The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Book Description:

Published: 1959

Format: Audio/Audible

The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror.

It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting;’ Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Review –

I first READ this book in 2009, and then LISTENED to it in 2014, so this makes my third time.

The movie is one of my all time favorites (the original with Julie Harris) and is very close to the book. The writer of the screen play did a great job. There are, of course, a few changes, but they are very subtle and don’t change the plot or outcome of the story line.

Looking for a change in reading genre – give this gem a try.

 

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The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Book Description:

Published: February 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

What happens to us after we die? What happens before we are born? At once a riveting mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time will lead you to reevaluate everything you believe…

What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother?

Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it.

Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

Review –

The author  presents reincarnation against the backdrop of reality: a mother’s love and a mother’s grief. There is none of the fantasy world often found in novels based on reincarnation, so the premise seems more plausible—even to a skeptic.

What also separates The Forgetting Time from other novels based on a similar premise is that the author points out that according to case studies done by credible psychiatrists, a child troubled by the memories left over from another life begins to forget at around age six. This theme of forgetting underlies the plot. At some point one must let go of the past and live in the present.

The Forgetting Time is both a mystery and a philosophical novel, and lacks the flaws found in so many debut novels. There are no weak and unbelievable characters; the plot has no holes in its construction; and the portraits of love and grief offset one another in a balanced manner.

This book tells a sentimental story with a murder mystery at its core, and it’s interesting even if you don’t go for the premise.

 

The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault

Book Description:

Published: January 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A gripping blend of psychological suspense and historical true crime, this riveting novel—inspired by a sensational real-life murder from the 1800s—by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault delivers a heart-stopping mystery linking two young mothers from different centuries.

Frances Barnett and Abby Bernacki are two haunted young mothers living in the same house in two different centuries.

1885: Frances Barnett is in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital, telling her story to a visitor. She has come to distrust her own memories, and believes that her pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood may have impaired her sanity.

During the earliest months of her baby’s life, Frances eagerly followed the famous murder trial of Mary Stannard—that captivated New Englanders with its salacious details and expert forensic testimony. Following—and even attending—this trial, Frances found an escape from the monotony of new motherhood. But as her story unfolds, Frances must admit that her obsession with the details of the murder were not entirely innocent.

Present day: Abby has been adjusting to motherhood smoothly—until recently, when odd sensations and dreams have begun to unsettle her while home alone with her baby. When she starts to question the house’s history, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years earlier. Abby finds the diary disturbing, and researches the Barnett family’s history. The more Abby learns, the more she wonders about a negative—possibly supernatural—influence in her house. She becomes convinced that when she sleeps, she leaves her daughter vulnerable—and then vows not to sleep until she can determine the cause of her eerie experiences.

Frances Barnett might not be the only new mother to lose her mind in this house. And like Frances, Abby discovers that by trying to uncover another’s secrets, she risks awakening some of her own.

Review –

“In 2014, high school history teacher and new mom Abby Bernacki worries over “odd” happenings in her 19th-century house, such as her baby daughter’s mysterious bruise. After consulting with a past owner, Abby obtains a historic resident’s journal and befriends a local archivist, who introduces her to a trove of puzzling artifacts. In 1878, another new mother who lived in the house, Frances Barnett, was ordered to a month’s “rest” in bed to cure her nervous condition. Once she’s out of bed, Frances fakes enthusiasm for domestic tasks while concealing from her husband her obsession with the trial of a gruesome murderer. The historic parts of the novel draw on the tale of a real-life 1879 murder and trial, even including several real New York Times articles that covered the story. Readers will squirm at the courtroom scenes involving a removed and preserved face and experiments with arsenic and donated stomachs. In another bit of historical accuracy, Frances toils in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital in Massachusetts, which at the time turned a profit on the work of its residents. The novel consists of three threads: Abby’s 2014 perspective, where she reads notes Frances kept in a cooking journal in 1878; Frances’ mental-hospital monologue to her visiting brother in 1885; and the 1998 death of a college student in Abby’s dorm. The college thread is minimally developed and seems incidental, until it ties in as the foundation of an emotionally satisfying ending. Abby’s and Frances’ mirrored stories are the stars of the show; despite their very different circumstances, both women are humbled by the pressures of new motherhood before they find empowerment in the hunt for justice.” Kirkus Reviews

I love this type of book where the past and present collide. Great read! Five stars!!!!!

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Book Description:

Published: May 30, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review –

Detention takes a dark turn when the student behind Bayview High’s infamous app About That dies from a peanut allergy—and every witness has a different reason for wanting him gone.

