Even In Your Sleep (Down a Dark Hall – Book Review)

Down a Dark Hall
Author: Lois Duncan
Published: 1974

On Goodreads

Down a Dark Hall

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

The terror is real only in her dreams.

Kit is dropped off at Blackwood School for Girls along with others. Each of them possess unique traits. Strange things begin happening around the grounds. Kit is having weird dreams and sleep walking. With each passing day, it gets stranger. She knows evil lurks down the dark halls, but she only sees it when she’s asleep. How can she escape? How can she get free if no one will believe her when her fears are only in her dreams? Or are they?

Like Duncan’s other books that I’v read, this was pretty good. She brought the supernatural element again to one of her novels. The dark halls of Blackwood are chilling and creepy. There are many unexplainable instances. Sleepwalking. Dreams of dead people. And becoming oddly talented and skilled at something you typically aren’t.

Kit experiences all of this and she’d love to run away. Her parents dumped her on the doorstep of this private school and didn’t look back as they to go on their honeymoon. Jerkfaces. Lucky for Kit, she made some friends. I really like the story. As you progress, the story intensifies until BAM! Everything breaks loose and Kit is feeling helpless.

With supernatural forces at work, I’m a little unnerved. Losing control is scary. It’s a feeling that can make anybody go over the edge, which is exactly what happens with Kit and her friends.

I found the characters to be quite like-able…except for Headmistress Madame Duret. She can go jump in a ditch because there is a special place for a person that lets ghosts possess teenagers. Kit was a strong-headed girl and has no time for bullshit. She also doesn’t leave her friends behind, which puts her in a high place on my list.

Each of the girls were having different things happening to them that were unexplainable. Kit was hearing music everywhere. Her closest friend, Sandy, was creating poetry, which doesn’t seem all that bad, but it was in foreign languages. The other girls, too. It was alarming and I wanted to figure this book out more. When I did, I was surprised. They weren’t just experiencing supernatural events but were pulled into them, getting possessed by ghosts. And being in the front seat of that was crazy!

This also just came out as a movie. I’m kind of intrigued. Ghosty movies are always chilling to me and I would love to see the differences between it and the book.

Down a Dark Hall

The style Duncan has with her books is one that I love. Incredibly simple and attention grabbing. She knows all the tricks to make a person go investigate the dark and creepy places, though they probably shouldn’t. There’s bread crumbs of curiosity behind with a twist of scary. And the TWIST! There always a twist, and Duncan did NOT disappoint. It gets me going and like it. This was also a quick read. Her novels aren’t usually long.

Overall

While I can’t say this is some epic literary piece, it was pretty epic. Period. She really approached the teen slasher/supernatural genre with great skill. These are instant classics in my opinion. A fun read to indulge in when you want goosebumps, like a story you tell around the campfire.

Quotables:

“Somewhere in the quiet dormitory someone had shrieked, In pain? In terror? Perhaps only from a nightmare, and yet, perhaps for some other reason. For—help?” (p. 42)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Help I’m Alive by Metric

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From Another Time, Another Dimension (Watcher in the Woods – A Book Review)

Watcher in the Woods (Dreamhouse Kings #2)
Author: Robert Liparulo
Published: 2008

On Goodreads

Watcher in the Woods - Scholastic

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt Half bolt

 

It’s not just the house that’s keeping secrets.

After Xander’s mom is kidnapped and dragged through one of the dimensional doorways of the house, the rest of King family rallies together to get her back. Secrets about they really moved into this mysterious house is divulged and the Kings will never be the same.

A new school year begins and the townspeople of Pinedale are starting to suspect the King family of strange things, like abuse. With the mystery of the house, and a strange man stalking them, they have to stand together if they hope to get their mom back.

 

This book was better than the first one by a hair. There were many new elements and characters. Turns out, Dad has been in this house before. There’s an assassin that came through one of the dimensional doors that wants the house for himself. A bully harasses David.

I liked that the novel spread out some, going to school and that clearing where you can nearly fly. New settings really open up a book. However, the clearing (the anti-gravity clearing as I call it) was very strange and out of place feeling. There was so much I Don’t Know that it was just pointless. It didn’t bring very much to my imagination nor did it do anything for me but feel weird. The school was really cool because there was a glimpse of it in the first book. Now, school is in session and obviously, nobody wants to go.

