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Friday, August 31, 2018

#Audiobook #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen @casorensen @TantorAudio

SERIES: The Messy Man, Book #1
AUTHOR: Chris Sorensen
NARRATOR: Chris Sorensen
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: May 29, 2018
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 6 hrs and 32 mins
GENRE: Horror
ASIN: B07CZ4T4T6
A boy in a basement, a man in a booth and a darkness that threatens to swallow them both...

New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter's ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.

They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter's father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.

But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur—mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.

MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook for voluntary review consideration.

I've always had a thing for creepy houses, and I was immediately drawn in by the cover on this one.

At the outset of the book, a young boy wakes up from a bad dream and wets his bed. His father is angry at being woken up and sends the boy down into the basement and locks him in.

The story then moves forward to the present, with Peter and Hannah moving to his hometown because of his father's declining health. His parents' main home is to be cleaned up and sold to help pay for his father's living expenses in the personal care home, but his father had bought a secondary residence which is where Peter and Hannah will be living. They fix up the house and Peter, who is an audiobook narrator, sets up his recording booth in the basement. 

Here is where the book gets weird! Strange things are picked up in Peter's sample recording, he sees things, and the basement evokes overwhelming feelings of sadness.

While I did like the story, it did not give me the thrills and chills that I was hoping to get from a haunted house story. For me, this was a bit tame. It reminded me of those Goosebumps stories that my kids read. I was hoping for something a little darker and scarier.

Chris Sorensen is an audiobook narrator by profession, and his reading was done well. His pace was good, and his voice conveyed the mood of the story. Here is a sample of the narration:


MY RATING:

3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it. Thanks again to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to review this audiobook!

This book qualifies as:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

#Book #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Shattering by Kathryn Lasky @KathrynLasky1 @Scholastic @scholasticCDA

TITLE: The Shattering
SERIES: Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Book #5
AUTHOR: Kathryn Lasky
PUBLISHER: Scholastic, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2004
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 176 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
ISBN: 9780439405614
Soren's sister, Eglantine, is falling under the spell of a strange nightly dream. Then, just as Soren notices her trancelike state, Eglantine disappears, and the dreams become a deadly waking nightmare that puts the Great Tree of Ga'Hoole in terrible danger. Soren must lead the Chaw of Chaws to rescue his sister. Thus begins the next battle between the owls of Ga'Hoole and the evil Pure Ones, deep in the treacherous territory known as The Beaks, where a raging forest fire will prove the greatest danger to the rescuers-and their best hope for victory.

MY REVIEW:

This is the fifth book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, which I'm reading aloud to my younger daughter.

When Ginger (a Barn Owl raised by the Pure Ones and part of the attack on the Great Ga'Hoole Tree during The Siege, who was taken in by the Guardians because she was injured) becomes Eglantine's newest roommate, she begins to change. She sleeps more, and Ginger is always whispering into her ear about how she's always being left out. Ginger is trying to isolate Eglantine from the others, and Primrose is suspicious. Eglantine won't hear of it from anyone, because she trusts her new friend. 

I thought the last one was my favourite, but this one is my new favourite! The story moved along at a good pace, and I enjoyed the focus on Eglantine. It always makes for a more interesting story when there is deception involved, especially when the reader can clearly see what is going on but the character involved is blind to it.

We are continuing on with the fifth book in the series, The Burning.

MY RATING:

3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it!

This book qualifies as:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

#Book #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Invisible Darkness by Stephen Williams @stephenwms @littlebrown

PUBLISHER: Little Brown, & Co.
PUBLICATION DATE: June 1, 1997 (first published 1996)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 649 pages
GENRE: True Crime, Nonfiction
ISBN: 0316949914
The horrifying sex murders committed in southern Ontario by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka caught the attention of the media and public of Canada like few, if any, cases in that country's history.

Readers of either of the two previous books about the case (Deadly Innocence and Lethal Marriage) may be skeptical that another retelling is necessary, but Invisible Darkness benefits from Stephen Williams's prodigious research and his unique perspective on Karla's culpability. Williams had to jump several legal hurdles unique to Canada's "Crown disclosure" protocols, but eventually was able to gain access to more than 70 hours of videotaped police interviews with Karla, interviews with Paul by his defense attorney, and even psychiatrist's notes.
MY REVIEW:

I'm actually the same age as Karla Homolka. I remember when the story broke in the early 90s of this notorious Canadian couple that it was so hard for me to fathom that someone my age could be capable of doing the things that Homolka had done. From what I heard in the news, Bernardo's guilt was clear but I always felt that Homolka got off way too easy. She tried to portray herself as a victim, but she not just condoned and encouraged Bernardo's rapes but was equally culpable in planning them.

