Rediscovering Lois Duncan

I vividly remember being in middle school and hoarding every Lois Duncan book that came through our school’s library. She was my favorite writer and I inhaled her books in a way that I hadn’t from anyone else.

When I was in my favorite secondhand book store recently, I found two Lois Duncan books that I hadn’t read (or at least at my old age of 27, don’t remember reading). One was Ransom and one was Locked in Time. Of course I bought both of them.

Locked in Time was my favorite of the two. It was unlike any other story I’ve read before. It has it all- murder, mystery, and fantasy. The story is of a girl named Nore trying to accept her new stepfamily. The catch though, is that they are strange and full of secrets. There are constant references to the step-mother Lisette, step-brother Gabe, and step-sister Josie being from a different time period.

Lisette’s goal from the start was for Nore to die, so that no one would come looking for Chuck, and that she would be free to murder him and take his money.  Lisette sends Gabe out to take care of Nore by having her drown in the swamp, but it does not work and Nore survives. Nore knows she is in danger, but she cannot convince her father.

The story takes place in Louisiana- home of weird magical happenings. Nore is correct and Lisette and her children are in fact from a different time period many years ago. Lisette struck a deal with her first husband’s mistress, and in turn Lisette and her children would never age. Nore finds the evidence for this, but is never able to produce the evidence for her father though. When Chuck leaves on a business trip, Lisette attempts to end Nore’s life, but with the help of Gabe, Josie,and Nore’s friend, she survives. Gabe drives off with his mother, leaving Josie behind, and gets into a wreck killing himself and Lisette. Josie goes on to live with Nore and Chuck back in New York, and they put off telling him about the non-ageing Josie, until he figures it out for himself.

I finished this book in two days. It was exciting and different. The book is an easy read, and I highly recommend it. She wrote it in 1985, and it won several awards. The one most notable to me though is the 1988 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, since I am from South Carolina.

Ransom was also a good book, but I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed it like I enjoyed Locked in Time. It was written in 1966, and one thing I love about reading old books is immersing myself into the language and style of a different time period.

It is the story of five students held hostage while taking a bus home from school in New Mexico. There are three criminals, and they each play different roles; one in charge of phone calls and collecting ransom, one in charge of driving the students and getting them to the cabin where they are being held hostage, and one who plays the “motherly” role. The kids are all very different, one sociopathic all-american guy named Glenn and his brother Bruce, one loner named Dexter, one beautiful girl who has daddy-issues named Marianne, and one well-traveled, intelligent girl named Jesse.

While they are being ransomed for $15,000 each, the kids themselves are hatching a plan to escape. A couple of them are successful in escaping, and when one kidnapper comes after them in the car, he goes over a cliff, dying instantly. I call Glenn a sociopath, because throughout the book it is revealed to us that Glenn is not capable of loving anyone else, but he is capable of doing things like leaving a child to die after hitting him with his vehicle. Even Glenn’s parents have a moment between themselves in the book where they doubt Glenn would save the others if he could get himself out. (They were right).

The book shifts viewpoints between each of the hostage’s views, and the views of their parents. In the end, the same step-dad that Marianne has resented is the one who saves the day. It was a little predictable, but what makes this book so great is that this is such a chilling, realistic scenario. Lois Duncan does a great job at capturing a very real fear that most parents have when sending their kids to school, which is that something bad could happen to them.

The book was a bit rushed, especially at the beginning, but it was still a great read. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Young Adult fiction or any young adult that loves reading.

I’m so glad I picked these two books up. They helped remind me why I’ve always wanted to write Young Adult fiction. I hope that one day far into the future, people will read my books with the same fondness that I have for Lois Duncan’s books.

Audiobook Reviews: Sadie and Camino Island

Happy Friday! I’ve listened to two new audiobooks recently, and I wanted to go ahead and review them for y’all!

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Sadie by Courtney Summers is a great young adult fiction book. I chose to forego the traditional read of this, and instead I went with the audiobook version through the app Overdrive. I am so happy that I chose to go with audiobook for this, because the way the book is written, it almost makes it better than to read it traditionally.

