Sunday, 1 September 2013

Reading Round-up:
August

#47: World Enough and Time by Emma C Williams

#48: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

#49: The Marvelous Land of Oz by L Frank Baum

#50: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

#51: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

#52: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

#53: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

#54: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Eight books this month. Not bad! I didn't actually realise I'd read that many books this month until I sat down to write this post. I'm well past the goal I set myself of completing 40 books in a year, which is fairly impressive considering I only read 23 books in the whole of last year. 

I enjoyed all of the books I read this month and it's probably a tie between 'World Enough and Time', 'Sharp Objects' and 'My Sister's Keeper' when it comes to which book I loved the most. I would definitely recommend all three and I gave them each a 5 star rating.

What did you guys read this month? Any recommendations?

What I've Been Reading:
'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult

After reading 'Sing You Home' by Jodi Picoult earlier this year, I knew I would eventually read another one of her books. When I found a copy of 'My Sister's Keeper' for £2 in a local charity shop, I couldn't resist and started reading it straight away. The following day I'd reached the final page and was kind of sad to close the cover on the world I'd immersed myself in so completely.

Anna Fitzgerald is thirteen years old. All she wants is to live her life but part of being her means that in a way, she also has to live her sister's life. Unlike most people she knows, Anna wasn't just a happy accident, she was the result of a fertilisation process that involved selecting the embryo that was the perfect match to give her sick sister Kate the stem cell transplant that might just save her life. The result? While not being sick herself, Anna has undergone multiple medical processes throughout her short life, ranging from donating stem cells after her birth to bone marrow donation several years later. Now her parents want her to donate a kidney to her sister. But how long can this process go on for? How long can Anna keep being a donor for her sister?

Anna takes her case to hotshot lawyer Campbell Alexander, who agrees to represent her in her lawsuit. Anna has decided to sue her parents for medical emancipation. Aged thirteen, she believes it is time she has the last word when it comes to her body and helping her sister.

'My Sister's Keeper' tackles an issue that is very prevalent in the media, an issue that many people will have strong opinions on. But she tackles it with incredible sensitivity, showcasing perfectly the two sides of the coin, the pros and cons of conceiving one child to save another. This novel was beautifully written, kept me gripped throughout and had me both laughing and crying at various points. 

As with the last Picoult novel I read, I fell in love with the characters. In this case, mainly Anna and Campbell. Anna is the perfect know-it-all kid, a child wise beyond her years and heavy with social and familial responsibility. And Campbell is just a sarcastic weirdo - his excuses for why his Service dog Judge accompanies him everywhere get more and more random as the story progresses (my personal favourite is 'I have SARS, he helps me keep track of how many people I've infected') - who really managed to touch my heart. 

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good soppy read with plenty of courtroom drama. 

5/5

What I've Been Reading:
'The Marvelous Land of Oz' by L Frank Baum

So, this is the second installment in the Oz series. It's kind of freaky, full of weird creatures and bizarre situations, and Dorothy doesn't so much as make an appearance (although she is referenced at one point) and yet this is still a fun little read.

The story opens with Tip, a farmboy fostered by illegal witch Old Mombi, who thinking it would be fun to scare his cruel guardian, creates Jack Pumpkinhead, a strange man made out of sticks and a pumpkin carved to look like a face. After Old Mombi casts an experimental spell on Jack, his unlikely form is brought to life, beginning a crazy adventure for himself and they young boy Tip.

Despite Dorothy's absence from the book, her old companions the Tin Man and The Scarecrow do make an appearance. The Scarecrow, now King of Oz and terribly weighed down by the crown sewn to his cloth head, has begun to let his brains get the better of him and spends his days sitting on his throne, chewing over the deep thoughts he had so longed for. The Tin Man on the other hand is now the kind-hearted leader of his own Empire, choosing to claim himself Emperor rather than King as he prefers the idea of a democracy over that of a kingdom.

But our Scarecrow leader is soon to find his seat on the throne at risk as a band of young feminists from across Oz turn up at the gates to the Emerald City wielding sharp knitting needles and a strong desire to overthrow the King and create a Matriarchal society where men will be repressed the way women have been for so long. Of course, the Emeralds paving the streets of Oz would also be a bit of a bonus.

This is a curious novel that was obviously heavily influenced by events at the time of its writing (the Suffrage movement springs to mind). It's definitely worth a read if you're into the whole Oz thing.