The storytelling didn’t improve by much. I’m still a little confused because the characters aren’t making much sense of everything so neither am I, but I did like that the emotions were higher. Dude, mom is gone. Time to crank this up to eleven! And there’s an assassin! (The flashback of the assassin’s time before getting teleported into the Dreamhouse was out of place feeling, too.) I liked that the intensity was kicked up a notch. Everybody is freaking out.

What is happening

 

Overall

Still not a book that did much for me. My heart got pulled a little. I love my mom beyond words and I’d be going all terminator if somebody kidnapped her so, I can relate to Xander on that level. The storytelling felt like a jumbled mess and therefore didn’t really pull me in even though the imagery was great. A strong feeling of meh.

 

Quotables:

“He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or…something that amounted to the same thing: dead.” (David, p. 4)

“It’s not kidnapping if I asked you to take me.” (Keal to Jesse, p. 280)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

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Coming Home to the Circus (Water For Elephants – A Book Review)

Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Published: 2006

On Goodreads

Water For Elephants

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt Half bolt

 

So long ago. So long. But still it haunts me.

After losing his parents in a car accident, Jacob Jankowski discovers that his parents weren’t as well off as they said. A student at Cornell, studying veterinarian sciences, Jacob is on the verge of graduating when he takes to the railroad tracks, lost and alone.

One night, a whistle sounds in the distance and a train, home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and Jacob jumps aboard, joining the circus as the vet. It’s the early part of the Great Depression and this circus quickly becomes his salvation and hell. When he met Marlena, the performer in the pink sequin number with the horses and married to August, animal tamer, it all becomes worth it. And then there’s Rosie, the beautiful, gray elephant that changed the show. The bond between this trio becomes one of hope, love, and survival.

 

Jacob Jankowski was bold and honest and filled with such wonder and love. Caring not only for animals, but people as well. Now, ninety, or maybe ninety-three, he recalls his times under the big top for the first time in a very long time.

 

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally read this book. So many people recommended it to me, and I am really glad I got to read this. It was a really good book. The circus isn’t usually my thing—clowns ya’ll—but this, tied alongside the Great Depression, was moving. There was a sparkle of joy mixed into such sadness and desperation. Gruen truly encompassed the era and showed what it was to not watch the circus as part of the audience, but be a part of it.

The storytelling was magical. Running away with the circus is what we only talk about or dream about, and here, it happened for Jacob. Filled with hard work and danger, it was filled with adventure and vibrant life. As much as it opened my eyes, leaving in me enchanted, this book was also romantic and emotional.

I really couldn’t get enough of this book. The characters thrived vibrantly. If I had to pick a favorite It would be Rosie. The elephant was one so funny and delightful and my heart went out to her. She was funny and sweet, and really loved lemonade.

In comparison to the 2011 film based on the novel, there many bits that I wish would’ve been featured in the movie. Half of this novel takes place in a nursing home. Hell, the whole thing does because Jacob is telling the story. His nurse, Rosemary wasn’t even involved which was a darn shame since she treated him mighty well. However, Uncle Al being omitted was totally okay with me. He was creeeeepy. These were only the major things that topped my list. Loved Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson for the leading characters. Phenomenal.

water for elephants

 

A wonderful book and a great summer read.

 

Quotables:

“I don’t talk much about those days. Never did. I don’t know why—I worked on circuses for nearly seven years, and if that isn’t fodder for conversation, I don’t know what is.” (Jacob, p. 6)

“Sometimes when you get older—and I’m not talking about you, I’m talking generally, because everyone ages differently—things you think on and wish on start to seem real.” (Rosemary to Jacob, p. 227)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Good to You by Marianas Trench.

 

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Mermaid in a Tiger Cage (The Mermaid – A Book Review)

The Mermaid
Author: Christina Henry
Published: 2018

On Goodreads

The Mermaid

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Once there was a mermaid called Amelia who could never be content in the sea, a mermaid who longed to know all the world and all its wonders, and so she came to live on land.

A fairytale, a beautiful, magical mermaid gets caught in the net of a fisherman and he lets her go, never expecting to see her again. But then, he does. They fall in love. Then suddenly, the ocean takes him away.

