The Sea Was a Fair Master

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Author: Calvin Demmer

My Rating: 5/5

 

I prefer one-piece horror stories versus mini stories. Correction, I used to prefer one-piece horror stories. Today that thought has changed.

The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 short horror stories varying from murder to androids. Given the 5/5 rating, I was not just pleasantly surprised but amazed how polished and addictive the stories were.

I also tend to find including humour in horror stories to be a risky move, but the humour in these stories were executed very well and added something extra to the stories instead of it falling flat and unneeded.

My favourite stories in the collection were Restroom Finds, Letting the Dead Grow and The Guests.

This was the first book I have read by this author and I certainly will be looking into his other works. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror, spooky short stories or is looking for something unique in the horror genre.

And guess what?! This is a brand new book that just came out today! You can order your copy here:

Be sure to follow Calvin Demmer on twitter @CalvinDemmer and check out his website at www.calvindemmer.com
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This is Not My Hat

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I recently finished a Readers Advisory for Children’s class in my Library Technology and Information program.

This course had a wide range of topics from ABC picture books to the Nancy Drew mystery series. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the course overall.

Looking back, my favourite book we covered in the course was Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat. 

It is a tale of a fish with a hat that fits him perfectly. Because this is not his hat, trouble begins to follow him.

The illustrations were entertaining but different as the colour scheme overall was not bright and cheery like a typical picture book.

While the story has a likeable protagonist, has a clear beginning, middle and end and a funny story, there is an extra element in this picture book that makes kids love this book.

While our little fish protagonist swims his way through the story, he is completely unaware of the problems lying ahead for him while at the same time the reader is fully aware of this through the illustrations and are clued into this well before the protagonist has any idea.

Kids love being “in on the joke” and this is why I think This is Not My Hat is such a hilarious and classic picture book to consider reading to any young child.

Princess

Princess is a modernized children’s series based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic: A Little Princess.

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Author: Gabrielle Charbonnet

My Rating: 5/5

 

I first came across the first book: #1 Molly’s Heart, when I was very little, and fell in love with the story. At the time, ebooks were not a thing, and I couldn’t find the other two books in the series.

Recently, I have been getting back into reading on my kindle. While browsing the amazon ebook section I was delighted to find the two remaining books in the Princess series were available to download; and at a great price! I quickly downloaded them both and finished the series in less than a week.

To sum up the series in one word for me would be “cute.”

Molly is a young girl who is the daughter of a very successful and wealthy film director. When her father is called to film a documentary in a location that isn’t best suited for children, she is sent to a prestigious boarding school in Boston.

If you have read A Little Princess, you will find this retelling adorable and entertaining. I generally do not enjoy retellings of classics, but this one was so charming and excellent.

The series is broken into 3 children’s chapter books. From looking at the back of the first book, it says the series is aimed towards an 8-12 reading level age.

I liked how the author of this series kept the characters very similar to the characters in the classic. Molly is imaginative, loving and caring; just like Sara Crewe in A Little Princess.

I really enjoyed the modernized version and would recommend this to any young girls or those like me, who love the original classic.

Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

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Author(s): William Shakespeare (Creator) Richard Appignanesi (Adaptor)

Illustrator(s): Sonia Leong

My Rating: 1/5

 

My past few book reviews have all been all 5/5 reviews, so I figured it was time I review something I just detested.

First things first, I did not take the illustrations in account for this 1/5 rating. If I was to rate the story just based on the illustrations, I would give it 4/5. The illustrations were great.

For the story/adaption side of things, I just couldn’t finish the book. I only give 1/5 stars for books I just can’t finish out of boredom or frustration. (Sometimes both.)

Because I didn’t finish this manga, this review is going to be pretty quick.

I read Romeo and Juliet when I was in 7th grade, and when I came across this manga at work I wondered how a combo of Shakespeare and Manga would turn out. For me, they just don’t mix.

The Romeo and Juliet of this manga is sped up to modern times. I don’t think that was the problem. I just couldn’t like it or bother to continue and finish the story.

My take on this manga is this: If there is a recreation of one of the world’s biggest classics; especially turning it into manga form, there are always going to be a ton of mixed opinion about it. Some will love this story as it is a neat new spin on such a well known play. Some will think it was a meh attempt. Others just don’t think something as classic as Shakespeare should be adapted, period. And then some readers just didn’t like it; which is the category I fell into. I don’t know exactly what it was, I just couldn’t get into. I’d rather reread the play, to be honest.

However, I am writing this review to mention how I think it is very important and an excellent idea of putting classics such as this one, into a manga/graphic novel form. It is a great idea way to get kids, teens, adults (anyone really,) introduced to the world’s greatest classics.

For my personal reading enjoyment though, I won’t be picking up another classic-themed manga anytime soon.

 

Criminal Minds: Finishing School (Criminal Minds #3)

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Author: Max Allan Collins

My Rating: 5/5

In case you are new to my blog, I am a true crime addict. I research serial killers in my spare time. I read case files. I love documentaries on famous murderers and villains. I even check out /r/CrimeScene on reddit. This subreddit allows redditors to submit crime stories with actual crime scene photos.  (View at your own risk, it is NSFW.) I have a fascination with the darkest of human nature. This all started when I was 12 or 13 years old when I was flipping through tv channels, I stumbled across Criminal Minds. I can confidently say this show has changed my life.

If you are unfamiliar with the television show, it centres around the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU.) They investigate and solve the most complex murder cases. They deal with terrorists, pedophiles, murderers and their specialty: serial killers. Now, I am going to admit this book review will be biased because Criminal Minds has always been my all-time favourite show. I can honestly say I have watched every single episode at least three times. (And to give you an idea of the episode count, the show has been renewed for it’s 12th season.)

