October 27, 2020

Tell Me Something Tuesday: How Do You Like to Be Scared? Horror or Thriller?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings in order to discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging (and some slightly more personal matters throw in for good measure). While Heidi is on an extended hiatus, there are five of us who are hosting it and providing the questions. The current team is composed of Berls at Because Reading Is Better Than Real LifeJen at That's What I'm Talking AboutKaren at For What It's WorthLinda at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell and Roberta at Offbeat YA. This week's question is...

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO BE SCARED? HORROR OR THRILLER?

First off, I want to say that my answer will only apply to books: movies are not my thing, and there aren't any "horror" or "thriller" series that I know of - more like "supernatural with a side of horror" (hello, Supernatural. Duh 😁) or "police procedurals with a side of thriller" (but when it comes to the latter, I only like good old police procedurals without any added ingredient, thank you 😉. Think the original L&O 💚 or The Closer).

So, I went on Goodreads and had a look at my labels. As of now, I have 97 books (some of them still on my TBR list) labeled "horror or gore", and 83 (same) labeled "thriller or mystery" (of course, you can have gore without real horror - like in a C.S.I. episode - and "mystery" isn't necessarily the same thing as "thriller", but I like to keep my labels simple 🙂). Almost a tie, all things considered. The funny thing is, I don't go out of my way in order to read horror (I can't even stomach a certain brand of body horror - think Stephen King) or thriller (I'd rather read...well, reread...a good old-fashioned Agatha Christie mystery novel)...those GR labels all apply to books that are, among other things, one or the other (or both). So my answers would be, horror and thriller, but hardly ever as the main ingredients of a book...

...and you know what? neither of them scare me. Horror/gore can impact me, but that's the extent of it - I don't get nightmares, and I don't sit upright in bed at the slightest sound because I've read/watched a story of a certain kind...with me, what happens in books/TV series stays in books/TV series 😂.

I've gone an awfully long time without treating you to a David Tennant gif.
Time to make amends 😂.

October 24, 2020

Seanan McGuire: "Sparrow Hill Road"

Title: Sparrow Hill Road  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Ghost Roads (1st of ?? books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2014 (reissued in 2018)
Age: 14+ (but I shelved it as Adult because the lead, though technically 16, has been around for decades as a ghost)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Engaging character voice. Creative spin(s) on a few classic urban legends. Humour, depth and heart.
Cons: Not every story is tightly connected to the others, but they weren't written with a book in mind at first (and they do provide a sense of unity nevertheless).
Will appeal to: Urban legend fans. Readers with a penchant for dead characters who know how to come alive on the page.

Blurb: Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross - a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea. It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running. They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her. You can’t kill what’s already dead. (Amazon)

Review: Afterlife + Seanan McGuire...you all know nothing can go wrong here, don't you? 😉 I even upped my original 4.5-star rating (the one from my mini-review), because I can't very well punish a book for being a short-story collection instead of a novel, and anyhow, I enjoyed it even more the second time around!

AFTERLIFE SPECIAL

There's only one thing that I love more than an afterlife story: an afterlife story with a unique mythology (and a captivating main character, it goes without saying). The Ghost Roads series - born quite by accident from a series of short stories published all through 2010 on The Edge of Propinquity - reads familiar enough that you can nod at most of its urban fantasy references, and fresh enough that you never know where its endless routes will take you. The main character, Rose - innocent but fierce, poor but resourceful, handy with a wrench and very much in love - died in 1952 at the hands of Bobby Cross, one of the many souls he had been feeding (literally) to his dream of staying young and handsome forever. Except Rose's spirit, or whatever you want to call it, got away, and Bobby's sort-of-existence became an endless attempt at getting her back and making her pay. While trying to stay out of Bobby's reach, Rose also fulfills the role of a psychopomp to those who are destined to die on the road, and sometimes - when fate can still be manipulated - even manages to save their lives. This is, more or less, where the most familiar urban legends give way to a different (if still recognisable) mythology, that - coupled with a character to root for - kept me enthralled the whole time. [...]

October 17, 2020

Ilsa J. Bick: "Draw the Dark"

Title: Draw the Dark  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Ilsa J. Bick [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Contemporary with a Twist, Thriller or Mystery
Year: 2010
Age: 14+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Original, well-crafted mix of paranormal/supernatural, mystery and modern history. Believable main character. Incorporates painting in a fascinating manner.
Cons: Requires more suspension of disbelief for a couple of mundane events than for the supernatural ones. The open ending may not sit well with everyone.
WARNING! Death and violence/gore.
Will appeal to: Fans of books off the beaten path. Art and history lovers. Everyone who enjoys a dark but ultimately hopeful story.

Blurb: There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town, for one. That fire, for another. But what they'd really like to forget is Christian Cage. Seventeen-year-old Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy. Ever since, he's drawn obsessively: his mother's face...her eyes...and what he calls "the sideways place", where he says his parents are trapped. Christian figures if he can just see through his mother's eyes, maybe he can get there somehow and save them. But Christian also draws other things. Ugly things. Evil things. Dark things. Things like other people's fears and nightmares. Their pasts. Their destiny. There's one more thing the people of Winter would like to forget: murder. But Winter won’t be able to forget the truth, no matter how hard it tries. Not as long as Christian draws the dark... (Amazon)

Review: As I said above, this is a book that will appeal (among other people) to art and history lovers. Then again, I know very little about art, and I'm not a fan of stories set in the past (like part of this one is)...and I was hooked. I guess there's no better testament to the power of this particular narrative and its author's skills 😉.

JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

Let's get it out of the way: this is NOT the story of a boy who pines for his parents (or better, his mother, since his father disappeared when he was too young to remember him) and embarks on a supernatural journey in order to find them/get them back. Though the "sideways place" where Christian's parents allegedly vanished is indeed a recurring theme, and the protagonist's obsession with finding his mother will play a surprising part in the narrative, this is NOT the story that Bick wants to tell. So, while on a level I can sympathise with those readers who felt robbed of a thrilling reading experience, I'd say that there's enough to love in this book for what it is - not to mention, for once the blurb didn't lie 😉. DTD is, at its core, the story of a boy and his demons, his uncanny ability to tune in to other people (under special circumstances, that is, and at a price for both him and them), and his loneliness despite having someone in his life who loves him (if not necessarily understands him); at the same time, it's the story of a small town with a penchant for burying its secrets, especially those rooted in a shameful and painful past. Its unique blend of supernatural/paranormal, mystery and the "ordinary" life of a damaged teen, along with strong characterisation, provides enough entertainment (if dark) and generates enough emotion without the need for it to add a metaphysical quest to the list. [...]