The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Published: 1st December 2001 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 David R. Godine Publisher
Pages: 138
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classic/Paranormal Gothic
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller–one that chills the body, but warms the soul with plot, perception, and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story written by Jane Austen?

Alas, we cannot give you Austen, but Susan Hill’s remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as our era can provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully–and for Kipps most tragically–The Woman In Black.

I read this expecting to be unnerved and unsettled but it didn’t quite reach that point. Overall it was enjoyable, but I found it a bit boring and slow at times. I understood the haunting, creepy nature but it didn’t grab me like it probably should. For the most part it was an ok story and I was curious about it, but that was as far as I got.

Reflecting the stories of centuries past this isn’t a horror story to frighten you, it’s meant to put you ill at ease with stories of ghosts and a mysterious woman lurking in graveyards. Small towns on moors with constant fog with secrets and unwilling to trust strangers.

You have to wait for the story to kick off and once that happens the plot unfolds properly and you get a few explanations and events that keep you intrigued. One thing I wasn’t expecting was how much the ending affected me. After reading about Kipps and his life, his experience with this old house and what he finds there I was anticipating the ending, but when it came to read about it I was quite moved. It’s that I remember most from this book, for that I give Hill credit for her writing. It burrows in when you think you aren’t paying attention and then turns your emotions on you in unexpected ways.

This is a relatively short book and it was better than the film, though both tell the story well. I think I missed that ending from the film which to me made this book all the better.

You can purchase The Woman in Black via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon | Audible

The Name of the Star (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Published: 29th September 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 372
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

Upon finishing this book I was experiencing a myriad of emotions and feelings that the first draft of this review was, for the majority, unhelpful gushing and exuberant praise. I was on a high of delight and amazement at what I had just read. Nothing wrong with that, but rather unhelpful for a review.

I cannot ignore though that a full 330 words were devoted entirely to going on about just how wonderful this book was. I experienced so many feelings and emotions throughout this book, especially during the final chapters, that I was on the edge of my seat and unsure where it could possibly lead, excited and impatient and nervous of what was going to happen.

I have been a long time fan of Johnson through her guest vlogging, her books, and following her hilarity on Twitter, but only recently have I been able to snag a copy of her Shades of London series which I have been dying to read for years. And can I just say I am so glad I finally got to read this because it is the greatest book ever! It is such a Maureen Johnson book as well. Her personality and own quirkiness shine off the pages and through her characters.

I strongly recommend you read this book, it really is all kinds of amazing. It’s a Jack the Ripper story like no other and it sucks you in and holds you while it simultaneously messes with your mind and makes you amazed and wide-eyed at the cleverness of it all.

The story follows Rory, a girl from southern USA who is sent to boarding school in London. She soon becomes embroiled in a series of murders eerily similar to that of Jack the Ripper. From there it becomes a story about murder and mystery, with a unique and clever paranormal element as well. Johnson’s writing is light and funny but also manages to be delightfully creepy in all the best ways.

The characters are unique and have their own stories to tell. I liked Rory’s charm in that she was a bit odd but she was who she was and wasn’t ashamed. I loved the differences between the UK and the US and the cultural clashes that are evident. I also loved that the story was slowly revealed. I revelled in the shocks, the surprises, and the delights. I made so many gasps and various other noises while I read this I’m sure people nearby were looking at me weird.

Other characters like Jerome and Stephen are wonderful. Jerome, in particular, is all kinds of adorable and while it took some time to warm to Rory, I loved Jerome immediately. I liked each character’s quirky nature and that they brought their own strengths to any situation. There is a wonderful sense of UK boarding school culture as well as a nice look at the streets of London through the eyes of a newcomer as well as its citizens. You get a taste of the culture and the mystery the old city has to offer and it is easy to fall under the spell through Rory and her own fascination.

When you read this book I suggest you keep the second in the series nearby because the moment you finish that last page you will want to dive into the next book right away. It is a wonderful story and it is a ghost story like no other.

You can purchase The Name of the Star via the following

Wordery | Book Depository | Fishpond

Dymocks | Amazon USA | Author Website

Barnes and Noble | Readings | Amazon Aust

Moonstruck by Nikki Rae

Published: 30 November 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self Published
Pages: 315
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Myles Lott left this town ten years ago. He never wanted to come back unless he had to. Now he has to. Sophie Jean, the girl he was supposed to protect from monsters of his world, has finally grown up. She’s familiar with monsters, just not vampires like him. Hers are harder to defeat; they’re in her own mind. Myles has returned to protect her and nothing more, but his feelings for Sophie develop quicker than he ever could have imagined. Torn between their worlds, Myles must fight for the girl he’s loved all along without causing any more damage. Unfortunately, a past enemy has other plans.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author

I read Sunshine year ago when Rae first released it, so reading Moonstruck it was easy to see elements of Sunshine in there. But having said that, it isn’t the same story. Retelling Sunshine from the perspective of Myles has opened up the story to have new insight and allow readers to see the characters they know in a new light. With this rewrite Rae opens us up to Myles’ life, away from Sophie’s, but also his thoughts and emotions surrounding her to be told too.

