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The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Book 3) by Michelle Hodkin 

15768409 The Retribution of Mara Dyer – A bonechilling, grisly, and satisfyingly engrossing read. 

After being set up by her ex-boyfriend Jude and Dr. Kells, Mara and her friends Jamie and Stella are official patients of Horizons inpatient treatment center and trapped in a secret underground bunker where they’re being held captive, drugged, and experimented on against their will. As for Noah, Mara doesn’t know what happened to him, but Dr. Kells says he’s died. Unable to believe this and practically catatonic without the grief, Mara is surprised when she wakes up from her drug-induced state to discover Jude has freed her and sent her on a mission to find Noah. After killing Dr. Kells in a battle for her life and her sanity, Mara, along with Jamie and Stella must escape the island, though she is still drugged, sick, and covered in blood. After making it back to Miami, they use Jamie’s power of influence to fool their families, only Mara’s brother Daniel isn’t there, and he has the genetics book, the one that explains what they are and perhaps might lead them to Noah. They follow Daniel to New York where he seems to be visiting colleges. As all secrets are revealed about Mara’s ancestry and the mysterious Lukumi, Mara comes to accept the truths of friendship, love, and sacrifice, especially when Noah is caught between life and death; however, she comes to realize the hardest part is accepting yourself and having the courage to make the toughest choice.

In this third and final volume of the Mara Dyer trilogy, Michelle Hodkin brings us full circle to discover the secret of the kids with powers, how Mara and Noah came to be, just why they’re drawn to each other, and how captivatingly she weaves the final threads of Mara’s story together. I am just amazed at her quality of language and imagery. The romance was delightful and fans won’t be disappointed with this resolution. Without Noah for much of the book though, Jamie steps in. He is hilarious, and brings us some relief from the intensity of the action. I loved this series. It’s dark but lovely. Like a blooming nightshade flower. May not want to read this at night, alone, and in a storm though.

Note: Violence, language, sexual situations.

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Horror, YA Mystery/Thriller

 

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Asylum & Sanctum by Madeleine Roux

A creepy mind-twisting murder mystery that melds psychology and the mania of an old mental hospital and teases the story accompanied by hauntingly eerie photographs.

asylum-cover  Asylum

Dan Crawford has just arrived at college-sponsored camp for gifted high schoolers where the students have been moved to the oldest dorm Brookline, previously a mental hospital, because the others are being remodeled. A former foster kid, he’s pretty self-aware and independent. Immediately, he makes two friends: Jordan, a brilliant mathematician with a religious family who is also secretly gay, and Abby, a creative art geek whose family has ties to the asylum. Dan also has a roommate, Felix, an odd nerdy boy who is awkward and suddenly becomes obsessed with working out. When Dan first arrives at the asylum, he discovers an old photograph of a man with his eyes scratched out. Seeking a thrill, Dan, Jordan and Abby go exploring and find old records and other disturbing photographs in the depths of the old asylum. Suddenly, Dan is getting odd notes and having nightmares, dreaming and communicating with the disturbed man known as the warden, also named Daniel Crawford. Is this really happening or is Dan losing his mind? When the body count starts to rise, Dan knows he has to solve the mystery of Brookline or worse, he must suspect himself of the most horrible of crimes.

19346471 Sanctum

When Dan left Brookline, he thought all the episodes would be over. When he still is having nightmares, also shared by friends Abby and Jordan, Dan decides the asylum isn’t through with him. Worse, he’s been asked to visit Felix who has been under constant watch in a real mental facility. A deranged Felix connects the dots that send him, Abby, and Jordan back to college searching for clues behind , their nightmares, creepy antique carnival photographs, and four mysterious addresses. Pretending to be prospective college students, they are stuck with student mentors and discover that the carnival tradition has just returned after a long hiatus. New Hampshire College and Camford, the town, are hiding something awful, and Dan, Abby, and Jordan are determined to find out what and rid themselves of the horrors of Brookline forever. With Dan seeing visions and Abby hearing voices and people attacking them, will they succeed before they die or do they belong to this carnival of madness?

