31 Days of CeeCee-o-Ween: Head Full of Ghosts on Sale for $1.99!

Horror fans, eat your cold, black hearts out! The scariest book I’ve ever read (sorry, Stephen King and Joe Hill) is on sale for two buckeroos! I PROMISE YOU, this book will make those tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention! So get on the Amazon or the Nook Shop and download this book today!

Synopsis: Two sisters battle sinister forces in a slow-burning tale of demonic possession. It’s up to the readers’ to determine whether or not this is Satan’s work or a toxic concoction of teenage hormones and schizophrenia. Essentially Turn of the Screw meets The Exorcist.

Why it gave me the creeps: There is nothing more unsettling than the thought of living under the same roof with someone who may or may not be possessed by demonic forces. However, I did have some doubts about my sister from time to time. Kidding! Well…sort of. Head Full of Ghosts got under my skin because it seemed so real. I could totally relate to the dysfunctional, blue-collar household because I lived in one. I could especially connect with the two bickering sisters. I remember scaring my poor sister silly with my “demon voice” at night when we were forced to share the same room. To be honest, I even scared myself! Could you imagine the horror of hearing that voice, knowing that your sister really could be possessed by the devil?

Jeepers!! I’m giving myself the willies just thinking about that book…and how it all came to a head in the end. Don’t worry! I won’t tell you what happens, but I will say that it’s the scariest—and most satisfying—ending. The genius of Tremblay’s storytelling is that he doesn’t spell it out for you. It’s up to the reader to pick up on the subtle clues and draw their own conclusion at the end. Like Mulder, I want to believe. Judging by the little hints—and one big nudge at the end—I’m pretty sure Tremplay gave me what I wanted.

Overall: A dark and twisted masterpiece pulled off by a relatively unknown writer. When it comes to the uncanny, Paul Tremblay is the master!

31 Days of CeeCee-O-Ween: Friday the 13th Special

Why is CeeCee in a banana split costume, you ask? Well she’s gone bananas over our newest literary acquisitions! Somebody let me loose in BookPeople’s super secret half-off section and I ended up with a stack of spine-tingling tales of horror, mischief, murder and mythological gods of death destruction!

Here is our latest book haul! In the wise words of R.L. Stine, readers beware, you’re in for a scare!

Which one will I read first? My Best Friend’s Exorcism, of course! I mean, look at that cover! It evokes memories of my most favorite campy 80s horror movies. Here’s the synapsis:

A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.

If I wasn’t going to ACL, I would spend my entire Friday the 13th consumed with this book!

 

Thirty-One Days of CeeCee-O-Ween: The Mist in the Mirror


Synapsis:
A brooding Englishman spends his days skulking inside a haunted estate on a quest to understand his enigmatic childhood hero. Like a silent movie, readers must endure his inner monologue as he deciphers who—or what—is behind the bumps in the night.

What didn’t work: The story was drowning in the pages upon pages of setting details. When James Mommouth walks into a room, we get flooded with every painstaking detail – from the wallpaper patterns to the specks of dust on the bookshelf. Typically with audiobooks, I tend to appreciate these long, meandering riffs because I don’t miss out on anything important when my mind wanders. But geez – this lady takes mood and setting to a whole new level of overindulgence. After the first couple chapters I was already tired of this stuffy man’s inner monologue as he crept around dark rooms. I really didn’t care for this dude, especially when he likened himself to a “scared silly woman” in one of his many eventless eerie interludes. Needless to say, this is my first and last Susan Hill book. For gothic horror, I’ll turn to Barbara Michaels or Wendy Webb.

What worked: If your mind tends to wander while listening to audiobooks, this one’s for you. Trust me—you can space out for a half hour and not even miss a beat! Also, the dramatic prose is most impressive and I thruoughouly enjoyed the British narrator’s posh accent. Bloody brilliant—I dare say, good man!

Overall: I think you’d have to be a die-hard fan of Susan Hill to appreciate this book. I, for one, need more action and bloodshed!

Thirty-One Days of CeeCee-O-Ween: Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

Greetings, mortals! Are you in the mood for a Halloweenie read filled with witches, magical books and otherworldly cats? Well you’ve come to the right place!

Synapsis: Big city girl, Violet Waverly, returns to her small town to take care of her supposedly “dying” grandmother. When her perfectly healthy—and manipulative—grandmother reveals her big lie, Violet decides to pack up her goodies and jump a flight back to Chicago—and rightfully so! But alas, she must stay put to solve the mystery of the murdered carriage driver. Slowly but surely it becomes clear that the prodigal child must return to her stomping grounds to take over the reins of her grandmother’s magical bookstore and find the killer before the killer strikes again!

