Book Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Book: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – published by Quirk Books, audible edition, 10 hours 11 minutes.

Synopsis: Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers.

But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act… different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend.

With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

My thoughts: I want to start out by saying I absolutely adored the 80s setting of the book. Although I was (for the most part) too young to experience the 80s in all it’s glory, I still feel a lot of nostalgia for the era and it was wonderful to read a book set in this time. It was also refreshing to read a book about teenagers living in that 80s, because of the technology available to them. I mean, Abby had a MICKY MOUSE PHONE.

To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this book, I’d seen some positive star ratings on Goodreads but hadn’t read any of the reviews for fear of spoilers. This was a great book. I felt like it was well paced, the character development was really good, the setting was a lot of fun, and the themes were dealt with in a pretty decent way considering it was set in high school. I mean, demonic possession of a teenage girl? How would you even be able to tell most of the time AMIRITE? He he he. Parts of the story were genuinely creepy (the scene where Gretchen is scribbling something on a piece of paper will stick in my mind for a long time), and I have to admit at times in the book I even teared up a little bit.

I was always really excited to step into the world when I hopped in my car for the long drive home from work every evening (which is when I usually listen to audio books). On some evenings I even sat in the car for a little while longer when I got home just so I could hear what happened next. I also want to mention the cover art for this book, which I think is so perfect for the era the story was set in, and the high school setting. 80s yearbook perfection. Although I read this in the dead of winter here in Australia I think this would make for an awesome summer read, so definitely put this on your to-read list for the upcoming season if you haven’t already done so.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

Book: Perfect Days by Raphael Montes – published by Penguin Press, hardcover edition, 272 pages.

Synopsis: Teo Avelar is a loner. He lives with his paraplegic mother and her dog in Rio de Janeiro, he doesn’t have many friends, and the only time he feels honest human emotion is in the presence of his medical school cadaver—that is, until he meets Clarice.

She’s almost his exact opposite: exotic, spontaneous, unafraid to speak her mind. An aspiring screenwriter, she’s working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. Teo is obsessed.

He begins to stalk her, first following her to her university, then to her home, and when she ultimately rejects him, he kidnaps her and they embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil, tracing the same route outlined in her screenplay.

Through it all, Teo is certain that time is all he needs to prove to Clarice that they are made for each other, that time is all he needs to make her fall in love with him. But as the journey progresses, he digs himself deeper and deeper into a pit that he can’t get out of, stopping at nothing to ensure that no one gets in the way of their life together.

My thoughts: This book was creepy in all the right ways. I picked it up on the recommendation of Kirstie from Melbourne On My Mind (one of my favourite booktubers), and was not disappointed. I managed to read it over the span of a couple of days (during yet another failed readathon attempt *sad trumpet*), and was completely captivated by the story the entire time.

I love stories like this, psychopath obsession/kidnap scenarios are my jam and I don’t care how much of a creep that makes me. I’ve heard people compare this book to You by Caroline Kepnes, but to me they were very different. The overall vibe of this book seemed a lot darker and more chilling to me, although Teo and Joe could both easily be classified as narcissistic psychopaths.

I have to admit, some points of the story made me feel physically ill but I don’t want to go into too much detail because #spoilers. I enjoyed the twists and turns along the way, and I honestly had no idea how the story would end. This is definitely worth picking up if you like books about obsession, stalking, kidnap, or just want something a bit creepy to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.

Rating: 8/10

Current Library Loans

I try to make an effort to visit my local library once every one or two weeks. Because I reserve most of my books online I don’t spend that much time browsing the aisles, but it does mean I always have a book on loan that I know I definitely want to read. Now lets see if I can find some free time to read in between all the time I’ve been spending watching the Olympics lately! Here are the books I currently have on loan from my local library:

Celeste by V.C. Andrews
Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon
Secret Brother by V.C. Andrews
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
The Special Ones by Em Bailey

Holiday Book Haul

The last thing I need in this world is more books. And yet… I just can’t seem to resist the lure of new books while I’m away on holiday. Despite being very close to being over the limit with my luggage on our way to Adelaide last month, I still managed to pick up these goodies:

Black by Fleur FerrisEbony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days . . . She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as ‘Black’. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too. Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed. Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way. But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge. If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?

