In a nutshell, a transcriptionist has trouble believing an accident is truly a suicide when the recording from within the cab says differently. What he finds shocks his world to the core.
I liked the character Anderson. He cares about what happened to this poor victim, and that pushes him along this brief journey. Though he receives some serious warnings from his Sarge to let things go, Anderson goes with his gut and does the right thing. All around, Anderson is a good guy, and I was all for it.
The plot was simple but interesting. Anderson is trying to find out the true source of the victim's demise, which leads him along a dark path. Painter really captures the five senses in this story. Also, the writing was really great and easy to follow.
I will say that I wanted this story to be a bit longer and for Anderson to get even more ingrained in this strange happening, but that's my only real reservation here. I simply didn't want it to end.
If you're looking for a great lead-in to Halloween this may just be the perfect story for you!...more
Mystery surrounds Arlen Hall, a supposedly haunted place that our main characOriginal Review at Jaunts & Haunts
I gave this short story four stars!
Mystery surrounds Arlen Hall, a supposedly haunted place that our main character has pined over most of her life. When she gets a chance to own this paranormally active site, her persistence seems to have paid off. But as her dream comes to fruition, she learns she may have gotten much more than she bargained for.
This was a fun spooky read that got me in the Halloween spirit.
The setting was perfect. I mean, who doesn't love a haunted house? Arlen Hall has plenty of history, and I enjoyed exploring that aspect and all the drama and heartache it brought with it.
The main character is obsessed with this place, and I get that, especially since her ancestors owned it and it had backstory. I do wish that the character had a smidgeon more depth. I wanted there to be more behind the obsession than was present, but at just twelve pages, I think Tammie Painter did a pretty good job.
The chills and the mystery really kept me going, and I loved that ending!
Definitely worth a read if you're in the mood for a haunting! ...more
Can Travis Liebert do any wrong with his writing? Hmm, I don't thinOriginal Review at Jaunts & Haunts
I gave this anthology four and a half stars!
Can Travis Liebert do any wrong with his writing? Hmm, I don't think so.
Having read several short stories by this author, Halloween seemed the perfect time of year to dig into this horror-themed novel of short stories, and I'm very glad I did. Here are my brief thoughts on each story within:
A fun, disturbing letter from a concerned father about his son and his 'guardian angel.' This reminded me of Rosemary's Baby, and I shudder to think what will happen next to this worried parent's son.
How powerful are the thoughts and energy we put into things? If you create something and disregard it does it fade away forever, or could it come back to haunt you? Very creepy!
When two college students venture into their campus's forbidden forest, their worlds are changed forever. But when they test how far to take this new secret things take a dark turn. Loved this one!
A police officer inherits a parrot after its former owner committed suicide. He quickly learns that it is far from an ordinary bird and may have dark, sinister intentions. Gripping and scary!
When a son moves in with his father suffering from dementia, he hardly takes a second glance at the old clown costume his dad used to wear. But when strange happenings take place, he begins to wonder if there might be something more ominous at work.
A diver investigates an ongoing set of disappearances near a local river, uncovering a dark and grisly evil. Atmospheric and mesmerizing.
After losing a close family member, a man searches out an estranged uncle and finds himself in a bizarre world filled with an irresistible darkness. I really enjoyed the progression of this one.
A man signs up on an app for odd jobs, only to realize much more is at play. Much, much more. The terror of this really struck me.
After attending his grandma's funeral, a man finds that there is more to his family than meets the eye, and it's nothing he could've ever imagined. Brief, but the plot moved very quickly and I enjoyed that.
Each of these stories was well thought out, expertly written, and most importantly, scary in some way or another. You can really tell that the author loves horror, and it makes all the difference. I would easily give at least six of the nine stories a 5 star rating, hence my rating of 4.5.
Overall, I'm continually impressed with how passionate Liebert is with the concept of horror, and I can't wait to read more of his work. Definitely give this anthology a read if you need some great scares!...more
I give this short story four and a half fangtastic stars!
This was a great short story.
In a nutshell, a vampire struggles with his marriage while trying to make sure his son succeeds at school, all while resisting the urge to feed. What a nightmare!