Amelia, the mermaid, decides, after years in self-appointed exile on the seaside, to be a part of P.T. Barnum’s museum. She will play the mermaid—though it’s not a trick—only on her terms. She quickly discovers that Barnum never gives up a moneymaking scheme. He doesn’t intend to let her go.

 

This book was on my summer list the day it came out. I love mermaids. They’re magical and sleek and dangerous and just beautiful. This story started out just like a fairytale with its Once upon a time…

Mermaid

Sadly, this book fell a bit shorter than my expectations. It was longing and sweet and filled with splendid heartache that could only be healed with renewal. The tug-of-war between Amelia and P.T. Barnum didn’t rise to very much in all honesty. I loved seeing Amelia in charge. A woman/mermaid should be in charge of her life and Barnum was known for being dreadful to his acts, pushing them beyond their lengths. Buuuut…nothing really came of it. Not for me.

The characters were poignant in their own independent ways. From loss, yearning, and even desperation. I found Amelia’s friendship with Charity, Barnum’s wife to be the most intriguing. They weren’t friend right off the bat. It was trying, and that’s what I loved about it. Their friendship was something special to be worked toward rather than be immediately had. In the end, it was truly fearless and deeply caring and strong. It made me think of my best friend. I know I can tell her anything and she’s always there for me. This was what captivated me.

That, and I really love when a story is told from the POV of a magical creature. It’s fascinating. They see the world so much differently. It’s all new or exciting or frightening or right on the nose. The way everything was confusing and new for Amelia was realistic. There are so many things, even today, that is useless, but without it you aren’t a part of the great big wheel AKA society. I loved that she questioned it fearlessly. In such a great big world, one should always ask questions.

The storytelling itself was my favorite out of this whole story. It was enchanting. It had those lines that just made me sigh. This is really what kept me attached. From those wispy, dreamy moments to those dark, breath-catching ones, I hung on every word, just swept away. I just wish the story itself had also been as interesting.

 

While this wasn’t a rip-roaring book, it was in the deep end with emotions. I just wish there’d been more excitement to it. The longing for the sea really made my heart ache as did Amelia’s heartbreak, but her time with Barnum didn’t really sway much in me. The writing however was superb!

 

Quotables:

“This was the secret she kept beneath her tongue, the wish she never spoke, for to speak it would make its magic disappear.” (p. 66)

“They wanted the moon, but they realize it cost the earth.” (P. 139)

“Humans often value what they should not, she reflected, and most often they did not value what was right before their eyes.” (p. 208)

“A bird in a cage still know it’s in a cage, even if the bars are made of gold.” (Amelia, p. 276)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

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P.S. Song today? Enchanted by Taylor Swift

 

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Rise Up (Children of Blood and Bone – A Book Review)

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1)
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Published: 2018

On Goodreads

Children of Blood and Bone

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

They killed my mother.

They took our magic.

They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Across Orisha, the maji used their magic, granted from the gods, to bring peace and balance. Orisha thrummed with life with that magic. Burners awakened flames. Tiders beckoned waves. Zelie hopes one day to be like her mother, a reaper that can summon souls.

Then suddenly, the gods disappear and the ruthless tyrant king destroys maji across the land, destroying Orisha along with it.

Years later, magic reappears and Zelie grasps at the chance to bring it back in full and rise against those that destroyed it and her mother. With her brother and a runaway, they begin a quest to save Orisha. Will they be able to do so before the crowned prince catches up in hopes of stopping them?

 

Not going to lie, this premise actually reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s also partially the reason I picked it up. It wasn’t the whole reason! I’d heard many a great things about this book before it was released and wanted to hop into something fresh, so I plucked it off the shelf at Walmart. Wasn’t let down at all. This book was SO FREAKING, PHENOMENALLY, WONDERFULLY written. Yes, the caps were necessary.

 

The book itself is a work of art. The cover and the map of Orisha on the inside. Left me breathless. It’s truly worth owning the hardback version.

Children of Blood and Bone

The world Tomi built left me in a state of complete and utter awe. It was strong and you could perfectly see the stunning imagery. Such a beautiful, yet tragic landscape with tragic loss and overwhelming fear looming over it. From the scarred towns, filled with treacherous guards that take what they please to wounded temples with the ghosts of its inhabitants still lingering in its stone hallways. I was just blown away.

