Friday, December 31, 2021

Book Review | Ghost in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga

Source: Preordered purchase. This is a review of my personal reading experience.

Ghost in the Headlights is Lindsey Duga's latest middle grade horror novel.

Ghost in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga

In this modern-day retelling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," an angry ghost haunts a small-town road in search of revenge...

When Brianna Jenson agreed to move in with her cruel uncle Shane in rural Pennsylvania, she didn't expect to find herself in the middle of a terrifying town legend.

Every afternoon on her walk home from school, as the sun begins to set behind the overhanging branches of Shadowrun Road, Brianna hears footsteps following her -- footsteps that belong to no one. Then there's the car that races along the narrow country road with blinding lights and almost runs her over! That's when Brianna realizes... there's no one driving. It's almost as if someone -- or something -- is trying to get her attention.

As Brianna investigates what happened on Shadowrun Road, she discovers a town tragedy that has never been resolved. Can Brianna get to the bottom of this ghostly mystery before it's too late?

Ghost in the Headlights is the perfect book to give a young reader starting out on their horror journey. This is exactly the type of book young Jen would have loved to read.

In Ghost in the Headlights, Brianna has to stay with her uncle while her mother is away training for work. Brianna finds herself wrapped up in the mysterious local legend of a missing girl.

I loved Brianna and her friendship with Jacob as they try to solve the mystery of the ghost girl.

As an adult who loves middle grade fiction, Ghost in the Headlights is not one I would really recommend to other adults. Like The Haunting, Ghost in the Headlights is filled with classic tropes that most adults have experienced numerous times but are absolutely perfect for an younger audience.

My youngest is entering the realm of middle grade reading, and Ghost in the Headlights is a book I am excited to pass down to him.

⭐⭐⭐⭐★
4/5 stars

Jennifer

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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Book Review | Cackle by Rachel Harrison

Source: Preordered purchase. This is a review of my personal reading experience.

Cackle is Rachel Harrison's latest horror novel. 


Cackle by Rachel Harrison

 

All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching position that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. She’s stunned by how perfect and picturesque the town is. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is dreamy too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.

Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologizing and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the townsfolk seem…a little afraid of her. And like, okay. There are some things. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power…but she couldn’t be…could she?

Cackle was such a delight!

I really enjoyed Rachel Harrison's debut novel The Return last year so I was excited to read Cackle.

I loved the characters of Annie and Sophie. I could relate to Annie, and I loved the dynamic between her and the mysterious and enchanting Sophie.

If you've read The Return, there were moments in that book where you are like what?! Just ask your friend where she has been!! There are similar vibes here where Sophie will say something completely off the wall and Annie is oblivious, but it's a fun journey.

If you need a pick-me-up, I do recommend reading this wicked and witchy book of friendship and living your best life.

⭐⭐⭐⭐★
4/5 Stars

Jennifer

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

On My Wishlist | Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire

It's almost time! The Wayward Children books have become one of my favorite things about the new year. I hope this series lasts forever. My greatest hope was returning to the school for wayward children in this one, but it sound like we are going to an alternate school instead. I'm nervous but excited.

Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire

Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you've already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company.

There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again.
It isn't as friendly as Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children.
And it isn't as safe.

When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her Home for Wayward Children, she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn't save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster.

She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming...

Have you read any of the Wayward Children books?



This post is being shared as part of Can't-Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

 

Jennifer

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Favorite Books of 2021

 Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl


Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is Best Books I Read In 2021. I'm looking forward to discovering some amazing books today. I'm cheating and going with lucky number 13.

Root Magic by Eden Royce Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire A Complex Accident of Life by Jessica McHugh


Root Magic
by Eden Royce {Review of Root Magic}

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire {Review of Across the Green Grass Fields}

A Complex Accident of Life by Jessica McHugh {Review of A Complex Accident of Life}

Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng


Thirteens
by Kate Alice Marshall {Review of Thirteens}

A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng

Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon


Hide and Seeker
by Daka Hermon {Review of Hide and Seeker}

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir


Day Zero
by C. Robert Cargill

Feral Creatures by Kira Jane Buxton {Review of Feral Creatures}


Too Bright to See
by Kyle Lukoff {Review of Too Bright to See}

Later by Stephen King

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker {Review of We Begin at the End}

I'm sad to see I didn't review so many of my favorites! It was a tough year.