Although the author’s debut novel initially feels like a rehashing of The Breakfast Club, with five teens from very different social circles brought together through detention, there is no bonding through library dance parties or atypical lipstick application. Instead, Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy witness Simon collapse and ultimately die after taking a sip of water. When police discover the drink was laced with peanut oil—and that Simon was going to reveal life-ruining secrets about all four students on his gossip app the next day—they go from unfortunate witnesses to top murder suspects. With each teen (“brain,” “criminal,” “jock,” and “princess,” respectively; “walking teen-movie stereotypes,” as Simon says) narrating alternating chapters, the novel offers insights into common adolescent struggles—from the pressure to succeed to an alcoholic, out-of-work father—as well as an unlikely romance and opportunities for self-reflection as the investigation escalates.

Although the language and plot sometimes border on cliché, this fast-paced blend of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and classic the  John Hughes  film, will leave readers racing to the finish as they try to unravel the mystery on their own.

The ending is surprising and makes for a very good “who-dun-it” read.

 

The Thousandth Floor (the Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee

Book Description:

Published: August 30, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

NEW YORK CITY AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

Review –

This is a book that I found to be a fast read/listen. It’s not a deep thinking piece of literature, more like fast food instead of a steak dinner.The five main characters are teenagers, seventeen and eighteen years old. Three are rich and live on higher floors (the higher the floor the wealthier the family) and two on lower floors. I can’t remember what floor Watt lived on but Rylin lived on thirty-two and had to scrimp  for grocers and being behind on the rent.

Each in their own way has a good life and we see that having money doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re happy. Avery is secretly in love with her step-brother, Rylin loves Cord (who lives on a floor in the nine hundreds) but has stolen drugs from him to help pay for rent and get her sleazy boyfriend out of jail, Watt is a techno genius with a forbidden computer in his head and wants Avery,Eris finds out her father is not her father and she and her mother have to move down to the one hundred and third floor and live a completely different life and becomes friends  with a girl across the hall, and Leda is a drug addict who wants Atlas, Avery’s step-brother and knows everyone’s secrets. Some one dies by falling from the top floor, but who and why I will not tell  you. It’s too much fun reading or listening to find out all the details.

Some reviewers have likened the book to the Gossip Girl series, I wouldn’t know because I never watched it and I have read that the book has been picked up by Hollywood to become a movie and if done right, it should be fantastic.

Five stars and I love the cover.

One With You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day

Book Description:

Published: April 5, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Gideon Cross. Falling in love with him was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It happened instantly. Completely. Irrevocably.

Marrying him was a dream come true. Staying married to him is the fight of my life. Love transforms. Ours is both a refuge from the storm and the most violent of tempests. Two damaged souls entwined as one.

We have bared our deepest, ugliest secrets to one another. Gideon is the mirror that reflects all my flaws … and all the beauty I couldn’t see. He has given me everything. Now, I must prove I can be the rock, the shelter for him that he is for me. Together, we could stand against those who work so viciously to come between us.

But our greatest battle may lie within the very vows that give us strength. Committing to love was only the beginning. Fighting for it will either set us free … or break us apart.

Review –

I must admit that I just love the character of Gideon Cross, he’s even on my list of Book Boyfriends” (I know, nerdy, right?) but this book did not live up to my expectations. Maybe that’s because I listened to it piecemeal, a fragment here, and a fragment there. I listened to many other books before going back to this one.  

Gideon and Eva (which he pronounces as Ava) get their “happily ever after” after having overcome old lovers, tell-all-books, rapists coming out of the woodwork, death threats, meddling family, complex relationships, secret babies and  the list can go on and on. Despite this all, Eva and Gideon get what they truly deserve, which is each other.

My favorite part of all of the Crossfire novels has been the sex scenes. The author writes great scenes and compelling dirty talk dialogue between her characters, her sex scenes are exceptionally erotic without the characters having to indulge in props or aids.

Although this was supposedly the last book in the series, there are a couple of things left hanging involving supporting characters so maybe, just maybe Sylvia Day will surprise us someday with Book Six.

Nest by Terry Goodkind

Book Description:

Published: November 15, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate Bishop thought she was an ordinary woman living and working in Chicago. But when she unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation into a brutal murder, Kate makes a shocking discovery: she has the ability to identify killers just by looking into their eyes.

Trying to grasp the implications of this revelation, Kate is drawn deep into a world of terror. She is tracked down by Jack Raines, a mysterious author with shadowy connections to those who share her ability. He tells Kate that her unique vision also makes her a target, and only he can help her.

Now, hot on Jack and Kate’s heels are a force of super-predators, vicious and bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing until Kate is dead. But even as she fights for her life, Kate still isn’t sure if Jack is really her salvation, or another killer coming to slaughter her.

