[Audiobook] Review: 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

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172 hours on the moonTitle: 172 Hours on the Moon
Author: Johan Harstad
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Source: Library (Overdrive)

Length: 8 hours 43 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by: Casey Holloway
Published by: Hachette Audio

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It’s been more than forty years since NASA sent the first men to the moon, and to grab some much-needed funding and attention, they decide to launch an historic international lottery in which three lucky teenagers can win a week-long trip to moon base DARLAH 2–a place that no one but top government officials even knew existed until now. The three winners, Antoine, Midori, and Mia, come from all over the world, and they have only one thing in common: they aren’t especially interested in space travel.

But just before the scheduled launch, the teenagers each experience strange, inexplicable events, one of which contains a direct warning not to travel to the moon. Little do they know that there was a reason NASA never sent anyone back there until now–a sinister reason. But the countdown has already begun, and as soon as they set foot on the moon… everything goes wrong.

Strap yourself in for this chilling adventure from a young Norwegian author on the rise. You’ll want to keep your lights on long after you’ve heard the last chapter.

my thoughts-01

So there’s this Doctor Who episode that takes place on Mars. People think, “Oh, there’s water on Mars! It must be habitable!” And then they go there and all hell breaks lose. Does that speak to the naivete of humans? That we’d just assume that anywhere would be hospitable towards us? Just because we’re humans? I mean, I may go way out on a limb with this, but I’m sure there is some GREAT evil lurking out there.

This book has been on my radar for quite some time. I looked at it ALL THE TIME at the bookstore and never picked it up. I think I had the paperback out from the library for a while, but never read it. But then I remember book blogger Christa (from More Than Magic) talking about the book and its creepy factor and I knew I had to give it another chance. Thankfully, my library had the audio available for download.

I’d like to say that right off the bat I was hooked, but a lot of the story in the beginning is set up. We meet different characters and learn their situations. We get to see how they hear about this mission to the moon and how they’re chosen. Then it’s a lot of preparation for the moon and whatnot and then FINALLY we get to the moon. The first part of the book was definitely quite anti-climactic for me. But then we get into the crazy spooky parts of the last half of the book and I have to say — it’s terrifying!

I’m not sure how believable the idea of the government choosing a bunch of teenagers to go to space is, but it was a fun journey. It’s not *just* teenages (because THAT would definitely be unbelievable), but there are adults on the mission as well. There are also other … entities … that are in the story and between them and the setting and the creepiness of traveling somewhere where you can’t escape evil worked well together. In fact, at times it was quite disturbing.

The narration wasn’t bad for this story. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrator. She tended to have weird pauses in the story — kind of like if William Shatner were narrating. But I did like her accents for the different characters and liked how easy it was to differentiate between them all as I listened. Her pacing was good, but I almost wanted someone older, or maybe even a male narrator. But since our main character is a female, I guess that wouldn’t work.

I love stories like this and was so happy with the ending. The last 30 – 40% of the story was perfect. The pacing, the set-ups, the twists and turns … it all made me want to just keep listening to the story. In fact, I listened to the whole thing in an afternoon and a morning and was so happy to have finally given it a chance. Reading other reviews, though, I think there were pictures in the physical book to accompany the story, so I’m not sure if I missed out or not, but it might be worth a look the next time I’m in the bookstore or the library. I look forward to more creepy stories like this!

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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the ocean at the end of the laneTitle: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author:
Neil Gaiman
Genre:
Fantasy
Source:
Purchased (Hardcover)

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Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

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This book was definitely not what I was expecting. But then, when it comes to Neil Gaiman, do we ever really know what to expect?

Call me crazy, but I thought this was going to be an ordinary, contemporary novel. Yes, I’m crazy. Instead, I got a sweeping story about a boy and his friend, a really gross worm, an odd family on a farm, and an ocean that looks like a pond.

“As we age, we become our parents; live long enough and we see faces repeat in time.”

Honestly, when I finished reading this story, I knew it had been a gooder. It had made me squirm, it made me swoon (mainly over Neil’s gorgeous writing), and it had me wondering what was going on. There was a hint of witchcraft going on throughout the story and I kept wondering if it was intentional or if it was just the thing to come out of a young 7-year-old boy’s imagination.

Of course, even with the fantastical elements, there’s a lot of serious stuff going on. At times, the story reads like any of Neil’s books for younger audiences (I saw hints of Coraline at times with Ursula), but then there are very adult, very dark things that happen. Really, it’s a book that could use a second reading to really take in everything, to make sure that it’s all understood. With its unique blend of fairytale and altered memories, a reader is left to wonder what was real and what was not?

In the end, Neil still remains to be one of my favourite authors. I will admit that I haven’t dove into his adult books as readily as I should, but I know I will change that in the future. His books may be slightly twisted and dark, but they’re still so rewarding to read.

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Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1) by Carrie Ryan

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the forest of hands and teethTitle: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1
Author: Carrie Ryan
Genre: YA Zombie Horror
Source: Purchased (Paperback)

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In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

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I have this habit of buying the first book in the series and then all of the other books in the series as they’re released — even if I haven’t read the first book to see if I even like the series yet. Of course I was interested in this one because it was a book everyone was talking about. When I finally got the chance to read it, I have to admit that I was on the fence about it.

Right off the bat, I noticed how different Carrie Ryan’s writing was. She’s definitely a good writer, but the first part was a little slow for me. In fact, I couldn’t help but pull similarities from the movie The Village (one of my favourite movies) as well as the book The Hallowed Ones (another favourite). There’s undertones of religion in this story, which weren’t too heavy handed, and I did like the setting of a village set up by the older people of the village — a place that kept the bad monsters out.

I really wanted to like the characters in this story, but it was so hard! The main character, Mary, constantly talks about Travis. This would be fine in small doses, but I felt like every other sentence was Travis-this and Travis-that. It was completely overdone and got very annoying after a while.

I did really like the hope that Mary had — the fact that her mother told her stories of the ocean and the idea that there is something else out there. It was sad that everyone in the village was so jaded that the idea of anything outside of the village was unthinkable.

It also felt like the pacing was off in sections. I mean, there’s the suspense of the Unconsecrated infiltrating the village, but then there’s long sections of domesticity before anything exciting happens again. The story also ends on a bit of an unended, open-ended note. There are still questions out there, hopefully ones that will be answered in one of the companion novels.

I have the next two books in this series and see that they’re more like companion books to this one. I’m hoping that maybe I’ll like one of them better because while I wanted to like this story — while I wanted to love it — it just didn’t resonate with me like it did with others. I mean, it was an okay novel, with some definite creepiness going on, but there were just too many things that I disliked with it.

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