Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance: Chronicles #1) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

259836Life-long friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales with strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chanced encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman who bears a magical crystal staff draws the companions deeper into the shadow forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.


I absolutely loved it! I was told about this series by a good friend and honestly, I had no idea I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. I love D&D but even that didn’t convince me straight away. I went in knowing this book was written in 1984 and half expecting it to give off a Masters of The Universe nostalgic vibe. I found myself completely absorbed by this fast paced, jam-packed adventure. And yes, it is a bit cliche? Is it a tad cheesy and outdated? Is it full of overdone tropes? Absolutely! But it was also written 37 years ago, way before several fantasy books I love that have certainly also been inspired by this book. I’m so looking forward to continuing with this trilogy and oh, so happy for the recommendation.

 

Format: Mass Market Paperback, 444 pages
Published:Published February 1st 2000 by Wizards of the Coast (First published November 12th 1984)
ISBN:0786915749 
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Paul TremblayThe lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.
To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight.


A Head Full Of Ghosts had been on my TBR for about five years since I read and reviewed Paul Tremblay’s book Disappearance at Devil’s Rockso I was glad to see it displayed at my local library as suggested reading for Halloween.

I have to say that it took me a moment to recollect my thoughts before writing this review. I went into this book completely cold. I never read any reviews on it or even a complete synopsis of the book. I highly advise you to read this book with as little information as possible, which makes writing a review about it even more difficult. 

Head Full Of Ghosts is a book divided into three parts and told from the POV of Merry, the Barretts’ eight-year-old daughter, and her interpretation of the events.

The first part of the book starts fifteen years early by giving us a glance at the Barretts, a fairly normal Massachusetts family composed of dad John, mom Sarah, and the two daughters, Marjorie, fourteen, and Merry, eight. Since the book is told from Merry’s perspective, we get to see the close relationship the two sisters shared with each other. Tremblay overlaps the story by introducing present-day scenes of Merry, now twenty-three, being interviewed by an author who’s writing a book about the events that happened with the family, in particular with Marjorie who started to display signs of acute schizophrenia. As the family’s life starts to crumble apart and Marjorie’s mental illness progresses, John decides to seek the help of a local priest who is convinced that Marjorie’s problems are not mental health issues at all but rather the product of demonic possession and that they should perform an exorcism. 

Without going too much into the plot, it suffices to say that the Barretts not only agree with the exorcism but also allow for the process to be televised in a reality tv show called The Possession. 

So, let me stop right here to tell you that what made this story worthwhile for me was not the concept of exorcism–and that alone might turn off some readers. 

Don’t get me wrong, this book is sheer horror. Not that in-your-face sort of horror, but more like building up tension and suspense. I actually found this book a mixture of terrifying and sad at the same time. 

What I absolutely loved about this book was how Tremblay handled a delicate subject such as mental illness and the pitfalls of today’s society, the internet, misogyny, and the role of religion in the treatment of mental health.

Although this book was written six years ago, Tremblay’s social criticism on this topic is still relevant, especially on a day like today in honor of World Mental Health Day.

 

Format: Hardcover, 286 pages
Published: Published June 2nd 2015 by William Morrow
ISBN: 0062363239 
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, horror

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

stayYejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.


In Stay With Me, Adébáyọ̀ introduces us to Yejide and Akin, a Nigerian couple who have been trying to have a baby for many years.

In their culture, it is expected that married couples have children, and when that is not possible, the men are expected to take another wife to produce an heir and carry on the bloodline. When Akin takes on a second wife, it initiates a series of tragic events.

Adébáyọ̀’s prose is both lyrical and fluid. The story is told in alternating POVs, which allows you to get to know the well-developed characters.

Stay With Me is a poignant novel that may leave you with very mixed feelings.

 
 
 
 
 

Format: Kindle edition, 288 pages
Published: August 1st 2017 by Knopf  (first published March 2nd, 2017)
ASIN:B01MTJQK9M
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fiction

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter. Now, in present-day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she’s not the only person looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.


Okay, so I finished this book early this morning, but I had to head to work so I couldn’t sit down to write a proper review, so here it goes!
I loved, loved, loved this book. Definitely a contender to my top 5 books of 2020 so far. It is apparent that Jennifer McMahon has gotten most of her inspiration from reading Stephen King (more specifically–Pet Sematary). Although I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, I don’t always enjoy other authors who try to write in the same style. Let me clarify this! McMahon is not really writing in a Stephen King style. She has a style of her own, and it’s a pretty good one.
The book is told from different POVs, Sarah–a woman living in the early 1900s, Ruthie–a nineteen-year-old living with her widowed mother and little sister, and Katherine–a woman in search of explanations regarding the last hours of her dead husband. Although the story is told by multiple POVs, it never feels choppy. McMahon is able to maintain the suspense throughout the novel. There were some pretty awesome hair-raising and goosebumps-behind-your-neck moments, and the writing was superb. I definitely recommend it to fans of this genre. Solid 5 stars.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: February 11th, 2014 by Doubleday
ASIN: B00EMXBD4S
Source: Library loan
Rating:  5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Horror-Thriller

Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby

42774228When a music festival rolls through the sleepy town of Hesterville, Georgia, the Dixon family’s lives are forever changed. On the final night, a storm muffles the sound of the blaring music, and Rachel tucks her baby into bed before falling into a deep sleep. So deep, she doesn’t hear the kitchen door opening. When she and her husband wake up in the morning, the crib is empty. Emily is gone. Vicki Robart is one of the thousands at the festival, but she’s not feeling the music. She’s feeling the emptiness over the loss of her own baby several months before. When she leaves the festival and is faced with an opportunity to fill that void, she is driven to an act of desperation that will forever bind the lives of three women. When the truth of what actually happened that fateful night is finally exposed, shattering the lives they’ve built, will they be able to pick up the pieces to put their families back together again?


The book starts forty-seven years ago in the small, fictional town of Hesterville, GA, where a music festival akin to Woodstock is about to take place at Harold Baker’s farm. The townspeople, apprehensive about the festival and the type of audience it will attract, try to prevent the festival from happening to no avail.

The Dixons live close to the farm where the festival is taking place. Rachel, George and poor baby Emily have endured several nights of loud music and very little sleep. On the last day of the festival, when the music seemed to be dying out, Rachel tucked in baby Emily in her crib and went to bed exhausted. Unbeknownst to Rachel and George, their paths were about to cross with hippies Vicki and boyfriend Russ Murphy who were driving back from the festival stoned and starved.

Vicki asks Murph to stop to get her something to eat, but when he fails to find a place that’s open late at night, Vicki convinces him to pull over by a house where she can trespass and get something to eat. Although Murphy is initially not on board with the idea, he agrees to it as long as Vicki can go in and out of the house without raising anyone’s attention. When Vicki enters the Dixon family’s home, she finds a lot more than food, and a crime of opportunity presents itself in a way that will change the course of the Dixon’s and Vicki’s life forever.

I loved this book. As much as I hated Vicki, I could also understand her pain and where she was coming from as a woman and a mother. Things are never as simple as they seem and this book will have you question your preconceived notions on this topic.

This book is a page-turner that had me crying. The theme of this book is every parent’s worst nightmare, and Crosby did a fantastic job of telling such a compelling story with love and compassion. A heart-wrenching, beautiful story about forgiveness and ultimately love.

Emily, Gone is scheduled to be published on April 30th, 2019. I want to thank the author for providing me a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.


Format: Paperback, 398 pages
Published: expected to be published April 30th, 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
ISBN:1542044928
Source: ARC provided by the Author
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

About The Author

Bette Lee Crosby

Bette Lee Crosby is the USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels, including The Twelfth Child and the Wyattsville series. She has been the recipient of the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal, Reviewer’s Choice Award, FPA President’s Book Award, and International Book Award, among many others. Her 2016 novel, Baby Girl, was named Best Chick Lit of the Year by the Huffington Post. She laughingly admits to being a night owl and a workaholic, claiming that her guilty pleasure is late-night chats with fans and friends on Facebook and Goodreads. The Summer of New Beginnings, published by Lake Union, Took First Place in the Royal Palm Literary Award for Women’s Fiction and was a runner-up for book of the year. The sequel, A Year of Extraordinary Moments, is now available.

Website | Twitter |Facebook|Amazon

The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

2495567Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.


The book starts with the protagonist, Kvothe, living a low-profile life as an innkeeper at the Waystone Inn and going by the name of Kote in the fictional world of Temerant. Kote runs the inn together with his assistant Bast. When Kote saves a traveling scribe known as Chronicler from being attacked by spider-like creatures called scrael, the Chronicler immediately recognizes Kote as the renowned Kvothe—an unequaled sword fighter and magician. The Chronicler asks permission to record Kvothe’s story. After pondering about it, Kvothe agrees to tell his story to the Chronicler but warns him that it will take three days to tell his story. The Name Of The Wind corresponds to day one of Kvothe’s story in the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.

