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Teen SRC 2021 – As Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender

As Dead as it Gets: Alender, Katie: 8601200550580: Books - Amazon.ca

As Dead As It Gets, a mystery/horror book by Katie Alender, is the third book in the Bad Girls Don’t Die series. This is going to be a relatively short review, just because I’ve already written reviews about the first few books which use very similar writing styles, tones, plot lines, etc.

Again, I thought this was a pretty blood-chilling and relatively thrilling read. I won’t go into detail or be too repetitive about that, though, because there were also other things I liked which I haven’t talked about before. For instance, the title. I mean, come on, you’re going to have to be one bland soul if you see a book titled As Dead As It Gets and have the audacity to walk away without picking it up. 8/10 for this novel, again I found it to be a nice read but not too surprising.

Teen SRC 2021 – From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed (Bad Girls Don't Die, #2) by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed, a teen horror novel by Katie Alender, was another one of those books that I just happened to pick up while browsing through the shelves at a library. I’ve mentioned before that my FAVOURITE kind of book is the “fantasy, horror, and psychological thriller mix that keeps you awake past midnight thinking about the plot” type, and this novel fits the above criteria perfectly.

I think it was a great book, or at least the horror aspects of it were pretty amazing. This includes the plot, villains motives, and pacing, which I thought were on pretty on-point. The characters? Wasn’t necessarily so great.

First of all, what is with the sudden mood changes? One chapter you’re reading about Alexis snuggling against Carter watching Twilight Zone, while the next provides you with a detailed description of how she’s in the bathtub vomiting up some evil poltergeist that just possessed her to kill her family. The thing is, the author doesn’t really introduce these things beforehand, so you’ll often find yourself flipping back a few chapters to see if you missed anything. The characters weren’t very realistic and just rather flat, boring, and predictable. They basically did everything that would help the plot move along/make sense, with no sense of personality whatsoever.

I’d recommend this book, but only if you’re into horror/thrillers like I am. Otherwise, there’s really not much else in this novel that’s entertaining nor worth reading. Again, the horror aspects were intense and the plot was well-developed, making it just interesting enough to read. I think a solid 8/10 is reasonable for me!

Teen SRC 2021 – Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Frozen Charlotte - Bell, Alex

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell is thrilling and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. The genres are mystery and horror but are highly engaging to read. In the beginning, the events were unfortunate, but in the end, everything resolves. Although this is a fiction book, the author utilized sophisticated language and detail to create realistic content. Therefore, I would rate the novel nine out of ten and highly recommended. The novel begins with the protagonist, Sophie, staying with her cousins on the remote Isle of Skye after her best friend passed away in a mysterious accident. Her uncle had set unexpected, strange rules such as never leaving the front gate unlocked. Afterwards, peculiar incidents frequently occurred that revealed connected secretes lying deep down under the surface.

Teen SRC 2021 – Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers

Burn Our Bodies Down

I was a bit wary when I first picked up Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers because the synopsis didn’t attract me greatly. Still, the cover was too gorgeous for me to put down, and it was marketed as a teen mystery/thriller which I usually love. I do wish that the book would have been clearer from the get-go that it would include some paranormal elements… I don’t enjoy horror/sci-fi books as much as I do mysteries and it detracted from my experience of reading this.

Anyway, one thing I completely loved in this book, right from the start, was the writing style. This is the first book I’ve read from Rory Power but she seems to me the kind of writer that has a very powerful, lyrical style that lends depth and beauty to her books. This translates very well into the relationships between characters. The neglectful and sometimes abusive relationship between Margot and her mother, for example, I found well-written and emotional to read.

That’s as far as my compliments go for this book, unfortunately. I did not like the individual characters. I found Margot, our protagonist, boring and with little personality of her own. Other characters like Gram and Tess are barely developed and mostly confusing. The plot doesn’t get much better either, with a slow start and rushed ending. There were a couple twists that shocked me, and some plot lines that I haven’t read in any other YA mystery, though. The action also gets much tighter (see: gory) near the end, which surprised me since the first two thirds of the book was mild. Still, the plot, characters, and mystery aspect was disappointing to me.

I give Burn Our Bodies Down 7/10. If I’d known to expect a horror/paranormal aspect to the book, maybe my rating would be higher. If not for the beautiful writing and complex mother-daughter relationship this book portrays, my rating would be lower. I recommend this to anyone who wants a creepy and weird thriller with well-written scenes but flat characters and a just-tolerable mystery.

TAMBA Author Interview – Joel Sutherland

Image of book page. Click to open preview.

Nicola and I had the pleasure to interview author Joel Sutherland a few weeks back. Mr. Sutherland has written many of the Haunted Canada books, and other horror stories such as Summer’s End. He also told us in his interview about being on Wipeout Canada!

Here are some highlights about his writing process:

What do you think makes a good story? (Follow up: are there some genres you find easier to write than others?)

The most important thing for me is, although I write about monsters, the important thing is to ground the story in reality. I give my characters real-world problems to deal with, in addition to ghosts and monsters. I put a lot of issues in Summer’s End that I also dealt with in high school, for example. I thought back a lot to when I was that age, going through stuff like moving to a new place and wanting to make friends. Essentially, I added storylines to make the story more realistic and believable. I think it’s really important, no matter what genre, to do your world-building but still, ground it in reality. 

Your books fit pretty well into the horror genre, and we were wondering, what authors or books do you draw inspiration from, horror authors or otherwise? 

