Review: Amity by Micol Ostow + Giveaway

For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor’s nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren’t there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again.

Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.

If you’re one of those readers who is a bit on edge about the idea of jumping into horror, let this book be a sign. Horror is back. The past few years have seen a new surge of frightfully terrifying horror novels and this one can be counted among the best of them. And I hope that we’ll be seeing plenty more in the mainstream soon!

Amity may be a new take on the true events of the Amityville Horror most know about but believe me, this book (and house) has a story of their own and they’re ready to tell it. Relive the horror like never before. You will feel this house in your bones before you finish this book and it may haunt you.

One of the most interesting things I found about this book was the perspective in which it’s told in. Now, I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t because that’s the magic of it. But the POV tells two different stories within the house that are ten years apart. Two different characters experiencing nearly the same horrors weaving them together though they’ve never met themselves. It was a seamless transition from past to present every few chapters and one that I think the reader will find extremely unique and powerful.

If you’re looking for a light read to cap off the summer, I don’t suggest this book to you. But if you’re looking for a killer novel that will scare the pants off of you (you can handle it), then this is one book that you absolutely cannot miss.

Amity will be available in stores everywhere August 26, 2014.

micolostowAbout the author:

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter.

The next stop on the blog tour is Good Books and Good Wine with a guest post and giveaway.
To keep up with the rest of the tour, click here.

Giveaway:

Enter the form below for a chance to win a finished copy of Amity! The giveaway is for US/Canada only.

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Video: Lois Lowry’s Endorsement for The Giver

giverheaderLast week, I was given the chance to see the adaptation of The Giver a bit early to be able to share my thoughts and tell others to go see the movie. For those fans who seem apprehensive about seeing The Giver in theaters, check out author Lois Lowry’s glowing endorsement for it!

The Giver is now in theaters across the country. Go see it and let us know what you thought!

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla Top
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

It’s not a secret that all of us have been waiting a long time for Isla. A long time. Despite the long wait and all the hype surrounding the book, Isla more than lived up to my expectations. In fact, she surpassed them.

Taking place in my relatively new hometown of New York, and the series’ beloved Paris, the scale of this book feels larger than the others in the series, simply because it covers more distance. But the locations themselves play less of a character in this book, and for good reason. While our two previous heroines of the series  Anna and Lola — know very much where they are and where they are going, Isla does not.

Isla is facing the choices and questions every senior in high school faces: what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What happens if you don’t know? Does my life still have value and do I as a person still have worth even though I haven’t claimed my place in the world? How exactly do I figure out who I am? Isla grapples with these things through the highs and lows of new love, the pressures of family and school, and what the rest of the world thinks of her.

While Anna and Lola stole my heart, I identified with Isla and her struggles on a whole other level. I sat down with the book, only intending to read a few chapters and read the whole book in one sitting. I finished at four in the morning, blown away by what I had just read and filled with happiness.

This book has everything fans will want and expect in the ending. Breathtaking romance, beautiful cities, heartbreak, wonder, and closure, all blended together with Stephanie Perkins’ characteristic wit and charm. If you love the series, then this is definitely the book you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for?

Review: Stalking Darkness by Lynn Flewelling

With the Leran threat laid to rest, Alec and Seregil are now able to turn their attention to the ancient evil which threatens their land. The Plenimarans, at war with Skalans, have decided to defeat their ancient enemy by raising up the Dead God, Seriamaius. The early attempts at this reincarnation–masterminded by the sinister Duke Mardus and his sorcerous minion Vargul Ashnazai–once left Seregil in a sorcerous coma. Now, an ancient prophecy points to his continuing role in the quest to stop Mardus in his dread purpose.Seregil’s friend and Mentor, the wizard Nysander, has long been the guardian of a deadly secret. In a secret, silver-lined room hidden well beneath the Oreska, he has served for most of his 300 years as the keeper of a nondescript clay cup. But this cup, combined with a crystal crown and some wooden disks, forms the Helm of Seriamaius, and any mortal donning the reconstructed Helm will become the incarnation of the god on earth.

Nysander holds the cup and Mardus the wooden disks–one of which was responsible for Seregil’s coma–but the crown must still be located. Threatened under pain of death by Nysander to keep his quest a secret even from his loyal companion, Alec, Seregil is dispatched to find the last missing piece of the Helm so that he and Nysander can destroy it. But this is only the beginning of one of his deadliest journeys ever, for the prophecy also holds that four will come together in a time of darkness, and gradually all that Seregil values is placed at risk as he, Alec, Nysander and Micum are drawn into a deadly web of terror and intrigue.

Stalking Darkness is the second book in the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling, and I read it faster than I read the first one.

The events set in motion in Luck in the Shadows catch up with our characters in Stalking Darkness. The war is coming, and with it an evil force that could obliterate the world as they know it. Faced with impossible choices and life threatening tasks, the loyalty and bonds between the friends are tested. Additionally, they have a prophecy to contend with (What Epic fantasy doesn’t have a prophecy?), and there’s no guarantees that all of them will make it out alive.

In this second book the relationship between Alec and Seregil deepens. As best friends and confidantes there is a level of trust and loyalty there, but could there be something more? And if there is, is it worth risking what they have to pursue? I think that all of the relationships in this book–both romantic and not–develop beautifully in this book. They explore the complexity of true loyalty and friendship, and what it means to truly love someone above yourself in all things.

It is rare for me to like a second book in a series more than the first, but Stalking Darkness has accomplished that. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing where these crazy characters find themselves next.

Review: Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.

Some friends and I were at a bookstore looking at a spinner of mass market paperbacks, when I picked up a book with a cover which was amazing in that slightly bad way. “Look! Gay pirate spy elves!” Upon investigation, we discovered that while they weren’t pirates, they were gay spy elves. Naturally, we concluded that that was amazing and that we had to read the book.

Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling is the first book in this series. An epic fantasy surrounding the spy Seregil and his apprentice Alec, the book was honestly far better than I was expecting it to be. If you know and love epic fantasy, you won’t be disappointed. There is world building-a-plenty, and world shattering stakes that outreach the length of a single book.

Also impressively, this book was released in the ’90s, when openly gay characters were even more scarce than they are now. In Flewelling’s world, homosexuality of both genders is openly accepted and embraced (with an intricate brothel culture involving different colored lights and sexual preference–frankly an entire book could be written about their red-light district). As well as a highly equal society where women make up a good percentage of the leadership and most of the world doesn’t bat an eye. Sounds like our world could learn a few things from theirs, right?

With tons (and I mean that literally–500 pages worth) of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance, Luck in the Shadows is the start of a great series for all lovers of fantasy.

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