The characters just blew me away. This story is told from three POVs: Zelie, Amari, and Inan. Each of their strengths and struggles and heartaches plucked at my heart and really pulled me in. Zelie has such a heavy weight in her heart, carrying the past. When she meets Amari, they’re thrust onto a path that changes them forever. It changes Inan forever, too, as he it storn between following his duty to his father and king, and helping his sister. Soon enough, the affairs of the heart complicate these quests even more. The complexity of their emotions twist and twist and there were so many times I forgot to breathe. When Zelie felt her anger melt away into the possibility of love and even a possibility of moving forward with her life, I was spellbound. My heart broke open.

 

And the magic!! Oh, it was incredible! It’s interwoven into a maji’s life, called ashê. I fell in love with just how much a part of life it was. It wasn’t something that was out of the ordinary. It was cherished, and in my opinion wrongfully feared in some instances. This magic, made of elements I’m pretty familiar with already like: time, light, death, fire, water…it’s connected to everything because it comes from so much more than just thin air. It’s from higher beings and not just ones that we guess or hope are there. They’re very present beings. This was one of my favorite parts of the story. It’s beautifully complex, yet not at all because it’s so well written into these characters’ lives and all of Orisha.

It's so beautiful

To get real for a minute, when I read the book I could see some serious parallels to our own world. Yes, I said our, because we all live in it together. The biggest thing I noticed was the relation between the guards in this book that are vile and treacherous and police that have used brutal and unnecessary force and violence on people. I’ve seen the firsthand videos of people being wrongfully abused. This power that police have and even farther up, the government as well, is scary. This country, the U.S., has become a scary place. Tomi wrote about this parallel in her Author’s Note and I was stunned. She did a stunning job in presenting one of the biggest issues in this country in a well-put-together way that not only swept the reader away, but plunged them into a beautiful story. It sends a powerful message.

 

Obviously, I recommend this book. It’s powerful and rich and emotionally rendering. This book is eye-opening and a work of art that’ll move you, like splitting open the earth to see its heart. You’ll want more. Hell, I want more!

 

Quotables:

“Deep down, I know the truth. I knew it the moment I saw the maji of Ibadan in chains. The gods died with our magic. They’re never coming back.” (Zelie, p. 15)

“The truth cuts like the sharpest knife I’ve ever known. No matter what I do, I will always be afraid.” (Zelie, p. 313)

“I hate my magic. I despise the way it poisons me. But more than anything, I hate the way it makes me hate myself.” (Inan, p. 323)

“We don’t need to fear magic. We only need each other.” (Inan, p. 387)

“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back.” (Zelie to King Saran, p. 416)

 

More to come…

-K.

 

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P.S. Song today? Rise Up by Imagine Dragons.

 

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Dryads and Enchiladas (The Burning Maze – A Book Review)

The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: 2018

On Goodreads

Burning Maze

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Once was Apollo

Now a rat in the Lab’rinth

Send help. And Cronuts.

It’s bad enough that Apollo, the awesome, Greek God of music and poetry was turned into a mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos, and that he’s being bossed around by the twelve-year-old demi god, Meg. Now, they’re on a quest to save five Oracles and possibly the world from a trio of Roman Emperors. Having saved two oracles already, they are given a prophecy.

He and Meg, along with the satyr, Grover Underwood, must go down into the labyrinth to find the third emperor to find the next Oracle. What Lest-er-Apollo hasn’t told his companions is how he’s been feeling weaker and weaker. He worries that he may not be up to the task. But, in order to return to his shining glory, he must be. Calling on two demigods for help, he prays they will free the Oracle from the scorching maze for him-er, help him free the Oracle.

 

One of my favorite things that can happen in is when a beginning starts off very entertaining, while also catching me off guard. This book did just that by starting off with No. That’s it. Just the word no. I laughed so hard, because I could hear the defiance in the word so clearly, like a seven-year-old stomping its foot down. Certainly, a great way to start it off.

This addition to the series was BIG one! Stilled filled with the funny, it was also much more intense and heartbreaking. The bravery and show of friendship between the characters is inspiring. There were gains, but there were great losses during this part of the journey. Riordan really works this emotional rollercoaster. And I don’t care that I’m 25, I really enjoy his books.

