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Book Review: Ghost Station by S. A. Barnes

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Dr. Ophelia Bray is a psychologist trying to escape her past. The unwanted daughter of an infamous family, she is shunned by those who know her real identity, even though she is more victim than perpetrator. When something gruesome happens, it’s easier to blame the closest target. In order to propel herself beyond her childhood trauma, Ophelia has dedicated her life to studying what she believes was the cause - ERS, which is a space-induced form of madness that drives people to murder. The most famous case resulted in the brutal murders of twenty-nine people. An opportunity arises to accompany a small exploration team who have recently lost one of their own, and she takes it, hoping to redeem herself by saving them from further loss. The team is reluctant to have her (an understatement) and Ophelia struggles to fit in. Things only get worse as something - ERS, madness, something else - begins to affect the crew and they turn on each other. Dr. Ophelia Bray takes the idea of a “flawed p

Series Retrospective: The Baby-Sitters Club

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  In April 2024, the graphic novel adaptation of Baby-sitters Club #19 Claudia and the Bad Joke was the #1 kids book in Canada, and that warms my heart. When I was a kid, the Baby-sitters Club (BSC) was my favourite series. My obsession with the books was borderline unhealthy and I spent hours reading and rereading my favourites. I eventually outgrew the series, but it still holds a fond place in my memories, and I love that a new generation is enjoying this wonderful series. The BSC series was published from 1986-2000, consisted of over 200 total books, and sold over 180 million copies. Ann M. Martin wrote about 60-80 of them herself and oversaw a team of ghostwriters who penned the rest. The series is about a group of friends, aged 11-13, who form the titular baby-sitters club after Kristy Thomas (president and founder) watches her mom call the entire neighbourhood one night in search of a baby-sitter. Kristy asked herself “what if people could call just one phone number and get a wh

Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher

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 Review originally written in 2014. I was wary of Stolen at first. The premise was of a young teenage girl who gets kidnapped by a handsome stranger and he holds her hostage in the Australian Outback until Stockholm Syndrome starts to sink its teeth into her mind. Too often, I find, stories (esp. young adult) try to sell that stalking=love, and typically with older men and young girls. "He's just SO IN LOVE with her that he can't help but be obsessed with her - isn't that romantic?" That kind of thing bothers me on a fundamental level. So, I entered this book worried. And at first, the book did nothing to soothe those fears. I listened to the book in audio format during a couple of long drives and my solitude as I cruised down road amplified the story in an unpredictable way. The vast majority of the tale is spent with only Gemma and Ty, her kidnapper, alone in the harsh Australian desert. The audio book, which is performed by Emily Gray, I think is the best way t

WILA: Time Travel

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  What I like about... One day, when I was in university, I was lying on my parents’ couch not feeling well and Back to the Future was playing on TV. I had seen the movie as a kid, but dismissed it as a “boy movie”. This was the first time I’d really sat down and watched it as an adult and realized just how good a movie it was. It was charming, exciting, and funny. Soon after I declared it my favourite movie and have been a huge fan ever since. I don’t know if BTTF marks the beginning of my passion for time travel stories, but it’s definitely a key component. But the goofy, enjoyable time travel of BTTF isn’t the only kind I love. Anyone who knows my tastes knows that simply uttering the phrase “it has time travel” piques my interest. But what is it about time travel that I love so much? Today I’m taking a look at one of my favourite story-telling concepts and why it excites me so. Second Chances We have all made mistakes we wish we could go back and fix, or something has happened tha

Hollow World by Michael J. Sullivan

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Review originally written and posted to Goodreads on August 12, 2016: I'm sitting here, just having turned off the audio version of this and my head is swimming with thoughts. This is a beautiful story that questions the core essences of humanity, love, religion, and life. Like the protagonist, Ellis Rogers, I went on this journey expecting a classic time travel story and instead encountered something else entirely. Ellis Rogers is tired of his ordinary life. As a brilliant scientist not living up to his potential, he has always dreamed of something bigger, but never managed to achieve it. Instead, he settled. He married the first woman he was with and he clung to the first friend he ever had, even though both of those choices weren't really right for him. Ellis isn't happy. He isn't even really miserable. He just... exists. Then like another scientist living below his potential, Walter White, he is diagnosed with a fatal illness and death becomes the wake

I'm Quitting Nanowrimo and Here's Why

This post will be a bit of a departure for me. I try to focus on books and being positive. That's why I've started my "What I like About..." series. I also work to be honest about the books I review without being cruel. But, the recent events with Nanowrimo have upset me and as a long time participant/supporter, I want to talk about why I will not be continuing to participate.   My Personal Nano-History My profile on Nanowrimo.org tells me I started in 2010 and have written over 441,000 words with them over the years, but my history with Nanowrimo extends even further backwards than that. I also suspect that word count is lower than reality, too. The fall of 2010 would have been my first fall after graduate school. I had wanted to participate before that, but November is a bad time for a university student to embark on a writing challenge. My earliest Nano memories were meeting in a local cafe with only a notebook and a pen, because I did not have a lap top, and strug

WILA: Icy Horror

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What I like about... I recently finished watching True Detective: Night Country, which I enjoyed for many reasons, such as the strong characters, great acting, and terrifying scenes, but one aspect that heightened my enjoyment was the setting. Set in a fictional Alaskan town, everything was encased in ice and darkness. The long night begins at the start of the series, and freezing/hypothermia is a constant threat. Setting the story in such an extreme environment enhances the horror that the characters face.  While I have never been to the true, deep north, I have experienced some strong winter weather in my life. I have been stranded in a blizzard, snowed in, had the early stages of hypothermia and frostbite, and camped in the winter-time. When I read a story that utilizes cold, icy weather and winter to enhance the story, I can feel the literal chill. There is nothing like a howling wind rattling your windows while you curl up warm and safe in a blanket to read a frozen horror story.