Haunted by Lynn Carthage is just the kind of young adult novel that I like to read. My only experience with YA as a young person was reading R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and Christopher Pike, and Haunted is definitely in their league. It was a very nostalgic read.
Because I read so many paranormal, slightly horror YA novels back in the 90s, Haunted was very predictable. I called Phoebe's secret almost immediately, but that took nothing away from the novel. The point and fun of it is the creepy/chilly ghosts and other characters and trying to figure out what is really going on in that old house. (Phoebe's secret is given away at 55% in your Kindle copy if you're like me and want to peak, though I didn't this time. I mean, I didn't have to.)
Another awesome thing going for the book is that I never wanted to skip ahead. I'm really back about doing that with any sort of mystery. I don't like a lot of tension, and Haunted was at my happy medium. There were twists and turns (some that I even missed), but the tension was never palpable enough that I had to find out what was going on. I couldn't put the book down, and I was happy to read it in order. That is quite rare.
Even though I had Phoebe figured out, I liked her a lot as a character. I'm obviously not a teen since I was reading these books in the 90s, but she really brought out my motherly instincts. I think that's part of why I was able to figure her out so quickly, but my heart absolutely broke for her. She loves her family so much and felt so ostracized for what she did back home in California prior to the events of the novel, that I just wanted to hug her. I think a lot of teen readers will be able to relate to her because who doesn't feel like their parents are blowing them off if they have younger siblings? I also really dug her relationship with Tabby. I guess there was enough of an age difference between the sisters that she felt so protective of her. I think it may have been the best part of the book.
If you like stories about hauntings and a good, mild mystery, Haunted is well worth reading. Though it lacked some surprises for me, I'll definitely still continue the series. It's a fantastic debut.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through Book Junkie Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
I really enjoy short story anthologies, but I had no idea what a fucking treat The Thing About Great White Sharks would be. (I'm using coarse language to convey feeling, not my trashiness, by the way.) This is literary fiction just the way I like it - with a little bit of magical realism, a touch of sci-fi, and a mix of something else. It's shocking, horrible, and wonderful, all rolled into one.
My favorite two stories in the collection are "The Thing About Great White Sharks" and "Sheila". "Sheila", the first story in the collection, broke my heart into a million pieces and blew me away. Sheila, the titular character, is John's, the protagonist, Brittany spaniel, who also happens to be a robot. He's had her for 25+ years, bought when his wife was dying, and has become illegal to own because of the Ginger Creek incident. "Sheila" made me stop and consider the way breeds are treated and how responsible pet owners are usually the ones who suffer the most from bans. "The Thing About Great White Sharks" left me wanting more than I got, in the very best way possible. Jennifer, the main character, is a government test subject after an unknown disease causes all living things to attack and try to kill Homo sapiens. She is forced to battle various creatures so the results can be studied as the government searches for a cure. I think we need an entire book about her, mmkay?
I enjoyed most of the stories, but I will say that "What to Expect When You're Expecting an Alien Parasite", "Melville Loves Hawthorne", and "The Other Husband" went right over my head. If there was an underlying theme in any of them, they were beyond me. (I think "What to Expect When You're Expecting an Alien Parasite" may have just been humorous, but I'm making no guesses.) Other than those three, I have no other issues with The Thing About Great White Sharks. It is glorious.
If you're not a reader of short stories, I highly recommend that you start with this one. There is a little bit of something for everyone, and with each story being only a few pages long, The Thing About Great White Sharks is a great book to pick up and set down (good luck with that!) as time allows. I will guarantee that you'll find something you like here. (I bet you're a fan of "Orchids", just you see.)
- 4.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
This is an extremely difficult review to write because I loved the first book in the Winner's trilogy. The Winner's Crime is a beautifully written book that continues with the fascinating world-building, but I just didn't like the story. The plot made me uncomfortable the entire time I was reading, the characters became pretty unlikable, and it felt very much like how a second novel in a series should feel.
The Winner's Crime made me feel uncomfortable because the Arin and Kestrel couldn't catch a break. It's not because there was anything that I particularly didn't care for like rape, animal abuse, etc. I don't want to give anything away, and it's hard to really describe the amount of suckage in their lives without spoiling the book. I guess I'll go so far as to say that Kestrel loses everything (take that as you will). And Ronan... Don't get me started on how things turned out for him. That really turned me off from the book.
That's not to say that Kestrel didn't deserve to lose everything. Her actions in The Winner's Curse are really starting to catch up with her, and she's still on her dishonesty kick. And, of course, Arin is jumping to the wrong conclusions about everything, and I just finally got so tired of him that I was tempted to skim his parts. (That would have been stupid because the intrigue really shouldn't be skipped over.) Two other characters that I started to really hate were Jess and Kestrel's father. Sure, they have reasons of their own to be terrible, but ugh...
There was a lot that happened in The Winner's Crime, but I feel like the entire book was just setting the stage for the final book in the trilogy. Nothing was really resolved. There were new characters and areas introduced, but they didn't serve too much purpose in the story. The Winner's Crime ends with a pretty huge cliffhanger, which is frustrating, but I don't know if my frustration stems from where the characters end up, their behavior, or the fact that not too much has progressed since the end of The Winner's Curse.
I know my review is a little ranty, but I expect a lot of Rutkoski because she's an excellent writer. The Winner's Crime wasn't enough to turn me off of the series, so of course I'm dying to read The Winner's Kiss. I just hope that it makes up for everything missing in The Winner's Crime.
- 4/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more