Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

Synopsis: When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Despite Ludlow’s tranquility, an undercurrent of danger exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift graveyard in the nearby woods where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.

Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard where another burial ground lures with seductive promises and ungodly temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. As Louis is about to discover for himself sometimes, dead is better


King once self-proclaimed his novel, Pet Sematary, to be the scariest, darkest of all his books, a statement I expected to hold true for the king of horror, however, I found that this novel was not in fact scary in the sense that I expected, but rather more so disturbing, and then only near the end, after tragedy befalls the Creeds.

Truth be told, I spent a majority of this novel just waiting for something to happen. It’s a long story, and King spends much of the novel fleshing out the main character, Louis Creed, until he feels like an old friend that we’ve known all our lives. The character development is phenomenal, if painstakingly slow, and Louis and his actions throughout were quite believable, especially to someone who has felt the pangs of grief as he does. However, I never quite got over his treatment of the cat, Church, which actually made me quite mad.

It’s no secret that this novel touches upon a cemetery, and the title itself states it deals with pets, so it is safe to assume that you’ve already figured out that animals, such as Church, come back from the dead in this novel. But what I wasn’t ready for was the absolute abysmal treatment of the reanimated cat by Louis, who is the worst offender, and then the rest of his family, who are none the wiser to the fact that Church was brought back to life by the Indian Burial Ground located not in the Pet Sematary itself, but beyond, deep in the woods full of danger and strange sounds.

I love cats, and poor Church never asked for anything, nor did he ask to be reanimated, but once he is, his poor coordination, constant smell of decaying dirt, and his uncanny ability to be wherever Louis doesn’t want him is not his fault, and I literally spent over half the novel feeling sorry for this poor animal who is really only a precursor for what is to come much later in the novel, the darker twist that readers see coming from a long ways off, one they hope won’t come true, but know ultimately will.

And how that all unfolds is the portion that is disturbing. I wouldn’t say it is scary by any means, but rather just awful to think about, and a hard pill for many to swallow, especially adults with children in their lives. Luckily, King doesn’t seem to want to dwell on it much either, and this portion, the part that is really what Pet Sematary is all about, is the shortest portion of the novel, moving along quite quickly and then, like so many others of Kings novels, leave readers on a cliffhanger of sorts. One where we must write the rest of the story; one that might keep us up late at night just thinking, what if?

I think, had I the proper information going into this novel (I’ve never watched the movies, nor looked up the premise, save what I heard in “Broken Fingernails,” episode 17 of the hit podcast LORE by Aaron Mahnke, which is what made me pick up Pet Sematary in the first place), I wouldn’t have been as disappointed as I was with the lack of scares I felt as I slogged through the novel, and in this vein, I am very happy that I listened to this novel via, as Michael C. Hall did a great job narrating and switching voices, adding depth to the story that I feel I would have completely missed had I read this in the traditional sense.

All in all, I was looking for a few more scares in this novel, and thus, it’s a 3.5 star read for me.

I received this audio book as part of a free trial for

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Werewolves of ShadeFrom Goodreads:

When the entire population of Shade go missing, investigative reporter Mila Watson knows this could be the big break she has been waiting for. Setting off into the mountains to the village of Shade, Mila soon learns that the village isn’t as deserted as she first believed it to be and that creatures lurk in the shades…


WoS OneIt’s no secret that I LOVE Tim O’Rourke’s writing. Every single piece, be it novel or novella (and there are a ton–over 50 currently, I believe), has captured my attention from the very first page, and I’ve been drawn into the seamless, heart-pounding stories where the characters and landscape come alive before my very eyes.  And so is the case with O’Rourke’s latest serial, Werewolves of Shade, a 6 part story that is absolutely mind blowing.

Part 1:

Opening in the creepy, dismal town of Maze, we meet Mila, a young woman hell bent on finding out what happened to her parents when they disappeared so long ago, traveling to Shade, a town where everyone seems to have vanished.

Her uncle has been less than forthcoming, and as the first installment takes off, readers learn that a war between Werewolves and Vampires once plagued the lands, but since the ONE came, they have all disappeared.  But, have they?

The first novella, approximately 70 pages give or take, chronicles Mila’s abhorrence as the truth about her parents emerges, and I loved her characterization.  She is definitely the heroine of the story, but knowing O’Rourke, some terrible events are bound to take place for this young adventurer.  While her lover, Flint, seems to be another main character in this series, I am interested to see how their relationship pans out in the next few installments.  I like him, but I’m not sold on him yet.

And of course, there are O’Rourke’s sprinkle of creepy moments when the possibility of tragedy, horror, and death take the forefront.  I love how he keeps me on my toes, nervous for the characters, but always dying to know what happens next.