This book is a very tough read given the content. It's extremely graphic in all its sordid detail. This is not for the faint of heart. It is very dark and disturbing, but it's like a tragic car wreck in that you can't tear yourself away. Reading this book made me feel sick in the pit of my stomach, but at the same time it was fascinating. Williams' investigative reporting includes details that I don't recall hearing about in the news. I was absolutely sickened to hear that police artists had composite sketches of Bernardo that were never released based on previous attacks on multiple victims. The pattern of violence escalated. Could the murders of Mahaffy and French been prevented had the sketches been released which may have led to Bernardo's arrest sooner? We will never know, but that question must gnaw at the parents of those girls every day.

While this is a lengthy tome at 649 pages, my fingers could not turn the pages fast enough and it was a fast read for me. Bear in mind that the details won't leave your mind once you read them, and you are going to want to keep your daughters closer to you and make you paranoid about their safety.

MY RATING:

5 stars!! It was superb. You should definitely put it on your TBR if you enjoy true crime!

This book qualifies as:

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Remembrance by Mary Monroe @MaryMonroeBooks #DafinaBooks @KensingtonBooks

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.


Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

TITLE: Remembrance
AUTHOR: Mary Monroe 
PUBLISHER: Dafina Books
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: September 25, 2018
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Holiday
ISBN: 9781496715821
In this moving, unforgettable novel from New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe, a successful, happily married mother suddenly finds herself feeling far from joyful. But Christmas brings an unexpected chance to rediscover herself, and what happiness really means . . .

For Beatrice Powell, the holidays are usually an extra-special time to celebrate. Between her twenty-year-plus marriage, gorgeous Berkeley, California, home, and three wonderful adult children, she has everything she could desire. But change-of-life doubts are making Beatrice a stranger to herself and her bewildered family. She only finds peace volunteering at the local soup kitchen, especially helping out homeless Charles Davenport. And his sensitivity and honesty soon comfort her in ways she never imagined . . .

Charles thought he had it all--until a devastating betrayal and the shattering loss of his family drove him to living on the streets. Beatrice is the first person who's truly cared about him in a long time. And little by little, he's finding reasons to care about rebuilding his life--and risking a sudden, courageous choice . . .

Drawn to Charles and the temptation of a second chance, Beatrice is faced with the hardest of decisions. But his insight, secrets--and the reminder of a profound past encounter--will give her unexpected inspiration, gratitude, and the strength she needs to find her way--perhaps in time for Christmas.

It's that time of year when the upcoming Christmas books are in the catalogs! This author is new to me. This one sounds like it will be an emotional read!


What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz @AnthonyHorowitz @HarperAudio

TITLE: The Word is Murder
SERIES: Hawthorne, Book #1
AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz
NARRATOR: Rory Kinnear
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: June 5, 2018 (first published 2017)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 9 hrs and 2 mins
GENRE: Mystery
ISBN: 9781443456425
She planned her own funeral. But did she arrange her own murder?

New York Times best-selling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper - the wealthy mother of a famous actor - enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental, and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

A masterful and tricky mystery that springs many surprises, The Word Is Murder is Anthony Horowitz at his very best.

MY REVIEW:

This was a great mystery that sucked me in right from the start!

A woman in her 60s, Diana Cowper, attends at a funeral parlor to pre-arrange her own funeral. Although she does not have an appointment, the funeral director meets with her. Approximately six hours later, Diana is strangled in her apartment. Daniel Hawthorne, an ex-cop with ten years on the force now working as a PI, is called in by the police to investigate. 

Meanwhile, Daniel approaches Anthony Horowitz (yes, the author has written himself into the story) to ask him to write a story about him. Although he initially says no, Horowitz agrees and shadows Hawthorne while he works. 

The funeral is carried out according to Diana's wishes. After the body is lowered into the ground, a recording of a children's song is heard coming from the casket. Diana's murder appears to be tied to another crime, and her murder is just the first.

This mystery was so engaging and, to me, Horowitz's savviness is reminiscent of Agatha Christie. I loved how he inserted himself into the story and even referenced his other works. Hawthorne is astute with an eye for detail, and nothing seems to escape his notice. He also has an air of mystery surrounding him, which makes him all the more appealing as a character. I want more Hawthorne!

This is my first book by Horowitz, but it won't be my last! I am so excited to see that there is a second book in this series, The Sentence is Death, which is expected to be published in November 2018.

Rory Kinnear was an excellent choice of narrator. I love his accent, and he made this a very enjoyable listen! Here is a sample of the narration:



MY RATING:

4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR if you enjoy a good mystery.