It’s hard to believe that a book of this magnitude was Patrick Rothfuss’s first novel. Granted it took him several years to write it while he was pursuing his B.A. in English. The Name Of The Wind is not only an incredibly creative fantasy book, a coming-of-age like nothing I had read so far, but it is also a very well-written book. I loved the narrative, the poems, and songs in the story. Rothfuss’s use of a story-within-a-story format is what sets this book apart. To imagine an entire six-hundred-and-sixty-page book being day one in Kvothe’s story is mind-blowing, but it works because Rothfuss is so creative and descriptive with every scene in the book. I felt like I knew Kvothe on a personal level. You follow him from his early beginnings with his family—a troupe of traveling performers, through meeting his first teacher—Abenthy (Ben) to his years in the University. I’m not going to deny that as much as I loved Kvothe as a character, at times, I was annoyed by how good he was at everything. Even with this small flaw, Rothfuss still manages to make Kvothe a likable character who endures many challenges. Kvothe’s life is far from easy. He loses his family at the hands of evil mystical beings, the Chandrians, at a very early age, and his early life is plagued with violence and hunger.

When I first decided to read this novel, I remember being extremely skeptical. The Name Of The Wind is probably one of the best-rated fantasy books on Goodreads, right along legends such as Tolkien’s LOTR The Fellowship Of The Ring, with a rating of four and a half stars and more than five hundred thousand ratings. I have to admit after finishing book one in this trilogy that the hype is real and very well-deserved.

I’m definitely reading book two, The Wise Man’s Fear, and together with the fandom, I will anxiously await the release of the third book.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” 


Format: Hardcover, 662 pages
Published: April 2007 by Penguin Group DAW (first published March 27th, 2007)
ISBN: 075640407X
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

 

30753630 When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing, …as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself.


There is a reason why Stephen King ranks Pet Sematary as one of the scariest books he’s ever written. The idea for the book came from his experience living in rural Maine. A worst-case scenario meets what if when his young son is almost hit by a truck on a busy street across from his house.

Louis Creed and his family, wife Rachael and children Ellie and Gage, move from Chicago to their new home in Maine. Life seems perfect with Louis’s new job as a college physician, a beautiful New England home with a large backyard that abuts a sacred Native American land, a Pet Sematary, and friendly neighbors–Jud and Norma. When Louis witnesses the tragic death of Victor Pascow, he is later haunted by Pascow’s ghost who visits him at night and shows him the barrier at the Pet Semetary that must not be crossed.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but needless to say that this Pet Semetary has more than meets the eye and when the family cat, Church, is run over by a truck and dies, Louis will consider the unthinkable just to make his family happy.

I first read Pet Sematary when I was in my early teens. I remember being horrified by it. I remember watching the first Pet Sematary movie made in the early 90s and not being able to sleep at night. Re-reading it again in 2019 has been a completely different experience, but not any less horrifying. If anything, it scared me a lot more now that I have children and cats!

The book is structured in three parts all from Louis’s point of view. The climax comes closer to the end of the book, but as always, Stephen King is a master at building suspense. He spares no one of his descriptions full of horror and the macabre. The plot of this book is every parent’s nightmare, and the magic of this story is that King is so good at making all these characters so relatable. I recall reading parts of this book that seemed completely insane and thinking, “I can see why he’s doing it.”

Although there is a new Pet Sematary movie coming out this month. I feel less than thrilled about seeing it. The movie trailer showed that a central element in the plot is completely changed for this movie version.

Pet Sematary, the book, will still go down as one of the best pieces of horror fiction ever written, and it still ranks in my top five all-time best horror books.

“Sometimes dead is better”


Format: Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
Published: January 31st, 2017 by Pocket Books (first published November 14th, 1983)
ISBN: 1501156705
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Horror

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

 

25622780Wide Sargasso Sea is Jean Rhys’ account of Antoinette (Bertha) Mason (aka Cosway). Fans of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre will recognize her as Rochester’s insane wife from the West Indies he kept locked in an attic. Bronte never indeed developed the character of Antoinette, leaving readers to wonder what kind of life Antoinette had and had she always been mad? In 1966, Jean Rhys finally completed Wide Sargasso Sea after working on it for nearly twenty-seven years.

The novel is structured in three parts with Antoinette and Rochester’s alternating point of view. The first and second part takes place in the West Indies, and the third part is only Antoinette’s point of view while living in England.

The story starts with Antoinette’s description of her childhood and the difficulties her family faced living in Jamaica in the 1830s shortly after the end of slavery when racial tensions were at its highest. As a white Creole child, Antoinette lives with her mother and sick brother in poverty until her mother re-marries wealthy Mr. Mason.

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Racial problems are also one of the major themes of this novel. When racial tensions erupt during Antoinette’s childhood, black workers burn down her house, Coulibri, a plantation house and symbol of oppression. After the fire that culminates in the death of her sick brother, Antoinette’s mother goes mad, and Mr. Mason places Antoinette in a convent until the age of eighteen when she leaves to marry Rochester.

“They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.”

Isolation is another strong theme in this novel, be social isolation, geographical isolation, as well as the isolation Antoinette suffers throughout the story. First, the abandonment and lack of love from her mother, the betrayal of her friend Tia, and ultimately the isolation she feels from Rochester. The entire novel has a very oppressive and claustrophobic feel to it.