The Hatching by Ezekiel BooneDeep in the jungle of Peru, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist party whole. FBI agent Mike Rich investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Indian earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. The Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. The first female president of the United States is summoned to an emergency briefing. And all of these events are connected. As panic begins to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at Melanie Guyer’s Washington laboratory. The unusual egg inside begins to crack. Something is spreading… The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An virulent ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake. But this is only the beginning of our end…

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack ThorneIt was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

BookTubeAThon 2016 TBR

I’ve never been able to fully participate in a readathon, mostly because I work full time and the time I do have free in the evenings is usually choc-a-block full of things I need to do around the house. I saw that this years BookTubeAThon was coming up, and was really excited to see that it occurs while I’m on annual leave from work. FREE TIME TO READ! I am going to participate this year, and will be posting updates on my twitter, so be sure to follow me if you’re interested in seeing where I’m at as the week progresses.

Challenge #1 – Read a book with yellow on the cover – My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Challenge #2 – Only read a book after sunset – Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Challenge #3 – Read a book you discovered through YouTube – Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
Challenge #4 – Read a book by one of your favourite authors – Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre
Challenge #5 – Read a book that is older than you – Trixie Belden #1 The Secret of the Mansion
Challenge #6 – Read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation – Allegient by Veronica Roth
Challenge #7 – Read seven books – Sweet Valley University Super Thriller Lost At Sea

Book Review: Velocity by Dean Koontz

Book: Velocity by Dean Koontz – published by HarperCollins, paperback edition, 498 pages.

Synopsis: William Wiles is an easy-going thirty-something, a bartender who lives a quiet life alone until a serial killer singles him out – not to kill him, but to force him to decide who the next victim will be.

On his SUV Billy finds the first note: ‘If you don’t take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blonde schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours.’

Billy pays an informal visit to an acquaintance, Lanny Olson, who is a policeman, and who thinks the note is a prank. The schoolteacher dies. The next note reverses the choices: if Billy takes the note to the police, a mother of two young children will die. If he doesn’t, an unmarried man who won’t be much missed will die. Lanny has to take this note seriously but the deadline runs out before he can decide how to make his involvement official. not be much missed, has become the next victim.

There will be more communications from the killer, more hideous choices, with ever tighter decision times, and with each choice Billy is drawn deeper into an accelerating nightmare, which steadily becomes more personal, more confrontational, until he is isolated, with no one to turn to and no one to rely on but himself.

Finally he must risk everything to save the intended victims…

My thoughts: I picked this book up after spotting it at a second hand book store. I was drawn in after seeing the cover (and reading the blurb), because it seemed like a really interesting and unique kind of story. I have to admint I was disappointed with this book and I think it’s because my expectations were set at the level of Koontz’s “Intensity”, which is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. This was more of a slow burn, and there certainly weren’t any heart-pounding-with-excitement moments at any stage of the story.

The main character made so many stupid decisions it was really hard to sympathise with him when everything went wrong. I’m usually not too bad with stories where I don’t really care about (or actually dislike) the main character, but I struggled with this book. I just didn’t care what happened to old Billy Wiles.

This book really started to drag around the halfway point, and I felt like I was dreading picking it up every time I decided I would read a bit more. The big reveal of the killer was a huge letdown for me, it felt really anticlimactic. I prefer stories where we get to know the killer, and their story is fleshed out through the book, rather than just a chapter or so tacked on towards the end.

I’d go so far as to say skip this book, and pick up Dean Koontz’s ‘Intensity’ instead, which to me is a far superior thriller, and an actually enjoyable read.

Rating: 2/10

Book Review: Sweet Valley High Super Edition #6 – Spring Fever

Book: Sweet Valley High Special Edition #6 – Spring Fever – published by Bantam Books, paperback edition, 233 pages.

Synopsis: The Wakefield twins never expected that spending spring break with their great-aunt and great-uncle in Walkersville, Kansas, would be so exciting. But Jessica and Elizabeth find out that small-town life can have its share of big adventures.

