Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Intrigue, mystery, and adventure!

Catherine loves to bake and wants to be a professional baker but her parents think that baking is servants’ work and they want her to marry the king, even if it’s against her wishes. The king seems very interested in Catherine’s baking and possibly for marriage with her. She’s not remotely interested. Jest, the new joker, fascinates Cath and the two of them develop a relationship. The Jabberwock continues to terrify and attack the people and Cath tells the king that he should be doing something about it. The king happens to be more interested in parties and happy thoughts than the safety of the kingdom. This fairytale retelling is full of intrigue, mystery and adventure as we learn the story of the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland. Enjoyable, suspenseful and heartbreaking, 5 stars!

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Fresh Camelot tale!

Elaine is a seer and she is friends with Arthur, Gwen (Guinevere), Lancelot and Morgana. Arthur’s father, the king, dies. So, Arthur has to return home to take over the reign of the kingdom. Morgana has a cruel twin sister, Morgause. None of the friends want to return to Camelot but they have to nonetheless. Elaine sees a vision that horrifies her to the point of being terrified of what’s to come.

The group arrives at Camelot just as Mordred is about to be named king. Since Arthur has shown up, he’s set to go to Lyonesse to procure a treaty. He has little support from Camelot with only a handful of knights willing to go with him and his group of friends. Lyonesse is supposed to be extremely violent and dangerous and most people never return. When they arrive, they sense something ominous but don’t understand it. That night they hear screams and feral howls and are terrified. The next morning Gwen explains the true nature of her kingdom. Somehow, the king offers up his daughter Gwen to duel with Arthur and what follows astounds everyone. This is a wonderfully told Camelot tale. Elaine deals with the curse of being able to see into the future but none of her visions are guaranteed to come to pass. For every outcome, she sees many possibilities and in the meantime, she struggles to prevent bad ones from becoming true. I love the five main characters and wanted their lives to work out well. I’m sad that I finished it because it’s such an engrossing and enjoyable read. Fresh Camelot tale, 5 stars!

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Based on the tragically true story of the Donner Party.

Eerie prologue opens the story with a perfect creepy and ominous tone. This book is so much more than just a horror story! The author takes historical facts and mixes them with some historical fiction and then adds a touch of supernatural horror to create a scary tale out of a true horrific tragedy. The characters are many and we get to know each of them in turns as the author reveals their background stories and personal secrets. The characters range from timid, blustery, brave and to all out dangerous. The tragically true story of the Donner Party gives the perfect backdrop for a horror story and the author blends truth and fiction together seamlessly, 5 stars!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Food for thought!

Nora feels like her life is pointless and that she’s useless. She overdoses and ends up at the Midnight Library, an in-between place where she looks at her large book of regrets and chooses different lives to try out, all from choices she makes differently in her past. As soon as she feels disappointed in each life, she’s brought back to the Midnight Library to choose a different path. A fascinating read that gave me much to ponder.

Quote- “You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.”

  • Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
  • character quote by Mrs Elm

Food for thought, 5 stars!

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Uniquely strange!

Seven-year-old Christopher is on the run with his mom. Her boyfriend Jerry was mean one too many times. They reach a new town and she finds a job cleaning at a nursing home. Christopher struggles with school until he reappears after missing in the woods for six days. He can’t remember anything about that time. Everything seems to get better for Christopher and his mom, Kate. Then Christopher sneaks out with his friends to build a treehouse in the forbidden woods. He gets sick and doesn’t sleep because of the nightmares he keeps having. His mother sees him falling apart and before she can fix anything their lives and whole world turn upside down. This story has an eerie, spooky feel. It’s part supernatural and part mystery with a Stephen King, albeit mellow, feel. Unique and strange, 4 stars!

Pony by R.J. Palacio

A western adventure full of action and mystery!