Let me know if you've read any of my favorites, and please feel free to leave me a link to your favorites of 2021!

Jennifer

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Monday, December 27, 2021

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | December 27

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas to those of you who were celebrating! Our Christmas looked a lot different this year, but we had a good one.

Are there any books or series you are determined to finish before the year ends? As you will see below, I'm determined to finish The Way of Kings while it's still 2021.


Posted Last Week



Book Review | We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Review | The In-Between by Rebecca Ansari ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Book Review | The Ash House by Angharad Walker ⭐★★★★


Finished Reading


Ghost in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga ⭐⭐⭐⭐★ - This is a great book for kids starting their horror journey.

Cackle by Rachel Harrison ⭐⭐⭐⭐★ - This was a delight!

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls (Cece Rios #1) by Kaela Rivera ⭐⭐⭐⭐★ - I fell in love with Cece Rios right away. 

A 4⭐ week! Stay tuned for full reviews of these.


Currently Reading



Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney - This is so good so far! I've been waiting for a thriller like this one all year.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson - I've literally been reading this all year. I decided yesterday to devote this week to finishing it before the year ends. I'm about 550 pages in now, and it's finally getting good!


Added to the TBR


I'm *hoping* to read a lot more fantasy in 2022. These are some TBR books I picked up while out doing last minute Christmas shopping last week. Have you read any of these?


Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) by John Gwynne

The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning #2) by Evan Winter

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey



The Changeling by Victor LaValle

City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3) by Robert Jackson Bennett




This post is being shared as part of Book Date, Unleashing Readers, and Teach Mentor Texts It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

Jennifer

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Friday, December 24, 2021

Book Review | The Ash House by Angharad Walker

Source: Preordered purchase. This is a review of my personal reading experience.

The Ash House is a middle grade horror novel by Angharad Walker.

The Ash House by Angharad Walker

 

An unsettling, gripping middle grade debut about searching for a sense of belonging in the wrong places, and the bravery it takes to defy those who seek to control us. This is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children meets Lord of the Flies for fans of Neil Gaiman and Holly Black.

When Eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster.

The children at the Ash House want the new boy to love their home as much as they do. They give him a name like theirs. They show him the dorms and tell him about the wonderful oasis that the Headmaster has created for them. But the new boy already has a name. Doesn't he? At least he did before he walked through those gates...

This was supposed to be a healing refuge for children like him. Something between a school and a summer camp. With kids like him. With pain like his. But no one is allowed to get sick at the Ash House. NO ONE.

And then The Doctor arrives...

Strange things are about to happen at the mysterious Ash House. And the longer Sol spends on the mysterious grounds, the more he begins to forget who he is, the more the other children begin to distrust him, and the worse his pain becomes. But can he hold onto reality long enough to find an escape? And better yet, can he convince the others?

The Ash House did not work for me.

We are thrown into this story in this ash house with a bunch of boys who don't remember their names and go by weird given names that represent "nicenesses". Don't ask me why about any of this because I couldn't tell you.

The Ash House was not fun to read. The horror of the book focused on sickness and doctor horror without a point to it all.

I don't know what to say about the setting and the world building because I don't know what any of it meant. What was that house and why was it there? Why were the kids there? I was confused while reading it, and I'm left with no answers after finishing it.

There were times the wording felt like it was not written for a middle grade audience. "The children moved like clockwork." "The children stared back." Kids are reading about "the children"? The writing was super repetitive which is a pet peeve of mine.

I will say it's a beautifully made book. The cover got my attention right away, and I loved the interior chapter designs.

The Ash House is a debut middle grade, and I had high hopes for it. It's one of the best middle grade covers I've seen this year. Unfortunately, it's not one that I will pass on to my kids. 

1/5 Stars
 

Jennifer

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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Book Review | The In-Between by Rebecca Ansari

Source: Preordered purchase. This is a review of my personal reading experience.

The In-Between is a middle grade horror novel by Rebecca Ansari.

The In-Between by Rebecca Ansari

Cooper is lost. Ever since his father left their family three years ago, he has become distant from his friends, constantly annoyed by his little sister, Jess, and completely fed up with the pale, creepy rich girl who moved in next door, who won’t stop staring at him.