The second part of the novel revolves around Antoinette and Rochester’s marriage. A marriage which is sour from the beginning. Rhys makes a point to demonstrate the couple’s incompatibility and inability to understand each other. Rochester’s failure to be flexible and to adapt to his new surroundings and new way of life, and Antoinette lack of communication skills.

“I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers, and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty, and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it.”

In the third and final part of the book, Rochester and Antoinette move back to England after the death of Rochester’s father and older brother. The story changes again to Antoinette’s point of view. The move to England and the isolation from everything she’s ever held dear, including Rochester, drives her to insanity, and the novel ends with the house fire.

I really loved this book. I think because I also felt a need to know more about Antoinette and Rochester’s story. I loved the way she depicted the Caribbean with such rich and sensual imagery. This is indeed a masterpiece where Rhys was able to beautifully merge her story to a very known novel and do it all with immense style and sensibility.

“She’ll not dress up and smile at herself in that damnable looking-glass […] I’ll take her in my arms, my lunatic. She’s mad but mine, mine. What will I care for gods or devils or for Fate itself. If she smiles or weeps or both. For me.”

This novel is part of my list of books in The Classics Club Challenge


Format: Paperback, 171 pages
Published: January 25th, 2016 by W. W. Norton Company (first published October 1966)
ISBN: 0393352560
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Postmodern Literature

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

 

41806986Shortly after the birth of her twins, Lauren is recovering in the hospital when she hears a woman singing an eerie song. Concerned that the woman will wake up her twins, Laura approaches her and asks her to stop singing. The woman, dressed in ragged and dirty clothes seems to be singing to her own baby twins. When Lauren approaches her, the woman presents Lauren with an offer–her dirty and filthy creatures, for Lauren’s own sweet, perfect babies. When Lauren refuses, the crazed woman attempts to steal the babies away. Fearing for her life and for the lives of her twins, Lauren hides in the bathroom and calls the police. When the police arrive, there are no signs of an intruder in the hospital. Nurses and doctors deny the presence of an intruder and everyone turns to Lauren questioning her sanity. Could she be having some sort of post-natal psychosis?

If you have ever had children and by that I mean if you have ever birthed children, you are well aware of how exhausting the process is. If you ever had twins, then you also know the amount of work and lack of sleep that comes with them. Golding is superb in describing these initial days right after bringing a baby home. You can relate to the desperation that the new parents, Lauren and Patrick, are feeling. Lack of sleep and the constant demands of two newborn babies can drive anyone a bit nuts. Golding has a beautiful way of describing a scene that puts the reader in the middle of the action, and at times it’s hard to discern if Lauren is just one over-exhausted new mother, or if indeed some evil force is trying to take her babies away. Little Darlings is the debut novel of Melanie Golding. This is a suspenseful, addictive, and intelligent drama that mixes well the themes of myth, parenthood, pain, guilt, and psychosis. The ending is brilliant and by far one of the best novels I have read this year.

Little Darlings is scheduled to be published on April 30, 2019.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: ARC
Published: Expected publication: April 30th, 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1683319974
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Thriller

 

Sherlock Homes: The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

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When Sir Charles Baskerville is found suspiciously dead, his friend, Dr. James Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes to look into the death. While the cause of death is determined to be a heart attack, Mortimer suspects foul play and fears that Sir Charles’s nephew and sole heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, may be in danger next. At the center of the investigation is the curse of the Baskervilles, which dates back to the time of the English Civil War. Supposedly the family’s ancestor, Hugo Baskerville, sold his soul to the devil, and the family has been haunted by a large spectral hound ever since. Because Sir Charles was found with a look of horror on his face when he died, appeared to be running away from something, and large paw prints had been found near his body, there is reason to believe that the “Hound” may have returned. The details of the case spark the interest of Sherlock and he agrees to take up the case. “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” is the third of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and is widely regarded as one of his best. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Review

This is by far my favorite book by Sherlock Holmes and a true tour de force. I absolutely love the gothic and eerie feeling of this book. The narrative is based on Watson’s letters and diary, and through Watson’s eye we witness the implied threat of the moor, the foggy and gloomy weather, and the spectral hound.

Doyle creates this gothic and supernatural atmosphere that seems to give explanation for all the terrifying things that are happening on the moors. And it is this very atmosphere of doom that makes this such a suspenseful book.

It is hard to believe that Doyle got tired of writing this wonderful character. This book is a classic. Hard to imagine a world with Agatha Christie or her beloved detective, Hercules Poirot, without the contribution that Doyle and Sherlock Holmes made to this genre.

This book is on my list in The Classics Club Challenge.

 


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