A frivolous diversion from reality for the R.L. Stine fan.

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IS IT SCARY?

A NOVEL INSPIRED BY MICHAEL JACKSON'S MUSIC

An angry ghost seeks revenge for teenage bullying in this debut thriller inspired by the King of Pop’s darker lyrics.

After Diana’s husband dies in a car accident, she and her three daughters, Janet, Whitney and Sue, move back to Diana’s hometown of Gary, Indiana. In her late 30s, the attractive Diana appears to be mother of the year until strange things—such as unusually cold drafts—begin to happen in their new home. Diana starts sleepwalking, and when a voice tells her to “push” daughter Whitney’s voice box “for a surprise,” she nearly strangles Whitney. Horrified, the daughters move in with their grandmother, who lives a few doors down. The author’s simple style is easily accessible and has the feel of a late-night sleepover ghost story. For example, after the voice directs Diana to strangle Whitney “for a surprise,” the chapter ends with the exclamation Surprise! The voice is an angry ghost named Michael who is determined to make Diana suffer as she made him suffer many years ago. Diana can’t remember Michael, even though they dated in high school, and she is now living in the house where he died. He blames the suicide of his best friend, Susie, on Diana, because a jealous Diana framed Susie in high school by putting drugs in Susie’s locker and telling the principal. Diana spirals into alcoholism and many sleepless nights, and Michael taunts her with the words “Is It Scary?” in blood on the wall as the former teen bully morphs into a pathetic, tortured adult. Even with the cutesy references to Michael Jackson’s music and life (Gary, Indiana, is Jackson’s hometown), the plot is predictable. It’s hard to imagine why Diana would stay in the house or why Sue would move back in with her, but like actors in a B movie, the characters’ actions don’t always make sense, which can be a distraction. The fast-moving text relies on conventional horror story images and stale descriptions, which make it far from scary. For example, Michael acts like a comic book villain when mentally torturing Diana: “His hysterical laughter echoed the room and pierced through her spine, just like his threatening eyes through her terrified soul.”

A frivolous diversion from reality for the R.L. Stine fan.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1479385683

Page Count: 146

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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