BOOK REVIEW: Catacomb – by Madeleine Roux

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Title: Catacomb
(Asylum #3)
Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: YA, Horror, Paranormal
First published: September 1st 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: December 9th 2016
Pages: 352
Rating 4qqq

“Just because someone seems okay up close doesn’t mean they’re innocent.”

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I started reading this trilogy by Madeleine Roux last Halloween, and after reading the sequel this October I didn’t want to wait another year before reading the final book Catacomb. Combine that with the fact that I still had to finish my fifth and final series for a challenge, and it was the perfect excuse to dive back into Dan, Abby and Jordan’s world. And this third book is without doubt a solid ending to what has been a very entertaining horror/paranormal series! The photos that are used are a nice twist as always, although they are yet again not as strong as the first book. They are definitely creepy enough though, as well as the plot of this final adventure of the three main characters. Catacomb is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining horror read that isn’t too scary and perfect for the Halloween and/or winter season. I don’t think I will read the novellas myself, but I can definitely recommend the three books of this trilogy to anyone who is looking for a creepy and entertaing read.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Dan, Abby and Jordan decided to have one last road trip together after senior year is over. They don’t want to think about what will happen after summer yet, and just want to spend a normal summer together. But as they are on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, they notice that they are being followed. And not only that, Dan is starting to receive messages on his phone from someone that is no longer alive. What is really happening and are the three friends in danger again?

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The Asylum trilogy is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining horror/paranormal read in general and I really like how Madeleine Roux incorporates a bunch of creepy photos into her stories. Catacomb was yet another solid read and a great ending to this series. It’s easy to read with just the right amount of creepy and intrigue to make you want to keep on reading. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: Sanctum – by Madeleine Roux

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Title: Sanctum
(Asylum #2)
Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: YA, Horror, Paranormal
First published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 29th 2016
Pages: 343
Rating 4qqq

“Dan wasn’t sure which was worse – the idea that he was actually being haunted or possessed or whatever, or the idea that this was all in his head.”

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I actually read the first book Asylum back in 2015 and I remember planning to read the sequel soon after that. But other books got in the way, and somehow I soon completely forgot how good this series actually was. I’m regretting this now, because I really enjoyed reading Sanctum. While I don’t think it’s actually as good as the first book, it was still without doubt a solid sequel. It basically has everything I look for in a YA paranormal/horror read: almost no romance, a fast pace, well written, interesting plot and lots of creepy scenes. I’m not completely sure about the character development and some characters can come over as a bit whiney, but the new plot with the carnaval elements is without doubt excellent. There are a few photos included again this time as well, although I wish there would have been more or at least a bit more scary. I guess you can’t have it all… But if you are looking for an entertaining paranormal read that actually focuses on the creepy elements for once, definitely give this series a try.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Dan, Abby and Jordan are still traumatized by the summer they spent together during the summer program in the Brookline asylum. They would love to move on, but someone seems to be determined to keep the terror alive, sending them photos of an old-timey carnival without further note. They decide to return to New Hampshire College to find out what is going on, even though they promised each other to never go back… Under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, they start their hunt for the truth. Will they be able to figure out who sent those photos and what’s going on? And is it safe for them to be there again in the first place?

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While not as good as the first book, Sanctum is still quite a satisfying sequel to this paranormal horror series. The included photos are a nice touch, although they are not as creepy or numerous as in Asylum (or at least I remember it that way). The fact that it has almost no romance is a huge bonus though, and I really liked both the plot, carnaval and historical elements and the prose itself. Recommended if you like the genre! I will definitely move the third book right to the top of my TBR pile.

BOOK REVIEW: Bad Girls Don’t Die – by Katie Alender

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Title: Bad Girls Don’t Die
(Bad Girls Don’t Die #1)
Author: Katie Alender

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: April 21st 2009
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: October 28th 2016
Pages: 346
Rating 4qqq

“Just say something real. Everyone just always tries so hard, and it all comes out the same. I just want someone to say something real.”

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I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for a long time… In fact, it was on last year’s Halloween list as well, but somehow I managed to neglect this book until now. I’m glad I finally decided to pick Bad Girls Don’t Die up though, because it is without doubt both a fast-paced and entertaining read. It’s not the first Katie Alender book I’ve read, and I have to say I really enjoy reading her prose. Both character development and plot are well done and it had just the right dose of creepy. The paranormal horror is mixed with contemporary romance and has its share of high school drama, but it didn’t distract too much from the main plot. I liked the horror element and Alexis is a great character as well. In short, Bad Girls Don’t Die is without doubt the perfect and entertainingly creepy read for both the October month and the rest of the year as well. I will definitely be continuing this series soon!

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Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence, but dysfunction is threatening to turn into danger. Her parents’ marriage is not really working, her twelve-year-old sister Kasey is doll-crazy and Alexis is not really social herself… But after a family fight and a night out taking photos, things are starting to get weird. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes and she doesn’t always talk likes she normally does… And on top of that, she doesn’t seem to remember everything about her day. Their old house is changing too, and Alexis soon realizes it’s too dangerous to keep thinking it’s all in her head. Will she find a way to fix things before it’s too late? And what is happening to Kasey?