Pony tells the story of a young boy who takes refuge in a tree during a violent storm and when the tree is struck by lightning, receives a burn on his back in the shape of that same tree. The burn heals into a very unique scar. His father revives the boy by using a fireplace bellows. This man is interested in photography but turned to boot making to support his family but the lightning incident stokes his love of art and photos. The young boy, Silas, was born the same day his mother died. So, Silas and his father are without her. Pa is kindhearted and loving and cares deeply about Silas. One night, three riders with pistols drawn, arrive at their home demanding that Pa and Silas go with them. They won’t say why other than their boss wants Pa to work for a week and then he’ll let him return to his home. The riders brought an extra horse and a white-faced pony with them so Pa and Silas could ride along. Pa makes Silas stay behind. The pony shows up soon after the riders leave with Pa. Silas is worried that Pa has been hurt so he rides Pony (Silas’ name for the small horse) and goes after Pa’s trail. He finds so much more than he expected and meets several different allies along the way. Pony is a western adventure full of action and mystery, told with a continuous sense of awe; I loved reading it, 5 stars!

When All the Girls Are Sleeping by Emily Arsenault

A wonderfully spooky read!

The spookiness starts immediately with the opening of the book. The font in chapter one is perfectly ghostly! Haley’s best friend, Taylor, fell to her death last year. Haley receives an email with an attached video from Taylor’s oldest sibling. He asks Haley if she knows anything about the video and as she starts to watch it, she realizes she doesn’t know what’s happening in it and she’s never seen it before. It gives her the creeps. Haley wants to figure out the truth of what really happened to Taylor and she begins researching hauntings and school history to see if there’s anything that will help her. A paranormal investigator is mentioned in an alumni Facebook group and Haley finds his picture as a dorm supervisor from years earlier. Haley keeps reaching out to alumni and searching the school archives in hopes of digging up more information. She finds letters and interviews from decades ago describing the same thing Taylor experienced in the video. What Haley discovers is so unpredictable and complex that I would have never figured it out on my own and the answer is unexpected! A wonderfully spooky read, 5 stars!

The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

Disturbingly creepy!

Delta is a professional photographer who assimilates quickly to her surroundings, especially when she decides she wants to be part of the group. She meets Natalie at her eleventh birthday party and meets her parents also. Delta decides she wants to befriend them. Little by little, she inserts herself into their lives, to the point of moving in. The problem with Delta is that she’s delusional and no one knows how far she’s going to go to belong. This mystery is tamer than I was expecting but still enough to be disturbingly creepy, 3 stars!

Wish You Were Gone by Kieran Scott

Told in several points of view by Emma and her friends. The story opens with a crash in her home, late at night. Her son, Hunter, rushes into Emma’s room to ask her about the noise. The two venture through the house and find her husband and Hunter’s father dead in his car, that’s been crashed through the garage. James had been known to drink and drive, so that’s what everyone assumes happened to cause the crash. Little things come to Emma’s attention that don’t add up to James causing the crash on his own. The landscaper finds James’ necktie in the bushes and Emma finds his briefcase behind baskets of fruit from well-wishers. He would have had his tie on and his briefcase in the car with him. His phone is also missing and when Emma calls it, a young woman answers. The story grows more complex as it is told, with more variables coming to light. This was truly an unpredictable story for me and a very satisfying mystery! 5 stars!

Burden Falls by Kat Ellis

Creepy fun!

Ava lives with her Uncle Ty and his wife Carolyn. They became her guardians after her parents were killed in a car accident not long ago. They’re now moving into a cottage and out of the family ancestral manor to save money. Uncle Ty is a teacher at her school and that’s good and not so good, depending on the situation. Ava loves art and drawing and has applied to an art program that will only accept one student from her school. Freya happens to be another applicant and Ava and Freya aren’t kind to each other. Freya is a Miller and Ava is a Thorn. The two families have a long-standing feud and no one is sure what exactly started it. Freya’s father ran into the car that Ava’s parents and Ava were in when they died. Ava blames him for her parents’ deaths. A girl is found dead and soon more deaths follow. The supernatural legends run deep in this story and Ava is right in the middle of it all. One of my favorite frightening reads to date and a deliciously creepy read for young adults, 5 stars!