Book Reviews

Review: House of Furies (House of Furies #1) by Madeleine Roux

Seventeen year old Louisa Ditton is unwanted. By her parents, by her grandparents, by her school. By the general populace. She’s telling fortunes in the streets for pennies until an old crone tricks her into coming to Coldthistle House, where she begins working as a maid. But things aren’t as they seem inside the mansion, where the next day Mrs. Haylam, the old crone, isn’t quite so old or quite so cronish, and there’s a girl working that reminds Louisa a little too much of her childhood imaginary friend. There’s also the Residents, terrifying smoke-like creatures that may or may not be protecting her, but are extremely dangerous to the guests. And don’t forget Mr. Morningside, the owner of Coldthistle House, who seems to be a few hundred years old and has backwards feet, like a demon.

Coming across Mr. Morningside’s diary, Louisa starts to unravel the alarming histories of her employer, as well as those of the inhabitants of the house itself. And it’s not long before she realizes that all the guests that come to Coldthistle House don’t actually leave.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is a gothic novel set in Victorian times and is filled with murder and mystery, making it the perfect book to read in late September / early October. I found the side characters to be more interesting than Louisa and her love interest, Lee Bremerton, and hope they’re further explored in the next book. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary plot, a lot of side plot, and not a lot of getting to the point, but the strange and weird that happens within the 400-odd pages is enough that I will pick up the second book in the series at one point.

Roux seems to be a fan of shorts within her different book universes, so hopefully we will get one featuring the Residents, and how they came to be. The hints that were dropped have me itching for more.

Book Reviews

Review: Catacomb (Asylum #3) by Madeleine Roux

The Asylum series by Madeleine Roux is one of my favorites. I recently finished its conclusion, Catacomb, in a marathon read of about four hours. I did have to pause a few chapters in to go back and reread the first two; it had been about four years since I read them and I needed to reacquaint myself with the story, but it was absolutely worth it. Madeleine Roux does a great job with set description, particularly. I could really visualize the settings and felt myself drawn in to all of the adventures.

Full of mystery, suspense, intrigue, and New Orleans, Catacomb is my favorite book in the series. Dan Crawford and his friends Jordan and Abby have finally put their nightmare in New Hampshire behind them. Ready to road trip to New Orleans, where Jordan is moving for school, they’re looking forward to a few weeks of fun and relaxation before college. Nobody is trying to stalk them, kill them, or mind-control them. They deserve this.

Until a mysterious figure on a motorcycle keeps showing up wherever they go, photographing them. And a muscle car follows them from a campsite they bunk down in to the Quarter. And a friend starts contacting them from beyond the grave. Dan, Jordan, and Abby are once again thrust into a paranormal experience that will haunt them and connect them for the rest of their lives.

I didn’t mind that Catacomb barely ties into the first two books in the Asylum series. We revisit the same trio of characters but they are quite literally onto the next stage of their lives, figuratively and literally. One could consider the first two books the New Hampshire experience and the New Orleans setting as a stand alone novel, but I do recommend reading them in order to get the full experience of their history together. We dive deeper into Dan’s past, learning more about his parents directly, and start to see that his hallucinations are perhaps something more than that.

While their final adventure wraps up as well as it can, it’s nice that Roux didn’t spell out everyone’s happy ending. Dan does get a sweet epilogue in the end though, which was appreciated given all he was put through.

Book Reviews

Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson is the ultimate summer author. Fast, fun reads with characters that draw you in; her books are perfect for reading in an afternoon while laying on the beach or in your backyard. They are meant to be read stand alone but typically take place in the same little town and past characters can pop up in minor roles.

In Save the Date, it’s Charlie Grant’s last summer at home before she goes off to college and it’s going to be a blast. All her older siblings are flying in for their sister’s wedding. Her mother’s popular comic strip, that’s actually based on the Grant family, is also coming to an end and will coincide with the wedding. Charlie’s devotion to her family makes her determined that the weekend goes perfectly.

Until mix up after mix up happens because of the wedding planner, one brother brings home a nightmare of a girlfriend, another brother won’t speak to anyone but her, and the alarm system decides it needs an exorcism. Also, there’s a boy. Isn’t there always? He’s responsible and smart and is able to problem solve like a champion. Which turns out to be a highly necessary skill over the course of the next three days.

