Posts Tagged ‘Ghosts’

Don’t cry, there’s always a way. Here in November in this house of leaves we’ll pray.. -Poe (the musician, not the dead writer)

Dudes, I was browsing some of my favorite blogs this morning and through Musings of a Bookshop Girl I discovered this super rad, totally awesome reading event:

So, for any of you who know me in real life know how much I adore the autumn season. I love all things chilly days, long nights, creepy stories, baskets full of candy, make believe, witches, ghouls, goblins, ghosts and terrifying reads. So, when I saw this I immediately did a squeal of delight and started making up my to-read list for this stellar event. Even though it’s a balmy 92 here in North Carolina today I have high hopes that we will actually get an Autumn and a Winter this year. I spent all morning yesterday reading farmer’s almanacs and weather blogs to see what the meteorologists are predicting for us. I want cold days and overcast skies and a mood in the air to fit my reading in my chair!

So, what is RIPVII? RIP stands for Readers Imbibing Peril and this is the SEVENTH year that stainlesssteeldroppings has hosted the event and I am totally bummed that I didn’t know about it last year, but better late than never I do suppose. If you’re interested in my Fall Reading Habits from last year, check out this post. And also check out my Top Ten list of favorite Halloween reads. So, I am psyched to be participating in this challenge this year and I am ready to get started. “The purpose of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII is to enjoy books and movies/television that could be classified (by you) as:

Dark Fantasy.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.”

There are two simple goals for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII
1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.”

There are several levels of peril that readers can choose to participate in. I have selected three levels that I want to be apart of:

Read four books, any length, that you feel fit (the very broad definitions) of R.I.P. literature. It could be King or Conan Doyle, Penny or Poe, Chandler or Collins, Lovecraft or Leroux…or anyone in between.

This one’s obvious: short stories. This will work well for a book of spooky short stories I bought at a used bookstore in college and have yet to read called Nocturnes. I’m also gonna get some Poe (yippie!) in there as well.

This is for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows or Midsomer Murders, or your favorite film. As corny as it is, my all time favorite Halloween movie is Hocus Pocus. I watch it every year and I try to be patient and wait for it to come on ABC Family Channels 13 Days of Halloween, but last year I got impatient and I went and bout a copy of the DVD at Target and it takes all the willpower I have to not watch it any other time of year! I also love to watch all the creepy Halloween-themed shows and the movies that come on that time of year. The countdown shows where they talk about the scariest movies, or the most realistic monster movies, etc. are some of my favorites to watch!

So, those are my three perils that I will be partaking in. I am aiming high here folks, and I am shooting for a few more than four books. I’ve got a pretty sizeable list here, and I know that with school and everything going on in my busy life, I will most likely not finish all of these books, but these are the ones I am going to pick from and I will leave the rest for Fall 2013:









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“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!” – Ray Parker Jr.

I received a copy of The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James from the Good Reads First Reads Program and I will honestly tell you that it took me a long time to get around to reading it. When I did finally sit down and start it, I was able to read it in about a day and a half. Don’t get excited though, I wasn’t able to get through it so quickly because it was a great book; it wasn’t a horrible book either. I gave it four stars on goodreads, but I’m now starting to wonder if maybe it only deserved 3 or 3.5. Let’s go with 3.5.

The story is set in 1920s England and revolves around a temp named Sarah Piper who has no family or friends and very little cash. Her temp agency calls her up and offers her a position which she accepts right away because..well…no cash. Sarah soon discovers that she has been hired to be the temporary assistant to a wealthy ghost hunter named Alistair Gellis. Piper and Gellis travel from London to a small English town containing one street of shops & pubs, one Inn, a few houses and a haunted barn. The barn is supposedly haunted by a mute girl named Maddy Clare who showed up to the Clare house one night dirty, frightened and unable to speak. The Clare’s adopt her as their own despite her periodic rages, inability to speak, and her avoidance of men. One day when she is 19 Maddy hangs herself in the barn and thus the ghost hunter is brought in to rid the barn (and the Clare family) of her raging spirit. Somewhere along the way Gelis’ actual assistant shows up (he had to hire Sarah because just like in life, in death Maddy hates men) and a romance blossoms between Sarah and the assistant.