3/5

What I've Been Reading:
'Sharp Objects' by Gillian Flynn

I've wanted to read Gillian Flynn's debut novel pretty much since it was released in 2009 but as so often happens, I just never got round to it. Until I stumbled across it in the Amazon Kindle Summer Sale for £1.99 and decided that was too good an offer to pass up. I devoured the book in a matter of days and while it's been a couple of weeks since I finished it, I still can't quite get the characters out of my head.

Chicago newspaper journalist Camille Preaker has just been assigned the most difficult job of her career. There's been a nasty child murder in her home town of Wind Gap, Missouri and Camille's boss wants her to head back into her past and get the full story. But Camille's hometown is full of ghosts, memories of pain, sadness and loss. Going back there may not be the best idea.

Triggered by the death of her young sister Marian when she was thirteen, Camille began carving her grief into her skin. Now, aged 32, she's finally put the self harm behind her but the visible memories remain. Camille's skin is covered in words, cut into her skin as an addictive form of self expression. Only one spot on her body remains free from words - a tiny circle of skin on her lower back that she had been unable to reach. But once she's back in Wind Gap, there's more than the words on her skin to remind Camille of her troubled past. There's her mother Adora to do that. Not to mention being surrounded by the High School cliques she grew up with and who seem stuck in the past, re-enacting their School days in an adult setting. As Camille comes to realise, nothing ever really changes after High School. We just get older.

But Camille has more to battle than her new proximity to her mother and thirteen year old half-sister Amma. She has her job to contend with. Two gruesome murders have plagued Wind Gap. Two pre-teen girls have been killed and their teeth pulled out. Who would do this kind of thing? Surely it must be someone from out of town, some drifter with a penchant for cruelty? I mean, no Wind Gap resident would ever kill one of their own, would they?

As Camille delves deeper into the mystery of the murdered girls, she finds herself sucked into her old life. Her troubled relationship with her mother is slowly re-emerging and the strangely Lolita-esque Amma is sending out confusing signals. What exactly does she want from Camille?

This is more than your simple Crime novel. This is a psychologically taut and emotionally deep novel. It's not afraid to touch on the more traumatic elements of family life and that's what I liked most about it. Camille is a complex character (one of my favourite kinds of character) with an even more complex history. And the relationship that she and her sister Amma have with their mother is incredibly disturbing and psychologically intriguing. 

This is one of the best crime novels I've ever read and Camille is definitely one of the best narrators I've read so far this year. I'd love to read a sequel that shows where Camille is now and how she's doing with her life. I'd recommend this novel to anyone who likes psychologically taut drama. And as you've probably guessed, I'm giving this a 5/5.

Monday, 26 August 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' by L Frank Baum

I've had an obsession with Oz since I was a child. I watched the film over and over, memorizing lines and wishing the world of Oz was a real place. I also read the original novel, devoured it, loved it more than the film if that was possible. Recently I acquired the complete set of Oz books and I'm planning to make my way slowly through them. 

'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' is, obviously, the first and most well-known novel in the fantasy series. And I was super excited to re-visit it after so long. I had actually forgotten just how much more happens in the book when compared to the Hollywood film version. 

I'm not really going to bother saying too much about this book because we all know the story. But I'd recommend anybody who only knows Oz via the film, read this. You'll be enthralled, I guarantee it. And I'm sure you'll love the story of how the tin man came to be made of tin as much as I do.

This is a quaint little book, a quick read that you can lose yourself in completely. Of course, I give it 5/5.

Monday, 5 August 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'World Enough and Time' by Emma C. Williams



But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near; 
And yonder all before us lie 
Deserts of vast eternity.
'To His Coy Mistress' ~ Andrew Marvell







'World Enough and Time' by Emma C. Williams was 'recommended' to me by Goodreads.com based on some books I'd read previously. The premise fascinated me and, seeing that I had it on my 'to-read' shelf, the author contacted me asking if I would like a copy to review. Of course, I accepted, and here we are...

Anna Jones is your typical 15 year old. Intelligent, sensitive and feisty she's got a lot going on. Firstly, there's Michael, a close friend who she'd like to be closer to, then there's the fiasco she's gotten herself into with her RE teacher and a badly phrased opinion. But the biggest thing going on in Anna's life right now is the build-up to an operation she's been waiting a lifetime for. An operation that could change her life completely.

You see, Anna has Goldenhar Syndrome, a genetic condition that prevented one side of her face developing at the same rate as the other. As a result, her face is severely asymmetric,  one half of her jaw is underdeveloped causing complex structural problems. Anna is also almost completely blind in one eye and has less than perfect hearing in one ear. She also has scoliosis of the spine as a result of her condition. And yet Anna does not let any of this get her down.