Even when he is with Sophie, being shown his intentions and justifications adds another element. It was interesting reading the story from a new perspective; even the scenes that were familiar had a different feel about them because we were inside Myles’ head and not Sophie’s. Seeing Sophie’s life from the outside changes her character a lot. Having gotten to know her from Sunshine, it was interesting not having the full emotional thought and feelings from her, instead only seeing what Myles’ sees and what she allows him to see. Who she is alters slightly as we are shown her through new eyes. I think I would see her differently if I didn’t already know her story. It would be interesting if you read this without having read Sophie’s POV how it would read differently.

It didn’t feel like I was rereading the original story, and yet it was comfortable and familiar at the same time, with a few new surprises as we saw more of Myles’ life. What I also loved, even though it was brief, was seeing Jade and Stevie again. Since this wasn’t Sophie’s POV we don’t see the awesome sibling relationship between her and Jade, but just having them there reminded me of how much I love them. Even when the story isn’t about them I will latch onto them.

Rae has done a great job in keeping the same story structure while adding new and interesting scenes, filling in the gaps as it were when Myles is away from Sophie. Moonstruck is a story that can easily stand alone, it isn’t just a switch of POV of Sunshine, Rae makes it its own story and she does so very well.

You can purchase Moonstruck via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Ceruleans Print Party + Giveaway

The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death.

Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

The Ceruleans is a fantastic YA series from Megan Tayte with a fantasy and paranormal element that captures your attention early on. There are now five books in the series, the last one released in February this year. The series follows Scarlett Blake, a teenager seemingly haunted by death, and is filled with serious questions about life and death, but is also filled with humour and fun and wonderful friendships.

In honour of the series being released in print, and with amazing revamped covers, Megan is offering a chance to win the entire series! It’s very hard to insist you must read The Ceruleans when I have only published one review for the series, but I’ve read more and they are addictive and amazing, and all kinds of wonderful. Plus, with a chance to win all five books, this is the best time to dive into the series (total pun intended).

The giveaway has been running since the start of June, but work, illness, and life has stopped me making this post sooner, but there are still ten days to get in your entries and make sure you’re in with a chance to win these incredible books. I have plans to post reviews of them all to complete my list, but for now, I can only ask you trust me when I say you should read these books.

To find out about the series check out Goodreads and discover these amazing books!

My review of book one, Death Wish

Ceruleans poster

Giveaway

To go in the draw head to the Rafflecopter page and complete the form.

 

Buy links

Amazon UK

Amazon Aust

Amazon

Megan Tayte bio

Megan TayteOnce upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did. Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award. Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in the village of Standish, Greater Manchester. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

 

You can find Megan online at:

Website | Goodreads

Facebook | Twitter

Instagram

 

Yellow by Megan Jacobson

Published: 1st February 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Penguin Teen Australia
Pages: 259
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.

To quote a line from an incredibly wise author by the name of Megan Jacobson, “this is the kind of book that makes you stop and just rest the pages on your chest from the truth of it”. Yellow is a brilliant, emotionally charged book that reveals so much about the various struggles in people’s lives. There is an incredible amount of beauty and honesty and raw strength in this story; Jacobson captures so much from so many angles and connects them together into this life of a fourteen-year-old.

Kirra Barley is my hero. I love her so much, she speaks to me on so many levels and she is so much braver and stronger than she could ever give herself credit for. I am so fiercely proud of her and everything she does, even the bad stuff. She is shy but she has dreams of being popular. Despite continually being berated and bullied by her so called friends, she is always out to impress them, always wanting to fit in. She doesn’t revel in being the outsider, she wants friends, she needs someone to talk to and it crushes you when she doesn’t get it.

Kirra’s so desperate to have friends she jumps at the chance to help a ghost she isn’t entirely sure is real, and wants him to make her popular and fix her family. What’s fantastic about this is that Jacobson doesn’t let the paranormal aspect take over from this real story, yet in a way Boogie’s ghost still does. Kirra’s efforts to help him takes her down certain paths, some good some not, and it makes you realise how desperate she has become and how unable she is to cope with what’s happening around her.

As much as you hate some of these characters and how much they frustrate and anger you, there is no denying how fantastic they are. They’re all as complex and well developed as each other and even with the short attention given to a few of them, there are clever ways Jacobson reveals who they are deep down.

The emotions definitely begin early on and stay in varying degrees until the final page. Yellow grabs onto your heart and will take it on a tough and brutal journey filled with pain and surprises and twists that you will not believe. It’s down to earth despite the fact there’s a ghost in a phone box, and it’s filled with characters who have flaws and failings and while you can’t forgive everything, it’s evident some of them are doing the best they can.

The best way to describe this story is a lot of little heartbreaks joined together, but as Jacobson made me realise, it also has lots of bits of glue and band-aids. For every moment you mourn for Kirra (there’s no pity it’s straight up mourning), there is another part that lifts your spirits and makes things ok. This perfect balance is what makes this story work. It’s not a constant problem/solution type story, but when you see Kirra’s world crush her, there’s a moment that makes you glad she has some light.

It isn’t all heartache and pain I promise, there are light-hearted moments and a gripping plot that pulls you along and makes you become invested in this town and its people. But Jacobson doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities either, and together with these wonderful moments a story emerges that astounds and amazes. This is definitely a story that stays with you long after you’ve finished.

You can purchase Yellow via the following

Booktopia | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | QBD

AmazonDymocks

Readings | Publisher

AWW16

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