The characters were great. We got a lot of great information about Vlad our MC, and none of the backstory felt like an info dump. He's been so used to his 9 to 5 life that when his hunger and restlessness comes back with a vengeance it's really hard for him to control. It was great seeing that struggle as well as the strained interactions with his family and others.
The concept and plot was simple. Dysfunctional family with a vampire dad? Sign me up! Vlad's feeling a bit estranged and is going through the motions of figuring out what he needs and why he's feeling so off. While this wasn't too action-packed, we get little displays of Vlad's power, and I seriously enjoyed every bit of that. The story had depth, which is hard to pull off for a short story.
I really enjoyed the writing style, which felt poetic at times, but didn't have much purple prose if any.
If I had to pick at anything, there were bits in the beginning that tripped me up with the writing, but it wasn't anything too serious.
In the end, this was a great short story that blew me out of the water. Can't recommend more!...more
I had really high hopes for this one, but by the time I finished I feOriginal Review at Jaunts & Haunts
I gave this novel three bloodsucking stars.
I had really high hopes for this one, but by the time I finished I felt more ... annoyed?
Don't get me wrong, there are great things about this book, but there are just about as many not so great things.
In a nutshell, this book is about a gay teen named Auggie Pfieffer living in Fulton Heights, a hotspot for vampires due to the Nexus present. Still, like any gay kid his age he wants to find his place in the world and his first boyfriend. But when he receives a bizarre warning from a vampire, his life is turned upside down. According to the vampire, he is going to end the world. Is this all just one big joke, or is there really something to be concerned about?
I enjoyed the writing style of this book. It's witty, full of sarcastic metaphors, and blends pretty well for the most part. That was the thing that really drew me in at first.
Also, how could you not like Auggie? A sassy gay main character? We need a lot more of those in the world! His viewpoint made sense in the beginning. He just wants to live his life without all the supernatural craziness of the town getting to him. But when stuff really starts hitting the fan, Auggie made quite a few bad decisions.
Obviously I don't expect him to be a saint. He is a teen after all, but I found he was a bit too willing to put himself in danger or make hasty decisions, which made certain situations worse or didn't make enough sense.
As for other characters, I liked the best friend Adriana and her abuela, as well as Daphne. They stuck to their personalities pretty well.
The plot was intriguing at first, but I think by the halfway point I felt there was too much going on. There were way too many interested parties in Auggie's plight, and that really muddied things up and made it confusing. Also, I found that at a certain point the plot followed an annoying pattern, which was plot point, drama fest, plot point, drama fest.
Yes, yes, Auggie is a gay teen and that often includes drama, but there's only so much a reader can take. After a while it felt like he was just whining about his circumstances for the hell of it.
Lately the new YA books I've been reading have followed this trend of teens being overly emotional like this, but I don't completely buy it. Not all teens are complete emotional messes, and it would've been nice to see Auggie calm down and get his crap together at some point.
Was this book fun? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Worth a read? Not completely sure, but it could be the right reading journey for you if you like all things YA, LGBT, and vampire. ...more
This is my first read by Iseult Murphy, and I had a great time!
This book centers on two twin sisters going on vacation. Many people dream of the beach, but they get stuck with Basard, a small village with quiet folks and strange stone circles. Trying to make the best of their situation, they explore the town, but as odd things begin to happen, the sisters begin to worry that more is afoot. Can they figure it out, or should they just run for the hills?
I enjoyed many things about this book.
The characters were portrayed well. The twins especially felt real to me. Irene is intelligent, studious, and no-nonsense, while Vicky is more carefree and lackadaisical. I liked how they interacted with one another. Like all siblings they fought quite a bit, but in the end they had each other's backs. That's family, and it was very believable.
The plot had me from the get go. Weird vacation spot? Check. Peculiar townsfolk? Check check. Strange happenings? Check check check! I enjoyed the small town atmosphere of Basard. It had this underlying eeriness to it that kept me flipping through those pages. Is there something supernatural, paranormal, or is it all in the twins' heads? Once things intensify, you won't want to stop reading. There was a lot of great action in this book.
If I had to pick at anything, I would say that here and there the writing could got a little choppy or too long-winded, mainly towards the later half of the book. Still, that didn't take away too much from my experience, and I ultimately thought this was a great read.
