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!

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: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star Second Star
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

ISBN-13: 9-780374-382674
Publication: May 2014 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR)
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers.

Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete.

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I love the story of Peter Pan, so I knew right away that Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel would be finding its way into my hands. While not a traditional retelling by any means, it is a wonderful interpretation of the story of Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys. Surfers, drugs, run aways and a narrator who is not all that reliable make for an addictive read.

I figured out fairly early on that we as readers would need to come to our own conclusions about whether Wendy was really experiencing life in the cove with Pete, Belle and the boys or if she was lost in her own mind. Alyssa B. Sheinmel does a wonderful job of keeping the Peter Pan narrative alive in this entirely modern story. Instead of a pirate, Jas is a drug-dealing bad boy who Wendy finds herself falling for. But at the same time, she has feelings for Pete. I know I usually hate love triangles and insta-love, but this is different. Not quite either, but so real to Wendy. Her search for her brothers is heartbreaking and the run-around she gets from Pete and Jas, and Belle (so like jealous Tinkerbell, I loved her) makes you feel so badly for her. Wendy has a tough time in the book, so while I may not have loved her actions the entire time, it all makes sense for the plot.

4.5 heart

The idea that Wendy is just hallucinating the whole experience due to drug use and desperate need to believe that her brothers are alive and waiting to be found and brought home permeates the second half and end of the book. Second Star takes you through this journey to reunite Wendy, Michael and John and then drops you into the hospital with Wendy. But like all good books, it leaves you guessing. The smallest bit of evidence that maybe, Pete and Jas and Belle do exist, and her brothers are out there arises – but so does the idea that Wendy is just hallucinating again. It’s very well done!

e-ARC received for review through publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you!

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

ISBN-13: 9-781442-480612
Publication: October 2013 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

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

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Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is fantastic! The idea of a city that floats in the sky, on an island, not connected to anything or aware of the world below them? Crazy but wonderful. I highly enjoyed the mythology behind the city of Internment, and Morgan is a compelling main character.

Despite the method of their relationship, I enjoyed that Morgan and Basil are a stable couple, and Pen is an intense best friend. When the murders begin, the mystery surrounding the deaths, Judas and what can be found on the ground, below Internment, heats up. Morgan is swept up in events that are quite beyond her control. Morgan’s family has been through the wringer, and Pen has her own history that needs exploring. Lauren DeStefano does an awesome job in upping the suspense has Morgan gets deeper and deeper into the secrets of Internment, and in creating some interesting characters. The prince and princess of Internment are sufficiently creepy!

4 heart

Perfect Ruin manages to capture and maintain the reader’s interest through pretty great story-telling. I’m invested in these characters and want to know more about their backstories (Pen, I’m looking at you) and also what will happen next. I’m anxious for the sequel to find out what will become of Morgan and the rest of our cast of fugitives. There is so much potential for world building and character growth – I hope book 2 lives up to book 1!

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

Review: Roy and Roo Take a Trip to the Zoo by Diane Page

Roy and Roo Roy and Roo Take a Trip to the Zoo
by Diane Page

ISBN-13: 9-780615-657592
Publication: 2012 from Bobbs and Company
Source: JKSCommunications
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

Rhyming words bounce off the pages of Diane Page’s new book, Roy and Roo Take a Trip to the Zoo. She watched her grandson, Zach, and his toy kangaroo, Roo, as they darted to and fro, never walking, but scurrying wherever they went. Zach, with Roo by his side, were always exploring the world around them and questioning, constantly questioning. What would be more fitting than to explain the primary and secondary colors in a fun way to children everywhere!

With the talent of illustrator, Bruce Bigelow, strange zoo creatures emerge to tell that story in a most delightful way. Little ones are fascinated with the critters that live in the zoo, but are not in cages.

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Roy and Roo Take a Trip to the Zoo by Diane Page is an adorable picture book that focuses on teaching colours to young children.

Roy and Roo are exploring a zoo where the creatures are not caged in, are quite different than any animal we’d see in a zoo (I don’t think I’ve ever seen an orange Blanozan, for instance), and talk to you! Each animal that Roy and Roo encounter in the zoo is a different colour, corresponding with the three primary colours (red, yellow, blue) and the three secondary colours (orange, green, purple). The beginning of the book has a nice little introduction to the concept of primary and secondary colours, and reiterates the information again at the end.