Five Stars for Part 1

5 starsGrab part 1 now for just 99 cents: Amazon

WoS TwoPart 2:

I made the mistake of starting the second installment in the Werewolves of Shade Serial late at night. I know better, I really do; I’ve read nearly all of O’Rourke’s work, and I know that the suspense and horror he places in his books means I should never, ever, pick these up at night–I have a rather active dreamscape fraught with nightmares–but I just couldn’t help myself. The first installment ends on an enticing cliffhanger, and I just HAD TO KNOW what happens next. So I started the second portion immediately, and I was not disappointed.

Mila has made it to her destination, the town of Shade, but something lurks in the darkness, and the few people she finds in the town are… less than forthcoming. I can’t decide who I like more: the sweet and sexy Rush or the frustrating and sardonic Calix. For those who’ve read O’Rourke’s Kiera Hudson series (and if you haven’t, please do!), I’d almost liken Calix to a younger version of Potter, and I just love Potter… so I’m torn between the characters.  But neither seem to be very truthful, and their sudden appearance, almost out of thin air, has me suspecting that they aren’t all that they seem… making me wonder just who they truly are, and whether they’re for or against Mila.

And, I am about to pick up the third installment right now, because once again there is a lovely cliffhanger, and I am dying to know what happens next. Especially as some events in this novel, such as a lack of blood where there should be blood, and that penetrating glare from what seems to be distant eyes–but are they?–has me on pins and needles.

Five Stars for Part 2

5 starsGrab part 2 now for just 99 cents: Amazon

WoS ThreePart 3:

The story just keeps getting better and better as the plot thickens.  Every time I think that I know what’s happening, or who these characters really are, O’Rourke throws another wrench into the story, and I find myself derailed yet again.  Truthfully, this is part of the allure of O’Rourke’s books for me–I love that he always keeps me guessing.

As I previously mentioned in my review of Part 2 of this series, Calix is indeed very much like Potter from the Kiera Hudson Series.  The similarities continue to abound, and I find myself falling in love with his cocky mannerisms, especially when it comes to Mila and his interactions. Do I trust him? Not as far as I can throw him, but as I get to know him, I’m really enjoying the banter and his overall self-importance.

Of course, the already eerie series is beginning to take on a more gruesome feel as there is a death of a minor character, yet it’s jarring all the same, especially when the reader gets to the cliffhanger and realizes that not everything, or every DEATH, it what it seems…  I had chills as I read the final paragraph, and I am so excited to start part four right now.  This is just too good to put down.

Five Stars for Part 3

5 starsGrab part 3 now for just 99 cents: Amazon

WoS FourPart 4:

I’ve been reading each part of this series faster and faster through all the plot twists and turns, and I just can’t get enough.  The people of Shade are strange yet alluring, and while Mila seems to be second guessing herself and making some terrible decisions, I just can’t look away, even though I’m finding myself constantly yelling at her through the pages.  I’ve said, “don’t do that!” at least five times in this installment alone, and I can only imagine it’s going to continue and O’Rourke works up to the climax of the series.

O’Rourke always hits the ground running and completely takes me by surprise; in each of the installments so far, he’s left readers with a cliffhanger that has made me, personally, dying to read the next installment, and I love how he’s able to create suspense and terror in each one of these short novellas.  At approximately 70 pages, one would think that the story would grow stale, but such is not the case with the Werewolves of Shade series. I’ve been on pins and needles as Mila uncovers eerie truth after eerie truth, and while it doesn’t all make sense yet, I know it eventually will… though I’m seriously beginning to wonder if any of what Mila’s uncovered is real, or if she’s just imagining it all, like Calix and Rush keep asserting.

I feel I have a good handle on who, or what, the people of Shade are, but there are so many different directions this series is going that I’m just not sure anymore. On to part 5.

Five Stars for Part 4

5 starsGrab part 4 now for just 99 cents: Amazon

WoS FivePart 5:

Things are starting to get really out of hand in the town of Shade–who to trust and what’s real versus what’s fantasy have me, and Mila, scratching our heads as this roller coaster of a story unfolds.  But I’m loving it.  What I thought I knew has been thwarted by a few intense events that have happened in this specific installment, and I have to admit that at one point I was so confused that I was afraid to continue… but I know O’Rourke will bring it together for me in the end, because he always does, and when I look back at all the crazy that happened in this installment after I finish the 6th and final portion of this amazing serial, I just know it’s going to come together like a perfect puzzle.