The book centers around a girl who goes missing while searching for her younger sister Maddie’s killer. The missing girl has a bad stutter, and the impact of it would not have been the same to just read it. The point of view shuffles between the missing girl and a man named West McCray, who is looking for her. West is a radio personality and was contacted by Sadie’s grandmother. He develops a podcast series about the girls Sadie and Maddie, and is always one to two steps behind Sadie in her quest. During the book, West hosts episodes of the podcast. I think I would have missed out on a lot by simply reading this book. It  was almost as if it was written with the specific intent to be listened to in audiobook version or to be made into a movie.  The story itself was great, it was full of emotion that tugs at your heart and makes you wonder what you would do if you found yourself in a similar situation with a sibling. Sadie is brave and a hero in her own, messed up way. The ending was abrupt, but I think it was supposed to be. The ending of Maddie’s life was abrupt, and whatever happened to Sadie should be seen as abrupt also. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Fiction, especially mystery.

John Grisham’s Camino Island is beautifully written, per usual for John Grisham. I like to always have an audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work. John Grisham is a writer I really respect, because I hope to follow a similar path in my writing and career.

In this book, a young novelist named Mercer is in a confusing time in her life not knowing what her next book will be about or how to pay for anything, is approached by a security team to help infiltrate the friendship circle of a group of writers that live on Camino Island, a beach where Mercer spent all of her summers growing up with her beloved grandmother Tessa. Mercer had not been back since her grandmother tragically died, and even more than just the money she is being paid for this operation, Mercer has benefited from being back at the beach. She does infiltrate the circle, and even gets romantically involved with the man she is trying to find out the real information on- a man named Bruce who not only owns the bookstore but also deals in rare, expensive books. The security team believes that Bruce has original manuscripts of books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, including The Great Gatsby, that were stolen from Princeton’s library. No one is expecting the danger that is headed to Camino Island, in the form of the original thieves of the manuscripts. Mercer is out of her league when it comes to solving this mystery, but she makes for a great heroine. The ending is great, because it isn’t what you’d imagine the tidy end to a mystery would be. It’s not tidy, but it’s brilliant. I really enjoyed this listen and would recommend it to anyone who a) loves John Grisham books and b) likes mysteries. He never fails to keep me at the edge of my seat.

 

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NEW YEAR, NEW BOOKS

Happy New Year y’all!

I have made my “To Be Read List” for 2019, including the book I’m currently reading: Smart Women by Judy Blume. I’m planning to keep them next to my nightstand so that hopefully I can stay focused. I hope to finish these sixteen books well before the end of the year, so that I can add more to my list.

As y’all know my favorite types of books are mysteries/cozy mysteries but I did try to add a couple from other genres.

I’m excited for the New Year, and I’m especially excited for my new Bookstagram account!

 

Be a Friend of the Library!

Happy Saturday y’all!

I am so excited, because yesterday I joined Friends of the Library here in Charleston. I have been wanting to for a while, but I finally did it yesterday at one of their book sales they hold each year at a local library. It was just $20 to join, and it goes toward such a good cause. I even got a free book when I joined, which for me was already worth the $20.

It was an awesome day, because I got twenty books for just $52! I got a few novels I had been wanting to buy but just couldn’t pay full price for (books can get expensive) and I also got a few that I wouldn’t normally buy myself, like some kids’ Christmas books that are classics and some books that go along with the Harry Potter Series.

I love the local library; it has always been my happy place since I was a kid, and I hope that they never become a thing of the past. Groups like Charleston Friends of the Library help to promote the local library and the different programs it has. The goal is to enhance the programs and things the library has in place, by donating time and money.

If it’s something you’d be interested in but you live in a different area, you should definitely check to see if your local library has a similar program. And if you don’t have a library card, well you better go get one of those too!

Have a great day!

BOOK LOVERS DAY!

Happy Book Lovers Day!

