Old Country by Matt Query

5 stars Mystery

This was crazy good!  What an interesting concept of a story.  I could feel the adrenaline and fervor in the characters and I loved how the tension built.  You just never know where life will lead you but you should try to do some research before packing your bags. 

Harry was an Afghanistan marine who received an early discharge.  Back on American soil, he continues to fight his own battles.  Harry enrolls in college and he meets his future wife, Sasha.  Finding a secluded piece of land, the couple decides that this will be their new start in life.   Sasha stands beside her husband as he deals with the effects of the war as the couple tries to get used to their new surroundings, isolated from most everyone.   

Where I live, we have four seasons so when their neighbor Dan explains to them about the change of seasons in the countryside, I was prepared.  What I wasn’t prepared for, was when Dan talked about the spirit that lived in the valley with them.  Was he serious?   The more Dan talked about this spirit, the more I knew either he was either trying to scare the couple or Dan was totally serious about what was happening in their valley.  According to Dan, each season, the spirit would take on a different form and there were specific rules that needed to be followed, to get rid of it.  Dan had even written these directions down!   Like me, Harry and Sasha pondered if Dan and his wife were people they could actually trust. 

The couple start to enjoy their new private, isolated life together – learning to rely on each other (with having only one close neighbor), as they fall into a routine.  As the seasons begin to change, what Dan and his wife warned the couple about, suddenly becomes a reality.  The spirit makes his appearance, leaving Harry and Sasha wondering, “did we really just see that?”   This is just the beginning.  Hold on people as this book is just getting started!

I couldn’t stop thinking about this story after I put it down.  As the seasons changed, the anticipation as what awaited this couple kept my heart pumping.  Harry and his wife were just looking for some quiet time together.   The Afghanistan War had already left its mark on Harry and now another battle is beginning, only this time Harry has his wife beside him.  

This is one terrific book that will have you staying up late until you turn the final page!   5 stars  

All Hallows by Christopher Golden

5 stars Thriller

Now, that was creepy good!  I enjoyed the intensity of the two storylines as they slowly built-up steams and I loved the intensity that swelled within this book once the festivities began.  I fell back in time as I read this book, back to the day when everyone living on your block was on a first name basis and most neighborhoods were safe as help was just a few feet away.  As one father and his daughter finished up preparations for their annual Halloween haunted woods, the rest of the neighborhood is getting ready for the annual Halloween block party.  Candy is stocked at the door for the trick-or-treaters and it seems like everyone has their night planned out, so they won’t miss a thing. 

Enthusiasm and excitement filled the air as this was a big night.  The haunted woods grew more extravagant every year and they were eager to see what awaited them this year.  The block party was a time for the neighborhood to come together and enjoy each other’s company, or at least that’s what this party had been in the past.    As the children start the night with their trick-or-treating, they encounter some costumed children they don’t recognize.   Could it just be the costumes that throw off who these individuals are or are these children not from around there?  It’s when these children start asking the neighborhood children for help that warning flags when off in my head. 

Sorry folks, your fun evening with your neighbors just got interesting.  What a thrilling read!  I loved so much about this book –  5 stars

Hide by Kiersten White

4 stars YA

Just thinking about spending a night at amusement park go me excited.  Thinking about spending a week in that same environment well, that sounds like a great challenge.  The contestants cannot be caught so how would you hide?  Would be constantly move around or find one place and stay as long as you possibly can?  Do you form an alliance with other contestants or do you go solo?  I know my senses would be on high alert for anything and everything and as I started reading this book, I felt tense.  Some of these contestants needed the money desperately and I felt some of the characters were shady and wondered how they were playing this game.  There were a lot of contestants to keep track of at the beginning but as I read, I started to care less about some of them.    I thought it was a fun book, a book that kept me on thinking what I would do if I was there.   4 stars

Malice House by Megan Shepherd

5 stars Thriller

Never saw that one coming!  I was expecting some exciting chapters in this book but dang, I actually had to pause a few times so I could enjoy the little twists that were provided.  It’d been two years since Haven had visited Malice House and she thought, she knew what she was walking into.  Her father’s dementia explained the demon that was living within the walls of the house.  Being a famous writer, a member of the local Ink Drinkers, the monster’s detailed description was fitting but what Haven didn’t know, was that her father’s illness didn’t explain what was actually going on inside Malice House.

Haven’s inheritance had dwindled down to Malice House by the time of her father’s death and now, standing outside the mansion, she surveyed her surroundings.  Discovering one of her father’s manuscripts hidden inside the house, Haven sees the opportunity to make some cash yet she feels she might be missing something, if she doesn’t add a piece of herself to the manuscript.  This sounds like a great plan but as the story progressed, I began to think that perhaps Haven should have just hammered a For Sale sign in the front lawn, packed up a U-Haul and walked away.