What worked: I really enjoyed the cozy upstate New York setting. I felt like I was right there with Violet as she biked around the touristy village with her adorable kitty stowaway in her basket. I was also enchanted by the bookshop—complete with a magical tree and books that just flutter  open on their own. It’s like Beauty and the Beast and Murder She Wrote had a love child!

What didn’t work: When I discovered the reason why Violet refused to set foot in her hometown again, I agreed that she really should hightail it back to the city. I can’t reveal any spoilers of the mystery within the mystery, but I will say that someone committed a VERY unforgiveable act. Yet I have a sneaking suspicion this yellow-bellied loser is going to become a major love interest later in the series. Also, I was annoyed with Violet for keeping so many secrets from the police. Why on earth would someone not report a violent assault? That happened more than once in the book and it drove me nuts. And then there’s the burgeoning love triangle…sigh.

Verdict: Despite its many kinks, this is a fun mystery that will keep you guessing. Perfect for readers who enjoy witches and magical cats in their cozy whodunnits!

This book is best paired with: The musical score of Hocus Pocus and a purring cat.

Read this Not That! Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Vs Haunting Violet

Read This!

This may very well be my most favorite YA paranormal novel.  Set amidst England’s lush and foggy countryside, this is the perfect atmospheric gothic romance for a blustery winter’s night. The mystery behind the drowned ghost girl kept me glued to the pages as Violet searched for clues in a stately English manor. Complete with masquerade balls, danger and romance, this book is everything I could ever ask for in a paranormal mystery. If you love Barbara Michaels (how could you not?), I highly recommend this one!

Not That!

You know that old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Those are wise words, my friends! Please do not be fooled by this gorgeous cover depicting a gothic suspense thriller with a twinge of romance. The synapsis is just as misleading. After reading the dustcover, I was hooked. There’s a mansion filled with family secrets, a mysterious boy with paranormal powers and a spooky seaside town plagued by a diabolical force. What more could I ask for?

What I got was nearly 400 pages of Harlequin romance cheese filled with idiotic characters, inane dialogue and nauseating insta-love nonsense.

As for the plot, where was it? The only plot device—and I use that word loosely—is Violet’s unwavering attraction to a boy who likes to manipulate and ultimately kill people with his Jedi mind-tricks. She knows he’s a baaaad boy, but yet she can’t help but cuddle up with him every chance she gets. Here’s how the story goes. “I want to stab River in the heart for setting all those people on fire…..but then I melt when he gives me that crooked smile.”

Ugh! It’s no wonder why Violet lives a life of solitude in a mansion by the sea. Who would want to be her friend? Hey, I’ve been there, done that with a friend who chose to stay with a toxic man. At first you just want to shake them and force them to listen to reason. Then you eventually have to throw up your hands and walk away. That pretty much sums up my issue with Violet.

But to be honest—with or without the “glowing,”mind-bending boyfriend—she’s pretty darn lame. The author attempted to give her some depth by describing the many leather-bound books on her shelf. On paper, she’s quite the intellect, yet where does all that existential wisdom come into play when she’s faced with a moral dilemma? This is what I call lazy character development. Authors slap characters with a gimmick and—boom—you’ve got a multi-dimensional character. Read John Green’s “Paper Towns” and you’ll see what I mean.

Speaking of gimmicky characters, the most perplexing sidekick in this book is Sunshine. Essentially, she’s the provocative version of Kimmie Kibbler (Full House fans, you know who I’m talking about), who serves as Violet’s twin brother’s brainless sex toy. I was waiting for the author to peel back the layers and portray Sunshine as something more than a vacant-eyed nymphomaniac. Nope, not so much. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it seems like this character existed for the purpose of slut-shaming. She just seemed odd and out of place, but then again, so did everything else in this story.

In retrospect, I should’ve stopped at the very beginning when the book took a bizarre turn for the worst. Why would two underage kids be living on their own in a mansion by the sea? Wouldn’t social services be an issue? Then a girl goes missing and a bunch of kids brandishing wooden stakes go hunting for the devil in a graveyard. Huh?

So many questions, but yet I have no desire to seek answers in the following book. What I truly want to know is how this hunk of garbage got picked up by a respectable publisher. I know this is harsh, but I want to save you from wasting your time and money on this turkey. But if you’re into Bella Swann-type characters and insta-love romance, maybe it’s for you. We all have our guilty pleasures, so who am I to judge?

Let’s Take a Cruise Part II: All by Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

Ahoy mates! Captain CeeCee grants you permission to step on board and check out our latest maritime conquest. This is the second book in our three-part series of mystery cruise thrillers.

Synapsis: A filthy rich old lady with a boatload of priceless jewels gets the axe on a luxurious cruise ship and everyone’s a suspect.

What worked: This book is what I call, “Cheetos for the brain.” So if your brain tunes out while listening to this on audio (like mine did several times), you won’t miss a thing. Seriously, that’s the only generous thing I can say about this mess.

