the very beginning, but thankfully that isn’t the case AT ALL. The author made sure to have the reader suspect each character for at least a moment, and I found myself being suspicious of EVERYONE. I couldn’t help but think the worst, but even I wasn’t thinking bad enough. I was NOT expecting any of these things to happen, and I loved it!

Characters. Well, to put it simply. Natasha is Queen Barbie for a reason, Becca is acutely annoying and desperate, Aiden is just a pansy, and Haley and Jenny are interesting…especially Jenny when she goes a little nutty. There are a few other characters who have some roles that I could mention, but they just don’t really seem to matter much (sorry guys). This story flips back and forth between Becca and Natasha, obviously our lead female characters in this story. Becca and Natasha used to be best friends, but Natasha dropped Becca a few years prior. Becca is considered a bit of a loner at school, while Natasha is in the popular crowd. She seems to have a decent head on her shoulders, meaning she doesn’t seem like the typical conceited popular girl. I started out favoring Becca, but halfway through the story that changed. As soon as Becca started acting needy and psycho, I just couldn’t stand her. The girl needed to CHECK herself. Pull in those emotions sweetheart, they’re all over the place!

Overall, this book really surprised me. I was expecting a flimsy YA read with some drama and overzealous characters, but what I got was so much more! I am so impressed with how this author was able to trick me so many times, and it kept me interested and reading. These characters are all VERY twisted and insane in their own way, but strangely normal at the same time. How the book unfolds itself is truly something special. I am SO glad I requested to read and review this one. Please keep in mind that this is for an older YA group of readers, as there is a lot of adult themes and situations that happen. This is not for a preteen! This is a great story to get you into the mystery/thriller stories as we get closer to Halloween, enjoy!

4-stars

 

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Book Review: The Dream Machine

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Amazon.com – The Dream Machine: Book 6, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

~ Get the first 5 books in the series ~

Amazon.com- The Unearthed: Book One, The Eddie McCloskey Series by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Lost: Book Two, The Eddie McCloskey Series (The Unearthed 2) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Accused and the Damned: Book Three, the Eddie McCloskey Series (The Unearthed 3) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Hysteria: Book 4, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Traveler: Book 5, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Evan Ronan, for an honest review.

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery/Horror/Adult/Thriller

Plot: They’re watching her dreams…and seeing the future

At a remote federal facility, researchers are watching—literally watching—test subjects’ dreams on computer screens. Alison, a teenage patient, is of particular interest because her dreams seemingly come true.

Eddie McCloskey, paranormal expert, versed in the occult and in debunking bad science, doesn’t put much stock in dreams. He’s studied the paranormal literature as much as anybody, and he’s convinced there’s a perfectly good explanation for all dreams.

But when Alison dreams about a catastrophic accident and a terrible crime, the shadowy federal agents Eddie worked with in Oregon come calling again. Eddie and the feds are racing against the clock. Are the dreams predictions, or merely intimations of what might happen? Can the future be altered?

This is no ghost hunt, but they need Eddie McCloskey’s lateral thinking if they’re going to get the job done here. Because they’ll soon discover there’s something else, something even more sinister, about Alison’s dreams…
Opinion: Check it out guys, he’s baaaccccckkkk! It has been quite some time since I have had the pleasure of diving into the world of paranormal ghost hunter Eddie McCloskey. Oh, how I have missed these twisted and frightening tales! This is number SIX in The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series. I am LOVING the basis of this installment of the series, because author Evan Ronan has centered it around dreams and how they can be controlled. This my readers, is SO up my alley.

Eddie McCloskey finally feels like things are setting into place in his personal life. He is able to spend more time with his befriends Stan and Moira, and things couldn’t be better between Eddie and his girlfriend Sumiko. But when the Federal Agents that Eddie worked with (and almost died with) in Oregon start calling him about another job, his life starts to shift yet again. Eddie travels with Agent Manetti to a secluded base where patients’ dreams are being monitored, especially those of a girl name Allison.  Allison is suspected to be some sort of an oracle. She has had vivid dreams of natural disasters and shootings, and so far, each one has come true. When Eddie arrives, he is shown the most recent of Allison’s dreams, a horrifying car accident and a sexual assault. Now Eddie and Agent Manetti are against the clock to stop these events from taking place, and to prove that this young girl isn’t an all-powerful God.