“Oh, my!”  “No, it can’t be!!”  “What is she doing?!?!”  “a Monster” “collars, dog tags and a fire pit – and she’s combing through it – work faster!!”  “Is this a curse”

These are just a few of the notes I made as I read.  You can tell it was pretty intense at times and of course, I couldn’t stop reading until I got my questions, answered.  There were too many thoughts running through my head, too many directions this story could have gone.  Haven wanted to sell her father’s manuscript, for she needed the money but as an illustrator, she wanted to add her own personal touch to her father’s stories.  This could be a great father-daughter duo until she saw their reaction.  She took their response hard and her reaction was dramatic and emotional.  Unfortunately, Haven had set the wheels in motion and there was no going back now.  Tick, tick, tick ……time is moving fast and Haven needed to put all the pieces of this puzzle together.  What a fun, engaging story.  5 stars

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany Jackson

5 stars YA Thriller

The emotions still resided inside of me after all these years as I read this book.  I remember watching Stephen King’s movie, Carrie as a teen and this movie was quite emotional for me.  While others were fixated on King’s horror in the movie, I was irritated at the individuals on the screen.  Carrie wasn’t evil, she wasn’t the one everyone needed to watch out for, no!  If they were looking for horror, they needed to look at what was happening to Carrie.  What these individuals were doing was disgusting and shocking.  Carrie was the victim.  In The Weight of Blood, Tiffany does a fantastic job recreating King’s original while adding her own twists. 

The first question we need to ask is why does one individual feel that they need to bully someone else?  A comment or action is bad enough but bullying is not warranted when someone does it relentlessly and constantly. If another individual doesn’t follow your standards, your views, or your beliefs, do you have the right to harass that individual until they crumble?  What does this accomplish?  When is enough, enough?  As a child, I was bullied and I know firsthand the emotions attached to this action.  An individual bullied reacts more out of fear than respect and what might happen when your back is turned? 

I really enjoyed this book as Maddie tries to navigate her way around school.  Maddie tries to elude her true identity.  Acting invisible, I yearned to know exactly what Maddie was hiding.  As Maddie’s class headed outside to run laps for gym, Maddie questioned the gym teacher but here they were, outside on the track.  She knew as the rain fell down that her secret would be discovered.  The taunting from her peers started immediately and she fights back.  How can she survive now, her life is forever changed.  A great emotional read and another fantastic book by Tiffany.  5 stars  

There’s a Ghost in This House by Oliver Jeffers

5 stars Childrens

Oliver does it again!  I never know what to expect from Oliver but this time, he really knocked it out of the park.  I loved this book!  There is a ghost in this house, actually there are a lot of ghosts!!

One page one, we’re invited inside the central hall of a house that was built in 1760l.  With a yellow and gray striped dress on, she’s there to welcome us.  We’ll just try to ignore that she has green hair and her skin matches her hair. She wants our help.  She’s heard about a ghost in the house and she can’t find it.  She’s not quite sure what she’s looking for but she’s already looked, can we help her? 

Turning the pages of the book, we search different parts of the house.  I love how this book is put together! As you open up the book and have two-page spread in front of you, one page will have the text to read and one page will have the illustration.  The illustration features a specific part of the house in shades of brown and white.  Using minimal words, this text carries the same mysterious elements with it as the house.  In the center, of most (but not all) of these two pages is a sheet or two of hard plastic transparent paper.  How you read this book, is up to you, for I read it a variety of ways.

This is the clever, entertaining book!! Oliver did an outstanding job constructing his book as these sheets added so much to this story.  Such talent and exceptional craftsmanship is illustrated with this gem of a book! .  10 stars!!

Moth by Amber McBride

5 stars YA

“That day there was only enough prayer & blood for one of us to walk out.”

Moth was the lone survivor that day and the causalities included her brother and both of her parents.  Since that traumatic day, Moth has lived with her Aunt Jack, pondering whether she should change her name, since there’s no one left who cares.  Why was she left behind?  I hated to hear that Moth gave up her love of dancing since the accident.  Struggling to achieve her success, she was now just throwing it all away.  Moth had no friends at school either.  Attending a mostly white school, Moth found that the few black students that do attend, don’t include her in their conversations; they’re just like her previous school.  It’s not like she’s trying either.  She’s just existing, living on the memories that she can recall.

Sani took the seat beside her on the school bus, this seat that no one has ever sat in.  Who would have thought it all began on a school bus? Sani is having family issues and he’s popping these mysterious pills, that he’s reluctant to discuss.  Being of Navajo descent, Moth feels a connection to Sani through her Hoodoo.  With their relaxed conversations, they come to realize that they’re both just surviving.  They’re both just there.  Sani offers a solution, a way out.  A place where they can breathe.  Sani asks Moth to run away with him.   

I felt at first, when Sani asked Moth to run away with him, that he wasn’t serious.  I thought he was just throwing something out there for them to dream about as they were both frustrated but when she responded, he jumped on it.   This was an opportunity!  This was going to happen!  He obviously had been thinking about this.

