Friday, July 30, 2021

The Whispering Dead by Darcy Coates (Adult Paranormal Book Review)


The Whispering Dead
(Gravekeeper #1)
by Darcy Coates
Published by Poisoned Pen Press
on May 4, 2021
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Ghost Stories
Length: 256 pages

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Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper's cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect. 

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering. 

My Thoughts:

Keira finds in the woods running from men she is certain are hunting her, and stumbles upon an unkempt cemetery where a helpful pastor helps to hide her and then offers for her to stay once he learns about her current amnesia, but Keira soon realizes that she can both see and hear the ghosts in the graveyard, and there is something they want. 

I read my first Darcy Coates novel, Craven Manor, last year after prompting from a sibling and friends that know I love ghost stories and was not disappointed. I've been eager to read more of her many books since then so I snatched this up when it hit my library's shelves. 

This is the first in a duology and I didn't know that at first so I was a little disappointed to not get all the answers even though I really enjoyed the mystery of Keira and 'the whispering dead' as well as the fun banter and interactions between Keira and the new friends she makes. So far I can tell that Coates has a knack for atmospheric settings and style, which honestly makes me want to read all of her books but I can't wait to finish Keira's story!


Have you read any Darcy Coates?
Do you have a favorite?


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Petrified Women by Jeremy Ray (Horror Novella Review)

 I received a digital copy of this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Petrified Women
A Novella
Written by Jeremy Ray
Published by Infinite Ray Publishing
on May 14, 2021
Genre: Adult, Horror
Length: 92 pages

Goodreads | Amazon 

Some pranks go too far. This one could be deadly.

Harley has finally picked the perfect boyfriend. 
Sure, he's a bit eccentric. His wood carving hobby is a little odd. His need for isolation while he carves his life-size female figurines is strange. And maybe his obsession with pranks, or "scares" on Harley goes a little too far. But what do you expect? Aiden's an artist.

She has the ultimate surprise planned for Aiden's birthday, one that's going to help her get even in their battle to out-prank each other. She hides in his apartment, excitedly waiting to pull off the scare of a lifetime... but when he comes home, she witnesses a different side of her boyfriend. One that only exists behind closed doors. Is this just one of his scares? Harley's about to find out. 


My Thoughts:

I flew through this novella in just an hour or two and absolutely loved it! It's spooky and suspenseful and has a fan-freaking-tastic ending. 

Harley hasn't had the best luck with boyfriends in the past, and her best friend, Shelly, agrees. But Aiden is different. He's an artist that carves life-size figurines of women at home that sell for lots of money and has a twisted sense of humor but is lots of fun. Aiden's practical jokes, or "scares" as he likes to call them, can get a little intense but they're helping Harley get over her fears after all. 
Harley is convinced that Aiden is 'the one' and has the best idea to get him back for all of his winning scares so she sneaks into his apartment to hide but soon sees a side of Aiden that has her wondering if it's a new scare or the real deal. 

This was so good! I was hooked from the start and didn't put it down until I was finished.
I don't read novellas very often but something about this book's synopsis (and that simply gorgeous cover) had me jumping at the chance to read it and I'm so glad I did. I sympathized with Harley and loved the emotional depth in her character and the author's writing but it's the ending that made this a truly memorable tale. I don't think I'll forget it any time soon! 

Be aware that this is an adult novella with content warnings that the author has graciously provided for us, including sexual assault, violence, body horror, and strong language.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Better Together (Heartwood Hotel #3) by Kallie George (Children's Chapter Book Review)

Better Together
Written by Kallie George
Illustrations by Alexandra Boiger
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
on February 6, 2018
Genre: Children's, Chapter Books
Length: 176 pages
Ages: 7 - 10 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

Spring has come to Fernwood Forest and the Heartwood is all a-bustle. With Mr. Heartwood off on vacation, it's up to Mona and the rest of the staff to keep everything running smoothly. When rumors buzz of a rival hotel, Gilles is determined to prove that the Heartwood is the very best with the splashiest Spring Splash the forest has ever seen. 

Readers will cheer for these kind, brave, beloved characters as they embark on their next adventure in the third book of the charmingly illustrated Heartwood Hotel series. 

Our Thoughts:

Mr. Heartwood is off on a much-needed vacation when word gets around that a new hotel has opened up in Fernwood Forest, claiming to be the 'splashiest', so the staff of Heartwood Hotel decides to put on a splendid Splash of their own. With everyone as busy as can be with the festivities, only Mona seems to notice the small changes around the hotel, from a secretive guest to disagreements between worker bees and entertainer fireflies to an even larger threat that is waiting in the shadows! 

Mona continues to be an absolute lifesaver for the Heartwood and its inhabitants, despite being a mouse, and tensions build when friendships are diverted, but all come together to save the hotel and in the end, all is well. 

We have adored this seasonal series featuring adorably kind and courageous animal characters so far and this was just as good as the first two! The characters are the sweetest, with innocent trials and tribulations and many lessons learned, and the endings are always exactly how you would hope them to be in a children's story. I absolutely recommend it for young readers and listeners that want a story with gentle drama and great friendships. 


