Category: Review


Author: Susan Vaught
381 Pages
Published: February 18, 2014

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Never, Kentucky is not your average scenic small town. It is a crossways, a place where the dead and the living can find no peace. Not that Forest, an 18-year-old foster kid who works the graveyard shift at Lincoln Hospital, knew this when she applied for the job. Lincoln is a huge state mental institution, a good place for Forest to make some money to pay for college. But along with hundreds of very unstable patients, it also has underground tunnels, bell towers that ring unexpectedly, and a closet that holds more than just donated clothing….When the dead husband of one of Forest’s patients makes an appearance late one night, seemingly accompanied by an agent of the Devil, Forest loses all sense of reality and all sense of time. Terrified, she knows she has a part to play, and when she does so, she finds a heritage that she never expected. With her deep knowledge of mental illness and mental institutions, Susan Vaught brings readers a fascinating and completely creepy new book intertwining the stories of three young people who find themselves haunted beyond imagining in the depths of Lincoln Hospital.

Kim’s Review:

I enjoyed this book in the same way enjoyed watching House on Haunted Hill. Everything was good, except it left me feeling unfulfilled. I’m a historian and I want background information on things like asylums and hospitals. Where did Lincoln Psychiatric Hospital come from? Who built it? Why is it alive? Why is it filled with thin spots? Where did Imogene come from? Is it a family responsibility? Why is it a family responsibility? What about Forest’s family? Or Darius? Or Trina? What makes them connected to the hospital? Unfortunately, that lack of background kept me from loving this book. The story was good, it was interesting, the characters were likeable. I liked how it was broken down into different stories for each character but all the stories were connected in easy, obvious ways. Some of the patients were given some good individual historical background and those were my favorite parts of the book. The little subplots for each character were unique and engaging. But I just needed more. If Susan wrote a prequel about the hospital itself, I’d snatch it up in a heartbeat! I recommend this book to horror fans and to teens who enjoy slightly scarier stories.

Crazy House

Author: James Patterson
369 Pages
Published: May 22, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Seventeen-year-old Becca Greenfield was snatched from her small hometown. She was thrown into a maximum-security prison and put on Death Row with other kids her age. Until her execution, Becca’s told to fit in and shut her mouth… but Becca’s never been very good at either. Her sister Cassie was always the perfect twin. Becca’s only hope is that her twin sister will find her. That perfect little priss Cassie will stop following the rules and start breaking them, before it’s too late. Because her jailers made a mistake that could get them both killed: They took the wrong twin.

Kim’s Review:

I really did want to throw this book across the room when I finished it. I got so into Crazy House and the lives of Becca and Cassie and their plight inside this prison that isn’t supposed to exist. The story was awesome! I hadn’t read anything like it before. Sure, there’s some elements from other books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but combined in a completely original way. The buildup was anxiety-inducing and I found myself holding my breath as I turned the page. I was shocked at how quickly the pages flew by! And then, just when I couldn’t handle the anxiety anymore, it just ended. No sequel, no explanation, no nothing! WHY??? Seriously, if another author does this to me, I’m gonna stop reading completely. That’s the only thing keeping me from giving this book 5 stars. I loved the story, the characters, the setting . . .  and then nothing!!!!!! Mr. Patterson, please, please, PLEASE, write a sequel for this book. Despite the ending that made me want to smack my head against a wall, I would recommend this book to mature teenagers and anyone who likes an action packed read. There are some adult elements, mostly language, that keeps me from recommending this to younger readers.

Note from Jessica:

This one sounds right up my alley!  It is added to my TBR! I must read it, despite knowing the ending is frustrating…


Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy

Author: Manjusha Pawagi
To Be Published: October 10, 2017
288 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 20-29, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description from Goodreads:

Manjusha Pawagi, a successful family court judge, has written a not-so-typical memoir about her experience with cancer. Wryly funny and stubbornly hopeful, this is her quirky take on what it’s like to face your own mortality when, to be honest, you thought you’d live forever. She describes how even the darkest moments of life can be made worse with roommates; details how much determination it takes to ignore the statistics; and answers the age-old question: what does it take to get a banana popsicle around here?

Jessica’s Review:

The title and cover of Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy caught my attention. The title is catchy and I wondered why does the cover have a popsicle?  This is a candid memoir of Manjusha Pawagi. A Canadian judge who was born in India, she tells it like it is as she gives you her experience with leukemia.  She leaves no tale untold, all the way down to the description of the ileostomy bags.

She is very detailed in her journey as she faces her many fears. My husband battled cancer as a teenager and this gives me an idea of what he went through.  He fought a different cancer than Pawagi had, but it gives the reader an idea of the struggle all cancer patients go through.  A cancer ward has to be a very difficult place to work and visit.

Pawagi is a minority of South Asian descent and you learn how hard it is to find a match for stem cells as according to the memoir ¾ of donors are Caucasian.  She says that only 4% of donors are South Asian and most likely her donor would have to come from the Indian state of Maharashtra where she is from.  Finding a donor is difficult in the first place and many people wait and unfortunately never find their match. Being a minority makes it more difficult. More people should sign up to be donors!

Pawagi also gives humor in this memoir.  She talks about wanting a banana popsicle (so that’s where the cover comes in!) and still eating bacon.  She feels that if she stops eating bacon, then cancer wins.  We can’t let that happen, keep eating and enjoying bacon!

Please note that Pawagi’s journey is not a faith based journey.  She is an atheist and this does not change.  She is convinced that she will go to Heaven: ‘I’m an atheist too, but I’m  firmly convinced that if I turn out to be wrong and there is a God, and all the accompanying heaven/hell thing, I am definitely going to heaven. I have no theological basis for this, but I know it would be ridiculously unfair if I were barred because of what I consider to be a mere technicality, which I equate to the minor procedural irregularities I see in court all the time, and which I either ignore or patch up after the fact in some way. Because, while I do not believe in God, I do believe in justice’ (Chapter Seven). As a believer myself, I can’t agree with her thoughts on this issue.  But this is her memoir to tell as she sees fit and she is free to believe or not believe as she wishes.

Earlier in her book she talks about her son’s journal in school and that he took it seriously and wrote down everything he did.  He wrote so much that the teacher set a three page a week limit on the journals and would stop reading at three pages no matter how much was written.  She says:  ‘I will try not to inflict so much on my own readers, but just like Jack’s teacher, you are free to stop reading at any point (Chapter Five).  I like her and her attitude, though it is hard to say I ‘enjoyed’ her memoir as it is a about a battle with cancer.

Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy is recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley and Second Story Press for granting me an e-arc copy!