Stephen King is kind of a given. Also, I’m a big fan of any Canadian horror author, but there aren’t a lot of us, really. We’re all very nice friendly people… Marina Cohen, for example, who’s written The Doll’s Eye. And Adrienne Kress who writes in all kinds of genres… fantasy, contemporary but most recently is writing bendy books for Scholastic that are super creepy. Marty Chan as well, I’m a big fan of. He’s from Calgary, I believe. He just wrote a really creepy book, I believe it’s called Haunted Hospital. He’s a really good writer. Like I said, there aren’t too many of us, some others as well… We’re a small but creepy bunch. 

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Teen Book Review – Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is a great novel about Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule’s search for Rachel Solando who went missing from Ashecliffe island’s hospital for the criminally insane . It seems that Solando managed to escape from a locked cell completely undetected by some orderlies playing cards and slipped past two guarded checkpoints. Swimming back to land would be out of the question for anyone other than the best swimmers, which makes her disappearance even more intriguing. While Daniels jumps at the chance to solve this case it seems like there might be an ulterior motive behind his enthusiasm. The island is a very interesting setting, as it contains 3 wards in separate buildings and the ever mysterious lighthouse that is quarantined off by heavily armored guards and an electric fence. Daniel begins to doubt the reality of his choice to come to the island as events occur that suggest his life is in danger. Shutter Island is a great novel that will surely take you on a roller coaster of emotions. With great mystery, and an intense horror movie vibe it is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. I would recommend the novel and rate it 10/10

Teen SRC 2020 – The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs

The Conference of the Birds - Riggs, Ransom

The Conference of the Birds starts just where the Map of Days ended. Jacob and his friends left against Miss Peregrine’s wishes in order to save Noor. There he learns from H that there is a prophecy taking shape and it has intertwines Noor into it. Jacob had been given a mission of deliver Noor to V, save Noor, and save the peculiardom. Simple enough right? Except V is the most powerful out of Abe’s former ally and she most definitely doesn’t want to be found also Noor is being hunted which puts their whole group in danger and makes everything harder. Now Jacob has to take a leap towards the Conference of the Birds.

This was really disappointing. All four book before this one I loved, but while reading this one I was basically begging for it to end. In “A Map of Days”, the whole plot was steady and at a good pace, slowly revealing the new side of the peculiar world to the reader. This new book however was a hot mess. I didn’t even like this new story line, as the whole prophecy felt like a waste of time. In the first couple books the character worked hard in defeating the “bad guy” just for the “bad guy” to comeback through a “prophecy”; which is just a list that the wights have to follow. Also in A Map of Days, I enjoyed it as the characters showed hints of growing and developing. They have been through so much, surely Jacob would act and think differently in the new book right? But he didn’t evolve at all and all the characters just felt flat. The whole romance part was flat as well. And so was the whole outline of the story. I would rate it 4/10, I liked the idea of the book, but the details were flat. So in summary, I would have enjoyed the book if only it was executed in a different way.

You can find more of Ransom Riggs’ works here.

Teen SRC 2020 – Such Wicked Intent by Keneth Oppel ( 2nd book of the The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series)

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Such Wicked Intent - Oppel, Kenneth

In the sequel to “This Dark Endeavor”, Victor, Elizabeth and Henry are trying to transport themselves into a wolf in sheep’s clothing spirit world.be careful of Greeks bearing gifts.After the events of the last book, Konrad Frankenstein is dead. While Elizabeth has lost her fiance and Henry has lost one of his closest friends, the person who lost the most is his twin brother Victor who feels as if he has lost half of himself. Destroyed and completely broken with guilt and grief over the death of his beloved brother and rage over the fact he couldn’t save him, Victor makes a deadly pledge to himself; he will bring Konrad back no matter the cost. However, no mere mortal man can bring a soul back. Or can he? In yet another journey, the trio try to, no, have to bring back the one person they all care and love; again they have to return to the Dark Arts and instead of just dipping their toes in this time, they are required to take a much deeper dive and there are no signs if they will resurface and be sane after this. They will have to travel to places where no living soul has set foot to or ever returned. But as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. their friendship and bonds will be strained again no matter how deep they bury their true emotions, or intentions. They discover unbelievable powers in the other side, but not everything that glitters is gold. Alchemy and overpowering potions will only lend strengths, but won’t survive against time. Slowly, these each of them will go through their own little nightmares controlled by power, greed, pain, and the urge to just feel alive. Will they be able to focus on their goal or will they stray from the path into the darkness? Will they be able to bring back Konard or will they just worsen his fate? And what is the line between their mission and the pit of obsession and madness?

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Teen SRC 2020 – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a captivating narrative regarding the moral ambiguities of science and the duplicity of human nature. Dr Jekyll is a benevolent, well-respected and brilliant scientist who meddles with the malevolent aspects of science, as he aims to discover and breed his depraved alter ego. He does this through transforming himself into Mr Hyde, a monstrous being who is unable to repent or accept responsibility for any of his heinous actions.

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Teen SRC 2020 – The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells demonstrates the power to transform the human body using advances in scientific achievement. The novel itself is an enthralling and entertaining tale of terror and suspense, and it is a significant Faustian allegory of the dangerous capabilities of unregulated and unbridled scientific endeavours many decide to embark on. The Invisible Man is able to endure as one of the most notable stories in science fiction, in which Griffin, a brilliant and progidouous scientist uncovers the secret to achieving invisibility, but his grandiose ambitions and the power he unleashes causes him to spiral into intrigue, madness, and murder.

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