At fifteen, she's already gone through a lifetime of medical procedures, examinations and orthodontic devices but finally it is time for the operation of all operations. An eight hour procedure to transplant bone from one of her ribs into her jaw and hopefully make her face more symmetrical. Anna hopes that the procedure will allow her to live life in the same bubble of uncertainty that others do. There won't be any more over-friendly shop-keepers trying to show that they don't care how she looks, there won't be any more kids pointing and asking their parents what is wrong with her, and maybe, just maybe, Michael might find her attractive enough to date.

'World Enough and Time' is a beautiful novel. Told from Anna's point of view we get an exquisitely crafted and insightful look into the mind of a fifteen year old who just wants to live her life without prejudice. Unusually for a novel told from the point of view of a teenager, I really did feel like Anna was talking to me directly, as though the author had channelled Anna and was relaying her thoughts on to the page. Anna did not feel fictional. She felt thoroughly 3D, a fully developed character who I could really care about and wanted to spend time with. In fact, I didn't want the novel to end as I wanted to spend more time with Anna and her friends and I'd be happy to read an entire series of books devoted to Anna Jones. (Thankfully, I've discovered that Anna has her own blog! I'll definitely be checking that out.)

This novel taught me a lot. Not just about Goldenhar Syndrome, which I'd heard of before but didn't really know a lot about, but also about life in general. It taught me that no matter what we think of ourselves, no matter how hard it can be for us to believe that other people will ever find us beautiful, there will always be those who hold us up when we're down and see the beauty that hides within us. It made me pause for a moment in my own navel gazing and contemplate how different and more complicated my own life could be.

This is one of the best Young Adult novels I've read in the last couple of years and I want to urge any YA fans out there to get their hands on a copy and everybody else to buy a copy for any teenage girl in their life. 

5/5 - a firm new favourite.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Reading Round-up:
July

41: 'Dead Sky Morning' by Karina Halle: [4/5] a creepy instalment to the series.

42: 'Lying Season' by Karina Halle: [3/5] a bit disappointing when compared to the previous books in the series

43: 'The Panopticon' by Jenni Fagan: [5/5] my new favourite read.

44: 'Night Shift' by Stephen King: [3/5] I don't really do short stories but this was a good collection.

45: 'Saint Jude' by Dawn DeAnna Wilson: [4/5] a compelling tale of teen mental illness.

46: 'Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco' by Eileen Wacker: [4/5] a sweet story for kids about Chinese New Year.

Six books this month, not bad...

What I've Been Reading:
'To the 5th Power' by Shirin Dubbin


I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review.

I didn't actually finish this book. I got about 10% of the way in and simply couldn't go any further. I loved the idea - a retired superhero who has to go back into action to help catch three super-villains but I just couldn't get in to the story. It wasn't that it was poorly written or anything, it was more that it wasn't as detailed as it should have been. I felt almost as though the writer had scrimped on description and plot in order to keep the word count down. I might return to it eventually but at the moment it's just not my thing.

What I've Been Reading:
'Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco' by Eileen Wacker

So, I know kids books aren't my usual forte but I was invited to read this book on Netgalley and I have to admit that it really appealed to me. I have a soft spot for Pandas and so I decided to give it a go. It's a short read, obviously as it's aimed at the 4-8 age group and it only took about five minutes to read. If I had been reading it to a child. it would probably have taken longer as we would have lingered to admire the cute pictures and discuss the story. 

It's a clever little story about Chinese New Year and the mythology surrounding Chinese Dragons and how their actions can bring luck for the following year. There's also a moral story embedded in the plot - Fire is Dangerous. Do Not Play With Matches.

The writing wasn't great. I think it could have been edited down a great deal without losing any of the plot but the accompanying pictures made up for it, as did the handy little glossary at the back of the book which explains some Chinese customs and foods - this is a great idea in a kids book.

I would definitely like to check out the rest of the series (there are 6 books in total, all based around the same community of animals) and would love to read this to my little nephews who I think would really love it.

4/5

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Nation's Top 100 Reads
How Many Have You Read?

In 2003, the BBC compiled a list of the nation's favourite 100 books. Obviously having nothing better to do, I decided to see how many of them I've read. The entire list is below and the ones highlighted are the ones I've read...

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson

32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt

77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson

99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie 


So, I've read 40 out of 100. Not too shabby.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'Saint Jude' by Dawn DeAnna Wilson

"No one expects you to make any sense. That gives you the freedom to be creative. It's like for the rest of us the world is a black and white TV show. For you, it's a Disney cartoon."

