The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

13260536Title: The Murmurings

Author: Carly Anne West

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: March 2013

Pages: 384

Genre: YA Paranormal

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…


I’ve said it before – I frequently judge books by their covers. Especially horror novels – if it doesn’t look creepy enough, I’m not as likely to pick it up. That being said, the cover was the main reason I picked this up in the bookstore. It was staring at me from the shelf and screamed “I”m creepy! Read me!”

I want to tell you that it was a fright-inducing read and I couldn’t sleep without a light on at night. That wasn’t quite how things worked out. The book starts out with Sophie mourning her sister’s death, and wondering about the circumstances that caused it. You know that her sister had been in a mental institution, and you know that there’s a lot of guilt in Sophie about it. You begin to understand why when it comes out that Nell saw and heard things and Sophie might have the same ability, though she doesn’t want to admit it. The potential creep factor was there. It had all the earmarks for some really weird and frightening things to go on. Without giving too much away, Sophie finds out that her abilities make her able to see Takers, and that’s not a good thing. But for me, the brief glimpses we get at first of the Takers – in mirrors or reflections of Sophie – are more scary than the actual Takers. When one finally comes out, they’re just…  meh.

I really enjoyed the mystery portion of the whole thing and the way that West has plotted out the details. There were times when the book dragged for me, and Sophie visited the hospital far too many times before being held there for my taste. I like the way that West makes us question the motives of those around Sophie, just as Sophie does.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic for me, and I still don’t fully understand exactly why things worked out they way they did. I would have liked more of an explanaition for that, because I was left with more questions than anything about the Takers and Sophie and how it was going to affect her life. But if you enjoy mildly creepy books and don’t mind a bit of slow movement in the middle, the book isn’t too bad.


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Book was purchased by the reviewer.


At The House Of The Magician by Mary Hooper

1463307Title: At The House Of The Magician

Author: Mary Hooper

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Publication Date: August 2007

Pages: 240

Genre: YA Historical

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

A poor runaway during the Elizabethan period, Lucy does not have many options. Her luck turns around when she is taken on as a maid in the household of Dr. Dee, a real-life figure who was court magician to Queen Elizabeth I. The household is strange and sinister, and Lucy has a nose for intrigue. So when she stumbled across a plot to assassinate the queen, Lucy must find means to warn her . . . before it’s too late.


This novel is about Lucy, who runs away from home and her drunk, abusive father. In the process, she rescues two children from drowning, takes them home and manages to secure a position as a nanny in their house. Turns out, they are the children of Dr. John Dee, who is Queen Elizabeth I’s magician. That’s the short version anyway.

Lucy is a likeable cahracter, even though there are times when I wanted to shake her, or point out some of the sillier things she did. Most of it stems from a certain amount of immaturity that the character has. For instance, she wanders through Dr. Dee’s home before she’s actually been offered the position. She’s just staying overnight, hoping for a position and wanders the house without permission. After the cook spends some time wondering about her motives and whether she’s out to steal in the first place. It seemed a stupid and unlikely thing to do. Her lack of fear of anything is slightly strange as well, especially considering her upbringing. We know her father was abusive, but she lacks any of the fear and forced maturity I expected.

The story itself is entertaining. Lucy is a devoted subject of Queen Elizabeth I and has always dreamed of seeing her. Working for her magician is a dream come true because she might get that chance. Dr. Dee is sufficiently mysterious, and many comments are made about how Lucy doubts his authenticity. I was surprised when there was a paranormal element introduced, but I enjoyed it. It isn’t overbearing and it helps to add to the story, rather than taking over.

The secondary characters are interesting, and while there were some parts I found hard to believe, the book is a quick and entertaining read, so I chose to let them slide. The author has done her homework, but I do sometimes wish for a little more of the history and setting.

If you enjoy Tudor and Elizabethan era fiction, this will be good. Its a quick, fun read and is the first in a series. I liked it well enough that I’ll probably read the other two at some point.


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Book was purchased by the reviewer.