Who are the people of Shade?  Where did they come from?  What’s with the strange writing in the textbooks and on Calix’s body? Who was this Julia they speak of, and why is there a werewolf stalking Mila–is there a werewolf stalking Mila? Why aren’t the dead in the grave? What of Magic? These are just some of the questions that have arisen for me while I’m reading, and though I know O’Rourke will eventually answer them all for me, the wait is killing me!  But the ride makes it so much fun.

I love the characters, the bit of sassy romance, the strange, sensual dreams, and trying to decipher fact versus fiction in order to understand the strangeness of the townsfolk in Shade… it’s just amazing. Part 6 is going to floor me, I just know it.

Five Stars for Part 5

5 starsGrab part 5 now for just 99 cents: Amazon

WoS SixPart 6:

This final installment of the Werewolves of Shade completes the Beautiful Immortals Series One, but it’s not technically the end of the story. It does answer many questions, but also leave readers with a jarring cliffhanger, one that they might have figured out through context clues given in parts 1-6 (I didn’t, though), but I guarantee there are still questions. And since there’s so much more of the story to tell, O’Rourke has thankfully begun work on the next series, Beautiful Immortals Series Two, which is aptly titled Vampires of Maze, again written in serial parts just like Werewolves of Shade. Part one is slated to release on September 8, 2015.

And I can’t wait!

O’Rourke’s Werewolves of Shade has been an amazing ride, and while I did figure out a few of the plot twists, O’Rourke kept them coming, and the revelation at the end nicely tied together a ton of my questions that arose in parts 4 and 5, but as I already said, there is so much more to tell; so much more I need to know.

Overall, the characters in this series are very well written.  While some are more of a static character, like Rush, Mila has definitely flourished.  She’s been at war within herself over the duration of the serial, and she’s really matured and come into herself.  She extremely real, as is Calix, and I’m excited to note that one of the characters from Part 1, Flint, makes another appearance in this portion, which ties together a few loose ties concerning romance while also throwing some wrenches into the entire story.  Full of suspense, horror, mystery, and intrigue, this is a series that you simply must read; fall in love with Mila, Rush, Calix, and Flint.  Come on, September 8!  I need more!

Five Stars for Part 6

5 starsGrab part 6 now for just 99 cents: Amazon

White SpaceFrom Goodreads: In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it’s as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she’s real.

Then she writes “White Space,” a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, “White Space” turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she’s never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she’s dropped into the very story she thought she’d written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.


I absolutely adore most of Ilsa J. Bick’s novels, but this one was just so hard to read. It begins with Lizzie’s story and, truth be told, it doesn’t make much sense. Readers get the feeling that Lizzie lives in an alternate world, especially with all the made up words and strange references, but then Lizzie references London, and you have to wonder if she’s living in our world, or an alternate one, because her story with the white space and her father bringing characters to life just seems so surreal. It isn’t until Emma’s story begins that some semblance of a story begins to protrude, and it was here that I had my first “aha” moment! Emma lives in what I consider the here and now–a University student, I could easily connect with her and she made sense to me, unlike Lizzie and her family. As we learn about her and her odd life, we realize that she is connected to Lizzie in a way, but readers really have to read slowly because the connections are minute to begin with, and truth be told, you have to think a whole lot while reading this book. If you’re just looking for a fun story that you can sit down and read, well, this isn’t it. As the story progresses, and more and more characters are added to the mix, the reader knows they’re all connected, but may struggle a bit to follow everything because the points of view jump from one to another often–leaving many “stories” with cliffhangers until the next time. While I love this style of narration, and Bick is a master at it, employing it in all her novels, this time I had to work extremely hard to keep the stories straight, and though I loved the twist and putting everything together, and my mind was racing with possibilities connecting Lizzie and her family to everyone else, this was more like homework than a pleasurable evening read. If you miss any of the finite details that produce a connection, then… you’re lost for quite some time. And so, reading this extremely long work of fiction became more of a chore than a leisurely activity.

I was really into the story until about 30%, when Emma enters the house. From here, I either missed something extremely crucial, or it just became too weird, but I stopped really enjoying the book at that point. Nothing made sense any more, and while I think that the point is to keep readers guessing, at nearly 600 pages, it’s just too much for too long–without making sense. Around 60%, Bick drops a bombshell that I wasn’t expecting–in fact, I thought just the opposite the entire time I was reading, but even so, it wasn’t enough to bring me back into the novel full circle. I think this is a great idea–I LOVE Matrix and the idea of Inkheart is extremely interesting, but this was just too long and drawn out. I know Bick’s novels are generally long, but this one could have definitely dropped about 300 pages, in my opinion.

