trees crept in book cover

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 6th 2016
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Stay away from the woods…

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?

Let me start by saying, with the exception of classic macabre like Lovecraft and Poe, I do not read horror. It’s just not my thing. I’m also a wuss, so there’s that. However, here and there I watch horror shows like American Horror Story and Stranger Things. Weird! I know! I’m not sure why I watch but don’t read. But anyways. I kept seeing And The Trees Crept In popping up everywhere. I was also on a Stranger Things high and wanted MORE. That’s why I picked up And The Trees Crept In. What the heck? Ya know.

So here are my thoughts on And The Trees Crept in, one of the most unique, nail-bitey and terrifying books I’ve read in a long time.

Initial thoughts right after I finished And The Trees Crept In: What the heck did I just read? Not really sure. But it was O.O and has my mind spinning like crazy. I’m still trying to make it work in my head. It’s not what I thought it would be but it’s just as good as I wanted it to be? I sound almost as mad as Silla! Poor poor Silla. She and her little sister Nori run from an abusive father right into a sinister mansion with a terrifying creature in the woods. Poor Silla has nothing but her sister Nori. Her aunt Cath who she thought would take care of her is “looming the wheel”. And the mansion, La Baume, is not a magical and safe fortress like Silla’s mom always said it was. It’s musty, rotted, decrepit, and sick. It’s rundown, uncomfortable, and dangerous.

This book had me tantalized. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. At one point my fiancé said something to me and I looked up with crazed eyes. Then he guiltily looked away. I was that absorbed! I just needed to know what was coming next. I guessed but was never right. This author rocks! I really don’t like horror and rarely psychological. However, this book has gotten me curious and curious-er about other horror-rific YAs. Maybe I’ve discovered a new interest? Regardless, I REALLY enjoyed And The Trees Crept In.

It was unique and captivating. My only quip was that sometimes I would get very confused. I understand that it was the author’s intention to confuse us because Silla was slowly going mad. However, at times I was beyond confused and had to reread passages to try and understand. I wished it was a little more reader-friendly.

four-half-stars
The Wicked Deep

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan EeAngelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) by Susan Ee
Published by Skyscape on August 28th 2012
Pages: 288
Goodreads
five-stars

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Sometimes you just have to be in the right mood to read a certain book. Angelfall for instance, I bought ages ago, and have now just finally read. When it first arrived, I started reading and got about 5 pages before I stuck Angelfall on the shelf to collect dust. Whether it be a writing style or your current mood, it isn’t always easy to jump right into a new book. More than a year later after purchasing it, I find myself so glad that I finally took another chance on Angelfall because I loved every moment of it. Dark and cutthroat, Angelfall is a twisty and nail biting apocalyptic dystopian that leaves an impression – days after you finish it.

From the official book description: “It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.”

Pen is a very strong and smart character. She’s clever and resourceful and independent. With a (legit) crazy mother, father who is MIA, and a sister who is physically disabled, Pen’s got a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. The angels that descended earth have destroyed the majority of cities and have possibly killed “billions” of people. The few survivors, like Pen and her family, have had to scrounge for food, hop from place to place, fend-off other humans who will attack you just to survive, and of course, avoid the malevolent angels. Pen has grown up fast. She’s the strong one in her little broken family.

When Pen’s little sister is taken by an angel Pen makes a hard decision to put her trust in a looks to be dying Angel. She nurses him back to health.

The relationship between Pen and Raffe is slow building. Pen rightfully doesn’t trust him which is smart considering the world is in ruins, millions maybe billions of people dead because the angels descended.

Raffe and Pen trade witty banter a lot. It’s so funny and cute.

We don’t know much about the angels and their plans. And it turns out neither do they. They don’t know why they attacked the earth and there’s huge power plays being made.

I couldn’t put this book down. Pen is an amazing MC. She’s so vibrant and full of life. She could give Katniss a run for her money.