If you follow my blog, I assume you love books and reading as much as I do. It has always been a huge part of my life, and I would not be the same person I am if it had not been for many different novels growing up. I figured I would update everyone on some books I have recently finished reading to celebrate the day; along with what I am currently reading!

 

Five Books I Have Recently Finished Reading

  1. Death Overdue is part of the “A Haunted Library Mystery” series by Allison Brook. This book follows a girl named Carrie who works in a library in a Clover Ridge, Connecticut. The book is set during Halloween (my favorite) and involves a ghost who resides in the library, and a couple of murders both in and out of the library. It’s an amateur sleuth type of mystery, and I enjoyed the character development for Carrie throughout the book. I will definitely pick up a few more books from this series in the future.
  2. Pet Sematary almost seems like a silly book to write a review on. Honestly, everyone is familiar with this book by Stephen King. I had seen the movie years ago, but after seeing they were making a new one I wanted to read the book. I was absolutely terrified, but it was an amazing book. Again, I really feel like it would be ridiculous to explain to you how good of an author Stephen King is.
  3. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Loveit by Chelsea Sedoti has got to be one of the strangest books I have ever read but I definitely found myself really invested in it. It is a story of a teenage girl who leads an incredibly normal life, and then she inserts herself into a completely insane scenario for no good reason other than because she wants to. Throughout the book she navigates life, death, and love and it ends in a perfectly normal way but the journey through the book is full of twists. I would not recommend it for anyone younger than sixteen, but I am glad I read it.
  4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis hit me right in my feelings. I have long been obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia movies, but as a kid I never read the books. I figured I may as well start now, and I am so glad I did. Reading this made everything in the movies start to make sense. I am a sucker for fantasy type books for kids. Every single kid should read this book.
  5. In Conclusion Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham was so good. I actually did this in audiobook form, because I had heard that she narrates it. Lauren is Lorelai Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, and that has been and will always be one of my favorite shows. I was very interested in this book for that reason, but I ended up really enjoying the content. It’s not long at all (probably an hour) but she lets us in on a glimpse of her past and how she got to the point in her career that she is at. It was very uplifting and motivating.

 

My current read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. My younger cousin Will, who is wise beyond his eighteen years, recommended this book to me. It is absolutely wonderful so far. I love historical fiction, and I think this book will end up being a favorite of mine.

 

A little fact about me: My favorite book growing up (and to this day remains the book that helped me fall in love with reading) was: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews. It is a book that my future children will read, and hopefully the generations beyond it. Whenever I feel discouraged or in a rut reading, I pull it out and remember the things that book did for my imagination.

 

Happy Book Lovers Day everyone! Enjoy celebrating!

 

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

Today is Harry Potter’s 38th birthday, so I felt like a post was necessary!

As a kid I was not interested in reading Harry Potter. I remember checking it out of the library, and then never finishing the first book. I saw the movies right when they came out, and I still watch all of them about once a year. When I was younger, Harry Potter didn’t fit into my genre of books I liked reading.

I visited Harry Potter World with my boyfriend a year ago though, and it was so amazing! From the Butterbeer to the Hogwarts Express, no detail got left out of this amazing park. I think I could go back once a week and still find something new to look at each time.

Since then I have read the first four books, and I plan to read the last three soon. J.K. Rowling is an absolute genius, and her writing is unparalleled.

Harry Potter’s influence on my generation, as well as younger and older generations, should always be celebrated.

(I’m a Ravenclaw, by the way.)

Ghosted

Monica was so excited she could barely sit still while Meghan was curling her hair. Meghan had been her best friend for over a decade, and today she had surprised Monica with tickets to a ghost tour while on their vacation in New Orleans. AND today just so happened to be Friday the 13th.

Monica had been a fan of all things supernatural her whole life. If it was weird or spooky, she was going to watch it. She was starting college in the fall, and she wanted to study Criminology. If it had to do with murders or mysteries, she wanted to know about it.