Note: This is a horror story with some exceptionally horrific tales and twists, so readers should beware. While it doesn’t start out all that horrific, Bick definitely takes readers there with her descriptions of blood and gore as the novel proceed.  I actually liked that part, but the rest was just too dense.  Two and a half stars.

2.5 stars

Egmont USA has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read and ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on February 11, 2014.

Amazon | Kindle | Barnes and Noble

18811785The giveaway for an ebook of Demonica by Will Davis has just concluded, and I’m excited to say that the winners have been chosen via Rafflecopter!

And the winners are…

Irene Tsiachta

Jessica Lynn Leonard

A tweet has already gone out to the winners, and an email will go out later this evening! If I don’t hear from the winners within 48 hours, I will select a new winner(s) using Rafflecopter.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations to the winner… but don’t despair if you didn’t win this round!

Enter to win my other great giveaways:

Win a Signed Paperback of Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins–ENDS Dec. 22


Two will Win a Signed Paperback of Stilts by Tim O’Rourke–ENDS Dec. 26


Win an ARC of Avalon by Mindee Arnett–ENDS Dec. 31


Win a Recently Released Book of Your Choice: Ends January 1

RRGG December

18669741From Goodreads: While eighteen-year-old, Tessa Dark was serving her prison sentence for murder, the world beyond her cell walls changed forever. The thunder came and destroyed the world she had once known.

Trapped inside the prison and faced with no future, Tessa’s only glimmer of hope is her friendship with fellow inmate Joe McBride.

Despite Tessa’s fear, Joe decides to go beyond the prison walls to seek help. But when he fails to return, Tessa is determined to go and search for him.

To gain her freedom, Tessa must first learn to walk, run, and fight on stilts if she is to survive the new and terrifying world on the other side of the prison walls.


Imagine a world without music. Without moms or dads. Without a home to call your own.  Imagine a world lacking beauty. Safety. Medicine. Imagine you were given the opportunity to leave it all behind, to fight your way across a desolate land filled with peril in order to obtain the truth.  To obtain freedom.  To obtain help.  To possibly perish in agony along the way.  What would you do?

Tessa Dark chooses to fight.  Sent to prison at age 13 for murder, Tessa lost everything when the thunder came six months later.  She hasn’t heard real music in five years. She hasn’t heard from her family in that long, either.  Not since the thunder desolated the earth and charred the remains of all those outside the safety of the prison walls.  She doesn’t know what happened.  She doesn’t know why. But she does know that if she doesn’t bring back help, everyone who’s left will die.  She does know that her one true love left to get help, and never returned.  She does know that her attempt to find “the island” is virtually a suicide mission.  But she doesn’t care.  She has to try.  She has to hope.

O’Rourke’s latest release, Stilts, is a riveting novel that takes a unique concept and brings it to life.  In a world where walking along the earth is much too dangerous, Tessa and her comrades must learn to utilize stilts in hopes of surviving, of reaching the “island,” a place they aren’t certain really exists, in hopes of helping those who are left.  Those who survived.

From the very first page, O’Rourke sweeps on the scene with an epic battle on stilts; captivating readers immediately and not releasing them until long after the final page. And it’s extremely well done.  Tessa is a believable character, and so is that of Beau, her foil and companion along the trek across the ruined earth to find the rendezvous point.  But with a timely appearances of the mysterious hooded figure, the zombified scorchers, and the erratic behavior of Beau, the going is anything but easy or forthright.  Forced to make split second decisions and haunted by the fate of her love, Joe, Tessa, and readers alike, are in for a wild ride.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this novel, for me, is that is takes place in one of O’Rourke’s intricate “pushed” worlds, seamlessly extending itself into the riveting Kiera Hudson and Jack Seth series by default, two series I absolutely adore. Although it doesn’t directly reference any events within the previously mentioned series, O’Rourke reveals the location of the world through his use of surrounding towns, which clues readers in that Tessa’s story might, just maybe, eventually intersect with that of Jack Seth, and possibly with that of Kiera Hudson as well… an enticing thought.

For those new to O’Rourke’s writing, pushed worlds are parallel worlds to the one we know.  In other words, an alternate plane in which we also exist and experience different outcomes on our paths of life.  In the world you and I know, humans rule and a world recession is in our midst.  In Tessa’s world, there is no recession and humans don’t rule anymore because a great thunder, perhaps a war, has torn apart the world as we know it, and zombie like creatures called scorchers roam the desolate earth—a type of goopified zombie whose touch causes one’s body to incinerate.

