My Best Friend’s Exorcism

Cover image for My best friend's exorcism / a novel by Grady Hendrix.Ever so rarely I pick up a book that reminds me of my own life.  Believe it or not, My Best Friend’s Exorcism did.  No, I was never possessed as a teenager by anything other than raging hormones and angst, but I did grow up in the 80’s, just as the main characters, teen girls Gretchen and Abby, did.  Set in high school against the backdrop of Bryan Adams and Journey soundtracks, the girls navigate the perils of high school armed with big hair and shoulder pads.  When a party gone astray leaves Gretchen alone and naked in the woods for a whole night, something exceptionally dark and dangerous finds her long before the search party does.

I loved this book.  While it’s technically a horror story it’s also a parody and parts of it made me laugh out loud.  I don’t know if I loved it so much because it was a genuinely good read or if it just made me nostalgic for my own big hair days.  Either way, it was fun, fast, and just in time for Halloween.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

my-lady-janeYou’re pretty sure you know how the whole Tudor succession thing went down, right?  Henry VIII, he of the many wives, died and his only (legitimate) son, Edward VI, inherited the throne.  After a sickly childhood, poor Edward kicked the bucket at the age of 15, but not before revising the line of succession so his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, would inherit the throne, instead of his Catholic half sister (and, let’s face it, a real stick-in-the-mud) Mary.  Jane sat the throne for a grand total of nine days before losing her head to Mary, who, despite being a bit of a bore, had an army and really had a thirst for blood.

But did you know about the part where Henry VIII could shift into a lion (it was a real problem, actually, what with his temper and the whole eating of messengers)?  No? Where do you think the Lion King came from? Or the part where book-loving Lady Jane was married to Gifford Dudley in a bit of a rush when Edward discovered he was dying (well, maybe you knew that part) – but that her new husband didn’t quite have a good grip on his own shapeshifting, erm, abilities, and spent his days from sunrise to sunset as a horse?  Nope, I didn’t think so.

Well, then, fellow history buffs, read on for the true story of what really went down when Edward, Jane, Gifford, Mary, and Elizabeth all fight it out for the throne of England, try to keep their heads (and tails), fall in love (well, some of them), and bring peace and prosperity to the land (except for Mary, who, honestly, was kind of a problem). This is a madcap, irreverent, laugh-out loud funny romp through the not-usually funny mess of a Tudor family.  You probably didn’t know you were looking for a mash-up of Monty Python, Shakespeare’s comedies, and The Tudors (now with more shapeshifting!), but here it is anyway!  And speaking of Shakespeare, do you want to know, once and for all, who he really was?  Answers inside…

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox


Welcome to our newest book blogger and story time magician, Cyd!  She loves apple pie, the Rat Pack, and books for kids from 1 to 92.  I can’t wait to see what she reads next!

“Keep calm and carry on.”

Twelve year old Katherine Bateson takes her father’s parting words very seriously. After all, she is the logical and sensible eldest daughter. He is being sent away to war, and to keep the children safe from the London blitz, her mother has agreed to relocate Katherine, along with her brother and sister, to the ancient, drafty and somewhat creepy Rookskill Castle on the misty Scottish highlands. What other choice does she have? Keep calm and carry on….

Why did her Great-Aunt Margaret feel it necessary to send her off with the precious family heirloom – her chatelaine? Even more mysterious were her words to Katherine.  “It’s quite magical, you know. It will keep you safe”.  Safe from what? From the moment they arrive at Rookskill, Katherine struggles to keep her wits about her and use logic to figure out what is going on. There are strange mechanical shrieks and groans in the night, sightings of silent, ghostly children walking the castle grounds, the mysterious appearance and disappearances of fellow students…even the castle walls seem to move around by their own will!

And then there is the beautiful and mysterious Lady Eleanor who rules the castle. There seems to be something “off” about her – from her icy cold hands and demeanor – and the fact that she, too, wears a chatelaine. Why is she so intent on concealing it from Katherine’s view?

Kat must figure out the truth about what is going on in the castle. Is Lady Eleanor harboring a Nazi spy? Are the “ghosts” truly real? Where have her fellow classmates gone?
Kat must uncover the truth about what the castle actually harbors—and who Lady Eleanor really is—before it’s too late.

Do you love books with twists, turns, mystery and magic – and even shades of Nancy Drew? A book that keeps you turning the pages much too late into the night? Fans of Harry Potter, Narnia and The Golden Compass are sure to find this book both chilling and charming!

It is your Bane,
This Chatelaine.
By Flesh and Bone,
By Rock and Stone,
I’ll Charm a Child
To Call My Own.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

lie-treeFaith idolizes her father.  The Reverend Erasmus Sunderly is a natural scientist of great renown made famous by his incredible fossil discoveries, and Faith wants nothing more than to become a scientist just like him.   Despite the fact that her interest in science is considered to be quite inappropriate, even unnatural, for a girl growing up in Victorian England, Faith is starving for knowledge and desperate for approval.

When the Reverend’s opinion at an archaeological dig site on the remote island of Vale is requested, he quickly packs up the entire family and relocates them from Kent to the small village on the isolated, rain-shrouded island.  But Faith senses something is not quite right about the Sunderly family’s sudden departure from the mainland.  When news of a great scandal surrounding the authenticity of her father’s scientific discoveries reaches the island, Faith and her family find themselves outcasts, exiled from the dig site and the parlors of island society.  Faith doesn’t know what to think – it seems impossible that her brilliant, beloved father could have deceived the entire scientific community.

When the Reverend asks for Faith’s help to hide his most mysterious specimen deep in a sea cave, she is thrilled to finally be included in her father’s world.  After returning home, Faith is sworn to secrecy before her father heads back out into the night on a midnight errand.  But when the Reverend never returns, it seems that Faith may be the only one with clues to the mystery of what became of her father.

Truth and lies.  Religion and science.  Wisdom and knowledge.  Love and revenge.  Passion and jealousy.  This is a gorgeously written, gloomy and gothic atmospheric novel that perfectly captures the bonds of society in a Victorian England where reputation was everything and a world where science and religion were fighting a fierce battle over Darwin’s new theory.  With tons of fabulous period detail (let’s talk about the Victorian obsession with death, especially death photography, along with the oddities of phrenology and other strange medical practices), nail-biting suspense, an intriguing mystery, and a whole lot of creep, this is a great read for anyone who enjoys their historical fiction with a razor sharp edge.