Friday, July 23, 2021

Gone to the Woods: Surviving A Lost Childhood by Gary Paulson (Middle Grade Memoir Review)


Gone to the Woods:
Surviving A Lost Childhood
by Gary Paulson
Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
on January 12, 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Nonfiction, Memoir
Length: 368 pages
Ages: 8 - 12 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

A middle-grade memoir, giving readers a new perspective on the origins of Gary Paulsen's famed survival stories.

His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, author Gary Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there would never have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his very first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller. 

My Thoughts:

Gary Paulsen narrates his own childhood in this fascinating memoir that reads like a novel for middle-grade readers.

Five-year-old Gary Paulsen is sent alone by train to live with relatives in the mountains where he learns to fish and forage mushrooms and appreciate the simple wonders of the world. It is a dream life athat would be short lived but the skills he learned in the wilderness help him to survive a neglected childhood with his mother in the Philippines, and later, enlistment in the army.

Gary lived a childhood that most could only imagine or read about in books, having to grow up fending for himself, with the woods and the local library as his only safe spaces and finding his love of stories a little late in life but at just the right time to have his own stories to tell. 

Hatchet was one of my favorite stories as a kid, next to Jean Craighead George's 'My Side of the Mountain', and it made a big impact on my childhood and helped shape my adult life so I jumped as soon as I saw this memoir. I've read a few more of his stories since Hatchet and loved seeing and making connections between the stories he has written and the story of his childhood. 

I definitely recommend it if you enjoy memoirs and have read any of Paulsen's middle-grade novels, or just love the wilderness or a good survival story! 


Thursday, July 22, 2021

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough (Middle Grade Contemporary Book Review)


A Field Guide to Getting Lost
by Joy McCullough
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
on April 14, 2020
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Length: 224 pages
Audiobook Length: 4 hours
Ages: 8 - 18 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel. 

My Thoughts:

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a middle-grade contemporary about two kids who have completely different interests and personal obstacles that are brought together when their dating parents take them on a hike where they promptly separate and end up lost. 

Sutton's mother is off researching penguin migrations in Antarctica and Luis' father has been deceased for years. Sutton is homeschooled and Luis has deadly allergies, so they are both quite different. When their parents start getting serious, they both realize that they will have to make an effort to get along, though perhaps begrudgingly, and they come together despite their differences to find a way out of the predicament that life has thrown at them. 

This is a rather simple contemporary read for young readers that highlights separated families, absent parents, and overcoming fears.

I ended up listening to this on audiobook, which was enjoyable, and a rather quick listen at 4 hours long. 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Nature Adventure Book by DK Books (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

 We received an ecopy of this fun book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Nature Adventure Book
Written by Katie Taylor
Illustrated by Lianne Harrison
Published by DK Books
on July 20, 2021
Genre: Children's, Nonfiction, Nature, Activities
Length: 48 pages
Ages: 5 - 7 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

Encourage your little nature lover to explore the great outdoors and get their hands dirty! 

With over 40 crafts and games to discover, this activity book for kids offers a fun, hands-on approach to getting kids outdoors and exploring the great outdoors all year round.

My Thoughts:

The Nature Adventure Book is a fantastic resource full of great outdoor activities for little ones! Whether you're at home in the yard, at the park, or in the wild, these activities will keep you busy having fun while also teaching mindfulness and a love of nature.

There's something for every child and includes 'Adventure Skills,' 'Nature Detective' activities, sensory games, and ways to make fun wild art!
Go on nature hunts, make art from flowers and leaves, make bug hotels or secret shelters, learn to make and read a homemade compass. Learn to tune in to the world around you, including the weather, the seasons, and more, all while having fun. 

Bright photographs paired with colorful illustrations and fun prompts and bits of information mixed throughout make this visually appealing. It's sure to draw littles in and have them wanting to try out all the great ideas! 


Friday, July 16, 2021

The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell (Adult Historical Fiction / Horror Book Review)


The Poison Thread
by Laura Purcell
Published by Penguin Books
on September 20, 2018
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Gothic Horror
Length: 351 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

A thrilling Victorian gothic horror tale about a young seamstress who claims her needle and thread have the power to kill. 

My Thoughts:

Dorothea Truelove uses her wealth to improve prison conditions to defy her father and in exchange is allowed to observe and meet with some of the more disturbing inmates, especially murderers, to feed and practice her phrenology obsession. Dorothea is determined to link phrenology with evil behaviors and how they can be caught early on and redirected to lead less violent lives. Dorothea is dying to get her hands on the head of a newly incarcerated sixteen-year-old murderess named Ruth who is convinced that she can sew death into any garment but Ruth's story is darker and more real than Dorothea can know.

This was sooo good!
I read The Silent Companions last year and thought it was deliciously spooky and immediately knew I'd devour anything else by this author. I had The Poison Thread recommended to me right after, and while I waited a while to dig in, I was not disappointed!

The Poison Thread is a gothic horror set in Victorian-era England with alternating POVs between two women who come from vastly different backgrounds and have lived vastly different lives, but whose lives and stories will come together in a brilliantly woven tale of murder and madness. 
Ruth is the true anti-hero of this story and like Dorothea, I was hooked from the start, but her story goes beyond what you would expect of a poor, abused child sold into servitude and delves into a sinister plot of revenge. 

Content warnings include child abuse, violence, and murder.