I miss reading ghost stories and I didn't realize just how much I missed it until I read this book. When it comes to ghost stories I'mRating 3.5 Stars
I miss reading ghost stories and I didn't realize just how much I missed it until I read this book. When it comes to ghost stories I'm a pretty big fan, despite my low "scary" tolerance. I mean, the last book I read I got creeped out by a 9ft tall serial killing cookie, that's where my bar is set. For me, On the Day I Died was definitely creepy, but in the most refreshing way.
This book is a series of connected short stories that follow Mike, just your average teenage boy, who ends up having his own Medium moment when he walks into a Chicago grave yard full of teenage ghosts who all want to tell him the story of the strange and sometimes fantastical events that lead to each of their deaths. The manner of death, the time period, and the overall tone of the writing changed with each story giving each ghost their own unique perspective.
I have to say that overall this book is pretty consistent and solid. The way Fleming writes each story perfectly fits the format. This lady knows how to structure a short story and I ended up enjoying her writing a lot more than I expected to. The ghost stories were both incredibly original and creative while still harkening back to the classic ghost stories that we all tell around the campfire or during a spooky sleepover. It remains true that some of the short stories are better than others, but even the most average were still really enjoyable. If Candace Fleming writes another YA novel I would definitely read it.
The only thing that kept this from being a four star read for me was the fact that for all the originality and fantastic writing we see in the ghost stories the connecting through story of Mike's night in the graveyard was woefully underwritten. Although the end of Mike's story was satisfying, throughout the book it lacked the spark and liveliness of the ghost stories. It was jolting to go from wonderful characterization and dialogue to the choppy and out of place Mike story line. It felt like Mike was a plot device rather than a person, which took away from the overall tone of the book.
However, I would still definitely recommend this to any and all lovers of classic ghost stories. Despite the 200 page count the way the book is formatted it takes hardly any time to read (I think I was done in about 2 hours) and it is well worth it. I picked this up on a whim because I had been studying at the library and needed something light and easy to read while I waited for my ride and I am incredibly happy that I did....more
In The Fourth Bear, mystery meets fantasy as we enter a world of police procedure like I've never seen it before. The story follows Inspectors Jack SpIn The Fourth Bear, mystery meets fantasy as we enter a world of police procedure like I've never seen it before. The story follows Inspectors Jack Spratt and Mary Mary as they head up the Nursery Crime Division in the town of Reading. They specialize in crimes featuring familiar faces of our collective quaint childhood memories in a dark and twisted reality where the Gingerbread Man is a highly skilled serial killer and Goldilocks ends up dead.
The Fourth Bear was pretty much everything I hoped it would be. Although the beginning felt a bit clunky, I quickly found myself immersed in the world of Reading and all its wonderful mayhem. The Fourth Bear walks that fine line between an original concept and the comfortable familiarity of police procedure in the mystery genre. The book is aware of all the tropes, cliches, and mystery plot point and embraces them all with an enthusiasm and self awareness that made me smile. However, because of the oddness and randomness of the world itself I can honestly say I never knew what was going to happen next. This world was just so full of possibilities that I could never pin down just exactly how it would all end till the very end. This kept me reading into the night and well past my bedtime.
Another big plus for me was the characters. To start with the Gingerbread Man genuinely freaked me out. Imagining this over sized evil cookie should not be scary, but it was creepy how evil he was and not knowing when he was going to pop up next and cause trouble was a great through line. I also loved the secondary plot line of Jack's family and possibly malicious car and Mary Mary's dating life. It added to the story by making the characters more than just police officers. It added to their personalities and made the bizarre world of Reading a little more grounded in reality. I also totally fell in love with Ashley. That squishy alien stole my squishy heart.
However, I also have to point out that this book was not perfect. There was the unfortunate choice of having each chapter begin with a excerpt from a fictional book that tells us all about the official records set in the area. At some points these paragraph long excerpts would give us some additional information about what was going on in the story, but in my opinion they were just an excuse to have paragraphs of exposition that could have easily been taken out. It kept breaking up the flow of the story and were totally unnecessary. Without this I would have easily rated this a five star book.
All in all this book was still very solid and I will definitely be looking into the other books in this series. I cannot wait to see what else can be done with this concept! ...more