This is one of those books I've stumbled across when browsing Amazon for cheap / free Kindle titles. The slightly eerie cover image drew me to the book and the blurb pulled me in further so I hit that lovely little 'buy now' button.

Saint Jude's is a way-station for troubled teens. Specialising in adolescent mental illness, the group home takes in upper middle class teenagers like Taylor, whose Mom can no longer handle her Bipolar diagnosis. Taylor's lucky. The only experience she has of Psychiatric facilities is the plush ward on the fourth floor of a private hospital, and now the "family" environment of Saint Jude, governed by Big Daddy, the teens therapist and Big Momma, a sort of housekeeper, come psychiatric nurse.

The teens are all dealing with their own problems: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and yet their lives have become entwined, they've been forced together by the stigma of mental illness and the pain they each feel inside their own fragile minds. Isolated from the "real world" the teens tick along, riding the waves of their mental disorders waiting to turn sixteen so they can leave. 

Until Dalton arrives. A replacement for Big Daddy, Dalton is a breath of fresh air in the stale therapeutic environment and he attempts to turn the teens lives around with shall we say non-traditional techniques and a new approach to therapy. 

Meanwhile, as Taylor begins to grow closer to the charismatic Blaine, she puts her own recovery on the line to become the person she thinks he wants to be. And when he leaves Saint Jude's for good, the fine thread that had been holding her together finally breaks.

This novel encompasses the darkness of a mental illness diagnosis and the brightness of recovery. It's a must-read for anybody going through a similar situation or really for anybody who just likes a bloody good teen protagonist and a plot that deals with strong, heart-wrenching issues without simply skimming the surface.

4/5 - purely because the copy I read could have done with some editing and grammatical tweaks.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'Night Shift' by Stephen King

I've never been overly keen on short stories. I can see the merits of them of course, it's just that they're not for me. I struggle to stick with a collection of short stories because I can't keep my interest up. I like novels. I like the way we gradually begin to know and care for the characters. I like following the story arc and reaching the climax, and I love a book that lasts me a while, a nice thick tome that you get to know by carrying it around with you everywhere for a week or more. Short stories are more like bite-sized chunks to read in one sitting, and as such I just can't get on with them in the same way I can a novel.

But, as this was one of books on my personal Stephen King-a-thon challenge, I had to persevere, stick with it to the end. I didn't want to give up, miss it out of my challenge. It would have been failing at the first hurdle. Anyway, I really enjoyed a few of the stories and yet now that I closed the book and put it aside a few days ago, I can't seem to properly recall more than one or two of them. That's the problem with short stories for me, they don't capture my imagination enough that I'll remember them several years down the line.

However, if you're a fan of Stephen King or the horror genre in general, and you can tolerate the short story format, I'd recommend you give this a go.

3/5

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'The Panopticon' by Jenni Fagan

This is one of those books I'd read lots of good things about. It had high praise from some brilliant writers and I was really desperate to read it. However, as usual, that means that I was also reluctant to start reading it. I didn't want to be disappointed. I didn't want my high expectations to come crashing down. And now I feel really stupid and wish I had read it much sooner. Because this book was awesome.

At fifteen years old, Anais Hendricks has been through a hell of a lot. Born in a psychiatric facility to a schizophrenic mother, she is a lifer - a child who has been in the care system since birth and due to circumstance and behavioural issues can be expected to move from a care home to the prison system as an adult. There was a brief time in her childhood when things looked good for Anais. She had a loving adoptive Mother, who despite coming with her own set of issues, was a good Mum, providing Anais with a lively and educated upbringing. But things turned sour and Anais found herself back in the system, bouncing from one group home to the next and getting herself into a whole host of trouble in the process.

We first meet Anais in the back of a police car en route to the Panopticon, a care home for chronic young offenders. Anais knows why she's heading there - everybody thinks that she tried to murder a policewoman. What she doesn't know, is whether she is guilty. Yes, there's blood on her school skirt but she was far too off her face on various drugs to remember what she may or may not have done.

What follows is her journey through the trials and tribulations of proving her innocence, as well as trying to figure out who she really is when she has no idea where she really came from. There are a lot of really cool ideas in this book linking to identity that show just how important it is to our sense of self to know who our family are and how we came into the world. Being uncertain of her origins has led Anais to the belief that she was created by 'the Experiment' as a sort of study. She believes that the Experiment are continuously watching and monitoring her and that her life is nothing but one huge investigation into the human mind.

I loved the character of Anais, she's a girl you can really identify with. She's strong-willed, passionate and has an inner strength that a lot of us could really learn from. She doesn't let all of the shit she's gone through define her and she's so brilliantly clever and astute that you just want to get inside her mind and really rummage around in there until you find the answer to the meaning of life.

