Review: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

The Creeping The Creeping
by Alexandra Sirowy

ISBN-13: 9-781481-418867
Publication: August 18, 2015 from Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

If you look for monsters, you’ll find them.

Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Only Stella came back. Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush – until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets. Stella believes remembering what happened to Janie will save her. It won’t. She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore.

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The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy is not my usual read. But between it and Survive the Night, I think I’ve managed to getout of my reader slump! There’s something to be said about reading books different from your usual. I’m not one to like horror – either movies or books – but The Creeping was horrifically great, and exactly what I wanted.

When Stella was six, she and her friend Jeanie went missing. Only Stella returned, with no memory of what happened. Now, years later, things start happening which bring up past events. It’s the anniversary of when the girls went missing and another girl has just turned up dead. Stella is rightfully freaked out! Especially with the return of Daniel, Jeanie’s older brother, who over the years has blamed, stalked and tormented Stella. With the help of an old friend, Stella is determined to fifure out what really happened the day she disappeared. But that’s not always a good idea.

I was holding my breath throughout most of this book, wondering at what would happen when Stella recovered her memories (if she recovered them) and who or what kidnapped the girls. Alexandra Sirowy does a fantastic job at setting the mood. The nights were dark and creepy, Stella’s thoughts and memories were sporadic and abrupt, the forest was looming and terrifying and the cast of characters were unforgettable. I could have done without some of the Sam/Stella romance, but it was realistic. Stella is in high school, trying to solve Jeanie’s disappearance, yes, but also navigating popularity, friends and boys. One doesn’t stop because the other starts. So Sam and Stella were believeable, if not my favourite parts. Zoey was not my idea of a best friend. I can see why Stella stuck with her, loved her and would do anything for her, but oh man was she bossy, rude and a bit self-absorbed. You basically have to trust Stella that she’s a good person.

4 heart
I was definitely surprised by the end of The Creeping. Even with everything seemingly wrapped up and explained, there is that small little tidbit left behind that makes you wonder: was it really? Could there be more to this? I was hooked from the beginning, and engaged until the end. I don’t suggest reading this one while you’re home alone in the dark, especially if you don’t like horror, but outside on a deck in the bright sunshine withpeople around? Go for it! If you like, horror? You’ll like this one.

ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

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Review: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega

Survive the Night Survive the Night
by Danielle Vega

ISBN-13: 9-781595-147240
Publication: July 7, 2015 from Razorbill
Source: publisher
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

We’re all gonna die down here…

Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy – no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse…

…until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted.

Trapped underground with someone – or something – out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to her friend’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here…”

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Survive the Night by Danielle Vega is not my usual type of read, but I enjoyed it and finished it in one evening. Thankfully I was relaxing in bright, warm sunshine or else I think I might have gotten a little scared because I’m a chicken when it comes to anything horror related.

So Casey. Our main character. Talk about an unreliable narrator! Casey has just gotten out of rehab for drug addiction. She’s attending a sleepover at a, shall we say, former friends house when our other main characters show up – Shana, Julie and Aya. Right away the adult in me wanted to shake Casey and tell her to go back to Madison’s house, talk about soccer, boys and school and leave Shana way, way behind! Julie and Aya are tamer versions of Shana. High and drunk, yes, but they don’t seem as death-defying reckless as the girl you know is the reason Casey was in rehab. So anyway, the girls head to NYC, hook up with Casey’s ex Sam and his bandmate Woody and head out to find an underground rave called Survive the Night. Let the surviving begin!

I highly enjoyed the atmosphere of this book. Danielle Vega does a wonderful job of portraying dark, dank, tense, and scary. The longer Casey is at survive the night, the more suspensful and unsure it gets. At the beginning, when Julie disappears, you aren’t sure what to think. You discover that Casey is high, and it could all be a hallucination. It still could be! Yes, things go bad, fast. But is it really the something Casey believes it was? Aya’s repetition of “We’re all going to die” lends a chilling fear to the desperate race through the underground tunnels. My only disbeliefs for this book? Besides the something, of course, but monsters are cool – is that their way out was blocked so quickly considering all the ravers are escorted out of the tunnels while Casey and friends watch and are not that far away, that none of them yelled through the grate to have themselves be found, and that their cellphones had no reception but lasted as long as they did as flashlights. I know by 4 in the morning without any charging my phone would have been looooooong dead. Also, the romance. Or what there was of it. Last thing I would think of when running for my life is if my ex-bf wanted to get back with me.