Their vacation gets off to a bad start when the local girls give them the cold shoulder. And Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman won’t let the twins out of their sight. But things pick up when the girls meet gorgeous identical twins, Alex and Brad Parker. Jessica thinks Alex may be the man of her dreams, but she can’t get away from her overprotective aunt and uncle to find out. Then, Elizabeth makes an unexpected discovery about the Parker twins that could mean big trouble….

Come along to the country with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, and catch Spring Fever!

My thoughts: This was one of my favourite “super edition” Sweet Valley High books when I was growing up, it always gave me such a nice summery feeling (apparently I liked summer as a kid? as an adult it’s one of my top 5 most hated things).

The basic premise of the book is that Jessica and Elizabeth take a vacation to visit their Great Aunt and Uncle who live in a small town in Kansas called Walkersville, oh and who of course are never again mentioned in the entire book series. The twins settle into sleepy town life and spend their days sleeping in, eating homemade pie, playing with kittens, and going for walks. I don’t know about you guys but that sounds like a pretty perfect holiday to me. The only downside to life in Walkersville is town meangirl Annie-Sue Sawyer, who decides that she hates the twins and starts making their life difficult. Jessica and Elizabeth can’t seem to figure out what she possibly could have against them. I have to say though, Jessica keeps wearing a fringed jacket that sounds pretty offensive so tbh I’m on team Annie-Sue in this situation.

A carnival comes to town, and the twins meet Alex – a handsome (ooh!) carnie (gross) who tends to the horses (cute). Jessica falls for him almost immediately (shock horror), and they are understandably excited to discover that Alex is also a twin! Jessica comes up with the bright idea that Elizabeth date Alex’s twin brother Brad, despite Elizabeth already having a boyfriend back in Sweet Valley. Poor old Jeffrey French. I was quite shocked that straight-n-narrow Liz went along with this, and even started to have feelings for Brad (of course her morals caught up with her and she put an end to it pretty quickly). Jessica sneaks out every night to meet up with sexy horse wrangler Alex at the carnival, which results in her sleeping in every day and eventually ends up giving Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman (lol) major anxiety. Clearly they’ve never lived with a teenager before.

Everything comes to a head when Jessica sneaks out one evening and Alex leaves her in charge of Midnight – the rough and ready horse he’s trying to sell. Nasty old Annie-Sue comes along and decides that she wants to ride Midnight, because her father is buying him for her. Perfectly reasonable, except for the fact that Midnight is SKITTISH AF and takes off with Annie-Sue on his back. Jessica saves the day, and Annie-Sue is grateful – revealing that she’s only been making Jessica’s life difficult and blackmailing her for her lush bejeweled 80’s headbands because she’s jealous. Didn’t see that coming!!! The girls make up and all is forgiven, although Jessica’s secret shame of sneaking out at night has finally been revealed to Shirl n Herm in all the drama. It’s nicely swept under the rug though, and in the end Jessica is permitted to go to the square dance with Alex.

In the meantime, Elizabeth has discovered that Alex does not have a twin and is actually a pretty awful human being who pretended to be two people in an attempt to date both twins at once. Of course Elizabeth chooses not to inform Jessica of this, and instead lets her to along to the dance with Alex despite him being a liar and a generally gross guy. Alls well that ends well though, and the story is wrapped up nicely with the girls getting a lovely send off from the town at the end of the square dance. Farewell Walkersville, it’s time to head back to Sweet Valley!

I remember being obsessed with this cover when I was a kid. On re-reading it I’m mostly annoyed that although Jessica’s gingham dress matches the outfit she wears to the square dance, ELIZABETH’S DOES NOT. She’s supposed to be wearing a red and white checked shirt, but I guess that might have looked a bit too matchy matchy.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Book: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier – published by Allen & Unwin, kindle edition, 375 pages.

Synopsis: ‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’

I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito

As far as I know.

Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.

Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?

My thoughts: I’d heard very little about this book before picking it up, except for the basic synopsis. A story about a child psychopath? Yes please! This book turned out to be quite different from what I’d expected, but was still an enjoyable read. I think I was expecting more of a thriller element to the story, and although there were some creepy moments and an underlying current of something not quite right, it wasn’t as shocking as I’d thought it would be.

