Book Review: Charlotte Says (Alex Bell)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 352

Release Date: September 7th 2017

Summary (From Goodreads):

Following the death of her mother in a terrible fire, Jemima flees to the remote Isle of Skye, to take up a job at a school for girls. There she finds herself tormented by the mystery of what really happened that night.
Then Jemima receives a box of Frozen Charlotte dolls from a mystery sender and she begins to remember – a séance with the dolls, a violent argument with her step-father and the inferno that destroyed their home. And when it seems that the dolls are triggering a series of accidents at the school, Jemima realizes she must stop the demonic spirits possessing the dolls – whatever it takes.

Continue reading “Book Review: Charlotte Says (Alex Bell)”

Book Review: The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen (Katherine Howe)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: One World Publications

Pages: 400

Release Date: April 7th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s summertime in New York City, and aspiring filmmaker Wes Auckerman has just arrived to start his summer term at NYU. While shooting a séance at a psychic’s in the East Village, he meets a mysterious, intoxicatingly beautiful girl named Annie.

As they start spending time together, Wes finds himself falling for her, drawn to her rose petal lips and her entrancing glow. But there’s something about her that he can’t put his finger on that makes him wonder about this intriguing hipster girl from the Village. Why does she use such strange slang? Why does she always seem so reserved and distant? And, most importantly, why does he only seem to run into her on one block near the Bowery? Annie’s hiding something, a dark secret from her past that may be the answer to all of Wes’s questions . . .

Review:

 This was a perfectly haunting story, a ghost story that doesn’t ever say the word ‘ghost’ and one that I’d definitely recommend to people who enjoyed ghost stories from Susan Hill and Juno Dawson.

The annoying thing about this book is it’s hard to review without being spoilery, and I really wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone. So this may be a bit of a short and vague review, but rest assured that I really enjoyed it and you probably will too.

The book is split into three parts. The first is where we meet Wes, a film student who’s helping his friend Tyler film a seance for an art film. I related to the two boys really well, having had a lot of film maker friends at university. It felt good to be in their world of cameras and showcases and late night edits. At the seance, Wes meets two mysterious girls: the titular Annie, and grungy but friendly Maddie. While Maddie happily lets Wes take her out for pizza and drinks, Annie is harder to get hold of, coming and going as she pleases and often ditching Wes completely, until she shows up suddenly in his bedroom one night.

In the second part, we see what Annie has been doing in between her comings and goings in Wes’ life. And the third part sees them both reunited as they try and solve the mystery of Annie’s missing cameo (a kind of ring). I won’t say too much about these bits, as that way spoilers lie!

I really enjoyed the mystery elements to the book, and while I sussed out one key thing pretty early on, there were plenty of other surprises that kept me on my toes, right until the end. Annie’s section was the bit that really got to me: it’s haunting and scary and the idea of being stuck in her situation is something that really unnerves me. The romance was quite prominent in the book, with Wes developing feelings for both girls in different ways, but I didn’t feel like the plot revolved around it too much: it was more about the mystery than anything.

This was a really face paced and fascinating book, filled with suspense and secrets, and is perfect for anyone looking for a modern ghost story.

4

Book Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (Paige McKenzie)

*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Details:

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Pages: 304

Release Date: 24th March 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

Review:

As a pretty big horror film fan, I’ve read surprisingly few horror novels (not including a massive amount of Goosebumps books in my younger days). So I was pretty excited when I read about this book, even though I’ve not seen any of the videos from YouTube.

Sunshine Girl reads like a classic modern horror film with plenty of suspense to keep you guessing all the way through and give you a chill as you read. I might not always think of classic modern horror as a particularly interesting one to watch (these days plot lines and twists are pretty generic and a bit tiresome) but reading it was a different matter.

Sunshine is a likeable character and her strong relationship with her mom makes the breakdown even harder to bear. There are some really unsettling interactions with her that make you feel genuinely disturbed: when her mom drinks coffee that Sunshine can see is still bubbling it’s so hot, or when she eats raw chicken. As the mom’s possession increased I felt tense every time Sunshine had to go home and be alone with her, knowing that something awful was probably about to happen.

For horror fans like me the plot could feel a little predictable – move to a new creepy house, hear ghosts and such, investigate and find an expert to help, eventually defeat the ghosts – but there’s so much more to the book that this that I didn’t care if it felt like I knew where it was going. It had enough personal touches and quirks to make it a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that I’d recommend to anyone who loves to be creeped out. I’ll definitely look out for more in the series.

As a side note: I read this at the bus stop one day and was feeling pretty unnerved and then I realised someone was standing very close behind me and I nearly screamed. This book gets you on edge!

My Verdict:

4

Book Review: Frozen Charlotte (Alex Bell)

 

Details:

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 368

Release Date: 5th January 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

We’re waiting for you to come and play.

Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…

Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

Review:

I read this book in two sittings and absolutely loved it. It draws you in with a creepy prologue that sets up the events perfectly and then launches straight into the story: there’s no hanging around here, it’s pretty much suspense and weird happenings all the way through and it’s perfect.Sophie was a perfect narrator to guide you through the story. Her reactions to the events were very realistic, which I think can be hard to do when writing a modern ghost story. It’s so easy to be skeptical of events and a narrator who believed them too quickly would be jarring, but Sophie had just the right amount of denial and then slow realisation of the reality of her situation.

I loved each of the cousins for their unique characterisation and really enjoyed not knowing who to trust. I found Piper a little flat at first: she seemed to be a bit of writer’s convenience at first as she explained a lot of back story and mythology but she soon fleshed out and became one of my favourite characters.

And then the Frozen Charlotte dolls themselves. They are creepy as hell and the fact that they’re real made them all the more spooky. I love the idea of the author turning the old song and Victorian dolls into this wonderfully scary story. They were amazing villains and I actually felt afraid to leave my room when I finished reading late at night. I could almost feel their tiny cold hands on me and I was terrified of what they’d do to me in my sleep.

I’d thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror stories or is looking to try something a little different. It’s a thrilling journey with a fast pace and a lot of twists that will keep you guessing right until the end. Just don’t read it in an empty house in the dark as I did!

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit

If you liked this, you might also enjoy The Haunting of Sunshine Girl