3 heart

That said, the characterization, backstory, foreshadowing and uncertain ending all keep Survive the Night being a strong, nail-biting rush of a novel. Casey and Shana are the ultimate unhealthy relationship. From the beginning you want Casey to smarten up and as more and more of their past is revealed you can only shake your head and pray that any children you have in the future avoid getting tangled up with someone like Shana. And Casey knows it’s unhealthy, but drugs and that rush of adventure can change you. I will definitely be checking out Danielle Vega’s other book The Merciless and recommend Survive the Night to anyone looking for a little creepy in their life.

ARC received from Penguin Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by April Genevieve Tucholke

ISBN-13: 9-780803-738898
Publication: August 2013 from Dial
Source: bought (audiobook)
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?

Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back.

Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

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Ever since reading the synopsis for Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke I had wanted to get my hands on it. I finally decided to purchase it – and went with audiobook. I am so glad I did! I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of audiobook and this one certainly helped! I listened to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea fully in my car while commuting back and forth to two jobs, and finished it quickly. Thank goodness, too, because this book is full of moments that hook you and drag you in.

Violet and her brother Luke are living alone in their big, old gothic-like mansion when our story opens. Though their parents are off traveling, Violet (our narrator) does not often concern herself with them. Instead, it is her late grandmother Freddie she thinks of, and her warnings about the Devil. It seems like good luck that when Violet and Luke are in need of money, River West sees Violet’s aid for a border and comes to apply. Since this is a YA book, billed as gothic-romance/horror, you know right away that River West is going to be bad news. Or very good bad news, if you get my meaning. And really, it’s a bit of both. Along with River comes a whole host of problems for Violet, Luke and Violet’s best friend Sunshine (who I found rather over-the-top). Some of these problems are River’s fault – others, are not.

Along with the horror aspect of the novel, which is done exceedingly well, full of deaths and visions and mind-control, is a small mystery involving Violet’s grandmother and family. It’s melded very well with the horror of the book, and surprisingly lends quiet moments to the story. I am a big fan of April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing – the plot unfolds both quickly and quietly at the same time. Small moments give way to bigger ones, and new revelations lead up to crazy ones in the end. I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Violet, or Luke or Sunshine or River but then again…I don’t think we’re supposed to be? They all had their moments in which I went “really??” and “so stupid” and “of course!” but they also all had moments of “awww” and “oh geez!” and yes. What I’m saying is that the characters are refreshingly flawed. I didn’t even mind the insta-love, since it’s kind of explained!

4 heart

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was both what I was expecting, and no where near what I was expecting. I was looking for gothic romance/horror and I was given gothic romance/horror. I was also given flawed, human, relatable (surprisingly) characters that changed and matured, or were broken and carefully pieced back together. River’s story and grandmother Freddie’s mystery mesh and blend beautifully together. This is definitely a book outside my usual fare, but one I thouroughly enjoyed experiencing. I’m excited for the sequel, and will definitely be purchasing it on audiobook. I hope it’s the same narrator!

Review: The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday [guest review]

Beautiful and the Damned The Beautiful and the Damned
by Jessica Verday

ISBN-13: 9-781442-488359
Publication: October 2013 from SimonPulse
Series: companion to The Hollow trilogy
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Cyn’s blackouts have deadly consequences in this sexy, suspenseful spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Hollow series. Cyn and Avian are far from a perfect match. She’s a witch who casts spells on men so she can steal their cars. He spends his time being judge, jury, and executioner to the truly evil in the supernatural realm.

When the blackouts Cyn’s been having ever since her time in Sleepy Hollow start escalating, she finds herself unable to remember where she’s been or what she’s been doing. Frightened, she seeks guidance at a local church, and it’s there she meets Avian.

The unlikely pair soon discovers that her blackouts are a side effect of what she truly is — an Echo — a conduit for souls of the dead. The only way to prevent Cyn from losing complete control is to return to Sleepy Hollow and vanquish the source of her power — but she may not survive the process. And if she does? She won’t ever be the same…

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The Beautiful and the Damned by Jessica Verday is a novel steeped in suspence and the macabre.

This being a companion novel to The Hollow trilogy I would highly recommend going back and re-acquainting yourself with Abbey’s life in Sleepy Hollow. This story deserves to be read without that annoying feeling of not quite remembering what a revenant actually is, or the first time we were introduced to Cyn, our main character.

Although I found this story to be much more intense and quite a bit darker than The Hollow trilogy, Jessica Verday still allowed me to live alongside Cyn and Avian and hope for the best for these characters. Cyn believed she was doing all these awful things, but doesn’t remember them. She’s a good person who doesn’t want to be doing harm, but she blacks out and doesn’t remember. Avian, caught between heaven and hell, does his own thing. He fights for what’s right, and though he is really old, is very appealing. There is a small hint of a romance between Cyn and Avian, though both won’t admit to it. It just makes you want everything to go right, since they’ve had such bad things happen.

3.5 heart

I’m hoping there are more books to follow The Beautiful and the Damned because I feel as if Jessica Verday has just scratched the surface of this story and has left me needing to know more. The whole book builds up to who these characters are, and you get up to really knowing them and then it ends. Is it going to continue with a romance or more information about Cyn and Avian and what their roles are? A sequel is definitely wanted!

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

A big thank you to my guest reviewer, Kathleen! Be on the lookout for more reviews from her (as long as I can convince her to do them!)

Review: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Unbreakable Unbreakable
by Kami Garcia

ISBN-13: 9-780316-210171
Publication: October 2013 from Little, Brown BYR
Source: BEA author signing
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit send to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon – a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon – battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

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Unbreakable by Kami Garcia is a creepy, intense ride full of demons, ghosts, kidnappings and fear. There were some amazing moments in this book that had me worried our characters might not make it.

Kennedy’s decent into the supernatural begins after her mother has been killed in their home. Thinking it was natural causes, Kennedy soon learns the difference when twin brothers Jared and Lukas break into her home one night and save her from having her breath stolen by her ghost-possessed cat. She goes on the run with them and two other teens, Priest and Alara, after being told about the Legion and how she is a part of it and must help save the world from the demon Andras. Kennedy is pretty tough. She doesn’t think she belongs and that the brothers are wrong about her being part of the Legion, and she accidentally makes some blunders but she steps up to help when needed and doesn’t back down.

I enjoyed the backstory of Andras and how the Legion came to be formed, and the scenes with the ghosts (all of them, from the creepy well to the terrifying prison) are wonderfully suspenseful and heart-stopping. Unbreakable is one of those books where things may not be what they seem, and characters have to trust their instincts and hope they’re not screwing things up. There is a bit of a romantic sub-plot going on with Kennedy and the brothers, but it doesn’t distract from the action or overall plot of Kennedy and the others trying to find a weapon that will put away Andras for good. The ending tied up book one and set up book two very nicely.

3 heart

Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed Unbreakable a bit more if so many aspects of the brothers, ghosts and how they’re killed, the demons and the hunting didn’t remind me of Supernatural (I know these things are not unique to Supernatural, but I draw comparisons). If you’ve never seen Supernatural, than Unbreakable by Kami Garcia will be an incredibly refreshing look at the paranormal genre – it does deliver some awesome action and interesting characters. However, if you have seen Supernatural, you will probably make the same comparisons I did. But you’ll also understand me when I say that Jared? He has Dean levels of guilt over something he did in the past and is keeping secret from Kennedy. I enjoyed Unbreakable and will definitely be on the lookout for the sequel, since the final scenes threw a wrench in everything we had known up until then and I’m curious to see it all play out.

ARC received at Book Expo America through an author signing at Little, Brown. Thank you!

Review: The Night Has Claws by Kat Kruger

The Night has Claws The Night has Claws
by Kat Kruger

ISBN-13: 9-780991-793754
Publication: September 2013 from Fierce Ink Press
Series: book 2 in The Magdeburg Trilogy
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

What happens when you’re the thing that goes bump in the night?

Connor Lewis and Arden LaTène are experiencing a reversal of fortunes. Arden, once a prominent werewolf, has been cured against his will. As a result, he’s now considered dead by his former pack and has lost his longtime girlfriend in the mix. Connor, a newly created werewolf whose DNA has inadvertently led to the creation of the cure, now has to make some important decisions about his future and is not sure who to trust. Should he join a pack or try to go it alone?

When Connor is summoned by the Hounds of God to testify against the human scientist who developed the cure, he’s forced to choose sides. Comprised of humans bitten by werewolves, the Hounds have been the lawmakers and enforcers for hundreds of years, ensuring werewolves don’t endanger the lives of humans and exacting justice upon those who do. On the other hand, the pack werewolves have been persecuted for centuries and are seeking to tip the balance of power. Adding to his confusion is Madison Dallaire, the girl Connor has complicated feelings for, who has embarked on a path of corporate espionage.

In the second book of The Magdeburg Trilogy, Connor’s loyalties are pushed to the limits as he faces the challenges of being a modern werewolf caught in the grip of an ancient feud.

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The Night has Claws by Kat Kruger follows immediately behind book number one, The Night has Teeth. It continues Connor’s story wonderfully and even allows us a deeper look at Madison through alternating points of view.

Beginning during the final scenes of the first book, I admit to being slightly confused – especially since the first part is in Madison’s point of view. I would definitely recommend doing a quick re-read of the end of The Night has Teeth, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve read it. However, as soon as I refreshed my memory and realized I was reading Madison’s pov, I was hooked and enthralled. The Night has Claws sees a huge change in Connor and his guardians, Arden and Amara. Arden, no longer a wolf, cannot maintain contact with the pack, including Amara. And Connor is now a wolf and needing to learn control. Our villain, Boguet, is captured and being held in Germany awaiting trial from the Hounds. There is a lot more history of the werewolves and how they came to be, and more to the cure and Boguet’s plans for it. Connor has a lot of information thrown at him over the course of the book and has to do his best with what he’s been told. Madison is more than she seems and is definitely awesome.

4 heart

The Night has Claws by Kat Kruger is a solid second book and great lead up to the final instalment. It has a perfect mix of information, action, mystery and even a small romance. Everything is changing and escalating and I am extremely interested to see where the third book takes us. Connor is different from everything and anything the wolves have known and it may either save them all, or hurt them all. Not all the pieces have been laid out yet and things could still change. Hopefully for the better!

e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff [blog tour]

Paper Valentine Paper Valentine
by Brenna Yovanoff

ISBN-13:9-781595-145994
Publication: January 2013 from Razorbill
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Hannah’s best friend Lillian dies six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can it when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders linked only by a paper valentine? Hannah can hardly begin to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able to move on with her life – and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff is an interesting ghost story that revolves mainly around character development. Hannah’s best friend Lillian died six months before the beginning of the story and Hannah is being haunted by her ghost. Throw in a few murders and the ghosts of those girls also haunting Hannah, and she is having one crazy summer.

Honestly, for the first hundred pages or so I wasn’t quite sure where this story was going. The beginning of the book mainly revolves around character development and plot setting. We meet Hannah, a high school girl who is understandably a little withdrawn after her best friend Lillian died from anorexia and whose ghost is haunting her. Right away there is news of a murder, but as it is the first and stuff like that happens, Hannah things nothing more of it, really and it becomes almost just a part of the story’s background information. All the pieces for the later section of the book are put into place, though. We discover that Hannah works at her cousin’s photo developing shop where she develops police photos from time to time, we meet Finny – the unlikely love interest, but not really since he’s the bad boy with a heart of gold underneath it all – and we begin to see more of who Hannah is and who Lillian was.

When the second girl is found murdered, is when the story really picks up. Lillian urges Hannah to look into the killings and when Hannah starts seeing and hearing the ghosts of the dead girls, she dives right in to the mystery. Hannah’s been a bit lost, but she’s slowly bouncing back and helping these girls find closure by getting their murdered caught it a big step in that. Finny helps, too. Of course, everyone can be a suspect and I was definitely surprised at who the murderer turns out to be and the reveal process. I think Brenna Yovanoff did a great job in that.

3 heart

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff is an intense murder mystery/ghost story – the seance scene gave me chills. If you love in depth looks at character development, than Paper Valentine would be a great book – Hannah’s character has so many facets and aspects to explore. And while the beginning of the book was a little slow for my tastes, the writing is beautiful and once the murder mystery part of the story began in earnest I was much more hooked. Definitely a book I enjoyed reading!

Hardcover copy provided by Razorbill Canada in exchange for my honest review and tour participation. Thank you!