Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"Just Dial A Number" by Edith Maxwell

Published:  1971
Archway Pocket Books

Cath took a deep breath.  Her voice came out ragged and raspy.  ""

Complete silence.  For a moment she thought the connection was broken.  Then the sound of breathing started, quick and in little gasps, like someone trying to get enough air.  Todd stepped closer, moving the receiver away from her ear, so he could hear too.  He pointed to the phone, then to Cathy.  His lips formed the words, "Go on,"

Her hands were moist and her mouth dry.  "Someone tried to kill me," she gasped.

She was still holding the receiver so others could hear, but it wasn't necessary.  The next thing she knew, the telephone exploded.

"Mary Ann  Mary Ann!  Oh, my God, where are you?"

Cathy's stomach turned over, and she dropped the receiver on the desk with a crash.  Backing away, she shuddered and looked at the though it were alive.


“Someone tried to kill me,” Cathy gasped into the phone. It was only a prank call dialed at random – a joke played by four teenagers fooling around. But what happened afterwards plunged them into a nightmare. By the next morning two people were dead because of that phone call. Keeping their guilt secret, Cathy, Todd, Paul and DeeDee had to live with the terror of being found out.

This was a very well-written story.  It leans more toward suspense than it does supernatural or horror.  

To make a long story short without giving away any spoilers, a group of teenagers make a seemingly harmless prank call.  Only, the unthinkable ensues.

As the main character, Cathy, gets pulled into the maelstrom of events, her complete life is thrown out of balance.  She dangles at a terrifying precipice between the guilt of truth and a string of lies that seem never ending.  Relationships are uprooted and trust wavers as life as she knew it is totally thrown askew.

The outcome does finally arrive, and it's every bit as scary as she expected it would be.

It's  great quick read.  Fun if you're interested in a lighter mystery.

My Rating:

"The Window" by Carol Ellis

Scholastic Children's Books

Jody Used the binoculars to see if she could see light anywhere else in the cabin, maybe the hall, but all she saw was darkness.  She moved the binoculars slightly, to where she'd seen the figure last night, and gasped out loud.

Somebody was there.

Jody tightened her grip on the binoculars.  The somebody wasn't just walking by.  He was bent over, like last night, but not dragging anything.  What was he doing?  Kicking, that was it.  Kicking at the snow and looking down.  Looking for something.  For that shiny thing?  He'd lost something last night when he'd dragged the bag away, and now he'd come back to find it.

But why at night?  The moon was out, but so were the clouds, and they kept drifting across the light, making it harder than ever for Jody to see.  Half the time she thought the person had gone, but then she'd catch a movement agin, and know he was still there, kicking at the snow.

Then the kicking stopped.  But the person was still there.  She could just make out a dark form, motionless in the snow.  Standing there.  Staring.  Staring up at her.

Jody suddenly shrank backa nd ducked down, her heart pounding like a drum.  She'd been seen.  The glass in the binoculars must have caugt the moonlight and given her away.  And now, whoever was out there knew Jody had been watching everything...

Back Cover Synopsis:

It should have been the skiing holiday of a lifetime. But Jody sprains her ankle and finds herself alone with nothing to do but gaze out of her cabin window.

Gazing into the cabin of a beautiful neighbor she witnesses the fight, the murder and the killer...or does she?

And if the murder is real, has the killer been watching Jody?

I liked this book well enough.  I found the beginning a little confusing at the author pretty much attempted to introduce a whole group of people in the span of a few pages.  However, the rest of the story made up for the slow start.

The storyline will keep you flipping the pages, it totally kept me immersed so I completed the book in on sitting.  It gave me a wintry, cozy feeling.  I just wanted to cuddle up in a fleece blanket and drink some hot chocolate as I read.

Worth the read for adults and YA readers alike!

My Rating:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Summer of Fear" by Lois Duncan

Published:  1976
Setting:  Modern Day

It was then that I noticed a slight, acrid scent in the air.  A sulphur odor, as though someone had been burning matches.

Matches!  I turned to the bedside table and there it was, a pile of burnt matchsticks stuck into the base of the lamp exactly as it had been before.  I had wondered then what it was that Julia had been doing.  Now I did not have to wonder.  I knew.

For a moment I stood, stricken, too horrified to move.  My heart was beating so hard that I could feel its pounding in my head.  The matches, the lamp, the table, swam before my eyes.