Though this series has been compared as a Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children read-a-like, all that it really has in common is the genre and possessing photographs. The overall feel and draw of this series is unlike Miss Peregrine in my mind. I think it is sufficient to read but not fantastic. It needs more depth, creepiness, and a more clear progression of events. That is to say, it shouldn’t be an easy mystery, but I can’t figure out if being mentally confusing was the purpose of the novel or just a side-effect. I liked Sanctum overall much better than I liked the first, but I liked the atmosphere of Asylum better than Sanctum. I think the character development wasn’t fully fleshed out, and the pace seemed somewhat slow for a creepy book. Still, if you like horror and you enjoy a bump-in-the-night read with quirk, you won’t be disappointed.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Horror, YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen

 

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A Bit of Horror: I Have a Bad Feeling about This by Jeff Strand & Followers by Anna Davies

Here are two somewhat related new horrifying titles. One is a survivalist adventure and the other is a murder mystery.

i have a bad feeling about this I Have a Bad Feeling about This

Perfect for middle school male readers who might not be all that interested in reading, Jeff Strand’s second foray into writing finds a brutally honest, and almost pathetic, nerd of a hero in sixteen-year-old Henry Lambert.

When Henry’s parents pack him off to Strongwoods Survival Camp to make him more of a man than a video-game-playing, scared-of-seahorses couch potato, he finds himself with four other boys and confronted by a seemingly madman named Max, their brutish and no-nonsense camp leader. As they navigate the challenges Max has set for them, Henry seems to perform worse and worse, except at archery and that was just a fluke. Through some funny conversations with himself and imaginary people and the half-chapters where the characters are being interviewed by a crazy reporter, this books is largely ridiculous and is bound to make teens laugh at something or at least be amused. However, turns out Strongwoods Survival Camp just might have had the desired effect after all, which Henry discovers when he’s faced with a real life or death situation and must save not only himself but his fellow campers.

This survival story started off light and amusing, what with a geeky main character who is forced to do something to “become a man”, but ended up into somewhat of a horror situation. I thought that while the story was interesting and might catch male teens attention, Henry was not acting like a sixteen-year-old, rather more of a fourteen-year-old. Other than that, this book might make you laugh out loud at the ridiculousness and unusual situations. Think of a less serious or satiric Holes or possibly a Disney channel movie. It might be good to watch/read, but once is generally enough and the subject matter is never too deep.

Note: There are graphic violence, sexual connotations, language, and alcohol references.

followers Followers

Fans of the theater, Twitter addicts, and lovers of murder mysteries might find this one interesting. Very short read!

Briana “Bree” Beland is in her first year at a new school, MacHale, a prestigious private school that her mother attended before her, and she’s just come back during break for Winterm to snag a part in the Winterm play, Hamlet. When the director suddenly passes away, the new director opens up auditions to include the local public school as well. Suddenly, Bree is on the outs of a part in Hamlet just when she did a fantastic audition as Ophelia. Instead, the new director wants her to be the play’s ‘social media director’ and tweet about everything concerning the play. Briana is disappointed about the role, but she does gain a new follower called “Hamlet’s Ghost”. As other people start mysteriously dying, “Hamlet’s Ghost” begins be goading her and commenting about the murders. It looks as though something horrible might be going on, and Bree caught in the thick of it. Will she catch the killer before it’s too late or will she be next?

Note: Murder mystery so graphic violence. Very little sexual references or language. Alcohol is present.

 

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

If you love mysteries and creepy stories, this is one of the best and most unusual series in quite some time. It utilizes old and special photographs as a means of enhancing the story. It was a New York Times Bestseller, and really, I loved it from the moment I picked it up! Though I read the first one some time ago, I recently read the second, but I included both here for you all.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

miss peregrineFrom the time he was a little boy, Jacob Portman has been listening to his grandfather’s strange fantasy stories about a girl who can levitate, another who can hold fire, a boy living with bees inside him, and more, mostly about his grandfather’s orphanage in Wales under their caretaker, “the bird.” As Jacob grows up, he realizes these are just fairy stories, because there could be no way that the children and the horrific monsters were real. However, when Jacob’s grandfather calls him in a panic, and Jacob rushes to his rescue only to find his grandfather lying in a pool of blood an a glimpse of something terrifying, it’s Jacob who’s called crazy. His family sends him to a psychiatrist, and Jacob doesn’t know what’s true and what’s false. This line gets even more blurred when he is allowed to visit Cairnholm, the island where his grandfather grew up in the 1930’s. There, he discovers something very odd. The orphanage his grandfather came from was supposedly blown up by a bomb in the war. Everyone at the orphanage was to have died, even his grandfather. Things just aren’t adding up, until Jacob finds a group of children observing him combing through the old orphanage’s wreckage. He pursues them and finds himself transported to September 3rd, 1940. The day when the bomb hit. From there, many things begin to make sense, and Jacob discovers friends, truth about his family’s past, and that he actually has his own “peculiar” power.

