Review: A Game of Ghosts (Charlie Parker #15) by John Connolly

What I love most about Connolly’s Charlie Parker Books is that they are becoming more and more supernatural…or maybe it’s just that Connolly has done such a great job of making these books real that I no longer question the veracity of them. They are just as believable to me as the sun in the sky…and that is also why they are more and more terrifying as the series goes on…Connolly has managed to mesh the very ordinary world of former policeman Charlie Parker with the spectral world where some things just can’t be explained until suddenly they are all one and the same…but he does so in a way that keeps the real world the focus and the paranormal in the shadows. This isn’t some attempt by an author to create an alternative world or universe or future time period. Connolly isn’t asking the reader to suspend what they know…only that you open your mind to the possibilities…and with your own imagination the possibilities are infinite…which explains the vast amount of fear I experience whilst reading them…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

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Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Review: The Terror by Dan Simmons

terrorHave you ever had friends rave about a book? Tell you how terrifying it was? How amazing it was? Have you rushed out to buy that book? Been so excited to start that book that you actually put it off for a few months (OKAY OKAY OKAY, maybe the size of my TBR list had a bit to do with that as well) just so you can savour it?

Yea, me too! The Terror by Dan Simmons was one of those books! Once I finally dived in I was beyond excited to finally get started! Do you know what I found once I did? Here it is…are you ready? My review in just a few short words…

All I can say is that I was about ready for the Tuunbaq to come and put me out of my cold misery long before this novel ended…..

That’s it…

The End…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now (or not) The Terror by Dan Simmons

Review: A Time of Torment (Charlie Parker, #14) by John Connolly

25930352 (1)Another great book by Connolly. Again, the ending of this book left me with chills and excitement of things yet to come. I really really REALLY wish Connolly would stop tormenting us with hints of the daughters and what they are capable of. Ha! I’m sick and anxious over them…and a wee bit scared as well!

For those that haven’t read Connolly before, you don’t HAVE to read his prior books to enjoy his works…however, there is so much story and history in the previous works. You won’t get lost having not read the previous books, but you won’t understand all the good stuff either. The layers and layers of history and characters that Connolly has interwoven. Charlie Parker really inspired those around him. Not all of those inspirations are positive. Some of them are borderline worshiping. And all of them are relevant. Imagine these novels are going to a wonderful city…yes, you can enjoy the city no matter what, but only a true local knows all the ins and outs that the city can offer. Those places not found in the tourist attractions. The very same is true for Charlie Parker. You learn much from Parker himself, but so much can be gained by the people that surround him in life.

Finally, I have to say, these characters are getting so rich and so many that I am thinking about starting a Charlie Parker notebook…So many characters that show up from novel to novel and so much of their stories growing and expanding…even though I’ve read of them in the past, I still feel as if I am missing some stuff because I can’t remember them all in all the details.

Of course that might just be an excuse my mind is using to go back and reread all the books!

Please, go read some Charlie Parker books…you won’t be disappointed…he’s really turning out to be a long time favourite of mine!

Until next time…
Urania

ARC provided by netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now A Time of Torment by John Connolly

Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

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I love a good ghost story.  Sure, blood and gore are fine.  But the scariest stories take you right to the edge and no farther, leaving your imagination to conjure things far scarier than the author’s words alone could ever manage.  This one from Katie Alender does just that.

When Delia’s aunt passes away, it comes as a surprise that she’s left her home to Delia.  Sure, they wrote to each other from time to time.  But they weren’t especially close, or at least that’s how it seemed to Delia.  But apparently she was wrong.  So off she goes with her mom, dad, and sister to clean out the rambling estate and sell it off.

She wasn’t prepared, however, to be the owner of an abandoned insane asylum.  And not only that, but it’s haunted.  When the first odd happenings start, she brushes it off as just her imagination. But then things get too real too fast.  And then Delia’s dead.

Here’s where the real fun begins.  Now she’s one of them.  She can see, feel, and communicate with the other ghosts at Hysteria Hall.  And boy, are there plenty of them.  It seems that more than a few patients didn’t ever leave.  Now they’re stuck there forever.  Delia probably could have resigned herself to wandering the hallways for eternity.  Until her family comes back to the house.  She can’t just sit around and watch her sister suffer the same fate she did.

This was a fun book to read.  Lots of ghosts with great descriptions, high on the goosebumps factor, and high on the page-turning scale.  Also a great read for young adults!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall

Review: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

  
Detective Cormoran Strike’s assistant Robin receives a special delivery – of a severed leg. And that’s the impetus for following around dangerous and seedy characters from Strike’s past. 

This book is way more gory and psycho than the first two – and definitely too much so for my tastes. But it’s a beautifully written book with just enough clues to make you feel like you should have known who the culprit was all along. Personally, I liked the side stories of Robin’s fiancé and Cormoran’s superficial love life. I also liked traipsing around city and country alike, accompanying Robin in shadowy doorways and looking out for the bad guys. 

Excellent read. 

-calliope

Buy: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Book 3)

Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

24499258Anyone that knows me already knows I am not a huge fan of short stories…However, there have been a few stories in anthologies that I have read that have helped me find some new (to me) authors that I want to read more of. This novel isn’t part of an anthology, however, it was interesting enough and entertaining enough to make me add Mitchell to a list of authors that I want to read more of. I did love the different characters that each told a new chapter in this book. I loved the concept of Slade House. The only real complaint I can make is that I wanted more. I wanted the full meal deal and not just the fast food shortened version I received. It was also more than a little bit creepy. A perfect late autumn read. Even better if it’s on a cold night whilst a storm is brewing outside…that way you have a valid excuse to hide under some warm covers…

I can’t wait to read another (longer) work of David Mitchell so I can read it, review it and share my thoughts of with fellow readers….

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgallery for an honest review

Buy it now Slade House by David Mitchell