Book Review: Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1) by Amy Plum

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Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse…but she was terribly wrong.

Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

review

This was as good as I was hoping it’d be! Of course I was definitely not thinking it’d be as creepy and thrilling as it ended up being, this is sort of a mash of sci-fi and horror together. It’s definitely a very, very unique premise and I thought the execution was great!

PLOT

First of all the pacing is pretty even throughout the story since it never really felt like it lagged but also wasn’t super fast to the point where I had my eyeballs glued to the pages. I really liked how there wasn’t a bunch of time wasted on pointless filler too and we are thrown into the action right from the start and it stays that way up until the end. There are also quite a few DAMN GOOD twists along the way as well and I did not see them coming either!

The story is narrated by three different POV characters: Cata, Jaime, and Fergus. The great part was that I always knew when we changed POVs right away even without the help of the chapter headers because each character had a more distinct personality and “voice”. My only complaint was that I didn’t feel that Fergus’s POV was really necessary since he and Cata were both “dreamers” and had similar experiences. I did really like how much depth Jaime, the pre-med student watching the experiment, added to the story overall though.

Also apparently we never learn if Jaime’s character is male or female and I honestly didn’t even notice until the end but I guess I had just assumed Jaime was a he, however, Amy Plum has stated she left it out on purpose. Maybe it’s a twist for the next book? Who knows! Also just a fun side-note here I saw some other reviewers debating this saying they thought Jaime was a girl because of the spelling and ALL I could think of was Jaime Lannister guys! Come on!

I absolutely LOVED the overall atmosphere of this story too! It’s so freaking creepy! Although I will say even if you’re not a lover of horror or horror-esque stories this isn’t TOO scary to handle but it will definitely have you flailing about in suspense and maybe even looking over your shoulder every now and then! I also really liked how unique and interesting each “nightmare” was too, they were all very different and terrifying in their own ways. We saw very realistic horrors as well as your traditional monster type horrors and I thought it was very neat to show what types of things haunt these kids.

I’m just gonna throw this out there too: there are some very Weeping Angel-esque statues that literally terrified me in one of the nightmares. So many creepy monsters! I was pretty stressed out while reading because of this but also I still had fun? I know, it’s odd.

Plus that cliffhanger ending has me practically screaming for more! That was such an insane twists and I’m definitely excited to see where the next book in this duology takes us!

Also another little fun tidbit is that this book has no romance! Yay!

characters

The characters in “Dreamfall” were good but they still felt a little under-developed and one dimensional by the end of the book. None of them really stuck out to me either while reading but I still liked them enough to care about their fates in that messed up dreamworld!

I did like how none of these kids were perfect either, they all had their flaws and knew how to deal with them and come face to face with them as well. It was really intriguing to learn more and more about what past events traumatized the characters enough to suffer from such severe insomnia too (their backstories essentially). This is the only kind of development we see for them though.

One other big plus I have for the characters is that they actually always made smart decisions! This feels a lot like your typical horror slasher movie at times and you always wait for the characters to trip up and get caught or split up or something equally as unwise but these guys didn’t ever do that. I was pleasantly surprised with the lack of dumb decisions throughout the story, it was great!

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • The intense and pretty scary nightmare scenes
  • Even pacing
  • Great, great plot twists!
  • Zero romance

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Personally felt Fergus’s POV wasn’t really needed
  • Characters weren’t very developed or complex

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend checking this book out if you’re looking for a unique YA book with no romance or if you’re a YA horror or thriller fan! This book is definitely full of enough thrills to keep you interested!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Top Ten Tuesday: Creepiest YA Covers

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jamie @ The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is covers, anything to do with covers! It’ll definitely be interesting to see everyone’s take on this and I decided to go with the creepiest book covers, because I looooove horror books. Of course there are actually quite a few creepy covers out there and these are just a couple of my favorites, some I have read and some are just on my TBR.

I will link up a review if I have one! These are also in no particular order.

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10.) And The Trees Crept In (or The Creeper Man) by Dawn Kurtagich

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For this book I just HAD to have both the US cover and the UK cover since they’re both creepy as hell! I do love the US cover more because it’s more beautiful than it is creepy but I can’t deny that the UK cover is probably the creepiest book cover I’ve ever seen.

Also the story is creepy and amazing so you can judge this book by its covers! It’s about two girls living in a mansion with their aunt and they notice that the trees are creeping closer to the house and that the entity known as the Creeper Man that watches them from the woods is getting closer too.

You can read my full review here.