 

 

Do I even need to say it?

Fine.

Spoiler alert below!

 

 

Hollow City

hollow-city-coverAs this story begins, we find Jacob, Emma, and the other peculiar children (Hugh, Fiona, Olive, Bronwyn, Harold, Millard, Claire, and Enoch) on the island that has begun moving from it’s time traveling loop (finally, in 60-70-ish years, time has progressed on to September 4th, 1940), having just rescued Miss Peregrine from a submarine filled with wights (evil-shape shifting monsters). However, their beloved headmistress was injured in the fight, and cannot change back into her human form without another ymbryne’s help. The children know that the wights will be after them, so they decide they must leave the island. (At this point, I should probably mention that Jacob had decided to stay in 1940. For the reasons why, you’ll just have to read the first book.) When the children arrive on the mainland, wight soldiers are indeed looking for them. The children, using a book of old peculiar fables, manage to escape by venturing into another loop, that of Miss Wren, the only ymbryne yet left free. But the occupants of Miss Wren’s loop say she has gone to rescue the captured ymbrynes in London. It’s up to the children to find their way there, survive the wights and German bombs, and try to save Miss Peregrine before it’s too late. On their travels, we might discover more about the children’s past, Jacob’s powers, and the fate of other peculiar children. But if they fail in their mission, it might be the end of all peculiars with a fate worse than death awaiting them in the hands of the wights.

Brief excerpt from Hollow City (pgs. 32-33):

We followed [Horace and Fiona] back he way they’d come, curving around a bend in the beach and climbing a small embankment. I wondered how we could have possibly missed something as obvious as hot air balloons, until we crested a hill and I saw them–not the big, colorful teardrop-shaped things you see in wall calendars and motivational posters (“The sky’s the limit!”), but a pair of miniature zeppelins: black egg-shaped sacs of gas with skeletal cages hung below them, each containing a single pilot. The craft were small and flew low, banking back and forth in lazy zigzags, and the noise of the surf had covered the subtle whine of their propellers. Emma herded us into the tall saw grass and we dropped down out of sight.

“They’re submarine hunters,” Enoch said, answering the question before anyone had asked it. Millard might’ve been the authority when it came to maps and books, but Enoch was an expert in all things military. “The best way to spot enemy subs is from the sky,” he explained.

“Then why are they flying so close to the ground?” I asked. “And why aren’t they father out to sea?”

“That I don’t know.”

“Do you think they could be looking for . . . us?” Horace ventured.

“If you mean could they be wights,” said Hugh, “don’t be daft. The wights are with the Germans. They’re on that German sub.”

“The wights are allied with whomever it suits their interests to be allied with,” Millard said. “There’s no reason to think they haven’t infiltrated organizations on both sides of the war.”

I couldn’t take my eyes off the strange contraptions in the sky. They looked unnatural, like mechanical insects bloated with tumorous eggs.

“I don’t like the way they’re flying,” Enoch said, calculating behind his sharp eyes. “They’re searching the coastline, not the sea.”

“Searching for what?” asked Bronwyn, but the answer was obvious and frightening and no on wanted to say it aloud.

They were searching for us.

We were all squeezed together in the grass, and I felt Emma’s body tense next to mine. “Run when I say run,” she hissed. “We’ll hide the boats, then ourselves.”

We waited for the balloons to zag away, then tumbled out of the grass, praying we were too far away to be spotted. As we ran I found myself wishing that the fog which had plagued us at sea would return again to hide us. It occurred to me that it had very likely saved us once already; without the fog those balloons would’ve spotted us hours ago, in our boats, when we’d had nowhere to run. And in that way, it was one last thing the island had done to save its peculiar children.

 

This is such a unique way to present a novel, especially a sci-fi/fantasy novel. I very much enjoyed all the characters and the blending of bits of historical fiction into the narrative. I also had the pleasure to listen to the audiobook of Miss Peregrine, and it was wonderful! Parts made me laugh, and the narrator even attempted to do different accents from Great Britain. While Hollow City was great and all, it did not in the least quench my thirst to know the elusive what happens next. It only made me hungrier for the next book. However, I couldn’t find any mention of book three as of yet. Alas.

There are a few mentions of strong language and violence in the books. Other than that and some kissing, it’s basically PG.