Ee’s use of grotesque imagery also makes this book even more high-stake and chilling.

five-stars
The Wicked Deep

Made for You by Melissa Marr

Made for You by Melissa MarrMade for You by Melissa Marr
Published by HarperCollins on September 16th 2014
Pages: 356
Goodreads
three-stars

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

Made For You reminded me why I avoid psychological thrillers. Long story short: I’m a wuss and Made for You gave me the chills. Which, is great because Melissa Marr did achieve her goal as writer, but also, yeah, I’ll be double-checking my door is locked tonight.

Eva Tilling is the creme dela crème in her small southern town of Jessup. Granddaughter to the richest man, in a town where breeding and image matters above all else, Eva is pretty much a queen amongst her peers. Everyone looks to Eva for direction and approval, girls and guys alike. Made for You felt very Gossip Girl-y in the sense that, if you damaged your image, you’re better off just moving out of town.

Eva is seemingly the product of her environment. She’s with the well-bred, handsome and boring boyfriend, because it’s a practical decision, and she’s mostly surrounded by the snobby and better-than-you peers. In the beginning Eva annoyed me because she played by everyone’s rules. The more you get to know her though, the more you realize that she doesn’t believe in Jessup’s ways. She’s just not sure how to break free of the expectations of multiple generations of high society.

Eva’s stand against the status quo is only a small part of Made for You. This book very much centers on an individual, who after (trying) to kill Eva by means of a hit and run, spends the majority of the book trying to show their twisted affection for Eva, by sending messages via symbols of the homicidal-variety.

The reveal of the killer wasn’t blatantly obvious, but I’d being lying if I said the reveal didn’t hinder my feelings a bit. On one hand the reveal wasn’t that shocking or unexpected. The clues started out small then just blew-up. On the other hand, even once the killer was revealed, I was still thoroughly creeped out and enjoying the story. I don’t think the supernatural aspect of this book was particularly strong, but rather the inside look into the killer’s mind. The killer wasn’t only obsessed and delusional, they were also very religious. Those three things made the killer highly dangerous. As the killer’s connection to reality lessened, they became even more unpredictable and frightening.

Thanks HarperCollins for providing me with a copy in return for a honest review.

three-stars
The Wicked Deep

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly DertingThe Body Finder (The Body Finder, #1) by Kimberly Derting
Published by Harper on March 16th 2010
Pages: 327
Goodreads
five-stars

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... she might become his next prey.

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world… and the imprints that attach to their killers. Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer… and becoming his prey herself.

The Body Finder was deliciously dark and chilling. I’m so glad I gave this one a shot. The sweet friendship and slow-budding romance between Violet and Jay hooked me, but it was truly the inside look at the mind of The Body Finder’s serial killer that reeled me in. I’ve never felt so creeped out while reading a novel. I literally got goosebumps every time it switched to his POV.

“He loved the hunt; it was what kept him going. But this… this was his guilty pleasure. Watching his work–the aftermath of a kill–exposed to the world.”

[…]

“He ran his finger along the razor-smoothed edge of his KA-BAR tactical knife. He knew he wouldn’t have to use it; the terrifying effect of the weapon in the presence of the girls was enough to cause total submission. Just stroking the steel blade stimulated him in ways no woman ever had.”

Intense right?! Derting does a great job portraying a man so clearly disturbed and dangerous. His actions were horrific, but his mind, the things he thought, were what got to me the most. I was terrified of this guy. With a good chunk of characters being young carefree girls, in my mind I was screaming “WATCH OUT” and “Don’t walk down that street by yourself in the middle of the night!!!”. I loved that I could jump right into this story and get caught up in it.

Everything about this book just worked. The villain was hardcore-evil and twisted. The mystery element was suspenseful and thrilling. Although I suspected one of the surprises I felt like it was pretty well hidden. It didn’t jump out and say “HEY. Here I am” as some novels unfortunately do. I think another part, perhaps the biggest part of this book’s success, is its super stubborn yet totally fabulous heroine, Violet.

I adored Violet. Because of her uncontrollable ability to find the dead, she’s been through hell. Since Violet was a little girl she could sense through different senses the remains of both animals and humans. At only eight years old, Violet discovered the body of a young girl in the woods. Talk about nightmares! Violet refers to this sense as “echos”. She hears, sees, or smells the echo-remains of animals/humans who have been murdered. This echo also imprints onto the person/thing responsible for the death, which naturally comes in handy when girls in Violet’s town and the surrounding towns begin disappearing and their corpses reappearing.