9.) The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

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Two Dawn Kurtagich books? Yes! She’s becoming a queen of YA horror in my book and her covers match the stories perfectly too. This is a very creepy psychological thriller about a girl with a split personality disorder or maybe….it’s something more sinister than that.

You can read my full review here.


8.) Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

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Creepy cover? Yes! Creepy story? Definitely yes! This one revolves around a family living out on the prairie, their secretly pregnant daughter, and well…..demons. This one is pretty insane but also scary, highly recommend!

You can read my full review here.


7.) The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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I’m sorry! I’m done with the repeat authors now I swear! I really love the typography on this cover, it is super eerie. The story is about a girl whose aunt tragically goes missing and her cousin claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice inside the house’s walls…..

You can read my full review here.


6.) Alice by Christina Henry

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I don’t know it could just be me but I find the creepy rabbit head pasted over top a man’s body to be very creepy. This is a very, very graphic horror retelling of Alice in Wonderland and I found it to be absolutely amazing. This one definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted though.

You can read my full review here.


5.) The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco

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Quick story time: when I was 10 years old I made the mistake of watching “The Grudge” and am now forever terrified of Asian ghosts. Therefore this book’s cover (and the book itself) creeps the shit out of me! It’s a very interesting and scary book revolving around the spirit Okiku, who takes vengeance on wrong-doers.

You can read my full review here.


4.) Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke

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Whatever that thing is on the cover it’s disturbing and it creeps me out, but I suppose it fits the stories in this YA anthology perfectly in that case. There are TONS of creeptastic (shhh that’s a word) stories in here and pretty much all of them are amazing with the exception of 1 or 2.

You can read my full review here.


3.) Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

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Is it just me or are mirrors super creepy? So yeah, ghostly reflections in them = creepy. I have yet to read this one but it’s a take on the Bloody Mary urban legend.


2.) Asylum by Madeleine Roux

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Blurred/scratched out old timey photos are creepy, actually a lot of old photos are creepy but especially when they’re blurred or scratched out. This is a pretty popular book that I also have yet to read but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing if it’s any good.


1.) Shutter by Courtney Alameda

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Look at that black, gaping ghost and tell me it isn’t creepy! This is a book I have sitting on my shelf currently awaiting to be read and it’s about teenage ghost hunters basically.

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What do you think of these covers? Creepy or not so much?

What are some of your favorite creepy YA covers?

Have you read any of these books or anything similar?

What cover theme did you choose for you TTT this week?

Let me know in the comments and feel free to link up your TTT as well!

The Sassy

Book Review: And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

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description

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 nigh…a man no one else can see?

review

Dawn Kurtagich does it again with yet another amazingly creepy psychological horror book! I don’t think I can ever be disappointed with one of her books since I loved her debut “The Dead House” my expectations for “And The Trees Crept In” were high and I wasn’t let down. This is definitely a book for horror lovers and perfect for Halloween!

PLOT

Firstly, this book was ACTUALLY scary I mean it is one of the few books that truly scared me. A lot of horror books are usually one of two things: quiet horror or jumpy horror, and yet this book happens to be both. There’s a fair share of quiet, creepy, and suspenseful scares as well as a few jump scares that had me setting the book down so I could take a breather. I was tense the entire time I was reading and that’s something I look for in a good YA horror book (or horror book period). The atmosphere was also on point, it was incredibly eerie and was one of the best parts of the book. I’ve read quite a few horror books and seen many, many horror movie and so my standards for what I find scary are high and I was very impressed with this.

Now normally I’d try and give you a little synopsis of the plot but I just don’t dare say much because the more blind you go into this book the better. There are so many crazy twists that you won’t see coming AT ALL and there’s so much mystery as to what is actually happening that you just have to keep reading.

We start out the story with Silla and Nori arriving in the dead of night to their Aunt Cath’s manor in the middle of the forest. As the story progresses we slowly learn more about the house, how Silla and Nori came to be at the house, and the history between Cath and Silla and Nori’s mother. Then there’s the arrival of an odd young man, Cath’s mental abscence, the depletion of the food supply, the creeping trees, and finally….The Creeper Man. With the many different things happening it’s up to Silla to sort everything out and determine if she can truly trust anyone or even her own mind as the trees slowly creep in….

I loved how we couldn’t trust anyone or anything that was happening throughout this book it added so much to the mystery, the eeriness, and the terror. Are the trees actually moving? Is the Creeper Man real or a figment of Silla’s imagination? What made this even more horrifying was that you can try and answer these questions yourself but you won’t be able too, as I said the plot twists were insane and you just won’t see them coming.