I'm excited to dive into the next book that comes out in October. I have a feeling some terrible stuff is about to happen! ...more
Continuing on from the first book, Harper Raine has survived the summerOriginal Review at Jaunts & Haunts
I gave this novel four and a half stars!
Continuing on from the first book, Harper Raine has survived the summer and now hunts malevolent spirits in her free time, although maybe a little too enthusiastically.
After her grandma helps her vanquish a formidable threat, Harper begrudgingly goes with her family and friend Dayo to a tropical island for a vacation just around Halloween time. The only problem is that there's a dark energy surrounding the island, an energy that may threaten all of their lives. Can Harper figure out the mystery behind it all and protect those she loves?
This book was really great, and this series has made me a fan of Ellen Oh's for life! Yet again, so much is done right at the hand of this great author.
The characters were a big pro for me. Harper is growing up bit by bit, and I enjoyed her progression through this novel. It's hard to accept that you can't win every little battle in life, and Harper has to come to terms with that a bit here. She's coming into her own as an adolescent and breaking out of her shell, as well as developing her abilities as a Spirit Hunter.
Her little brother Michael was so adorable throughout, and Dayo was again a great supporting character as well.
The plot was great, and the second I saw this had a Halloween theme, I wanted to read it even more. The plot was riveting, and I couldn't help but blaze through the pages. Monsters? On a remote tropical island? Sign me up!
If I had to pick at anything, I would say the 'flashbacks' of sorts (seriously trying not to give anything away here) could be a little cheesy with the diction, but given that this is a middle-grade book I didn't judge very harshly.
In the end, this was a great continuation of the Spirit Hunters series, and I can't wait to see what adventures Harper gets into next!...more
This is my first read by this author, and boy was I blown away!
This book is about a young girl named Harper Raine. Her family has recently moved to DC into this big house, but something is off. Her little brother Michael starts talking to an imaginary friend and acting strangely.
What's going on? Is her house really haunted like people say, or is this all in her head? I loved this book!
First off, the characters were great. Harper is a bright young girl with a bold personality. I liked her strange backstory and how she was trying to regain this piece of her that felt missing since a relatively recent accident. She really cares about her family and it shows. I also loved the bits of heritage we got sprinkled throughout. It really made this a well-rounded experience.
Harper's family were well done too. Her sister, little brother, and parents were believable and entertaining in their quirks.
The plot was riveting. I mean, it's a haunted house. What more could you want? I came here for the thrills and chills, and I wasn't disappointed. The plot twists were fun, unanticipated, and kept those pages a blazing. The book didn't really scare me per se, but it was exciting and I can see how this book might creep younger kids out. Definitely not a bedtime kinda story.
If I had to pick at anything, I would say that Harper coming to terms with the fact that her house is haunted took a little bit longer than I hoped. She had plenty of experiences to validate this fact to where I felt acceptance could've happened just a smidge earlier, but I'm not upset about it.
In the long haul, this book was a stellar read, and I can't wait to get my hands on book two!...more
This is my first read from this author, and I doubt it will be my last.
Ollie spends her days daydreaming in class, hidden in the world of books and creative wanderings as a coping mechanism for a somewhat recent loss in the family.
But that all changes when she finds the sobbing woman by the lake one day, a woman ready to toss a book into the river. Appalled at the injustice, Ollie snatches the book from the woman and runs away.
When the book's contents seem to jive with her surroundings the next day on a field trip, Ollie is perplexed. That is, until their bus breaks down on the way home and her mother's watch face tells her to run away. Can Ollie and her new friends figure out what is going on and save themselves, or will they be too late?
This book was a lot of creepy fun! Almost all of the elements presented here really worked for me.
For starters, the characters were really great. Ollie is a strong-willed kiddo who is very bright and good at math. I found it very easy to relate to her because I was a very opinionated child who was good at math as well. Ollie had a loss in her family and a part of this book was coming to terms with that as well as growing up a little bit. I really resonated with that and found it felt genuine. Ollie and her friends Coco and Brian were believable as sixth graders based on their conversations and actions, and the adult characters' actions were thought out as well.