Love it

The setting mostly circulates in Palm Springs and the Labyrinth—you’ll remember this fun place from Percy Jackson. There are many new faces as well as old. It made me nostalgic as well as excited. Old bonds and new ones. I’m just giddy thinking back on it.

Apollo is still Apollo, but I am loving the development. It’s obvious that this is no longer just a quest for him. He’s become less self-absorbed, which is surprising, right!? He’s made amazing allies and friends even though at times it difficult. I love that this book shows that it’s not easy to let people in, nor is it always sunshine and rainbows, but you accept them. The guest stars, Jason Grace, Piper McClean, and Grover Underwood really show just how big of a quest this is. Everybody is joining in. It really keeps the story fresh. I especially enjoyed the dryads that came into this story. Where they seem like helpless creatures, in here they don’t. Just give me more of all of this.

give me more

There were many moments that my heart was broken and mended and broken and mended. The hardships for Apollo only increase and I don’t envy the weight put on his shoulders. It’s heavy. Each step of this journey is incredible and emotional. Yet, I couldn’t stop reading. The adventure has me hooked.

There’s so much action that if you blink you’ll miss it. Shocking twists jumped out when I least expected it. I’m always pleasantly surprised with the way mythology is brought to life in such an exciting way.

If you haven’t started this series, do.

 

Quotables:

“Unbelievable. After four thousand years, I am still discovering new things.” (Apollo, p. 141)

“Pretty can be useful. Powerful is better.” (Medea to Piper, p. 165)

“I wondered, not for the first time, why we Greek Deities had never created a god of family therapy. We certainly could have used one. Or perhaps we had one before I was born, and she quit. Or Kronos swallowed her whole.” (Apollo, p. 358)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

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Hanging Out at the Walgreens – (How to Hang a Witch – A Book Review)

How to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch #1)
Author: Adriana Mather
Published: 2016

On Goodreads

How to Hang A Witch

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

Being the new girl is tough. Being the new girl in Salem could be deadly.

Sam Mather is moved to Salem, Massachusetts—the home of the infamous Witch Trials. Being the new girl sucks, and it sucks worse when weird things start happening, all of them coming back to Sam. The Descendants—ancestors to witches—mark Sam like a leper because of her descendant to one of the Witch Trials’ major persecutors. As if her own checkered past wasn’t enough.

Eventually, they all must work together to break a centuries-old curse or else history may repeat itself.

As many have said, this is like Mean Girls meets history class, and they aren’t wrong. Emotions were high. While this book started bumpy at first, I got into it pretty quickly. Sam is such a spunky character on the outside and in, but also deeply caring. Her concern for her dad was incredibly heartwarming. I really loved all the memories she looked back on involving him. Though he wasn’t physically in the book, he has such a strong presence.

The use of the actual history was awesome! The Salem Witch Trials is one of my favorite subjects aside from Stonehenge, the pyramids, and everything strange. The way that this was so interwoven with the Trials really made me geek out. I really liked the way the story unraveled as a curse. Made more dark. The Descendants were more emo than I expected and came off a little cliché, but it was funny. I really found them to be entertaining. I feel the same about Elijah, the ghost of this witchy story. Rules were for ghosts really shocked me. While they can go through solid surfaces, they can also be touched and teleport? Very odd, but completely refreshing. I loved the dynamic between him and Sam. Him being formal and her being her awkward self.

awkard

Now, I know this has a sequel attached to it, but I feel like it could be a full-blown series. I just feel like there are so many possibilities, especially after reading the mini-bio of Adriana at the back. I really do hope that Haunting in the Deep isn’t the only book in this series.

This started out a bit rough for me. It was super awkward! Buuuut, then I remembered, I’m really freaking awkward, so my many grimacing, and cringing, moments aren’t because the book is terrible, because I enjoyed it immensely, but because I get it. Granted there were some rather silly moments that were odd, but nothing I couldn’t skip past, though it is part of the reason I can’t give it a full 5 bolts. Great and quick read.

Quotables:

“They really love their witches here.” (Sam to Vivian, p. 2)

“You never know in life when something unpredictable will happen.” (Elijah to Sam, p. 208)

“I can’t make friends at school, but I can with the dead. So at least I’ve got that.” (Sam, p. 254)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Cecilia and the Satellite by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

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