I cannot express how quickly I got through this book, it captivated me THAT much. When I read the blurb for this installment of this paranormal series, I knew I was going to be hooked. Anything centering around dreams instantly pulls me in, and the fact that author Evan Ronan decided to base one of his paranormal/mystery stories on them got me crazy excited. The Dream Machine basically centers around this top-secret base where these patients are undergoing dream studies. The doctors are able to WATCH the patients dreams on monitors, and run tests on them to see what influences or effects their dreams.

There are two special cases in this high-tech “dreaming facility”, Allison and an inmate named White. White is a career criminal and was able to complete part of his sentence by assisting these doctors in their dream study, mostly because White is able to lucid dream (where a person is aware they are dreaming and can control the dream). Allison is quite a different case, in that she is a young teenage girl who is thought to be having premonitions of the future. When Eddie enters the scene, Allison has already had two dreams come true, a storm and a shooting, and two more that are waiting to happen, a huge car accident and a sexual assault.

Now if you have read the precious books in this series, you will know that Eddie is a paranormal investigator. Most of the time when Eddie is called onto a case, it isn’t a ghost or paranormal entity disturbing someone, it’s usually something more plausible. But in Eddie’s previous investigations, he has learned that some things truly just can’t be explained. When Eddie begins watching the tapes of Allison’s dreams, his first instinct is to debunk the idea that Allison is an oracle or some type of god that can see into the future. I personally found this idea to be really different, especially in a series that focuses more on the reality aspect rather than fantasy.

I of course don’t want to give anything away, but WOAH. I was NOT expecting the story to go in the direction that it did. I am kicking myself for not seeing the connection between these characters, but I like that it surprised me…that is ALWAYS a welcome trait in a book. All in all, I was pretty impressed with The Dream Machine. I loved that it centered around lucid dreaming and the idea that predicting future events may be possible. Plus, there was an epic shoot out at the end of the book that would keep anyone hooked, as well as some great characters that return to the story. Once again guys, you NEED try this series out! You will be hooked on Eddie McCloskey and his travels, trust me on that.

4-stars

 

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Book Review: Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

Goodreads.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

BarnesandNoble.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/Mature Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Plot:We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Opinion: WHEW! What a whirlwind that story was! After becoming introduced to The Girl on the Train, I have been in a frenzy trying to find similar books. I came across Ill Will on Netgalley and HAD to give it a go. Let me tell you readers, I have so many STRONG and INSANE emotions rushing through me right now…I barely know where to start! This book is like a bad mushroom trip that feels WAY too real.

Thirty years ago, Dustin and his cousins woke up to find their parents brutally murdered in their home. Already flushed with loss at a young age, a life sentence is handed down on Dustin’s adopted brother Rusty who is blamed for the crimes. Now years later with children of his own, Dustin works as a psychologist in Cleveland. Soon a call from Dustin’s cousin brings panic into his life, as he is told that Rusty’s sentence has been thrown out and he is being released. Now Dustin begins to reflect back on the night that changed his life forever, and whether he and his cousins were right about testifying against Rusty and blaming him for the murders. All the while, a staggering number of male college students being found dead is making headlines. Though the police call the strange occurrences “accidental drownings”, Dustin’s new patient feels otherwise and suspects foul play. Could there be a link to this madness, or is Dustin slowly falling down a rabbit hole?

This is a truly interesting and dark story. There are tons of misleading twists and shocking occurrences, and the characters are truly gritty. Dustin is our main character and the reader follows him as he relives moments from his past, while also dealing with his present. One day Dustin gets a call from his cousin who tells him that Rusty, his adopted brother and the person who took the fall for the murders, is being released from prison. He is told that new DNA results were discovered which proves that Rusty couldn’t have murdered his new family. This brings a panic into Dustin’s life because now he is unsure if Rusty was the culprit of the crime, or if he was just blamed because of the things he had done in his past.

