I used to get some ego thing out of saying I wasn’t a star, just an actress. Forget it. I’m a star. I wanted it. I worked for it. I got it.
I used to get some ego thing out of saying I wasn’t a star, just an actress. Forget it. I’m a star. I wanted it. I worked for it. I got it.
Thanks to Scribner for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Synopsis: In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in the middle of suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”
In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machine. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.
As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.
I may have mentioned that I love Stephen King a few times, but I want you to know that I don’t let my hero worship put blinders on me. There have been some of his books that have disappointed me over the decades Dreamcatcher and Lisey’s Story to name two. However, I’m thrilled to say that The Institute is not one of them. Actually, in my opinion it’s one of his best novels to date and is joining my favorites alongside Carrie, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, The Stand, Misery, It, Hearts in Atlantis, On Writing and 11/22/63.
This is going to be a fairly short review because I’m determined not to let any spoilers slip, but there are a few things I’d like to share about why I loved this story so much. Part of why I love Mr. King’s writing so much is his characters. Some of his biggest monsters have been all too human ones: Annie Wilkes from Misery, Henry Bowers from It and Big Jim Rennie from Under the Dome. These are all “regular” people who wind up being just as terrifying as King’s supernatural creations like Pennywise and Randall Flagg. This is the case with Mrs. Sigsby and the other evil masterminds running the Institute. They may try to tell themselves that what they’re doing to the children they kidnap is for the greater good, but make no mistake, they’re sadistic, evil bastards. (Sorry for the language!) While I was reading all I wanted was for them to die in the slowest, most painful way possible. In stark contrast are Luke and the other children. King does an absolute brilliant job capturing their minds and voices. Each personality fairly leaps off the page fully formed which makes what is done to them even more horrifying. Avery, at ten-years-old, yet the most powerful with his gift, just about broke my heart. The other main character is Tim Jamieson, an amicable everyman who finds himself in a small southern town filled with some interesting people. Seeing how Luke, who is trapped in Maine (It’s Stephen King. Where else would a sinister shadow government be kidnapping and torturing kids?) and Tim are ultimately brought together is captivating, and I literally could not tear myself away. The only reason why it took me five days to read this is that I found myself having to take breaks because I became too emotionally involved in what was happening to the kids. It was either that or I was going to throw the book across the room because I kept getting so angry.
The Institute is the perfect example of how, over the years, Stephen King has gone from a horror writer to a genre-defying one. While clocking in at almost 600 pages long, not one single word is wasted in what amounts to in my mind, a perfectly crafted novel. The mystery behind what the Institute’s true motivations, is drawn out through the course of the story and further adds to the pulse-pounding suspense. I guarantee that Constant Readers are going to be thrilled with The Institute, particularly if you love some of King’s other adolescent heroes from previous books like Firestarter, The Body, and It. And if you’re new to Stephen King, or even have mixed feelings about his writing, but you enjoy horror, science-fiction and conspiracy thrillers, I highly recommend you give this a try!
Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
Synopsis: Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next victim.
They picked the wrong girl.
Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. She and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.
Foul Is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.
Obviously the synopsis for Foul Is Fair appealed to me because otherwise I wouldn’t have requested it, but I’m thrilled to say that this clever modernization of Macbeth surpassed my expectations!
You might surmise from the synopsis that this story could trigger some readers. Let me reaffirm that. Trigger warnings I’d include are: Gang rape, substance abuse, physical abuse and of course murder. The actual rape scene is seen through a series of flashbacks. It’s not graphic, but seen through Elle’s hazy memories (she was drugged), and her subsequent injuries, it’s obvious what happened, and it’ll make you want to take revenge yourself against those involved yourself. The murderous and bloody mayhem that ensues at the hands of Elle/Jade and her three friends/coven is not believable in any sense, especially when it’s clear that Elle’s parents and possibly a few other adults know at least some of what’s going on. But believability isn’t really the point of this tale. No, this is about a group of young men who have gotten away with raping countless girls who finally attacked the wrong one. Like Lady Macbeth, Elle isn’t even particularly likable, but I found myself rooting for her all the same.
Another thing I simply have to mention is the way Hannah Capin tells this. In a further nod to Shakespeare, this is almost poetic in style. This might turn off some readers, but I think it adds even more depth to the story. This is a suspense-filled quick read and I finished it in one sitting mainly because there was no way I was going to sleep until I got to the not-so-happy ending.
Foul Is Fair is a bloody, provocative revenge tale that’s perfect for the #MeToo era and lays waste to the adage “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” It doesn’t attempt to teach a life lesson but rather fills that fantasy that so many of us have whenever we read about someone not getting the justice they deserve because of their social circumstances among other things. Think Macbeth meets Kill Bill with a dash of Heathers. Due to the subject matter, violence and language, I’d say this is for ages 16 and up. Otherwise, I cannot recommend this highly enough!