I loved a lot of things about this book. In particular I loved the diversity of characters, and how naturally they all fit into the story and added a richness to it in their own way. I loved the aspects of psychology that flowed through the book, although I would have liked more of a focus on this I can understand why it wasn’t fleshed out as much as I would have liked. It was particularly interesting for me to read a book with Australian characters, which for some reason is not something I do very often. I really should do something about that. I had to laugh to myself when phrases like ‘tracky dacks’ came up, because I feel like a lot of people probably would have scratched their heads over that.

All in all I really enjoyed this book, I found myself getting swept into the story whenever I would pick it up.

Rating: 6/10

Library Haul

I love our local library. I love to wander around and browse all of the shelves, and see all of the titles that I’ll probably never get around to reading (a girl can dream, right?). For the most part, I reserve my books on the library’s website, and then go and pick them up in one go once they’ve all been set aside. Here’s my latest library “haul” of books I’d recently reserved:

The Special Ones by Em BaileyHe keeps us here because we’re Special. Esther is one of the Special Ones – four people who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special, and that renewal almost certainly means death. Yet she also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance–if she wants to survive long enough to escape.

Perfect Days by Raphael MontesThe path to true love rarely runs smoothly…Teo, a medical student, meets Clarice at a party. Teo doesn’t really like people, they’re too messy, but he immediately realises that he and Clarice are meant to be together. And if Clarice doesn’t accept that? Well, they just need to spend some time together, and she’ll come to realise that too. And yes, he has bought handcuffs and yes, he has taken her prisoner and yes, he is lying to her mother and to his mother and to the people at the hotel he’s keeping her at, but it’s all for her own good. She’ll understand. She’ll fall in love. She’ll settle down and be his loving wife. Won’t she?

Finding Jake by Bryan ReardonWhile his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn’t. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school. Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone. As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Kindle Book Haul

I’ve been feeling in the mood for a book haul lately, but unfortunately I have literally NO ROOM on my book shelf for anything new until I read and clear out a few of my existing books. With that in mind I opted for the second best thing – a kindle book haul! Here’s what I picked up:

Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra TorreCole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town. Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year. We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him. From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me. Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract. – I really like Alessandra Torre’s books for a bit of fun and light reading (with a hint of sauciness). I also really love books set in small towns, so hopefully this is something I’ll enjoy.

In A Handful Of Dust by Mindy McGinnisIn a Handful of Dust is set ten years after the first novel, Not a Drop to Drink, as a dangerous disease strikes the community where teenage Lucy lives. When her adoptive mother, Lynn, takes Lucy away from their home and friends in order to protect her, Lucy struggles to figure out what home means. During their journey west to find a new life, the two face nature’s challenges, including hunger, mountains, and deserts – I really enjoyed the first book in this series, although I read it quite awhile ago so hopefully I can still remember the story.

Vivian Versus America by Katie CoyleFor Vivian Apple, the end of the world was just the beginning. Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple has just travelled across the country, fended off roving bands of indoctrinated teenagers, re-evaluated everything she ever thought was true, and uncovered the dark secrets about the recent so-called ‘Rapture’ and the Church of America. And now, she must rescue her maybe-boyfriend Peter from the Church before the world is (supposedly) due to end, which is in less than three months. It’s been a busy apocalypse so far. Stranded in a city on the verge of complete panic, and faced with a society in an ever-increasing state of breakdown, Vivian and her friend Harp don’t even know where to begin looking for Peter. But then a tip leads them to Los Angeles, and the somewhat unlikely location of the Chateau Marmont hotel. Vivian must save the day – or she’ll lose everything worth living for a second time… – I’m halfway through the first book in the series, and really enjoying it so far. I know already that I’m interested in reading the second book but it’s not available at my local library yet, so kindle it is!

Sage’s Eyes by Virginia AndrewsSixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to-even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers-no adult-could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things. – As IF I wouldn’t be buying a new VC Andrews book once I discovered that it existed. Her books were a huge part of my teenage years, and I’m excited to see what this one is about. I’d be interested to know if this story is based of one of her earlier ideas (she has passed away, and these are ghost written) or something new, because I have seem some reviews that say it doesn’t read like a Virginia Andrews book. I remain positive though, and I’ll be sure to let you all know what I think when I get around to reading it.