What a trip this turns out to be for both of them.  I enjoyed their journey and the places that they went.  I liked that the trip was about connecting and discovery and not a love connection between the two of them.  I loved the way the story was written in verse as the words weren’t forced nor did they feel cheesy.  I enjoyed how the characters and story came together and the ending was impressive as I didn’t see that one coming.  I can’t wait to see what else this author writes.

The sky & the rain baptize our bodies- sinless & free.”

“Sani (looking sad): Do the ancestors ever answer?

Me (Moth): They sent me you.”

Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn

4 stars Graphic Novel

If you’re looking for an interesting, eerie story, I might have found the right one for you.  I picked up this graphic novel based on the illustrations, which as a horror fan, I thought they were fabulous.  I can see how some readers though, might find some of them disturbing.  When you’re discussing ghosts, torturing a witch, a skinned boy, and a corpse, there’s bound to be some interesting illustrations.  I felt that the storyline jumped a round a bit but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this story. 

They didn’t just hang Hester in the tree, but they beat, shot, and stabbed the witch before finally setting her body on fire, to make sure that she would finally leave this world once and for all.  As Hester’s body scorched the tree from which she hung, she told those in attendance that she would return and they should be ready, a vow that would hang over them.  

Emmy lives with her Pa and in a few days, she’ll be turning 18.  Is it a coincidence that Emmy has dreams of a tree and she sometimes feels that there’s something beside her?  There’s something special about Emmy, she has a gift and I wasn’t quite sure what this was until I read further but I knew that she was using it for good.   Emmy begins to wonder if she should find herself a man, now that she’s turning 18, which makes sense. Her Pa knew something and was suggesting that she stay with him on the farm as he needed help.   Wait, wait, wait……what the heck is Emmy doing now?  This is some twisted stuff and why is that all happening.


Sweet Emmy was such a nice person and now all this!?!  Leaving me with a cliffhanger was not good either.  I absolutely loved the illustrations in this graphic novel and then, just when I finally got the storyline all in sync, I now, have to find the second volume in this series.  4 stars

How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle

4 stars Historical Fiction

So, how does one really become a ghost? I can’t imagine that everyone that leaves this earth, is sent in this direction.  Does Isaac come back as a helpful ghost or a ghost that has unfinished business to attend to?  A casualty of the Trail of Tears, Isaac narrates for us, how he became a ghost in 1830, while living in the Choctaw Nation in Mississippi, which I found entertaining and interesting.

Isaac begins his story as a 10-year-old child living with his family. His best friend is his dog which he does everything with.  Treaty Talk. When Isaac overhears his parents talking about the subject, he remembers that Treaty Talk and Nahullos go hand-in-hand, a serious situation for the Choctaw Nation.  Mother leads Isaac on a series of walks that day as he witnesses important events that are being held by his community.  Gracious!   What Isaac witnesses with his very own eyes is totally different from what his own mother sees, who is standing right beside him. Good heavens, Isaac is a young child and he sees this!?!  I’m with Isaac when he questions his mother about what he’s seeing, yet her response is not what I’d expect from his very own mother.  This Treaty Talk has a shattering effect on their town and the individuals inside it. 

I had a few questions as I read this book, perhaps it was because I analyzed what was happening too much instead of just going with the flow.  Why were some individuals shape shifters, some ghosts, some……?  Did that have to do with lineage?  Didn’t Isaac think it was strange as a child to hear a dog talk? Didn’t he once read in a book that dog’s go, bark, bark? Did he realize when he was little, that he was unique?  I liked learning about the Choctaw traditions and practices.  I enjoyed the relationships that Isaac built in the book and how he accepted his fate and assisted others.  There’s an engaging story inside this short book. 

“Choctaws never say “good-bye.” There is no word for it. We say “chi pisa la chike, which means, “I will see you again, in the future.””

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters

4 stars YA

When I read this synopsis at the library, I wondered why I hadn’t heard about this book before. I already had a mountain of books to read but what the heck, what’s one more.  A fiddle that can summon ghosts from their grave, oh yeah!  Imagine the significances of that but then again, what would be the repercussions?

Shady is the main character of this book and she’s been having nightmares since her father died in a tragic accident. Shady can’t make any sense of what these nightmares mean.  If only she could talk to her father again, he could probably answer many of Shady’s questions

Shady has an interesting family.  Her grandmother was a medium who helped individuals talk to their dead loved ones.  Her father had a fiddle that could summon spirits. Only her father’s fiddle seemed to cause more trouble than good.  Shady has not seen her father’s fiddle since the day of his accident, it was in the vehicle with him.  If only Shady could find her father’s fiddle and play it, she could talk to her father once again.

I liked the depth of this story.  The mystery surrounding the fiddle and the history of Shady’s family, I found these interesting.  I have mixed feelings about Shady though, as I liked how she believed in her family but how she treated some other individuals, I thought it wasn’t right.  Why these individuals would put up it, I didn’t understand.   As the lies and the past came to light in the story, I started to wonder if anyone knew the whole account or if they all, just had their own little part. I think the book could have been shorter, as parts of the story felt drawn out to me.  I’m glad that I found this book at the library and read it.