This book is also very fast paced and will have you turning pages and finishing it in no time! I will say that the pacing for me slowed down a bit about 3/4 of the way through because let’s be honest the book got very weird and confusing. However, this just made the story even better when I finally got to the end and sorted everything out! So if you find yourself muddling along towards the end be patient because the ending is very satisfying although I thought the conclusion took a bit away from the scariness ( I won’t elaborate because of spoilers).

Another very unique thing about this book? The formatting. Just based on Dawn Kurtagich’s two books she is a queen of great formatting, it adds so much to the atmosphere of her books. There are notes, journal entries, and just a few other oddly formatted pages. I think it makes for a more fun reading experience as well!

characters

If there’s one thing I ever find very lacking in horror books it’s character development and this book definitely is not lacking. We get so much insight into every single character, especially Silla since she narrates a majority of the time I got to really know each character and feel their hysteria as the events of the book progressed.

This book is very much psychologically driven so getting into Silla’s mind was necessary and Dawn Kurtagich did it so well. We got flashbacks of Silla’s memories as well as good looks into her mind set via journal entries and notes.

I also found all of the characters quite..relatable which is odd since there is nothing relatable about their situation at all for me but that just goes to show how well written and complex they were.

romance

I will just say this now: I am not a fan of Dawn Kurtagich’s romances. I did not like the romance in “The Dead House” and I didn’t like it in “And The Trees Crept In” either unfortunately. I just find them to be kind of unnecessary and take away from the creepy atmosphere. This romance also kind of had a degree of insta-love and just felt very underwhelming. Although I will say at the end I warmed up to it a little bit…but not much.

in conclusion

I was very impressed with this book but the romance,  my occasional confusion, and a very tiny personal issue with the ending kept this from being a true 5 star read for me.

I will definitely be reading anything and everything that Dawn Kurtagich continues to write though because she is certainly proving herself to be a real YA horror genius!

RECOMMEND

Yes I highly recommend reading “And The Trees Crept In”! Especially if you’re looking for your next “keep the lights on all night” horror book or something to read for Halloween this week!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

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When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

review

****Warning: Do Not Read This Book When You’re Alone!****

“Daughters Unto Devils” is one dark, twisted, and creepy book. It takes quite a bit of creativity to write a book that actually scares the crap out of people especially in the YA genre but oh man does Amy Lukavics do a fantastic job here! If you’re an avid horror fan who loves gore and terror galore then strap in because you’re in for one Hell of a ride!

PLOT

The story starts out very slowly and it does take quite a bit of patience to get to any of the creepy parts but they’re there I promise!

We are first introduced to Amanda, our main character, who is the eldest of five children and whose parents are strict Christians. So you can only imagine Amanda’s fear and worry when she discovers that she is pregnant by the post boy who wants nothing to do with her or their baby. Along with the burden of her secret pregnancy Amanda learns that her family plan to move away from their cabin in the mountains and find a homestead on the prairie in order to avoid a brutal winter this year.

As the story progresses we also get flashbacks of the previous winter when Amanda’s mother and baby sister, who was born deaf and blind, almost perished and Amanda supposedly saw the Devil in the woods. Combine these creepy flashbacks with the current gruesome situation on the prairie and you have some spine-tingling chills! I won’t give away anymore because of spoilers!

So in case none of that grabbed your attention here’s a few things that might convince you that this book is truly horrifying and to give it a try:

  • An Abandoned, Blood Soaked Cabin in the Middle of Nowhere
  • The Devil
  • Demons
  • Man-Eating Pigs
  • Creepy Scarecrows

Need I go on? This book is loaded with TONS of horrific things that will have you sleeping with the lights on for a while after reading! There is most certainly a wonderful mix of quiet, psychological horror as well as good old fashioned jump scares!

The plot and story do get a bit muddled and confusing towards the end but that is what makes the book so terrifying: the unknown. I certainly was satisfied with the way it ended as well although it was left open and little bit up to one’s imagination.

characters

There is also an astonishingly great amount of character development too, we definitely get a lot of it with Amanda herself. She is constantly feeling conflicted with her thoughts and the way she was raised, it made for a very interesting narrative. Amanda overall was a very complex and interesting character.

We also get a fair amount of insight into the personalities of Amanda’s entire family as well mostly her sister, Emily, and her parents. As for a few other extra characters we don’t get much but complexity but they do add to the story in their own ways.

in conclusion

Overall this book was amazing and we should definitely have more YA horror books like it!