4 heart

Roy and Roo Take a Trip to the Zoo is full of interesting imagery, rhyme and rhythm. Children will enjoy exploring the zoo with Roy and Roo and discovering the strange new creatures inside. The fact they are learning about their colours as the read is a bonus! This book would also lend itself really well to creative writing assignments and art assignments in the classroom. I can just picture primary aged students creating their own colourful creature for their classmates to learn about.

Paperback copy provided by JKSCommunications in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Roy and Roo

Review: World Cup Mouse by Richard Seidman

World Cup Mouse World Cup Mouse
by Richard Seidman

ISBN-13: 9-780989-855303
Publication: May 2014 from Catalyst Group, LLC
Source: JKSCommunications & Netgalley
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

“Where there’s a mouse, there’s a way,” says Louie LaSurie in this book for 7 to 10 year-olds. But it will take more than lofty words for Louie to achieve his goal: to be the first mouse to play for France in the World Cup soccer tournament.

WORLD CUP MOUSE is a funny, action-filled tale of friendship and pursuing one’s dream even when it seems impossible. For example, how can Louie ever manage to kick a human-sized soccer ball and not just the dried pea with which he has been practicing? How can he avoid getting squished by the thrashing feet of the giant humans? And can he overcome his own self-doubts and fiery temper? Aided by his best friend, François, and the human girl, Rose, Louie gives it his best shot.

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World Cup Mouse by Richard Seidman is an adorable book about a French mouse who wishes nothing more than to play for the French soccer team and go to the World Cup.

This book is perfect for younger children, especially those with an interest in soccer, or sports. Louie is a determined, likeable, short-tempered (but working on it), and enthusiastic little mouse. Living in a world where animals can speak to humans, but are still treated as lesser, Louie has a lot to overcome in order to make his dream of playing soccer come true. But he has a wonderful best friend in Francois who encourages Louie at every turn and pushes him when he would give up. Although primarily about Louie and his journey to play soccer for the French national team, World Cup Mouse has so many wonderful messages about friendship, perseverance, passion and acceptance within it.

4 heart

Readers will enjoy cheering on Louie as he goes about realizing his dream of becoming part of the French national team, and growing with him as he learns about such things as anger management, friendship (and the jealousy that can sometimes occur), good attitudes, coaching and playing soccer, and tolerance. World Cup Mouse by Richard Seidman uses easy to understand (but not overly simple) language and introduces the reader to some very basic French words and phrases as well. I can definitely see this book being a great one to have in a classroom or home!

e-ARC provided by JKSCommunications and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri [blog tour]

Jewel of the Thames Jewel of the Thames
by Angela Misri

ISBN-13: 9-781927-746424
Publication: March 2014 from Fierce Ink Press
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it

There’s a new detective at 221 Baker Street

Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There’s nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn’t have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221 Baker Street — the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Portia settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, including the handsome and charming Brian Dawes. She also finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewelry, the second a sick judge and the final case revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.

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Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri is a wonderfully light-hearted mystery novel. Portia Adams is a delight – nineteen years old in 1930, Portia inherits 221 Baker St. and is whisked from Toronto, Canada to London, England with her guardian Mrs. Jones. Once there, Portia finds herself going to law school, aiding in solving crimes and delving into her own family tree.

Divided into three case files, Jewel of the Thames presents the reader with three different mysteries (a jewel thief, a murder and a kidnapping) that Portia finds herself participating in solving all while efficiently stacking up the clues for Portia to dig deeper into her family history, and the history of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, the famous tenants of 221B Baker St. I highly enjoyed Portia. An intelligent, capable, kind young lady who possess the wits and desire to help and solve cases around her. She has great interactions with her downstairs neighbours the Dawes family. Son Brian is a Constable at Scotland Yard and enables Portia to better access the information she needs to solve her cases. Despite the flirty undertones to their interactions, there is no real romance in the book and I, for one, found it quite refreshing.

4 heart

The writing in Jewel of the Thames is intriguing and unique. Angela Misri has managed to convey both a sense of the 1930s and old Sherlock Holmes novels through her prose and dialogue. I was very easily able to see myself in 1930s London with Portia as a proper young lady, and as the detective – the language used is very methodical and calculated. And while the mysteries to her past are quickly hinted at and any Sherlockian will pick them up immediately, it was still fun to see Portia put everything together. Jewel of the Thames is a wonderful addition to the Sherlock Holmes universe and I can’t wait for book two!

Jewel of the Thames Banner

Thanks to Fierce Ink Press I have on e-Copy of Jewel of the Thames to give away! Giveaway is open worldwide except for the UK. Please fill out this form to be entered.