As Dustin reflects on his past growing up with Rusty, I was…how should I say this…COMPLETELY f***ing disturbed. There is some SERIOUSLY dark and grimy things that go on between these boys. Rusty can be described as a tough and hardheaded boy at an early age, and grows into a metal loving hooligan that likes talking about satanic rituals and even goes as far as sacrificing small rabbits. Dustin is a young an impressionable boy, and sees Rusty as his knight in shining armor. He proves to be a more than gullible child, and will allow his mind to be overturned by suggestions and hints by his older cousins and Rusty. In each flashback that these characters take the reader in, we are given glimpses of each characters flaws as a child and reasons why they could or couldn’t have been the ones to murder their family.

Another huge part of this story is Dustin and his patient Aqil. Aqil is a former police officer who has more than an obsessive and compulsive personality. He becomes fascinated by the mass amounts of local drownings of college males, and brings it upon himself to start investigating. As Aqil attends sessions with Dustin, Dustin starts to get wrapped up in the ideas and theories that Aqil presents him. Soon he finds himself spending all of his time with Aqil and latched onto the idea that there is a murderer on the loose killing these boys. The end result for these murders is truly…SHOCKING. I was so blindsided when this portion of the story was SOMEWHAT answered. Yes, in this book you will find that the author likes to leave you guessing.

For me though, I think the ending is where this story really shines. At first I wasn’t too keen on the fact that the ending didn’t completely tie everything together. I ended the book and thought to myself WAIT, what happened?? As it has now been a few days since I have finished the book, I have a different feeling towards the ending. I actually enjoy the fact of where the author took it, because there are so many actual cases where things end up in that fashion. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what could have happened, and I think you guys will too if you give this read a go. But honestly, the best part is knowing that you have no idea what actually happened. So touché Dan Chaon, touché. All in all, I am only giving this 3 stars because this book took me a LONG time to get through and because I was rather uncomfortable for most of the read. I prefer a thriller that THRILLS me, not a story that makes my skin crawl and forces me to put it down. It is an interesting story, but I could have done without all the in-depth sexual scenes.

3-stars

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Book Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

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Amazon.com – The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Genre: Young Adult/Teen/Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal

Plot: Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

Opinion:

This book sings to my dark and wistful little soul, and I just can’t get enough of it.

It is always so hard to find a YA story that has a little bit of everything in it. I love a story that touches on fantasy and paranormal aspects, but is packed with sorrowful pain and whispered little secrets. This story has everything I crave tucked into its beautiful pages. This story needs to be read, trust me.

For as long as they can remember, Cara and her family have been falling into unexplained accidents at a certain time of the year. Most seasons result in deep cuts and countless bruises, but some seasons end in the death of loved ones. As another accident season comes near, Cara starts to notice the disappearance of a girl from school, Elsie. When Cara begins to question her teachers and classmates about the quiet girl, nobody seems to remember her or know anything about her. But what is even stranger, is that Cara starts to notice that Elsie is in every single one of her pictures. As Cara, her sister Alice, her stepbrother Sam, and her best friend Bea begin to search for Elsie, they also start to realize that each one of them has deep and hidden secrets that they keep from one another. As the season moves forward they start to learn that the accident season isn’t all that it seems, and that their secrets are about to come forward.

This book has been compared to We Were Liars, and I definitely see a resemblance. A group of teenagers who are lost and angst-ridden, and who have countless secrets drowning them. This story follows Cara, but also her family members and her best friend. They are subjected to countless accidents during the accident season, and it keeps the reader on edge. I found it interesting that these characters take such precautions during the accident season, in that they wear protective clothing and have padded their entire home. Though Cara and her siblings are meant to be extra careful during October, the reader will still find them doing reckless things which I loved. It lets the reader know that these characters are extremely human and still seek thrills and trouble, and I found myself smirking at the ridiculous things they would do.

There are two specific elements of this story that I am infatuated with. The first being the way the author has entwined such creative fantastical and paranormal themes into the pages. The entire book has a dark and spooky theme, which makes it a perfect read for around the Halloween season. These characters are constantly running into each other’s imaginations, where they get lost in magic and beasts. Cara has visions of seeing the four of them looking as they truly should: Bea as a mermaid, Alice as the Earth, Sam as character from a silent film, and herself as a fairy. Bea sees herself as a witch and looks to her tarot cards for answers, and speaks of ghosts and witches and werewolves. These aspects of the story gives the actual events that happen a dreamlike feel for the reader, almost as if to say “Is what you think is real, actually happening? Or is it all in your imagination?” Can you say WOAH?