So when Cooper learns of an unsolved mystery his sister has discovered online, he welcomes the distraction. It’s the tale of a deadly train crash that occurred a hundred years ago in which one young boy among the dead was never identified. The only distinguishing mark on him was a strange insignia on his suit coat, a symbol no one had seen before or since. Jess is fascinated by the mystery of the unknown child—because she’s seen the insignia. And, she tells Cooper, he has too.

It’s the symbol on the jacket of the girl next door.

As they uncover more information—and mounting evidence of the girl’s seemingly impossible connection to the tragedy—Cooper and Jess begin to wonder if a similar disaster could be heading to their hometown. Thus begins an unforgettable adventure about the forgotten among us and what it means to be seen.

The In-Between is a book you have to STICK WITH! The pay off is worth it in the end.

In The In-Between, Cooper and his sister Jess are trying to solve a mystery they discover on the internet.

Coop and Jess aren't very likeable in the beginning of The In-Between. The family dynamic is a hard one. It makes the kids bitter and they don't get along. Jess has diabetes which I did appreciate seeing here. The characters (and their friends) go through a lot of development in The In-Between, and I wound up loving them all by the end.

Honestly, I considered putting this down which would have been a shame because everything came together beautifully by the end.

The world building and the supernatural setting that was embedded in Chicago was interesting. The In-Between was a really unique ghost story and will probably wind up being one of my favorite middle grade releases from this year.

A quick note - after reading numerous ghostly MG books, I've finally learned MG ghosts usually equal child death. I should have realized this sooner. I loved this book and I highly recommend it; just know - much like Scritch Scratch, it was inspired by a real disaster. 

4/5 stars

Jennifer

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Book Review | We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Source: Preordered purchase. This is a review of my personal reading experience.

We Begin at the End is a mystery novel by Chris Whitaker.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

There are two kinds of families: the ones we are born into and the ones we create.

Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released.

Duchess is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess―her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.

A fortysomething-year-old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.

Chris Whitaker has written an extraordinary novel about people who deserve so much more than life serves them. At times devastating, with flashes of humor and hope throughout, it is ultimately an inspiring tale of how the human spirit prevails and how, in the end, love―in all its different guises―wins

This was my first time to read Chris Whitaker. I look forward to reading more from him.

We Begin at the End was beautifully written. The characters were so well developed, flawed, and unforgettable. As much as I loved the characters, I also loved that there was a balance between plot and character. It was so well done.

I listened to the audio for much of this, and the prose and the narrator were a great fit.

It did take time for me to get sucked in, but it was such a well developed novel I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

If you love mysteries and crime novels, I highly recommend We Begin at the End, but I also recommend it for those wanting to explore other genres. 

5/5 stars
⭐⭐

Jennifer

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | December 19

It's Christmas week! Are you ready?

I'm not! I still have last minute shopping to do. This has been the worst year for getting behind on things, but I'll get it done.

I'm off of work after tomorrow. I hope to get in some reading this week, but honestly, I'm ready for some board games and Christmas movies!

Finished Reading


The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox The In-Between by Rebecca Ansari The Ash House by Angharad Walker

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox [DNF] - After I read In a Holidaze last year, I decided I'd pick up a Christmas book each year in December. My pick for this year was The Holiday Swap. Unfortunately it wasn't for me, and I dnf'ed at 51%. Please feel free to share your holiday favorites! I may try a cozy mystery next year.

The In-Between by Rebecca Ansari [] - I really liked the In-Between. It took a while to pull me in, but I wound up loving it. I'll have a full review out later this week.

The Ash House by Angharad Walker [] - I didn't like this one. I'm going to put up a full review of this one as well, but it was confusing and not a fun book to read.


Currently Reading


Cackle by Rachel Harrison Ghost in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga

Cackle by Rachel Harrison - I'm really enjoying this one even though there are a lot of spiders in this book!

Ghost in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga - I'm only a few chapters in, but I enjoyed her The Haunting last year so I'm excited to be reading this one.


Added to the TBR


No Beauties or Monsters by Tara Goedjen - No Beauties or Monsters was released last week. It's been a while since I preordered it so I'm going to be going into this one pretty blind.




This post is being shared as part of Book Date, Unleashing Readers, and Teach Mentor Texts It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

Jennifer

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