What I liked:
-The story was engaging, cozy, and fun. I am a fan of ghost stories and a fan of historical fiction. The fact that this story was set in 1920s England was pretty much moot by the end of the book. Several times during reading it I simply forgot that it was set in the 20s. The story could have taken place at any time and it would have pretty much been the exact same book.
-It was a quick read. I was able to get through it in a day and a half. I was engaged in it and I was very curious to see how the romance would play out in the end, especially since the male romantic figure didn’t seem to like the female romantic figure very much at all, but more on that later in the “what I didn’t like section.” I was so engrossed in this book I read the last half at a coffee shop. When I realized I had been there for almost 2 hours and I should probably free up some space for the people still eating scones and drinking coffee, I went out to my car where I promptly sat until I had finished it.
-I like a ghost story and I’ll have to admit that on the first night of reading this, I jumped at a few odd noises. It’s not a scary book at all, it’s one that you can definitely read by yourself, but there are a few twists and turns and spooky goings on.

What I didn’t like:
-The setting. Like I mentioned earlier, I wish that it had had more of a 1920s feel to it. The only reason I was able to remember that it was historical as I was reading it was because I kept imagining the characters in the book as characters from Downton Abbey. Other than that and a few mentions of newfangled motorcars and antiquated outfits it really could have been set at any point in history.
-The characters. They seemed eternally flat to me. Let’s start with our main character Sarah. She was a flip flop. At the beginning of the book she was constantly blushing and getting embarrassed over small things like sitting at a table with Alistair. As the book progressed though she became more brazen and even admitted that she’d had several one night stands with random lovers. I couldn’t tell what kind of person Sarah really was. Was she this innocent little thing, or was she the wanton lover who allowed Matthew to use and leave her? Then there’s Maddy, the ghost. Towards the end of the book we discover what has actually happened to Maddy to cause her to become mute (and why she was so dirty when she first appeared at the Clare house). It was a pretty predictable event and the “bad guys” were easy to spot. So easy that I had it pegged by page 20. But I digress. Maddy was an unfortunate character who had endured a terrible thing, but I still could not find it in me to care about her. Instead, I resented her. She had rages, destroyed things, haunted people, physically hurt Sarah when Sarah was attempting to help Maddy, made the Clare families lives awful even though they were the only ones who would take her in and care for her and then she almost killed Alistair. There just isn’t a whole lot to like about her and I didn’t. The only character I actually appreciated was Alistair. Alistair (and Matthew) had both survived WWI which is where they had met. I say survived lightly because they both have a strong case of PTSD. I felt like Alistair’s PTSD was more fully explored and utilized in the story and consequently I found him to be the only tolerable character in the book. I wish that the book had taken on a more symbolic tone and made the ghost somehow symbolic of emotional scarring, which maybe St. James was trying to do, if so it did not work for me.
-The romance between Sarah and Matthew was soooo not believable at all. When the book first opens Sarah is gaga over Alistair but then being the flip flop that she is she is suddenly madly in love with Matthew out of nowhere.  Matthew takes it upon himself to physically use Sarah and then say “I won’t be back.” Jerk. In fact, Matthew didn’t seem to even like Sarah at all for the entirety of the book. He barely even tolerated her. In preparation for this review I read an interview with Simone St. James in which she said she wanted to write a ghost story with a romance in it. I really wish that she had just left the romance OUT of the book, if she had, it would have been a solid four stars for me. The romance dragged the book down and it brought me out of the story and I just didn’t buy into it.

Overall it was a cozy and fun read, just what I needed to end the school year with. However, I wouldn’t say I loved it. I give it a 3.5 which is in between 3 (it was okay) and 4(I liked it!). I’ve read better and I’ve read worse. I can’t say that I would recommend it to everyone. If you want a really good ghost story I have been told that The Woman in Black by Susan Hill and most recently made into a movie starring Harry Potter, I mean Daniel Radcliff, is a perfect ghost story. I have not read it yet, but I do hope to get to it sometime this summer so I can finally see the movie starring Harry Potter, I mean Daniel Radcliff.

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