This novel tackles a lot of issues: the care system, sexuality, self harm, suicide, rape, murder, drug use, HIV, mental illness plus a lot more that I just can't even label. It's a fabulous, heart-wrenching, enlightening book and I would recommend it to anyone who has room for a troubled teen protagonist in their heart.

5/5

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What I've Been Reading:
'Lying Season' by Karina Halle

The fourth instalment in Karina Halle's 'Experiment in Terror' series, 'Lying Season' sees ghost-hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray investigate a supposedly haunted Mental Institute in Dex's hometown of Seattle. Which of course involves Perry staying with Dex and his vile girlfriend Jenn for a week. Cue seriously awkward scenes involving Jenn's atrocious attitude and self-love. 

We learn a lot more about what makes Dex tick in this novel. Scouring his bookcase for interesting reading material, Perry comes across Dex's stash of meds, hidden in a hollowed out book no less - I love that guy's style, weed goes in an unlocked drawer, medication must be hidden from his girlfriend... Oh Dex you get more complex, the more we get to know you. And more lovable to boot. Finding his various medications prompts Perry to find out more about Dex's mental health (or lack of) and results in a rather dodgy experiment that I don't want to spoil for you all.

We see some more of Perry's history in this book as well. Through dream sequences we are introduced to the 'accident' that has only been hinted at until now and we begin to see just how pervasive Perry's ghosts are. 

And we are introduced to yet another gruesome ghoul. This time, somebody we've heard about before. Remember Abby, Dex's ex? Well we get to see her in the rotting flesh as she haunts Dex's apartment and gets all threatening towards Perry. That girl creeped me out and I'm kinda hoping she makes an appearance in future instalments. I don't think we've seen everything she has to give. Oh and if you love Creepy Clown Lady as much as I do, you'll be happy to know she makes an appearance or two in 'Lying Season'.

Overall, I enjoyed this fourth novel in what is turning out to be an awesome series but I was a little disappointed by the lack of scares. I was itching to read this book as soon as I found out it involved a haunted asylum - yeah, I have a thing for creepy old mental institutes. But there just wasn't enough about the hospital to keep me completely pleased. Although the guy in the padded cell was bloody horrible. This books focus was more on the up and down relationship burgeoning between Dex and Perry and for me, that meant it lacked a bit of the gripping, nail-biting tension that the previous books had. But nevertheless it was a bloody brilliant book and I can't wait to read the next one.

3/5 (purely for not being scary enough!)

What I've Been Reading:
'Dead Sky Morning' by Karina Halle

I adore the Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle, I really do. It has everything. A kick-ass female protagonist, her snarky looney tunes colleague, ghostly goings-on, some seriously cool locations (a former leper colony for example) and a creepy clown lady. I mean what more could you want from a series? Plus, I think one of the things I really like about these books is that they're not just another vampire series. They're much more rooted in reality, in the real world. Okay, I know there are ghosts. But who the heck knows if ghosts are real... Perry and Dex might just have hit on something.

Anyway, 'Dead Sky Morning' is the third installment in the series, and for me it was a return to the things I loved about the first book in the series - real danger, some interesting history, and of course that old sexual tension between Perry and Dex. And without getting too close to spoiler territory, lets just say the sexual tension gets cranked up to the next level in this novel.

For the fourth episode of their web series, Dex is dragging Perry off to D'Arcy Island, a former Chinese leper colony. Now, intrigued by the story, I googled it (yeah I'm a geek, so shoot me) and discovered that D'Arcy Island is as real as they come. Which of course makes me love the book even more for being factually accurate...
So, Perry and Dex take a boat out to D'Arcy Island and anchor the boat as securely as they can manage on an island that is notorious for its dangerous approach and lack of safe docking area. And they hike to a campsite on the other side of the island. You know they're heading for trouble when the killer raccoons appear, or possibly before then when Perry sees someone watching her from the shores of the supposedly empty island. But then it wouldn't be an Experiment in Terror novel if there wasn't some peril involved.

And in this book it comes in the form of Mary, probably the creepiest damn dead woman I've ever had the displeasure of meeting in a novel. The ghost of a missionary woman, she has her own dirty secrets that keep her bound to the island and intent on stopping Perry and Dex from getting away. But we can't forget the mysterious coffins that wash up on shore, and the bizarre flash-mob Deer. The tension in this novel comes in wave after wave, cranking up notch by notch until you can hardly bear to read on. It was nail-biting, eye-covering, lip-chewing tension. And I loved it!

4/5