Morgan Matson always bring a good story to the table. This one showcases one of the best family dynamics I’ve read about in a long time. I haven’t disliked a book by her yet. If you need something light, heartwarming, and funny, Save the Date is for you.

Book Reviews

Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

It may not be October just yet, but it’s officially fall. Which means, to me at least, that it’s time to read everything spooky, scary, weird, and harvest themed. I started my journey with a reread of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Not my typical light flavor, but a gothic novel told in a unique voice that’s worth the read.

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Merricat and Constance Blackwood, along with old Uncle Julian, are the only Blackwoods left. Together, they live in seclusion on the family estate after a horrible incident involving an ingestion of arsenic killed the other members of their family. Uncle Julian, being too ill to go anywhere and Constance, borderline agoraphobic, leave Merricat to do as she pleases throughout the day. Routine is important to her, so aside from neatening the house and burying protective talismans in the yard, she goes into town twice a week for groceries and library books. Merricat does this while imagining different ways the cruel townspeople who taunt her and her family die.

One day, Merricat “feels a change coming, and no one knows it but me.” Her cousin Charles comes to call, with plots within plots but too stupid to carry them out smartly.

Truth be told, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is extremely fascinating. It’s told to us in real time by Merricat, but she is a most unreliable narrator. Seemingly stunted in development from the time of her family’s murder years ago, we can’t quite tell if what’s she’s telling us is how the story actually unfolds. She’s very imaginative and child-like, believing in magic and making up games and rules for herself, but clearly unbalanced.  My personal favorite way to look at her is as if she’s a ghost herself.

Book Reviews

Review: Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to read through what’s on my Kindle but I keep getting sidetracked by the Readers Also Enjoyed section of Goodreads. Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca is of the latter, and its the kind of book I went mad for trying to get a hold of. Since it was published in 2015 I thought I might have it in my vault of ebooks already, but in the end I made the purchase on Amazon.

Kelsey and David met in Newport one summer while her family was vacationing at her uncle’s cabin and David’s family came out to help out his grandfather, who lived next door. Fast becoming friends, they learned David and his father would be moving to the little town in Connecticut Kelsey was from. Miscommunications and the hurt David unknowingly caused her left Kelsey reeling after two years of friendship, and when her dad took a job out of state, she jumped at the chance to start over. Reinventing herself completely, she was ready for senior year. But then David walked back into Kelsey’s life, and the world she cultivated for herself got turned upside down.

Told from a back and forth viewing of past and present Kelsey, we watch her friendship with David grow and change and in the end, all is right in their world. Unfortunately for this book, it was 321 pages of cat and mouse with genuinely bad decisions all around. Kelsey and David didn’t really grow at all in their four years of high school and their friends were underdeveloped and underutilized. This was a very frustrating read where I felt nothing but annoyance*

*I did, however, really enjoy the descriptions of Newport and its Cliff Walk as I went to school in Rhode Island and am familiar with the places mentioned.

Book Reviews

Review: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

In my adult years, I’ve read in voracious spurts. I met a group of friends online who loved to read, and it rekindled my own love. Previously, I hadn’t picked up a book besides the newest Harry Potter in years. Recently I have gone through another dead period, reading only a handful of books a year for about three years or so. And then I picked up Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff.

Brenna Yovanoff is one of my favorite authors for dipping into the slightly strange edge of young adult books. She has only written a few books, but all are worth a read. Published in 2016, Places No One Knows is my favorite book of hers to date and what brought me out of my most recent no-book-funk.

Waverly Camdenmar is the robotic best friend of the most power hungry girl in high school. Her existence up until now has been to do everything exactly right in order to secure a perfect existence in the universe, and at night she runs to feel everything and nothing. When she finds herself in Marshall Holt’s bedroom the first night, her orderly world is turned upside down as a boy she never felt anything for flips the on switch to  her human side. She’s curious about his desire to turn himself into nothing, and when she keeps dreaming herself into his life at night he realizes he still wants more than a few hours of her time. He begins to want more for himself, too.

I cheered for these characters as they went about their daily struggles for perfection and to do better. When they reached their truest potentials, I was happy for them. This was definitely a book I will reread at one point.