So this was why Julia had seemed so lighthearted in the face of my threats!  She had no intention of letting me bring Professor Jarvis or anyone else to talk to my parents.  Somewhere in this house at this very moment there was a little wax figure in which were embedded some orange hairs, taken no doubt from the brush on the bureau.  Whenever she chose, Julia would begin to melt it.

Or had she began to do so already?  Even as I asked myself the question, a blinding pain shot through my head directly behind my eyes.  Terrified, I staggered backward and fell upon the bed, clapping my hands against my temples.

Back Cover Synopsis:

Why is Rachel the only one to sense the evil that surrounds Julia?

From the moment Rachel's cousin Julia arrives the summer, she seems to seep into Rachel's life like a poison.  Everyone else is enchanted by her...including Rachel's boyfriend.  But what does Julia really want?

Rachel's perfect life and her close relationship with family and friends comes to a screeching halt once her long lost cousin Julia arrives.  Julia has just lost both her parents, but it seems she's willing to take away everything that Rachel holds dear!

First her boyfriend, then the trust and respect of her parents.  Rachel just knows that Julia is evil  She is perfectly aware that something is not quite right with Julia.  And when she contacts an old friend from Julia's school, whom reacts to her serious questions with a protective, vicious regard from the girl, Rachel is almost positive something is not right.  Julia, as a person, is not adding up...she is the perfect contrast to the girl her parents and friends describe...and yet, she's there in the flesh.

I don't want to give away any spoilers that would make this book less interesting and exciting but it really does end with a bang.

The story line reads very much like the vintage gothic romances, which doesn't surprise me as I'm sure Lois Duncan was inspired by the stories of her time, as this book was written in the mid-seventies back when the vintage gothic was at it's prime for publication.

I've read it several times now, and it's always just as exciting.

Includes some great elements like witchcraft, stolen identity, secrets and murder....what more could you look for in a good horror/mystery read?

My Rating:
4.5 Stars

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Stranger With My Face" by Lois Duncan

 Published:  1982
Setting:  Modern Day

It is a long time since I have seen her, but I know she is here.  In bed at night, above the sound of the surf on the rocks beneath my window, I hear very faintly the rustle of her passage down the hall.  She moves softly, but I can hear, for I am used to the sound of her.

She pauses outside my door.

In my dreams I hear her voice.  But, are they dreams?  Or in the months since I saw her last has her voice become so slight that this is the only way she can reach me?

I blame you, she whispers.  Only you.

Back Cover Synopsis:

Laurie Stratton finally has everything a sixteen-year-old could ever want. But just as her perfect summer comes to a close, things start to unravel when her boyfriend insists he saw her out with another guy-when Laurie was really home sick! More mysterious sightings convince Laurie someone very real is out there, watching her. . . .

Laurie Stratton has the perfect life.  Just having been accepted to the popular group of kids the previous summer, she's dating one of the coolest guys in school.  She's invited to all the good parties with the in kids.  She lives in a fairy-tale like house on cliffs perched at the edge of paradise.  The beautiful view of the roiling ocean lays right outside her bedroom. 

Yet, suddenly life is not so perfect anymore.  Her social standing in school is jarred when her boyfriend claims he seen her walking along the beach on a night Laurie swears she was home sick from a party.  Things turn even more strange when her kid sister, and her parents, claim they see Laurie in places where she is not.

Suddenly, Laurie realizes she is not alone.  There's another being sharing her space, seeping into her life.  And this person looks just like her!  At first, Laurie welcomes the presence but things take a sinister turn when those close to her end up getting hurt.  At first Laurie can't figure out what the spirit thing hopes to gain by harming those dearest to her and destroying her most valued relationships.  But in one grand finally, Laurie realizes that the thing wants nothing....nothing but her body!

This book is a good little chiller.  I thought the story line was original.  There's lots of creepy elements inside this book:  spirits, astral projection, terror and suspense, a bit of a mystery, family drama, and even a little bit of historical knowledge referring to Native Americans.

However, the last thirty or forty pages were taxing for me.  It seems the climax occurs when Laurie and her boyfriend are led over the edge of a cliff by the spirit.  Yet instead of ending and wrapping things up, the author lingers on and on.

Overall, it's an enjoyable read.  I had fun seeing this mystery out till the end, just wish the last pages included as much suspense as the first ones did.

My Rating:
4 Stars