What didn’t work: Oh pretty much everything. What happened, Mary Higgins Clark? You used to write the most alluring Lifetime Movie-esque tales of obsession, deceit and murder. I used to love your trademark cliffhanger chapter endings and you’re multifaceted characters with twisted backstories. It’s hard to even believe you are the mastermind behind this embarrassing piece of drivel.

Probably the worst aspect of the book is the revolving cast of characters.  The third-person narrative bounces around from one undeveloped character to the next, all of whom are annoying and uninteresting. Without a main character, who am I supposed to root for? I suppose the anchor characters are the lottery-winning middle-aged couple, Alvirah and Willy, but really they’re just background noise. Sure, Alvirah saves the day in the end, but at that point I wouldn’t have cared if they all walked the plank.

And then there’s the dialogue. Oh dear. I’m having a hard time believing that a seasoned mystery writer could string together such clunky, intermediate-reader level nonsense. Seriously, I’ve read better dialogue in The Babysitter’s Club.

Yeesh…this is turning out to be quite the roast. I hate to be such a buzzkill, but if I can prevent my fellow mystery lovers from wasting their time and money on this hunk of garbage, I’m doing a good public service! If you want to read a good mystery cruise thriller, check out Woman in Cabin 10.

Plum Pudding Murder: Hannah Swenson Book/Movie Comparison

25387684I’m not going to mince words here. This book was BAD! Let me put it in perspective for you. The Hallmark move was better. A HALLMARK MOVIE, YO! That’s says it all right there. I don’t mean to disparage Hallmark Mysteries and Movies because it’s my go-go channel for all things brainless and fluffy. But when has a made-for-TV movie ever done a book justice?

So hats off to Hallmark for taking the world’s most boring cozy mystery series and turning it into something fun and whimsical. I’m impressed that anyone bothered to pick up movie rights for this stink-tastic books series. Where do I even begin with the book-movie comparison? I’ll break it down for you like this.

Five reasons why the Hallmark movie rules and the book drools:

    1. 1. Hannah Swenson (played by Alison Sweeny) is waaaay more interesting. In the book, I kept picturing a gray-haired, mousey woman knitting socks on her time off. Aside from baking, what else is there? At least in the movie, Hannah is played by a gorgeous ex-soap star with fabulous hair and a twinkling smile. Away from the bakery, she’s out jogging and going on hot dates with two super cute dudes. I would totes hang out with the movie-Hannah (mainly to swindle her out of free cookies). As for the book Hannah, I think I’d rather join my grandma on an agonizingly long trip to the commissary.

2. The love triangle is so much more fun. OK, so in the book there is a hint of a love triangle, but clearly it is going to move along at the speed of molasses. I’d have to suffer through at least five more books until it actually goes somewhere. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  Yes, Norman is safe and practical. It’s a no-brainier he’ll get dumped, which is VERY evident in the movie. However, in the book he and Hannah are the world’s most boring non-married couple. As for the movie, I love Hannah, but the woman needs to quit stringing these poor dudes along. Clearly she’s all about the cop bad-boy Mike, so let poor Norman go already! Personally, I would choose Norman in a heartbeat. He’s hot, he’s a dentist (ching ching $$$) and he’s clearly smitten with Hannah. If it were up to me, I’d pick the safe, good guy every time. I married an accountant. Need I say more?

3. The sister sucks in both versions, but she’s downright intolerable in the book. I’m not a fan of the fashionable, fast-talking, Type A sister. But at least the movie-version isn’t a helicopter mom…yet. I cannot deal with these control-freak soccer moms – in books and real life.

4. The plot moves soooooo much faster in the movie. I can’t believe that the murder didn’t happen until I slogged halfway into the book. HALFWAY, people! Here’s a fun analogy for you. You know that deflated feeling when you order something delicious at a restaurant and all you get is a few morsels atop a mountain of cheap French fries? Well that’s how I felt when the murder mystery was only sprinkled into this crapfest in small doses. At least in the movie, the dead body pops up right at the get-go and our intrepid sleuth sets forth on her crime-solving expedition.

5. In the movie, you get a sense of atmosphere and local color. The bickering elderly sisters are mainstays at Hannah’s adorable bakery and the local yokals drop in on a routine basis to gossip over a plate of delicious brownies. Plus there’s a lot of flirting going around between Hannah and her two boy-toys. Surprisingly, the movie does a better job painting the cozy small town scene and giving the viewers a sense of place. As for the book, it’s heavy on a lot of inane dialogue – and recipes galore. What good is a book without atmosphere? Especially a cozy mystery? I ask you.

So tell me, Hallmark movie fans, what do you think of the Hannah Swenson mystery movies? I’d love to know your book-movie comparisons!