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If you are looking for a fast-paced, well written, slightly creepy and entertaining story, Bad Girls Don’t Die is without doubt an excellent choice. Paranormal horror is mixed with contemporary romance and even though there is quite a lot of high school drama, the creepy scenes make up for it. The writing is excellent as well as the character development, and I liked the history behind the old house. Recommended!

ARC REVIEW: The Good Sisters – by Helen Phifer

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Title: The Good Sisters
Author: Helen Phifer

Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Thriller
First published: October 31st 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Finished reading: October 26th 2016
Pages: ?
Rating 4,5qqq

“It was once a house of God, but not after  that terrible night. It changed; they let that woman in and it changed their lives for ever.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Carina UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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During my hunt for creepy Halloween read last year I came across The Good Sisters at Netgalley. The cover looked perfectly spooky and after reading the blurb I was convinced this one would be just right to get into the Halloween mood. And I was right. I’m not saying it’s a full-blown horror read and part of the plot was a bit predictable, but I personally had a blast reading this story by Helen Phifer. The Good Sisters has just the right dose of creepy and mixes historical chapters and horror with romance scenes to lighten up the mood. Perfect for those who don’t like heartstopping and bloodchilling horror! This novel is well written with great descriptions that set the right creepy atmosphere, complete with haunted convent and everything. My favorite chapters would be those set in the past; it was great learning more about what happened when things first started to go wrong. The chapters switch between past and present, but it is done in a way that doesn’t slow down the pace and it’s without doubt an excellent read. Recommended!

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In 1931, Mother Superior Agnes offers sanctuary to a desperate young woman fleeing for her life. They take her in, but there seems to be more to her than meets the eye. The next morning, one of the Sisters is found dead under brutal circumstances in a room locked from the inside. Nobody understands what happened, but Agnes has a feeling she did wrong when she let the woman enter the convent… And she has no idea how far the consequences will reach. Over 80 years later, Kate Parker moves into the old convent with the dream of turning it into a bed and breakfast after renovation. She just came out of a bad marriage and is looking to change her life. She doesn’t know about the convent’s dark history and is determined to stay while the renovations take place, but she soon starts to suspect she is not entirely alone in her new home.

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Sure, the plot is a bit predictable at times and the ending isn’t really a surprise, but personally it didn’t bother me it all. It’s a fast-paced, well written and delightfully creepy story with great descriptions that set the right atmosphere from the beginning. I personally wasn’t blown away by the romantic elements, but they do create a balance with the horror that people who don’t like ‘too creepy’ reads will appreciate. The Good Sisters is without doubt a very entertaining read and and excellent choice if you are looking for your next paranormal horror story.

BOOK REVIEW: Hotel Ruby – by Suzanne Young

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Title: Hotel Ruby
Author: Suzanne Young
Genre: YA, Mystery, Horror
First published: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Finished reading: August 20th 2016
Pages: 288
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“It’s funny how seeing another person hurt can break you down faster than your own emotions.”

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When Hotel Ruby was first published last year, I saw quite a few mixed reviews and ended up taking this book off my priority list. But somehow I never completely forgot about the story… So as soon as I saw it was one of the Riveted reads in August, I knew I had to grab the chance to read it for free. Thanks again Riveted! Now I’ve finally read this story by Suzanne Young myself, I can see why there are so many mixed reviews out there. I mean, the idea behind this book is essencially great, but I felt like something was missing. I loved the mystery and creepiness of the hotel and those descriptions were excellent. That said, I figured out quite early on what was exactly going on in the hotel, which was a minor disappointment. To make things even worse, the dreaded insta-love romance made its appearance and basically almost ruined the story for me. It distracted from the plot and didn’t really add anything substantial to the story either. I suppose romance fans will most likely not be bothered that much by it though and enjoy Hotel Ruby a lot better than I did. Just don’t expect a story filled with plot twists and high dose of creepiness, since  romance seems to be the main focus in this novel.

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When Audrey has to make an unplanned stop at the grand Hotel Ruby, she seems almost happy with the detour. Especially since her father is about to send Audrey and her brother Daniel to live with their grandmother who is practically a stranger. Why? Their mother died a few months ago and he seems to be drowning in his grief. Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be both unpredictable and addicting. The family ends up extending their stay over and over again. But while her father and brother seem to be completely happy with their new life in the Ruby, Audrey is starting to suspect something is a bit off about the beautiful hotel. Especially since she seems to be the only guest on the thirteenth floor and the only one without an invite to the ballroom party… Will she find out enough about the hotel’s dark past before it’s too late?

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Hotel Ruby is one of those stories that has a lot of potential and an intriguing setting, but ends up being ruined by the appearance of cheesy/insta-love romance scenes. I know I’m not a romance fan in the first place, but I was really disappointed by the way the whole creepiness and intrigue around the hotel was pushed back into the background. I mean, I know a lot of people probably love the romance and all, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting after reading the blurb. Such a shame!