 

 

 

 

 

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Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd (The Madman’s Daughter, book 2)

Her Dark Curiosity

Review of the previous novel, The Madman’s Daughter, here.

242390e8de3bf4dc3b25983daf069ccaThe last we saw of Juliet Moreau, she was adrift on a boat in the sea, her love Montgomery having let her escape the impending bloodbath on her father’s island alone. After some time on the ocean, she was picked up by a passing liner and sent back to London, where she was adopted by a respectable professor who at one time was her father’s friend and now enemy. Now Juliet is trying to be a respectable young woman despite her past, but a new series of murders echo the same type of killings from her father’s island. She fears Edward has followed her to London, and when she meets him courting her friend Lucy, she is torn between wanting to help him and betraying his identity as the murderer. However, Edward is still battling his alternate identity, that of the Beast, the real one who is committing the murders. Edward is trying to find a cure for himself, and Juliet needs a cure too because lately she keeps becoming more and more ill. Juliet promises to help Edward in exchange for trying to keep the Beast imprisoned. Despite their good intentions, things only escalate as Montgomery returns, a mysterious organization called the King’s Club pursues Juliet, and the lines between life and death, love and morality become even more twisted. Juliet has murdered before; didn’t she practically kill her own father? What if she has to do it again to survive and save those she loves?

I may not have liked the first one, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting something so dark and chilling, but I really liked this second installment in the Madman’s Daughter series. Megan Shepherd does a fantastic job at both making something really creepy through description and leaving just enough unknown that we’re not sure what’s going to happen. If this book had eerie music attached to it, I’m not sure I could’ve read it without leaping out of my skin a few times. Also, I don’t know how it keeps happening, but the book doesn’t seem to have much to do with romance at all, then kapow! There’s all that love triangle business between Edward, Juliet, and Montgomery. Only this time, Lucy is added into the mix, and of course, our poor heroine is all mixed up about her feelings for the men and the men’s feelings for her. Makes sense though with all the other action going on! One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how it incorporated ideas from both Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not going to speak anymore on that, you’ll just have to read it! Readers should note there is graphic violence, sexual content, and as I said, all around creepiness. But if you’re in the mood for a bone-chilling read, pick it up!

Excerpt below:

I recognized the fourth body.

It was the old white-haired man from the flower show, Sir Danvers Carew, the beloved member of Parliament who had once abused my mother and me. I’d seen him only days ago, and now . . . dead. I closed a hand over my mouth as my mind crawled over his pale face, his bloodstained skin, trying to understand. He had the same slash marks on his chest, and bruises all over his body, made with some blunt sharp object. Like a cane. No wonder the paper had declined to name him. Such an important man, surely his family would prefer not to be associated with a mass murderer. It hardly mattered. He was dead either way.

Four. I knew all four victims.

And in turn, I realized, I had been victim to each of them.

The idea made me step away from the bodies, back pressed against the cold metal door. It didn’t matter how I tried to explain it–nothing about it felt right. Four deaths, four people who had wronged me.

Almost as though . . .

I hesitated, telling myself I might possible be going mad.

. . . almost as though someone was watching out for me.

I shivered uncontrollably, as the bones in my hands and arms shifted and popped, threatening another fit.

A premonition that had been growing now gripped me hard, as my mind flashed back to all the bodies on the island. Alice, Father’s sweet maid, dripping blood from dead feet. A beast-woman separated from her jaw. Those wounds, as well, had been lovingly made by a monster.

By Edward.

Edward is dead, I told myself. The dead don’t come back.

And yet the fear kept squeezing my heart, trying to get me to believe in the impossible. MY head was already aching. Soon I’d grow faint. In a desperate fury, I decided the only thing that would calm my mind would be to prove scientifically that the wounds were very different and therefore couldn’t have been made by Edward. On the island, I had read and memorized meticulous autopsy reports from Father’s files for all of Edward’s victims. Eleven and a half inches long, one inch apart, and two inches deep.

I pulled out a thread from my pocket and measured the length of Annie’s cuts, the spacing between them, even gently pulled apart the wounds to measure the depth. I repeated the process on all four bodies.

They were all the same: eleven and a half inches long, one inch apart, and two inches deep.

I stumbled back against the empty table, stunned. The thread slipped from my fingers, along with a spool of my sanity.

The murderer was the same. Somehow, even though I’d thought him dead, there was no doubt.

Edward had done this.

 

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