I like to think of this book in terms of parts. I feel like it was one part creepy serial killer mystery, one part cool supernatural ability, as well as one part sweet contemporary. The love between Violet and Jay was so warm and real. They’ve been friends since early childhood, a friendship that through the years has grown stronger, downright impenetrable. The acceptance, love and protection between the two gave me warm happy feelings. I smiled when they interacted on a day to day basis; shared rides to school, lunch time in the cafe, homework after school and so forth. Frowned when certain *things* caused tension and minor separation, and most importantly, rolled my eyes insistently when the duo couldn’t see what was right in front of them. It was totally obvious that they were ying and yang, pb&j—quite plainly meant to be. I didn’t mind that Violet announced her love to the readers in the beginning of the book. It wasn’t insta-love. It was a slow-cooking love that’s been in the crock pot for the last 10+ or – years. I honestly loved this plot point so much that I believe that if the supernatural element was taken out of the story, the overall book would still be just as compelling and enjoyable.
I was hesitant going into The Body Finder. It had good reviews, which is always a plus, but the mystery part turned me off a bit. I don’t really care for those Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew type books. I was afraid that The Body Finder was one of those super heavy detective types. I’m glad to report that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, there is a killer on the loose with a mystery becoming more and more twisty, but the relationships between the characters is what sits at the helm of this ship. I’m so glad I looked past my original thoughts and tried this one out.

five-stars
The Wicked Deep

Book Review: “Grim” by MULTIPLE authors

Book Review: “Grim” by MULTIPLE authorsGrim by Christine Johnson, Kimberly Derting, Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Amanda Hocking, Ellen Hopkins, Shaun David Hutchinson, Julie Kagawa, Malinda Lo, Myra McEntire, Saundra Mitchell, Jackson Pearce, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jon Skovron
Published by Harlequin Teen on February 25th 2014
Pages: 480
Goodreads
four-stars

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today:

Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Julie Kagawa, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Kimberly Derting, Myra McEntire, Malinda Lo, Sarah Rees-Brennan, Jackson Pearce, Christine Johnson, Jeri Smith Ready, Shaun David Hutchinson, Saundra Mitchell, Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, Jon Skrovon

Ringing-in at 480 pages, Grim is a compilation of suspenseful and dark short stories, by 17 of today’s hottest young adult authors. Even though the stories only span between 20-30 pages each, the authors; such as Kimberly Derting, Tessa Gratton, Julie Kagawa, and Rachel Hawkins, all manage to create vivid worlds with solid characters that you find yourself instantly rooting for. In a lot of cases, you’re rooting for the character’s survival of a potential, grim fate…

All the stories in Grim, were entertaining, but there were a couple in particular that really struck me. The Key for instance, is the opening story in Grim and really sets the bar. The tale was short but provocative. Once the plot built-up steam and I got a sense of the direction of the story, I couldn’t read fast enough. If you like high stakes and suspense, this will instantly become a favorite of yours.

Light It Up, another favorite of mine, is a twist on a morbid and well-known fairy tale. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which one, because I hope you’ll be as delighted as I was when it clicks. In Light It Up we have two abandoned siblings in the woods. I got a huge ‘Wrong Turn’ vibe when reading this story which made the creeped-out factor skyrocket. This story is action-packed and fast.

A Real Boy stands out among the rest because it takes place in a dystopian future where robots are very common and utilized. Although not at the top of my favorites list, I enjoyed A Real Boy for its change of pace. It wasn’t eery or gross or another dark-like adjective, mostly just suspenseful.
The final story I’ll comment on is Skin Trade. This story was all-kinds of eek and made me squeamish. Which I loved of course. When it ended, I really had no clue what had transpired, just that intense feelings of horror stuck with me. Skin Trade is a whirlwind story, graphic and chock-full of Poe-like macabre.

If you’re a fan of Poe, HP Lovecraft, or just like short, dark and twisty stories, checkout Grim. It’s a great way to past the time and get a little horror-loving fix.

A copy was provided by Harlequin Teen.

four-stars