This book qualifies as:

Books I Read In School #TopTenTuesday


This is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

The topic for today's list is:


Back to School/Learning Freebie

I'm going with books that I read in school. Some are favourites and others not so much!

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
(Middle-Earth Universe)
I still remember my Grade 4 teacher reading this book aloud to the class. I loved it! I remember that we each had to make our own Bilbo Baggins book, and I still have mine tucked away in a box somewhere.

Banner in the Sky
by James Ramsey Ullman
My Grade 6 teacher read this book aloud to the class. Back then, this was ordinarily not a book that I would have picked up on my own which is what made this one so special. I just loved it!! I thought it was such an exciting adventure/survival story. I want to re-read this one to see if it's still as good as I remember.

Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
This was one of our novel studies in Grade 10, and I just loved it. I actually bought the audiobook on Audible so that I can re-read it.

The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams
This is another Grade 10 novel study that I really enjoyed.

Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton
This is another Grade 10 novel study that I really enjoyed. I remember that it was quite depressing, but our discussion about it was so interesting.

The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
This was another high school novel study, and I struggled with this one. I didn't like it much.

Of Mice and Men
by John Steinbeck
I enjoyed this one much more than Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Lennie made this one so memorable.

Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare
My Grade 12 ELA teacher was a Harley-driving leather-wearing biker dude, who was wild about Shakespeare! He made me love this book.

The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
I know that I read this in high school, but I really cannot remember it at all!

All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
We had to read this in high school, and I just hated it. Back then, I did not enjoy anything war-related. My tastes have changed, and I think I'd enjoy reading this one now. I actually am planning to re-read it this year.



So, did you read any of these books in school? If so, what did you think of them? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bout of Books 23 Read-a-Thon: Wrap-up Post #boutofbooks

This is my Wrap-up Post for the Bout of Books 23 Read-a-Thon!


I finished two audiobooks this time around:


by Tananarive Due


Sky in the Deep
by Adrienne Young


I'm Still Reading:

Deja Dead
by Kathy Reichs
(Temperance Brennan, Book #1)


The Burning
by Kathryn Lasky
(Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Book #6)
[read-aloud to my daughter]


Wherever I Find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women
editd by Miriam Matejova


I actually was away at the lake for a few days this week and had no access to the internet, so I didn't participate in all of the daily challenges like I usually do. Here are the ones that I completed before I left:





Normally, I post my updates on Twitter. However, as I mentioned earlier, I was away at the lake for three days and had no phone/internet service.

Thanks again to Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal for hosting! I'm looking forward to Bout of Books 24 in January.

#Audiobook #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for In the Woods by Tana French #TanaFrench @PRHAudio

TITLE: In the Woods
SERIES: Dublin Murder Squad, Book #1
AUTHOR: Tana French
NARRATOR: Steven Crossley
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: April 20, 2007
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 20 hrs and 23 mins
GENRE: Mystery
ASIN: B000QUUCWA
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

MY REVIEW:

I have long wanted to start this series, but I am somewhat put off by longer books. I decided to listen to this one while painting my children's rooms over a three-day weekend because I could listen for long periods without a break.

The author describes Detective Rob Ryan as someone who craves the truth but lies. I thought that was an odd statement. The event that takes place in the beginning of the book happened during Rob's (then known as Adam) childhood in 1984. He, with two friends, went into the woods near his home in Knocknarea and he was the only one who came back out. His shoes were filled with blood, and he was catatonic from shock. He has no memory of what happened, and the other two kids were never found. The story then moves forward to the present, when a case brings him back to Knocknarea.

I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this one. It took me a while to get into it, so I was thankful that the painting kept me listening for 6+ hours at a stretch. I did like the book but it moves slowly and it's quite long (20+ hours on audio). I think if I would have been listening to this one solely on my work commute, it would have frustrated me and taken me forever to get through. For me, I really needed to get a good chunk of listening in to be fully immersed into the story.

While the present-day mystery gets wrapped up by the end of the book, we still do not find out what happened to Rob in those woods when he was a child. We get a few glimpses, but we are still pretty much in the dark. I would love to know whether that part of his past is revealed in the next book in this series, The Likeness. I actually already bought that one in paperback format before I listened to this one, so I'll be continuing on with the series regardless.

Narrator Steven Crossley is very good, and I enjoyed him. As I mentioned earlier, this is a long book so he definitely did a fine job at keeping me listening. I note that other reviewers have complained that his accent should be Irish not British but the author explains the character's lack of an Irish accent on his schooling in England. Still, that doesn't explain why none of other characters have Irish accents. Here is a sample of the narration:


MY RATING:

3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it.

This book qualifies as:
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