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What I Liked:

  • Many, many different terrifying things going on
  • Great character development
  • Creepy setting (isolation is terrifying after all!)
  • Very fast paced when you get about half way through the book

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Slow paced beginning
  • The story had a lot happening towards the end and left a bit of confusion

RECOMMEND

Yes! If you’re looking for a great, terrifying, and quick read for Halloween then definitely check this book out!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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descriptionWhat’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.review

****I’d like to thank Lauren @ Wonderless Reads for recommending this book to me!****

“Welcome To The Dark House” is a good horror book, unfortunately it wasn’t something that completely blew me away but it was definitely very fun and entertaining.

PLOT

This book is PERFECT for any horror movie lovers because it’s basically a slasher movie in book form, seriously, it reads exactly like a horror film. Which has it’s downsides as well as upsides. The downside being that this makes the book feel a little corny at times and a bit underdeveloped, like most horror movies, and the upside being that it makes reading the book ten times more fun if you already love the horror genre.

 The first half of the book is spent orienting ourselves with the characters pretty much, they all enter a contest  to meet famous horror director Justin Blake and are then dropped off in the middle of nowhere, in a forest, in an old house. How could anything go wrong with all of that in  a horror book, am I right? So for the most part we get to know everyone and nothing insanely scary happens, creepy sure but not scary.

However, the second half of the books gets a lot better. There’s more action, scares, and a lot less talk. Although I would say it still wasn’t that scary for me, it was more suspenseful than anything which is definitely alright. All of the characters proceed to be locked within a Justin Blake themed, abandoned amusement park and each character has their own ride that is related to their “nightmare” or worst fear. Those scenes were probably the best ones in the entire book, the suspense there is what kept me really reading.

One thing that kind of drove me crazy throughout my reading though? The 6 different POVs. In my mind the only time that many view points is OK is in fantasy books. I do understand why it was told this way since it is a horror book we need to be able to see everyone slowly getting picked off but I think there was too much time spent on us trying to relate to these characters when they were just B horror movie stereotypes.

I also didn’t really like the ending at all because it left me with more questions than answers and it just wasn’t very satisfying. I understand that all of the questions will be answered in the sequel but really why leave us hanging with such a shaky ending? It wasn’t even a cliffhanger it was just sort of confusing.

One random thing I loved about this book: it’s set in Minnesota. I live right next door in North Dakota so it’s always fun to find books with settings near me!

characters

As far as the characters I’m kind of in the middle, while I did sort of like them and they did get quite a bit of depth I still found them a little lacking. We spend the entire first half of the book switching through six different POVs in order to get to know these characters and yet I don’t feel like we ever REALLY know them. Sure we get where they come from and how they act but we don’t get a ton of insight into their characters which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since we literally get into each character’s head space.

Ivy, is the main character and yet we spend about as much time in her POV as the other characters so to me she never really felt like the main character. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was told just from her point of view. Ivy’s nightmare and story are the creepiest and most terrifying of all BUT no spoilers! I also very much enjoyed the fact that Ivy suffers from anxiety and I say this because I too suffer from bouts of anxiety and I loved the fact that this was portrayed in a YA novel, not to mention it made her ten times more relateable for me.

As I briefly mentioned earlier the other characters are all classic horror movie stereotypes: the goth girl, the virginal sweetheart, the average one, the handsome guy, the rebellious guy, and the special snowflake. They may not embody these perfectly but you get the picture right? To me these kinds of characterizations had their upsides and downsides, while it’s kind of fun to have cheesy horror movie characters it also makes them feel unrelatable. I mean come on, is anyone really this cliched?

As for the romance…… no. Too insta-lovey for my taste and very unrealistic, not to mention it lacked all kinds of chemistry. Alas though what kind of horror movie book would be complete without a cheesy love interest?

in conclusion

What I Liked:

  • Anxiety being portrayed with a YA character
  • The pacing and suspense were fairly good throughout but better in the 2nd half
  • How similar it was to a classic slasher horror movie
  • The Minnesota setting

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Too many POVs
  • The scare factor wasn’t big enough for me
  • The romance was corny
  • A lot of the characters were a little too cliched

Overall I liked this book and there were things that bothered me so a 3 star rating is perfect, right in the middle which is exactly how I feel about “Welcome To The Dark House”. I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel though!

RECOMMEND

If you’re looking for a good YA horror book then definitely check this one out, what may not work for me may work for you after all!

This is a decent book but realistic things don’t scare me as much as the unknown. So if murderers scare you more than ghosts this may be the book for you! This is also a great Halloween read for those of you looking for creepy books to add to your TBR.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy