Talkabout Thursday

Why is it that the closer we get to Christmas, the faster the time seems to go! Here it is, Thursday again already. And so it’s time to talk about what I am currently reading, what I am hoping to read in the coming week, and the ARCS I have been approved for.

 

So firstly, what is it that I am currently reading?

City of Masks (Cree Black, #1)

In City of Masks, the first Cree Black novel, parapsychologist Cree and her partner take a case in New Orleans’s Garden District that leaves them fearing for their own lives. The 150-year-old Beauforte House has long stood empty, until Lila Beauforte resumes residence and starts to see some of the house’s secrets literally come to life. Tormented by an insidious and violent presence, Lila finds herself trapped in a life increasingly filled with childhood terrors. It takes Cree’s unconventional take on psychology and her powerful natural empathy with Lila to navigate the dangerous worlds of spirit and memory, as they clash in a terrifying tale of mistaken identity and murder. Daniel Hecht portrays the ambience of New Orleans perfectly, and this book is deliciously creepy in the right places.

Somebody at the Door

One bleak Friday evening in January, 1942, Councillor Henry Grayling boards an overcrowded train with £120 in cash wages to be paid out the next day to the workers of Barrow and Furness Chemistry and Drugs Company. When Councillor Grayling finally finds the only available seat in a third-class carriage, he realises to his annoyance that he will be sharing it with some of his disliked acquaintances: George Ransom, with whom he had a quarrel; Charles Evetts, who is one of his not-so-trusted employees; a German refugee whom Grayling has denounced; and Hugh Rolandson, whom Grayling suspects of having an affair with his wife.

The train journey passes uneventfully in an awkward silence but later that evening Grayling dies of what looks like mustard gas poisoning and the suitcase of cash is nowhere to be found. Inspector Holly has a tough time trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, for the unpopular Councillor had many enemies who would be happy to see him go, and most of them could do with the cash he was carrying. But Inspector Holly is persistent and digs deep into the past of all the suspects for a solution, starting with Grayling’s travelling companions. Somebody at the Door,” first published in 1943, is an intricate mystery which, in the process of revealing whodunit, “paints an interesting picture of the everyday life during the war.” I love murder mysteries from the ‘Golden Age ‘.

Sleeping Beauties

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

I started this some time ago, but had to abandon it due to an influx of Netgalley reads all due to be published within a short period of time. Bad planning on my part and I resolve to try and be a bit more organized in the coming year. I am really enjoying this collaboration and will never again look at cobwebs the same way.

I have deliberately left this weeks reading list light as I am working extra hours until Christmas, we have two Christmas work parties to attend, and a friend and I are off to see Jack Johnson in concert under the stars Sunday evening. This week I am only planning on reading two books, and if I find myself with reading time to spare I will pick something from my backlist.

The Runaway Children

A heart-wrenching, unforgettable story of two evacuee sisters during the Second World War… Perfect for fans of Orphan Train, Nadine Dorries and Diney Costeloe.

London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?

As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…

They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?

An unputdownable novel of unconditional love, friendship and the fight for survival during a time of unimaginable change. The Runaway Children is guaranteed to find a place in your heart.

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2)

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

And only one ARC approval from NetGalley this week, but I have 10 sitting in the pending pile, quite a few of which are wishes I am hoping will be granted. My one approval this week was for

Kill Creek

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creeknow.

Love that cover!!!!!!

So happy reading my friends, and I ‘ll see you tomorrow for the Friday Favorite!

 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House 
by Shirley JacksonLaura Miller (Introduction)

30817744

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

THE BLURB: First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

MY THOUGHTS: Am I the only person not terrified by The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson? Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the story, but not once did I feel a little frisson of fear, not once did I hold my breath in anticipation, jump at an unexpected noise or glance nervously over my shoulder.

The majority of the story is told from Eleanor’s point of view. I liked Eleanor. I liked her flights of fancy, the way her imagination runs away with her, so that she presents things that she would like to be true as the truth. I felt sorry for her especially as after having looked after her mother until her death, (and did Eleanor have a hand in that?) she finds herself living with her older married sister and her husband and child, being put upon by them and treated almost as a child. I think that, had I been in Eleanor’s place, I also would have seized any excuse to escape the family confines. All Eleanor really wants is to be wanted, to belong, and she thinks that she has found this amongst her companions at Hill House. She is a vulnerable soul, almost childlike in her efforts to be liked and her reactions when she is ignored.

The other wonderful character is the housekeeper, Mrs Dudley, whom I am sure is closely related to Mrs Danvers.

All together, this was an interesting read; not creepy, not frightening, but interesting. I don’t know that I would even call it a ‘ghost’ story, although there are supernatural events. 3.5 stars and I may just be tempted to try some of Shirley Jackson’s other works.

I listened to the audio book of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2186706677

Friday Favorite- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

How did I ever get to the age I am without ever having read Neil Gaiman? I did not discover his books until 2014 when The Ocean at the End of the Lane was selected for one of my Goodreads.com group reads. I can’t remember now which group it was  (probably Reading For Pleasure if I had to guess) or who nominated it, but to whomever it was I offer a whole- hearted ‘Thank you.’

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane 
by Neil Gaiman (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: It was only a duckpond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big.

Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here across the ocean from the old country.

Her mother said that Lettie didn’t remember properly, and it was a long time ago, and anyway, the old country had sunk.

Old Mrs Hempstock, Lettie’s grandmother, said they were both wrong, and that the place that had sunk wasn’t the really old country. She said she could remember the really old country.

She said the really old country had blown up.

THE BLURB: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

MY THOUGHTS: This book won a multitude of awards. All of them deserved.

I don’t understand how I had never read Neil Gaiman before. This was my first ‘outing’ with this author, but it was not my last. I have bought some of his books for my grandson, and this is the next one I will be purchasing for him.

I just love this book. It is so,so lovely but scary too.

I love the quotes from Lewis Carroll scattered throughout.

Sensitive horror/fantasy? You better believe it!

Even the way he has written the acknowledgements at the end is interesting. A true master of his craft.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1020144026

Friday Favorite – NOS-4A2 by Joe Hill

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

As most of my regular followers will know, Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors. I have Sleeping Beauties, written in collaboration with his son Owen King,  sitting on my desk to read. That brought to mind NOS-4A2, written by King’s other son, with whom he also collaborates from time to time. For me, NOS-4A2 is right up there with King’s The Shining. If you haven’t yet read this, I urge you to. It is a masterpiece.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
NOS4A2 
by Joe Hill (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Because she was preoccupied, she didn’t notice what was different about Charlie Manx until she was easing around his cot to reach the IV rack. He happened to sigh heavily just then, as if bored, and she looked down and saw him staring up at her, and she was so startled to see him with his eyes open that she bobbled the sack of blood and almost dumped it on her feet.

He was hideous-old, not to mention hideous. His great bald skull was a globe mapping an alien moon, continents marked by liver spots and bruise colored sarcomas. Of all the men in the long term care ward – aka the Vegetable Patch – there was something particularly awful about Charlie Manx with his eyes open at this time of the year. Manx liked children. He’d made dozens of them disappear back in the nineties. He had a house below the Flatirons where he did what he liked with them and killed them and hung Christmas ornaments in their memory. The papers called the place the Sleigh House. Ho, ho, ho.

THE BLURB: NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

MY THOUGHTS: If I could give this book 10 stars I would!

This has to be the best book I have read in 2014 (sorry to Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane – you’ve just been bumped into 2nd place!). I want to never let this book go.

I found myself cheering on Vic in her fight against Charles Manx, feeling her pain when her son Wayne was in danger….. This book sucked me right in and I felt for it’s characters.

Joe Hill is definitely his father’s son. He writes with the same easy narrative flow and sardonic wit, but I think that with NOS-4A2 he may even have out written Stephen King. If you are a Stephen King/Neil Gaiman fan, this is a book you have to read.

Please note: in  Australasia this book is published as NOS-4R2

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

Friday Favorites

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

This week, to mark the release of Mr King’s latest book, Sleeping Beauties, written in collaboration with Owen King, I thought I would take a look back at one of my favorite Stephen King novels,  Doctor Sleep.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)
by Stephen King (Goodreads Author)

EXCERPT: ‘He was sitting at the mouth of the stormdrain, looking down a scrubgrass slope at the Cape Fear River and the bridge that spanned it. The night was clear and the moon was full. There was no wind, no snow. And the Overlook was gone. Even if it hadn’t burned to the ground during the tenure of the peanut farmer President, it would have been over a thousand miles from here. So why was he so frightened?
Because he wasn’t alone, that was why. There was someone behind him.
“Want some advice, Honeybear?”
The voice was liquid, wavering. Dan felt a chill go rushing down his back. His legs were colder still, prickled out in starpoints of gooseflesh. He could see those white bumps because he was wearing shorts. His brain might be that of a grown man, but it was currently sitting on top of a five-year-olds body.
Honeybear. Who—–?
But he knew. He had told Deenie his name, but she didn’t use it, just called him Honeybear instead.
You don’t remember that, and besides, this is just a dream.
Of course it was. He was in Frazier, New Hampshire, sleepingwhile a spring snowstorm howled outside Mrs Robertson’s rooming house. Still, it seemed wiser not to turn around. And safer — that, too.
“No advice,” he said, looking out at the river and the full moon. “I’ve been advised by experts. The bars and barbershops are full of them.”
“Stay away from the woman in the hat, Honeybear.”
What hat? he could have asked, but really, why bother? He knew what she was talking about, because he had seen it blowing down the sidewalk. Black as sin on the outside, lined with white silk on the inside.
“She’s the Queen Bitch of Castle Hell. If you mess with her, she’ll eat you alive.”

THE BLURB: Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky 12-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

MY THOUGHTS:

A masterpiece as usual Mr King.
I am always so sad when your books end – I want more!
What is going to happen to Abra?
And Dan?
What happened to the True Knot members who left?
Have they reconvened somewhere else?
So many questions……..
One very satisifed reader.

I hope that when it comes my time to die,  Doctor Sleep is there.

This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page. For an explanation of my ratings please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com