Sound intriguing?  It is.  And if I lost you with my attempted explanation of a pushed world, no worries. You actually don’t need to know anything about pushed worlds or have read any other O’Rourke novels to follow this latest release.  And Stilts is a great novel to begin with if you’re new to O’Rourke’s tales.  He is one of my all-time favorite authors, and Stilts does not disappoint.  Five stars.

Hashtag Books has been extremely gracious in providing me with this novel in exchange for an honest review.


And now for the giveaway!!

To enter this giveaway, you must:

-Be 16 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)

-Fill in the mandatory question on rafflecopter (extra entries optional)

Click this Rafflecopter Link to Enter!

This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY and will end at 12:01am EST on December 26th. Please only enter once. The winner will be announced later on December 26th, and will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave me a comment!

18811785Two lucky readers will win an ebook of the haunting horror novel, Demonica, by Will Davis in exchange for an honest review.  This novel is AMAZING and will stay with you long after it’s done.  Check out the synopsis below, as well as my 5 star review to get a closer look at this intriguing novel.  Good luck!



When spoilt eighteen year old Miranda suffers a terrible accident she survives, but her face is hideously scarred.

Unable to bear what has happened to her, she locks herself away. Her only companions are Veronica, her cruel and beautiful mother, and Nelly, the sympathetic housekeeper.

As time passes Veronica inflicts cruelty after cruelty on her disfigured daughter. Lonely and filled with despair, Miranda is astonished when Bernard, Veronica’s handsome younger boyfriend, takes an interest in her circumstances.

For Bernard believes there is an operation that can restore Miranda’s face. But it will involve committing an unspeakable crime. A decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life…

In the tradition of Angela Carter and Daphne du Maurier, Demonica is a terrifying modern fairy tale.

Read my 5 Star Review HERE.


To enter this giveaway, you must:

-Be 16 years or older (or have parent/guardian permission)

-Fill in the mandatory question on rafflecopter (extra entries optional)

Click this Rafflecopter Link to Enter!

This giveaway is open to INTERNATIONALLY and will end at 12:01am EST on December 19th. Please only enter once. The winner will be announced later on December 19th, and will receive email notification! Please read my giveaway policy and leave me a comment!

{November 30, 2013}   {ARC Review} Demonica by Will Davis

18811785From Goodreads: When spoilt eighteen year old Miranda suffers a terrible accident she survives, but her face is hideously scarred.

Unable to bear what has happened to her, she locks herself away. Her only companions are Veronica, her cruel and beautiful mother, and Nelly, the sympathetic housekeeper.

As time passes Veronica inflicts cruelty after cruelty on her disfigured daughter. Lonely and filled with despair, Miranda is astonished when Bernard, Veronica’s handsome younger boyfriend, takes an interest in her circumstances.

For Bernard believes there is an operation that can restore Miranda’s face. But it will involve committing an unspeakable crime. A decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life…

In the tradition of Angela Carter and Daphne du Maurier, Demonica is a terrifying modern fairy tale.


This is a novel of betrayal that runs deeper than any other I can think of. A mother who torments her daughter due to a lack of beauty; a daughter to obtains the ultimate revenge in the worst possible way against her mother. Any yet, neither find happiness in their evil ways, and it’s impossible not to hate them, but also impossible not to pity them as the story unfolds. The characters in this novel are awful, absolutely awful, but readers won’t be able to tear their eyes away as they learn of the tragedy that befalls Miranda, watching as she attempts to cope with her lot in life, especially as her mother torments her more each day. One would think that a tragedy like this would change a person, but in the end, it doesn’t, and like the bad accident that starts it all, readers just can’t look away.

I cringe to think that people really do harbor so much selfishness and hatred within themselves that they’d be willing to so utterly destroy another, and yet that’s exactly what Veronica and Miranda do to one another. It’s appalling; but so well written that it pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the very end.

Miranda’s very matter of fact way of telling her story adds a depth of poignancy that allows readers to truly see her heart, and though it’s hard to understand her actions and her hurt, her soul is bared wide for the reader.  In truth, the story is superbly written. I loved obtaining Miranda’s insights about the accident, and the fact that she knew how petty she was, and commented on it many a time, made her very real to me as a reader. Would I like to get to know her in real life? No. I’d probably be one of those people on the sideline that quietly thought to myself that she got what she deserved, but in the end, no one, not even evil, despicable Veronica–a woman not fit to be a mother—or Miranda—a selfish, unrepentant young woman—deserve what befalls them in the end.

This is a story that will haunt you as you read it, and keep you up way into the night wondering just how far a human can fall to allow these things to happen.  Five stars.

5 stars

Hashtag Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel prior to its release tomorrow, December 1, 2013, in exchange for an honest review.  This is a MUST READ.

Find it on Amazon.

et cetera
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