Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man - Wendelin Van Draanen

I didn't think that I was going to finish my RIP III challenge, and then my daughter comes to me last night and asks me to read this book so that I can help her with her report. So, lo and behold - my fourth book for the challenge!

Sammy Keyes is a very independent 12 year old girl with two best friends - Marissa and Dot. It is Halloween and they decide to knock on the door of the Bush Man. He is so called the Bush Man because his sidewalks and house have been overgrown with bushes. Instead of getting a good scare, they come to his rescue, as he is tied up and his house is own fire. So a new mystery starts for Sammy to solve. But besides getting involved in the Bush Man's mystery, she also sets out to prove a girl at school is spreading rumors about her.

By the end of the book she is successful in both endeavors, through a series of events that would be exciting for any 7th grader.

From the cover: What does Frankenstein have that a skeleton wants?

Sounds like a bad Halloween joke. But Sammy Keyes isn't laughing. She's the one who collided with the skeleton while he was making his getaway. And she's the one who discovered Frankenstein tied to a chair with his head twisted around. Smeone's taken "trick or treat" way too far.

When Sammy tries to puzzle out what really happened Halloween night, she's amazed at how many people have something to hide - and how far they'll go to keep their disguises intact.

Of course, Sammy's got a few secrets herself. And more than a few tricks up her sleeve. She'll need them all to unravel this tale of greed and grudges and getting even...

Great YA book. 5/5 stars

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It interested me at first because I am a big Stephen King fan, and wanted to know if his son would write similarly. I have come to the conclusion that he does, and yet he doesn't. It is definitely a spooky story about a ghost, but the time span seems to be just a matter of days. From the ones that I remember by Stephen King (except for Cujo) the time span was much longer. (Currently reading Duma Key and it has covered about 9 months so far).

This book was easy to read with a good flow to it. I couldn't wait to get back to it. I could easily see the ghost as he described him "The dead man was sitting two-thirds of the way down the corridor, in the Shaker chair on the left, his head lowered in thought. A drape of morning sunshine fell across where his legs should have been. They disappeared where they passed into the light. It gave him the look of a war veteran, his trousers ending in stumps, midway down his thights. Below this splash of sunshine were his polished black loafers, with his black-stockinged feet stuck in them. Between his thighs and his shoes, the only legs that were visible were the legs of the chair, the wood a lustrous blond in the light." And then later "But where his eyes belonged was only a black scribble. It was as if a child had taken a Magic Marker-a truly magic marker, one that could draw right on the air-and had desperately tried to ink over them. The black lines squirmed and tangled among one another, worms tied into a knot."

I will be surprised if this book isn't made into a horror movie soon. Okay - more about the book.

It is about an aging rock star, Jude, that collects an odd assortment of the macabre - used hangman's noose, a snuff film, etc. So when he receives an email about a ghost for sale, he doesn't hesitate, but immediately puts in the bid to buy it. The sale says that he will be receiving an old suit, but that the ghost is attached to it. A few days later he receives the suit in a black heart shaped box. (The book never really did go into detail as to how the old man arranged to "come back from the dead" and why if Jude bought the suit he would be able to come with it.)

From the cover: But what UPS delivers to his door in a black heartshaped box is no imaginary or metaphorical ghost, no benign conversation piece. It's the real thing. And suddenly the suit's previous owner is everywhere: behind the bedroom door...seated in Jude's restored vintage Mustang...standing outside his window...staring out from his widescreen TV. Waiting-with a gleaming razor blade on a chain dangling from one bony hand...

Must read for anyone who likes this genre. 5/5 stars

Other reviews:
Things Mean Alot

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

I loved this book. I hope that my daughter chooses to read it soon. Characters were easy to follow and it was a quick read. Set in the future, it is the story of an orphaned girl that soon discovers she has a talent in sewing that is much needed by the village she lives in. I am a needlepointer/cross-stitcher myself, so the way the book spoke of her ability in this area was able to paint a very realistic picture for me. The big message that I got from it was that no matter how young you are, you do have the ability to change your future.

From the cover: Left orphaned and physically flawed in a civilization that shuns and discards the weak, Kira faces a frighteningly uncertain future. Her neighbors are hostile and no one but a small boy offers to help.

When she is summoned to judgement by The Council of Guardians, Kira prepares to fight for her life. But the Council, to hersurprise, has plans for her. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, the young girl faces new responsibilities and a set of mysteries deep within the only world she has ever known. On her quest for truth, Kira discovers things that will change her life and world forever. 5/5 stars!

Other reviews:
Things Mean Alot

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Red Death

I read this book as part of the Books-a-month group at Yahoo. Didn't like the sound of it going in, and there was a lot of negative posting about it in the beginning. I decide to plunge in and read it anyway. It did have a way of sucking me in so that I stuck with it, as I wanted to know how it ended. The book was somewhat confusing though, in the vast quantity of characters that it continued to introduce all the way through the book. I will give it credit, for not letting out who the killer was until almost to the end. Maybe others were able to figure it out, but I was still playing catch up on all the names!

From the cover: A Red Death plunges Easy deep into the political, legal, and moral tar pits of LA in the early fifties, when Red-baiting and blacklisting were official policy and racial tensions boiled. Easy is now out of "the hurting business" and into the housing (and the favor) business, on the strength of funds dating from his earlier adventures. He's a little older, a little wiser - and in a lot more trouble. He suddenly finds a corrupt, racist IRS agent breathing down his neck (and reaching for his wallet) about some unpaid taxes. His only out: cut a deal with the FBI to infiltrate the First African Baptist Church and spy on a former Polish resistance fighter suspected of stealing defense plans.

Meanwhile, Easy's romantic life becomes equally complicated and dangerouse when he takes in his old flame Etta Mae Harris. Hard on her heels is Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, her ex-husband, Easy's best friend, a dark, gleefully homicidal angel. Then the murders begin...and the LAPD decides that Easy is a convenient suspect. His search for the actual murderer must be conducted in an ethical mine field, where the stark choice is between betrayal and survival.

I give it 3 stars.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


From the book jacket: In Coraline's Family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close. The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it's different....
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and her self.

This was a good scary store for a YA. I think in every young child at some point, they wish that they had another family, or house, or life. Even in this story, though the grass looked greener on the other side, it was worse. It also helped to remember how the shadows seemed to come alive in the dark and that sometimes the worst things were those that you couldn't see, but that lived in the dark. It was an entertaining book and a quick read. 4/5

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Maidenstone Lighthouse

This book was a very quick read and was a nice way to start out the month of October. From the book cover: Nestled in a coastal inlet a few miles north of Newport, Rhode Island, Freedman's Cove is known for its superb seafood, its postcard-pretty waterfront, and its exquisite Victorian homes - a legacy of the town's past as a summer resort for wealthy families. Manhattan antiques appraiser Susan Marks inherited one of these ornate mansions from her great aunt. After suffering a devastating loss, she retreats to Freedman's Cove to nurse her grief.

This book was an interesting mix of mystery, love story and ghost story. I enjoyed it because it was not too complicated and was in the need of a story line that was not too heavy. It does have a general storyline that as I was reading seemed so familiar that I thought I had maybe read this book at some point in the past - but I think it is just that it is a common story. Altogether though, it was fun to read a ghost story to start out the month! 3 1/2 of 5.


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