The second thing that I adore about this book is how the author has played with secrets. Instead of it being known from the beginning that these characters are keeping secrets, the idea of secrets is presented to the reader in a poetic way. At their school, there is a typewriter and a box where students may come and type secrets anonymously. At the end of the year, these secrets are strung up on clotheslines around the school, for everyone to see and share. The author throws the idea of secrets into the readers face so quickly, that they become blinded by the fact that the main characters will have severe secrets of their own that they are hiding. All I kept thinking about was WHY the accident season was happening and WHO Elise was.

Although some things were not fully answered in black in white in this story, I think it is one of those reads that can be left for interpretation. I was pleasantly blindsided by a HUGE secret that came forward at the end of this read. In NO WAY did I see that coming, and I am so happy that this author could shock me in such a way! All in all, I am in love with this book. These characters felt real and flawed, almost as if they were real kids that I had spent time with. The imagination and poetic nature of the story is what pulled me in and kept me reading, and I had SO much trouble putting this story down. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants a DIFFERENT YA story that will get them thinking. This is definitely going to be a book that I reread for years.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Diversion Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen/YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was murdered in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives, and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

Opinion:

AHHHHH! THIS book! THIS FREAKING BOOK!

You are probably thinking to yourself Wow, WHAT about this book. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK! I have been searching high and low for a specific genre of story to read for WEEKS now. A story that will make my heart hurt and my stomach flip due to eloquent and depressing sentences. You know the kind of story I am talking about. The sort of tale that doesn’t just make you sorrowful, but a story that makes you MAKE yourself sorrowful because you don’t want to stop feeling what the characters feel.

Well, this story comes pretty close to that.

Call it a gift or a curse, but ever since Ivy was a child she knew when the people around her were going to die. The ability to see a countdown of each person’s remaining time over their heads has proved to be most difficult for Ivy, especially when her own death has been approaching quickly over the past few months. After the murder of her best friend, Ivy falls into a downward spiral as she realizes that she can’t save the people she loves. But the need to find out the truth about what happened begins to consume her, and soon Ivy finds herself on the trail to figuring out who the murderer is. As Ivy’s last weeks begin to draw near, she fights to live her final days instead of just watching them tick by.

I can’t express enough how much I loved the concept for this story. Ivy is forced to watch the people around her die as their life clock comes to an end, while feeling helpless the entire time because she has no way to save them. I felt like I had a truly strong connection to this character. She is a loner at school and made to feel like an outcast because of events from her past, but she has a snarky attitude and is quick to fire off amazing zingers. When first introduced to Ivy, the reader quickly learns that there is a sense that she has already given up in life. With the death of her best friend being so recent and her own clock only being a few months before ending, Ivy has an overwhelming sense of despair and sorrow engulfing her. She has nobody close to her that she can talk to, and her family is very distant and wrapped up in their own lives.

As the story progresses, Ivy starts to become obsessed with finding out who killed her friend and why. In regards to the mystery aspect of this story, I was pretty surprised to figure out who it was. I had about one or two main suspects that I thought had definitely done it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong. The point where this story starts to get truly heart wrenching, apart from the already depressing events, is when the reader learns about Myers. Myers is the ex-boyfriend of Ivy, and let’s just say that relationship ended horribly on a night when everything else shattered Ivy’s world. I found that this author EXCELS when she is describing a sorrowful or dark moment. Not many authors know how to capture a feeling in words, and I thought Kelsey Sutton did a great job of it. This story is riddled with amazing descriptions of sadness and regret, and I adored every single minute of it.

Even after he’s gone I let my fingers linger on the glass, until the cold creeps under my skin and into my bones. Maybe if it goes deep enough, it will numb everything.

As numb as death.”

-Ivy

Overall, this was a TRULY wonderful read. I was hooked the entire time and felt connected to the characters and the story throughout the read. I am excited to see what else this author has done. If her writing is as good as this in all of her stories, then she is going to become a favorite of mine quickly. I recommend his to all ages, but primarily Teen and YA readers. It has a strong message of finding acceptance and living your life to the fullest, which I think anyone can relate to.

4-5-stars

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