The plot had me since I read the blurb. There were plenty of light chills and thrills that kept me going the whole time, and though I was expecting something a little more horrific, this book reminded me of all the good times I had reading Goosebumps as a child. It makes sense why R.L. Stine endorsed this book. I also enjoyed the mystery element, though I did feel some things were a little obvious to me.
The writing was simple, fun, and free of purple prose, perfect for the middle-grade reader or adult reader looking for an easy read.
If I had to poke at anything, I would say that near the end where things concluded it felt a bit rushed and random. I wanted things to make a bit more sense than they did, and in small bits I kind of tilted my head and thought "Did we really verify that?" Other than that, I have no complaints.
All in all, this was the perfect intro read to Arden's work, and I can't wait to read the sequel and some of her other works!...more
I was really disappointed with this reading experience overall.
In a nutshell, this book is about a girl named Irreele who was created by a strangely powerful woman Miss Vesper. Miss Vesper is cruel, relentless, and rules over her actions with an iron fist. When she threatens to destroy Irreele, she runs away to escape her clutches.
Many things didn't work for me in this book, but the things that really did were the concept and ambience of Irreele's world.
This book reminded me of a mix of Frankenstein and Coraline, and that intrigued me from the get go. The scenery around Irreele is dark and dreary, my fave! I loved the spooky ambience.
Unfortunately that's where most of the positives end for me.
At its core, I felt that the characters suffered a bit, especially the MC Irreele. Irreele felt extremely vanilla to me. Her voice didn't really pop off the page for me, and I honestly was getting bored. Her personality didn't completely make sense to me.
Yes, she is a victim, and there is no right way to cope with abuse, but Irreele's neverending love for Miss Vesper didn't make sense. There's no real basis for this love. All Miss Vesper has ever done is treat her like crap, so why would she feel that way towards her? If she was sired in a way like with vampires, that should've been explained.
I also felt she was a bit too naïve and innocent, even for a middle grade novel. I wanted her to have some guts and stand up for herself, but in the instances where she does kind of pull that off, it was lackluster for me.
Guy's personality was honestly quite a bit more interesting than Irreele, and I probably would've enjoyed this more through his POV.
The plot at first was intriguing, but the slow pacing of things just really dragged for me. The characters had a chance to hightail it outta there, but didn't and I had a hard time understanding why.
The writing was okay, but I felt no real emotional connection from reading this book.
All in all, I cannot recommend this book. The characters, plot, and overall writing just felt too bland and didn't make sense. But you never know unless you try, right? Perhaps this book may work for you. It just didn't work for me. On to the next one!...more
I gave this novel five stars, and it deserve a helluva lot more than that if you ask me.
This book was utterly fantastic, and easily made my list of favorites.
In this novel we follow Micheline, a young reaper who hunts the undead as well as spirits in the Helsing corps. Micheline can see the auras of anything undead, giving her a special advantage in hunting them.
However, when she and her small crew of reapers go in to a hospital to stop a rogue spirit, everything is not as it seems. Suddenly, Micheline and her crew find their world spinning out of control in a mad dash against time. Can Micheline figure out who this spirit is and how to stop them, or will she and her crew die trying?
Man, was I blown away by this book! Everything was just executed so flawlessly that I ate it up.
Couldn't get enough.
Let's start with the characters. Micheline is strong-willed, sometimes snarky, and a badass of a reaper. She is a little rough on the exterior and how she presents herself to others, but deep down she really does care about reaping and all that comes with it given everything she's lost. Ryder, Jude, and Oliver (her crew) all had great personalities that also jumped through the page, and I could easily see their interactions, personalities, and body language in my mind as I read along.
The plot and concept was fire to me, an instant win. We've got this dark world, torn by spirits and necros (physical undead) that I simply adored (I'm a very doom and gloom kinda guy). The main plot I really didn't see coming, and there were constant plot twists that kept me blazing through those pages. There was plenty of great action and tons of horror, but some tender moments too that made this a very well-rounded experience.
Flow was immaculate. Nothing veered off course, and every thought that Micheline had made sense and was understandable given her past.
All in all, this book was a tour de force, a real showstopper, and I am extremely happy to put this book on my shelf at home as one of my favorites of all time.