ARC REVIEW: The Fire Child – by S.K. Tremayne

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Title: The Fire Child
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
First published: June 16th 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Finished reading: July 26th 2016
Pages: 400
Rating 4,5qqq

“Maybe nothing could extinguish the yearning of human love; maybe it travelled on for ever, through the darkness. Like the light from dead stars.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and HarperCollins UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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The Ice Twins was on my list of most-anticipated 2015 releases, so as soon as I found out S.K. Tremayne was publishing a new psychological thriller I just knew I had to read it as well. And I have to say, The Fire Child didn’t disappoint. In fact, this story turned out to be even better than her first novel! There is no doubt S.K. Tremayne is excellent at setting a spooky atmosphere for her chilling and dark psychological thrillers. The descriptions of both the Cornish setting, the house and the events themselves really make it seem like as if you were right there with the main characters. And those months/days before Christmas definitely become spookier by the minute! The main characters are all well developed and I especially liked Jamie and Rachel. They are not perfect and not reliable either, but their stories are without doubt intriguing and work perfectly for many surprising plot twists. The plot itself is quite simple, but it’s the characters, excellent descriptions and spooky atmosphere that make The Fire Child into such a great psychological thriller. Trust me, you won’t see the ending coming! If you enjoy reading the genre, make sure to consider both S.K. Tremayne‘s thrillers. They’re worth it!

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It’s easy to say Rachel has had a difficult childhood, but everything seems to be falling into place when she marries dark, handsome and rich David. She went from a small flat in London to living in a huge and beautiful house in Cornwall… A house that has been in David’s family for a thousand years and even has its own name: Carnhallow. David still works in London, and only travels to Cornwall during the weekends to be with his new wife and his son Jamie. Rachel seemed to be getting along well enough with her new stepson in London, but things changed when she moved into the big Carnhallow house. Jamie’s behavior changes and Rachel’s perfect life slowly begins to unravel. He doesn’t seem to be over the death of his mother Nina (and David’s first wife) and both claims to see her ghost and makes disturbing predictions. Is it Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel for taking his mother’s place, or is he more traumatized that she thought? When Rachel starts digging into the past, she starts to suspect her new husband wasn’t telling the whole truth about what happened to his first wife…

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Now I’ve read both thrillers, I can easily say S.K. Tremayne is one of my favorite newly discovered authors. She is without doubt excellent at setting a spooking atmosphere, creating characters that are both intriguing and unreliable and describing the setting in such detail that it almost feels like you are right there in Cornwall. The Fire Child is well written, has well developed characters and is filled with many surprising plot twists. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, I can definitely recommed this one!

BOOK REVIEW: The Ice Twins – by S.K. Tremayne

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Title: The Ice Twins
Author: S.K. Tremayne
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror
First published: January 29th 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Finished reading: July 18th 2016
Pages: 373
Rating 4qqq

“It’s not so much my own death that is intolerable, it’s the death of those around me. Because I love them. And part of me dies with them. Therefore all love, if you like, is a form of suicide.”

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I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book ever since it was published last year and it was on my list of most-anticipated-releases in the first place… I’m not sure why, but somehow I never actually read The Ice Twins though until now. And I kind of wish I had picked it up earlier, because I can definitely see why so many people seem to love this book! Sure, the plot itself is a bit simple and if you look critically nothing much really happens during the story. But there is no doubt that S.K. Tremayne is a master when it comes to creating a suspenseful atmosphere. The Ice Twins is well written with excellent descriptions that make it feel like you are right there on the tiny Scottish island with the main characters. I personally loved the setting and the spooky atmosphere, and I really enjoyed reading this story despite the lack of action. The plot twists are subtle, but have a big impact on the story and the characters. I personally didn’t really like Angus OR Sarah, especially because of the way they handle the whole situation, but their development is well done. The ending is interesting as well, and the twins are without doubt spooky and helped set the right atmosphere. If you are looking for a creepy and well written mystery/thriller, make sure to give The Ice Twins a go!

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Angus and Sarah Moorcraft saw their lives fall apart after one of their identical twin daughters died in an accident a year ago. Their suriving daugher, Kirstie, is suffering as well, and they decide to make the move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his granmother hoping to put together some of the pieces of their shattered lives. Things don’t exactly improve though when Kirstie claims they have mistaken her identity; that she is in fact Lydia and that Kirstie was the one that fell out of the window. Their world comes crashing down again and they don’t know how to deal with all of this. Isolated on their tiny Scottish island, their surviving twin is growing more disturbed and both parents start to have problems of their own as well…

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Like I said before, The Ice Twins is more about the character development and the spooky setting than the actual actions. It’s a well written read with excellent descriptions that make it feel you are right there with the characters, and the story definitely creeped me out at points. The ending was definitely surprising! If you enjoy reading the genre, I can definitely recommend this book.