Book Highlight: Dead Jed by Scott Craven

Check out this Book Highlight!dead jed cover

It’s tough surviving middle school, and even rougher for Jed Rivers, Pine Hollow’s resident zombie. With an undead class of one, Jed attracts a lot of attention, most of it bad. All he wants to do is make it through each day in one piece.
While bullies enjoy random games of “Pull the arm off the zombie,” Jed does his best to stay out of the principal’s office since it’s occupied by a man who isn’t sure the undead are entitled to a public education. With a gray pallor unaffected by sunlight, Jed often oozes a thin sheen of a mysterious substance that may have something to do with  his rather curious undead state. As he tries his best to be normal, he finds himself further separated from kids who want nothing to do with a guy who needs staples and duct tape to keep it together.
Only when he finally embraces being a zombie, Jed finds advantages that help him go from zero to hero. He proves he’s got a whole lot of heart, even it if isn’t beating.

About the Author:

Craven head shotSCOTT CRAVEN is a features writer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. The graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo has a 19-year-old son Bryson, a young man who spent his formative years in a zombie-like state (as with many adolescents). Scott formed a strong bond with zombie movies ever since he saw (the then age-inappropriate) Night of the Living Dead.  “Dead Jed” is his first novel. In December, look for “Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed” from Month9Books.






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The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks

21971613Title: The Toothless Tooth Fairy

Author: Shanelle Hicks

Illustrated By: Anca Delia Budeanu

Publisher: Mirror Publishing

Publication Date: April 11, 2014

Pages: 28

Genre: Picture Book

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Bella had it all. The hair, the dress, and the smile. One day, her most important asset was missing…her tooth! Will Bella find the perfect tooth in time for the contest? Will Zelda, the meanest of the fairies, destroy Bella’s chances of winning the crown? Take a journey onto Cloud Nine as Bella searches for a new tooth only to discover the tooth…I mean truth…behind her true beauty.


I was very excited when I received this book in the mail. We haven’t been able to review any picture books, and I was looking forward to doing so.

The author started the book well. (Beware, spoilers follow!) It looked like a book where there was a moral lesson with great illustrations an a fun concept. It starts off well, the message being that beauty isn’t as important as kindness. But the message gets lost when the first few pages talk about how pretty Bella is, with one sentence about how her kindness is the most beautiful part of her, the Miss Tooth Fairy Smile competition seems to be all about how you look. When the mean tooth fairy, Zelda, sabotages Bella’s attempts at the contest, Bella loses a tooth. She then goes on a search for a replacement from children who are about to lose their teeth.

As tooth fairies go, she doesn’t seem to be a very good one! She pulls one little girl’s tooth out, but loses it and leaves an IOU behind. She’s focused on her appearance and winning the competition, rather than what she’s doing to the children and their teeth. At one point she even uses pliers! When she goes back, sad that she’ll be without her tooth, there’s no mention made that maybe her actions weren’t the best idea.

The ending where Zelda turns into a witch, but is then saved by Bella’s love, is a bit out of left field for me. I see what the author is trying to accomplish there, but it fell short of the mark for me.

The book isn’t bad. The multicultural elements of the illustrations are nice, the implied message is good even though flawed. The illustrations are humorous and match the story (important in a picture book) and really are well done. Overall, its an okay read. The age level is hard to pin point, as I think its geared for much younger children, who may not be losing teeth yet and for whom some of the implied lessons will be hard to grasp. If you’re willing to discuss things with your child as you read, it could be good.


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Book provided by author in exchange for honest review.

Book Highlight: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

Book Highlight!


In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

Praise for Gates of Thread and Stone

“Lori M. Lee excels in building a world of intrigue, oppression, and magic amidst a Labyrinth setting as twisted and winding as the secrets hidden inside her characters’ hearts. Fans of strong heroines who don’t need a boy to hold their hands, action-packed fighting scenes, and whispers of steampunk and mythology, will find themselves wishing they, too, could manipulate the threads of time, if only to stay inside the story a little longer.”-A.G. Howard, the SPLINTERED series

“Inventive, romantic, and gripping. I was hooked from the first page!”-Amy Tintera, REBOOT and REBEL


About the Author


Lori is the author of young adult fantasy Gates of Thread and Stone, coming August 5, 2014 from Skyscape. She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.


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