I know. You probably saw the header for this week’s Whimsical Wednesday post and thought I’d lost it. I mean, Supernatural isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of whimsical. Ahh, but if you’re a fan of the series, you might remember the season 13, episode 16 Scoobynatural. This was one of the series BEST meta episodes, where Sam, Dean and Cas are sucked into a magic tv and they join the Scooby Gang in solving a mystery. It’s a perfect example of why Supernatural is so beloved and in my opinion, the epitome of whimsy!
Thanks to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: Bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces.
Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.
Ollie, Coco and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.
With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help—or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.
Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.
Back in June I reviewed the previous book, Small Spaces, which I absolutely loved and thought it was perfect for middle-schoolers. While there are a couple of things about Dead Voices that I didn’t like quite as much, for the most part I think it’s a solid follow-up.
I’m going to get my two small issues out of the way. First, Brian was missing for a good chunk of the story, and I really found myself missing him. While I’m not psychic, the way this series is being written I think he’ll play a larger role in the third book though, which kept my disappointment down to a minimum. This intrepid trio are stronger when there’s imput from all of them going into solving a problem. Granted, for most of the second half they’re separated, but Ollie and Coco still manage to work together in a fashion. The big takeaway is that this is a team and they’re stronger for it. Also, there are a couple of loose ends that left me a little frustrated, but honestly, neither of these two issues spoiled my enjoyment of the story.
So, on to the good stuff! The setting of an isolated, haunted ski resort whose lobby is filled with taxidermy is awesome! Any adult reading this who’s a Stephen King fan will of course be reminded of the Overlook Hotel, from The Shining. As for the kids, it’s just a perfectly eerie and creepy setting which is bound to give them goosebumps! This time Coco takes the lead for part of the story and it’s pure joy watching her gain more confidence in herself. There are plenty of familiar horror tropes sprinkled into the original plot and I think this will delight budding horror fans.
Overall, Dead Voices is a wonderful second installment in this middle grade horror series that successfully combines genuine scares with themes of love and friendship. I love for the most part how the characters have further developed and how Ollie, Coco and Brian each get to tell parts of the plot in their POV. They’re extremely likable and easy to relate to. There’s an interesting dynamic developing between Ollie’s father and Coco’s mother, which has me intrigued as to where that leads and how it will effect the relationship between the girls in the next two books. I HIGHLY recommend this series to horror fans 4th grade and up, particularly readers who enjoy authors like John Bellairs, Joan Aiken, Neil Gaiman, and Mary Downing Hahn.
Penguin Random House Website @ https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com
Barnes and Noble @ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dead-voices-katherine-arden/1129963492#/
Books-A-Million @ https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9780525515050
Born in Austin, Texas, Katherine Arden spent a year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, she deferred enrollment for a year, in order to live and study in Moscow. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature. After receiving her BA, she moved to Maui, Hawaii, working every kind of odd job imaginable, from grant writing and making crepes to guiding horse trips. Currently, she lives in Vermont, but really, you never know. Please visit her at: https://mobile.twitter.com/arden_katherine and http://www.katherinearden.com
Blog Tour Schedule
August 19 – The Midnight Society @ https://midnightsocietytales.com ~ Inspiration Collage
August 20 – Fangirl Fury @ https://fangirlfury.com ~ Review + Inspired by the Book: Baking Recipe
August 21 – Teachers Who Read @ https://teacherswhoread.com ~ Review + Author Guest Post: Why spooky for middle grade readers?
August 22 – Bookishgals @ https://instagram.com/bookishgals_/ ~ Creative Instagram Picture
August 23 – Liezel and Angie’s Book Blog @ https://liezelsbookblog.net ~ Review
August 26 – Word Spelunking @ https://wordspelunking.blogspot.com ~ Inspired by the Book: Baking Project
August 27 – By Hook Or By Book @ https://cadburypom.wordpress.com ~ Review
August 28 – Vicariously & Voraciously @ https:// http://www.vicariouslyvoraciously.com
August 29 – The Book Deviant @ https://bookdeviant.wordpress.com ~ Review
Just in case any of my fellow Star Wars fans missed the new trailer that was released a few hours ago, here it is!
My burning question is what is up with C-3POs eyes?
I’m sure most of you know by now about Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ which is debuting on November 12th. Being a Disney dreamer, I am of course going to be splurging on this. I know. Disney is the epitome of crass commercialism, but it’s something I grew up with and I’ve never outgrown my childhood enchantment with. For all you fellow Disney lovers out there, here’s the latest trailer.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who got goosebumps watching that!
My friend Michel, who lives in the Netherlands just posted his thoughts about Disney+ as well as the trailer for The Mandalorian, so please go check it out!
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