Because I have been a fan of the show for so long, I was quite surprised to find out I didn’t know there is a book series based on it. I came across this book at my local thrift store and squealed. So as a die-hard Criminal Minds fan I had to get it.

Even though this is the 3rd book in the series, (and to my recent discovery, the last,) you do not need to read the first two to understand what is happening in this one. Like the television show, the book begins with the BAU team given a new case to solve.

The first thing I noticed and liked about this book is that the author gives you a quick rundown on what the BAU is and does; as well as explaining each member of the team. So, if you have never watched the television show, you will still understand the characters and what they bring to the team as individuals.

On the flip side, if you are just as a massive fan of the show as I am, you will be pleased to find out this book does NOT repeat an episode from the show, it is a brand new case! This book features my personal favourite BAU team combo. We have: David Rossi, Aaron Hotchner, Derek Morgan, Emily Prentiss, JJ Jareau, Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid. (Who are all briefly described in the first chapter.) Whether you know about the tv show or not, you can pick up this book and understand it.

For a quick summary of the book, here is the rundown: The BAU is called into Minnesota where a horrifying graveyard is discovered in a forest. Three bodies are found, each a young girl wrapped in blankets and sheets. The BAU soon discovers that each girl disappeared ten years ago from different parts of Georgia. They also find out these bodies are not the only victims of this perpetrator.

The BAU works on building a profile of the unsub. (Unknown Subject.) Who he is, his background and why he is taking these girls and holding them for a decade before killing them. Hence, Criminal Minds‘ tagline: The way to a criminal is through his mind.

I gave this book 5/5 because of it kept my interest all through the story. There was no fluff/fillers and the author did an excellent job of portraying the characters. He clearly did his research on the show and characters, as everything was spot-on all through the story.

As I mentioned earlier, this case has not been an episode of Criminal Minds, which impressed me. The case is just as twisted, unique and complex as the ones on the show.

That being said, this story is very dark and parts are very graphic. If you do not like stories about children being abducted, murdered etc, then this is not a story for you. Trigger warnings for this book would be sexual abuse.

However, if you like dark fictional crime books, this is definitely something worth considering picking up.

The Dead House

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Author: Dawn Kurtagich

My Review: 5/5

I’ve never cared for YA novels. Even when I was a young teenager myself, I could never see the appeal of the same old fantasy love triangle scenarios. Those were really big in my day, maybe they still are, who knows. When you start to not recognize the Disney Stars on the J-14 or Tiger Beat magazines, you know you aren’t hip with the kids anymore. And since I don’t know who the hell Ross Lynch is, I guess I’m old now. All I know about him is he is some Teen Beach hottie who is going to be playing Jeffery Dahmer in an upcoming movie. Teen Beach hottie to now play a cannibalistic serial killer? This guy better have legit acting skills or I am going to be seriously pissed off when I see the movie.

ANYWAYS, I decided to take a break from reading my typical true crime cases to something lighter. I’m snickering at myself now for thinking that because I thought The Dead House was going to be a “light scary teen read.”

Boy, was I very wrong.

For one, I had no CLUE this story was the author’s debut novel. You would never guess considering it is an incredibly written story.

The formatting was very different, which I loved in the end. The book is compiled of diary entries, psych therapy sessions and police interrogation interviews. It kept the story fast paced and with so many twists, I had an extremely difficult time putting it down. That must have been how I finished the book in only two days.

I won’t give out too much about the story, but the jist of it is the tale is told from the perspective of Kaitlyn Johnson (for the most part,) who attends Elmbridge High. Except, many claim she isn’t real; and she might not be, because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson. They consider themselves sisters who share a body. Carly gets the daytime, Kaitlyn gets the night and considers herself “a child of darkness.” Carly is the good, shy and quiet one while Kaitlyn is stubborn, rebellious and self harms. And then one day, Kaitlyn wakes up in the morning to find Carly gone.

This was an insane read, but so amazing and I’ve NEVER read anything quite like it. The truth is, you don’t really know what is happening in the story. Is Kaitlyn real? Is she telling the truth? Is Carly real? Is Kaitlyn and Carly’s psychiatrist lying to them? Is there something paranormal creeping in the shadows?

The protagonist is sometimes so lost in her own thoughts you can’t even consider her reliable; so actually summarizing this book would be very difficult because you don’t for sure what is going on.

Bottom line, I just loved this novel. It’s a horror, but whether you consider it a psychological thriller or a paranormal story depends on what you think happens. And I think that is why this story is so deliciously addictive.

Down a Dark Hall

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Author: Lois Duncan

My Rating: 5/5

It’s Halloween! So what better day would there be to review a deliciously spooky read?

Down a Dark Hall begins with our main protagonist, Kit Gordy, starting her first day at a Blackwood, a boarding school for girls. She is hesitant at first because while she planned to attend the new school with her best friend Tracy, only she out of the two of them was accepted into the exclusive academy.

Blackwood is a massive and gorgeous mansion, renovated by the headmistress of the academy, Madame Duret. Madame Duret expresses he love for the arts by incorporating her passion into her school’s curriculum.

At first glance, Blackwood appears to be an ideal boarding school; beautifully furnished rooms, private tutors and many things to discover and learn.

In the beginning, everything starts off fine, but Kit begins to have a nagging sense that something is off with Blackwood. Kit also is shocked when she finds out only three other students were accepted into the school.

And why are the bedroom doors only lockable from the outside, instead of the inside?

This novel was a really quick and enjoyable read for me. Not only because it is under 200 pages in length, but because of its riveting speed. There is never a dull or fluffy moment in Down a Dark Hall, and as cliche as it sounds, it really was a very hard book to put down for me.

Down a Dark Hall is a creepy and mysterious thriller that I wouldn’t be surprised rereading it, 5/5 stars.