An explosive mix of action and suspense, Nest is a landmark new novel from worldwide bestselling author Terry Goodkind, and a complete reinvention of the contemporary thriller. Travel with Goodkind on a dangerous journey to the back alleys of the darknet, to the darkest corners of our minds, and to the very origins of what it is to be human.

Review –

Nest is a thriller novel, bordering on horror, set in Chicago. The book follows Kate Bishop after the murder of her brother, when she finds out she has a special ability to identify a killer by looking into their eyes. The story takes the reader on a journey through how she comes to terms with this ability, and with this, discovers the evil lurking everywhere around her, impossible to escape. She meets Jack Raines, and author specialising in helping people with Kate’s particular ability in identifying evil and helping the world understand evil in a way they never thought about it before. This book will keep you up at night, even hours after you have closed the book.

This is fast-paced book full of suspense, and on the edge of your seat thrills. It ends with a semi-cliffhanger so I hope the author, Terry Goodkind, has a plan to write a sequel. It wouldn’t have to be lengthy – just let Kate and Jack find their way back to each other. Please!!!

Five stars.

 

One Second After (After #1) by William R. Forstchen

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2009

Format: Audio/OverDrive

New York Times best-selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real … a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages … A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.

Months before publication, One Second After has already been cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book already being discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at a weapon and its awesome power to destroy the entire United States, literally within one second. It is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America. In the tradition of On the Beach, Fail Safe, and Testament, this book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future … and our end.

Review –

This book is too scary NOT to read. The whole time I was listening I expected the lights to go out, my computer to shut down and everything to go completely quiet. 

Our country, or any country, for that matter, is not prepared for an EMP strike. We are all too complacent to think it can happen at all, much less to us.

Reading/listening to this book made it very real and it scared me to death.

Everyone should read this book!

Five stars.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Description:

Published: September 27, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Review –

I truly find it hard to relate everything I feel about this book. The conclusion to this epic duology delivered in EVERY way possible. Crooked Kingdom enthralled and delighted, even while some of the content reduced me to tears. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan will forever be marked as one of my most beloved fictional crew.

 Crooked Kingdom is filled with character bonding, as well as interaction and development within the numerous friendships within the main group.

Even while the crew work seamlessly together, they remain distinct and unique individuals, driven forward by their own goals and personal backstory. The amount of character development in this book is phenomenal. By halfway through the book, I was fully invested in every single story – even for characters we previously did not see much of like Wylan.

Besides the characters bonding more as a unit and also as romantics pairs there is an arresting storyline, filled with cunning tricks and plot twists. Leigh Bardugo absolutely shines during her fight scenes, with the action becoming almost cinematic. The constantly turning wheels of Kaz Brekker’s mind is also equally formidable. We all love a story about an underdog, and watching Kaz scheme his way numerous setbacks had me on the edge of my seat, but the payoff is always so immensely satisfying.

Not all couples end up together-there is a death of a major player- I won’t say who but it was worthy of several Kleenex and I still can’t believe he’s gone.

I wish the author had Kaz pronounce his real feelings for Inej, instead he just holds her hand, without gloves. This may not sound like much to those who have not read Six of Crows, but it’s a major deal for Kaz Brekker!

The catch phrase of this series is NO MOUNERS, NO FUNERALS and we learn more about it in this book. This is what the author has to say about the quote:

“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.”

Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom

Fantastic book, fantastic series!!!

 

 

 

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: November 3, 2015  

Format: Audio/Library Book

A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.

Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

Review –
Always a pleasure to read a Stephen King book and this one was no exception.
The principal purpose of  the stories in this book is to entertain. Mr. King  says, “Although life experiences are the basis of all stories, I’m not in the business of confessional fiction.” No, he really isn’t, and the reason “The Little Green God of Agony” is one of the strongest stories in “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is that in this one, at least, King finds a serviceable horror metaphor for what’s on his mind, rather than trying to express it more directly. (He wrote this during his rehabilitation after his near fatal accident and all the pain he suffered)
There were some stories that I liked more than others but on the whole it was a delightful (if anything about Stephen King can be called delightful) collection of short stories concerning  various life changing subjects. What’s unusual about the tales in this volume is how many of its deaths are ordinary, mundane sorts of demises: deaths by cancer or heart failure or car accident or simple, non-­supernatural homicide. 
If you’re a “constant reader” or have never (GASP!) read Stephen King this is a great book to add to your TBR list or pile. Since it’s a collection of short stories it’s easy to commit to the book because you know you can read one story and put it down, but I doubt you will want to put it down after you start reading.
Loved it!