Posts Tagged ‘Book recommendations’

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Inspiring in very strange ways, Clive Barker’s Coldheart Canyon is in a class all its own. It’s horror, yes, but it’s more than that. It’s sexy, definitely … but it goes deeper. It’s creepy, of course … but again, there’s more to it than mere ghoulishness.

Clive Barker is a master of the depraved and wonderfully preposterous; no one does it like him and, like his other work, this Hollywood ghost story managed to keep me enthralled while simultaneously repelling me … and I loved it.

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Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta is a fascinating, horror-ific tale of love, loss, and … reincarnation. I’ve read it three times now and despite its very 1970s vibe, it puts me – and keeps me – under its spell each time. 

This novel impresses me on a few levels:

As a writer, I admire De Felitta’s masterful execution; he not only has a way with words but with pacing, character development, and setting – not to mention, he knows how to dig deep, to mine the emotions of his readers in ways a lot of authors either aren’t able to or don’t dare to. 

As a reader, Audrey Rose impresses me with its ability to not only keep me turning pages but to creep into my thoughts during the day (and night) when I should be focused on other things; when I’m reading this book, I resent anything that interrupts me. Not only that, this story makes me ponder the possibility of deeper things – and I’m a sucker for anything that opens the mind.   

In short, this is one of my all-time favorite novels and I recommend it to anyone with a penchant for the dramatic, the mysterious, the dark, the frightening … and even the sweet and tender.

Five full stars.

For more, visit Alistair on Bookbub

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An interesting blend of the classic and the contemporary, LOCK EVERY DOOR pretty much has it all – including surprises you won’t see coming. Part Rosemary’s Baby, part The Sentinel (I even detected a hint of The Shining), LOCK EVERY DOOR follows Jules, an unemployed young woman who’s down on her luck. When she answers an ad and lands a job as an apartment sitter at the prestigious “Bartholomew” in New York City, it seems too good to be true. The Bartholomew adds that spooky gothic vibe I love and is supported by an unusual cast of characters that will (for the most part, anyway) keep you guessing.

I say ‘for the most part’ because the truth is, I found the majority of characters to be thin and transparent; I couldn’t help thinking the book could have been a lot stronger with some better character development. Also, things did get a little over the top regarding Jules’ history and personal hardships. Basically, whatever happened to her was always the absolute worst possible thing and after a while, it started to feel a bit contrived and Jules started sounding a little whiny.

My only other complaint would be that LOCK EVERY DOOR tries to be too many things at once. I can’t help thinking the author was working super hard to please every kind of reader out there: we have the strong female lead to satisfy lovers of women’s fiction, a little whodunit for the mystery readers, a dash of romance for those who love love, a whisper of the supernatural for ghost story connoisseurs, criminal behavior for the crime buffs, the spooky old building for the gothic enthusiasts, and much more. I’m all for genre-blending but at times, this one just tried a little too hard.

But at its heart LOCK EVERY DOOR is horror – in my opinion, anyway – and that’s why I liked it. Despite spreading itself a little too thin, I’d recommend it. This won’t be the last Riley Sager book I read.

For more, visit Alistair on Bookbub

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Rebecca is just as wonderful now as it was the first time I read it as a teen. The tale is the very definition of “Gothic,” and the lush, detailed writing is elegant and romantic in the true sense of the word.

The first name of our narrator is never given, she is simply the second Mrs. DeWinter. Young and inexperienced, she is shy and terribly afraid of nearly everything – the antithesis of the modern heroine. She does not want to offend or rock the boat, but when she comes up against the most horrifying housekeeper in Gothic history – Mrs. Danvers – she begins to find her backbone.

Our heroine’s growth is perfectly done. But what I love most is the spirit of Rebecca herself. The descriptions of how Manderley is her house, that she is all around, are breathtakingly eerie. When Mrs. Danvers speaks of her, she becomes a true ghost. Is the housekeeper a player of Gaslight’s Mr. Manningham’s caliber, or does Rebecca truly walk the halls? To me, the answer is secondary to the beautiful atmospheric writing.

I’m already looking forward to wandering down the halls of Manderley again one day.

 

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Before White Oleander, I wouldn’t have believed I could have become so emotionally invested in a meandering coming of age epic about a 14-year-old orphan (Astrid) as she moves from home to home for one reason or another. The truth is, I only read this book because it was recommended by a friend and, as someone who will read literally anything, I knew I’d get through it without any problem – but I certainly didn’t expect to fall madly in love with it.

But I did. I was riveted from page one and couldn’t put the damned thing down.

I loved following Astrid to each of her new foster homes and watching her grow from the dysfunction and chaos around her. With each move, she meets new people, all of whom shape her in new ways – ways that ultimately help her understand her relationship with her own toxic, narcissistic mother (Ingrid), who has been imprisoned for murder hundreds of miles away.

While the plot is solid enough to stand up on its own, what really captured me here were the characters. These are real people, motivated in real ways, with all the necessary layers to make them well-rounded, dynamic, and believable. If I ever get the chance to meet Janet Fitch, I’d like to shake her hand and thank her for writing such an excellent character study.

Five full stars. I recommend White Oleander to, well, anyone who likes reading books with good plots and great characters.

For more recommendations, visit Alistair on BookBub.

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In the Cut is an edgy, fast-paced thriller chock-full of tension, sex, and mystery with an ironic and exciting ending you won’t see coming. I finished this book in one sitting and was particularly struck by the unusual use of language and grammar (so many writing “rules” were beautifully broken here – I loved it) but what really propelled me was a fascinating protagonist in search of something she didn’t even know was missing.

I’d recommend this book. It’s an interesting story, sure, but there’s more to it; layers that intrigued and so much left to the imagination, despite some graphic descriptions. Think Psycho meets Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

Well done, Ms. Moore. I think I’ll be reading more of you.

For more: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/alistair-cross?list=reviews

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Gretchen is a thriller that will also appeal to lovers of horror. It’s told primarily from the point of view of Lucy, a teen who has spent her life on the run with her mother. Lucy has always been resigned to her fate – changing states, changing schools, keeping secrets – but now she’s beginning to rebel.

As the book begins, Lucy and her mother relocate to house in the country outside a small town. Their new landlord, a concert pianist, and his daughter, Gretchen, welcome them, and despite their eccentricities, Lucy wants to stay. From there, the eccentricities and Lucy’s discomfort grow, and the story – a fascinating mystery – unfolds.

The pages of this tight and twisted tale flew by – I could hardly turn them fast enough. Highly recommended.

For more: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/tamara-thorne?list=reviews