The girls had decided to venture to New Orleans for their first solo “adult” trip. The fun nightlife, the history, and the good food had landed them in New Orleans. The first two days had been fun, but with this surprise Monica had no doubt she would have the most fun tonight.

Monica knew Meghan didn’t believe in ghosts, but she loved her friend for being willing to sit through this for her. They finished getting ready, and went outside. Their hotel was right off of Bourbon Street, so they didn’t have far to walk to get to the carriage ride.

Five minutes later they were hopping up onto the carriage and listening to the tour guide’s instructions.

“When we get off at a stop for a guided walk through, please remember not to stray. These are old buildings and not all of the floors are stable. Not only that, but you may encounter a couple of spirits that aren’t happy you’ve disturbed them,” said the guide with a wink.

Monica’s eyes lit up, and Meghan shot her a glance. Monica knew Meghan would complain, but she couldn’t promise she wouldn’t explore the parts of the tour that were “off-limits”.

“Don’t look at me like that Meghan,” smiled Monica. “I won’t get us into any real danger. It’s just made up right?”

“I’m more worried about falling through an old floor board than a ghost,” said Meghan.

A few minutes later they were in the carriage slowly moving along. The guide went over the usual historical talking points, pointing out which buildings people claimed to see or hear things in. The carriage came to a stop outside of a dark alley beside a large, industrial type building.

“Okay, everyone off. This is our first leg of the walking tour; follow me!” said the guide.

Everyone filed along behind the guide through the alley and into a side door of the building.

“I wonder what this building was for,” mused Meghan.

The tour guide heard her question. “This was once a canning factory. It closed about thirty years ago though.”

“Why did it close?” Monica asked.

“Over the course of a year, six people were murdered here,” the tour guide said in a creepy voice that made their skin crawl.

“Did they find who did it?” another tourist asked.

“No,” said the guide. “The legends say that the murderer still comes back here occasionally. There have been a few unexplained disappearances in recent years near here, but the police have never been able to link them. Rumor has it, the murderer comes back every Friday the 13th and waits on someone to find him.”

Meghan shifted uncomfortably beside Monica, but Monica was too interested to notice.

“Oh, oh will we get to see where they were killed?” asked Monica.

“We’ll walk above the area on a raised level, but do not stray off of the path,” warned the guide.

“We’re definitely going to look around,” whispered Monica to Meghan. “What could actually happen to us?”

They walked along until they were raised above the area the guide had told them about. Monica looked around and there was an entry to a staircase to her right. She grabbed Meghan by the shoulder and pulled her into the staircase.

“Monica I’m scared, I don’t think we should do this,” whimpered Meghan.

“Don’t be a baby. We’re just going to look around and then we’ll go right back before they even know we’re missing,” said Monica.

Reluctantly, Meghan followed Monica down the stairs into a large room full of machinery. They were about to turn around a go back to the group when Monica saw a hat near one of the machines. It looked fairly new, so she wanted to check it out, thinking it may belong to one of those missing people the guide mentioned.

They creeped along and Monica reached for the hat. It was Pelicans cap, and she had been right- it wasn’t old at all. Monica looked up and as she did, a shadow ran along the back wall.

“Meghan,” hissed Monica. “Someone just ran by.”

“I’m sure you’re just seeing things Monica, but I’m really creeped out. Can we please go?”

Even Meghan had to agree that she was feeling uneasy and wanted to get back to the group. They turned to go back towards the staircase when they heard a thud.

“Don’t look back just run!” screamed Monica.

The girls ran as fast as they could, but when Monica reached the door to the stairs and threw the door open, she saw that Meghan wasn’t with her anymore.

“Meghan! Someone please help! She screamed.” Meghan ran up the stairs to find the tour guide and the group for help, but she couldn’t find them.

They were gone and no one heard her scream.

Outside, one of the tourists remarked that the girls were gone.

“They probably just took off for Bourbon Street,” said the guide. “Happens all the time.”

“Told them not to wander off,” the guide muttered under her breath, as she steered the carriage forward.

 

 

Happy Friday the 13th friends!