7 Horrors of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”

The Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Four strangers come together to spend a summer at Hill House. Hoping to observe paranormal occurrences, they may have gotten more than they bargained for. Rooms covered in blood, personal messages written on the walls, the house appears to have a mind of its own.

7 Horrors of Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Quick Read

All in all, The Haunting of Hill House is a quick read and I’m extremely grateful for this as I do not think my anxiety could deal with a full-length horror novel.

2. Horror

The Haunting of Hill House is an effective horror story and is really quite disturbing to read; makes the reader think and question if they have ever experienced a house that might have been sentient.

3. Description

Nothing can drag a story and bore the reader than too much description. However, Jackson uses description effectively. While description could be heavy throughout The Haunting of Hill House it did not appear to be drawn out past what was necessary for the reader to know and understand the scene.

4. Characters

There are a few rather vile and hated characters in The Haunting of Hill House and Jackson writes them well! Character development is no easy feat in a short story as there is less interaction with the characters overall but Jackson does an amazing job with her unfavorable characters. Just thinking about Dudley makes me cringe.

5. Build Up

One of the reasons The Haunting of Hill House is an effective horror story is because Jackson is a masterful writer in that she builds the intensity. At first Hill House is strange, then there is some unease that eventually grows into feeling like there is an actual sinister presence which leads to all out fear.

6. Eleanor Vance

Another extremely effective piece of The Haunting of Hill House is that readers are left questioning whether Eleanor’s demise was because of an evil presence that is Hill House or her own psychological break.

7. The Beginning is the End

The book begins and ends in exactly the same way and it is quite unsettling:

“Hill House itself, not sane, stood against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met nearly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

(p. 3 & 235)

What were your favorite things about The Haunting of Hill House?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

OwlCrate July 2018 Book Review: “My Plain Jane”

OwlCrate July 2018 Book Review:

“My Plain Jane”

The Lady Janies Book 2

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

NIKKI’S RATING: 8 OUT OF 10

Summary: Wanting nothing more than to become a governess, Jane Eyre leaves the miserable Lowood school to pursue her dream. But then her secret gets out, Jane Eyre can see ghosts. As she is caught up in the Royal Society for the Relocation of Wayward Spirits, Jane finds herself falling for the wrong man, while her best friend Charlotte Brontë finds inspiration for the novel she always wanted to write.

8 Playful Things about Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows’s “My Plain Jane”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Jane Eyre

“Jane Eyre” is a beloved novel with a Romantic love-story and “My Plain Jane” is a rather hysterical and fantastical retelling of this classic. As Hand et al. states in their dedication:

“And for England (again). We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your literature.”

2. Charlotte Brontë

Being the author of “Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Brontë is actually a main character in “My Plain Jane” and in the novel, it is the events that take place in “My Plain Jane” that inspire Charlotte Brontë to write “Jane Eyre.” It is a nice touch done by Hand et al. and they also include some facts of Charlotte Brontë’s real life throughout “My Plain Jane.”

3. Hysterical

Probably the best thing about “My Plain Jane” is the humor. The authors’ main goal appears to be providing the reader with a comical story and they truly deliver. One of my favorite quotes that had me laughing:

“There was only one conclusion Jane could draw from the style and design of the dress and it was this: it had to be thought up by men. Then women could in no way outrun them, and with the lack of oxygen to the brain due to a rib cage the size of a fist, they could not outthink them. And with the bright colors, they couldn’t hide. No running, no thinking, no hiding.”

(Hand et al. 373)
4. Pop Culture

Throughout “My Plain Jane” are little pop culture references to other stories such as “Harry Potter” and “The Princess Bride” which just adds to the fun!

5. Collaboration

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows are all successful writers and it is amazing to see such talented writers come together to collaborate on one project.

6. Explanations

Thankfully the authors explain terms and customs that readers may be unfamiliar with due to the novel taking place in the 1800s.

7. Fun

Overall “My Plain Jane” is a fun novel. The novel is fast-paced, writing is good, and while the novel is inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre”, “My Plain Jane” is drastically different and offers a fresh spin on a timeless classic.

8. My Calamity Jane

The Lady Janies book 3 “My Calamity Jane” is set to be published in 2020 and it looks to be another fun read!

What were your favorite things about “My Plain Jane”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

8 Worthwhile Things about Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: Growing up together, Heathcliff and Catherine fall deeply in love, believing that one could not survive without the other. But Heathcliff has no title, no land, no occupation and Catherine must be provided for. After losing Catherine forever, Heathcliff torments the next generation as he is haunted by Catherine and what could have been.

8 Worthwhile Things about Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Romanticism

“Wuthering Heights” like “Jane Eyre” is a prime example of Romanticism. With its Gothic themes of ghosts and elements of the Byronic hero seen in Heathcliff, “Wuthering Heights” is truly inspired by the Romantic era.

2. Perspective

The perspective of “Wuthering Heights” is not told through one of the main characters of the story but rather an outsider who is not an intimate of the family and who seems to be unreliable as well. This leaves the reader in an interesting predicament of being further removed from the actual main characters and knowing that we are not seeing the whole story.

3. Speech

Emily Brontë kept her characters authentic by writing phonetically for those of the lower class who had a very different pattern of speech.

4. Love Story

While Heathcliff’s obsession is a bit stalkerish/creepy and Catherine is truly a spoiled brat, their love is still romantic on many levels. One cannot help but wish that they had ended up together and feel how tragic it is that they didn’t.

5. Heathcliff

Healthcliff is a dynamic character. While he appears to be quite a brute with questionable morals, there is an element of softness about him. A tortured soul who only wants to be with his true love. A Bryonic hero indeed!

6. Parallels

There are many parallels in “Wuthering Heights” between the first and second generations. One such parallel is that between Heathcliff and Hareton. Being the son of his bitter enemy, Heathcliff treats Hareton accordingly. Heathcliff actually raises Hareton similar to how he was raised, treating Hareton like a servant and denying him an education. And yet we see this goodness in Heathcliff through him saving Hareton’s life as a baby and treating him better than Hareton’s real father ever does.

7. Hareton and catherine

The love that eventually develops between Catherine and Hareton is quite beautiful and provides an ending to “Wuthering Heights” that is positive and hopeful especially after the heartbreak of Heathcliff and Catherine.

8. Beautifully Written

Written eloquently with beautiful descriptives, interesting characters, and a tragic, heartbreaking love-story, “Wuthering Heights” is an enchanting novel that will remain a timeless classic for years to come.

What are your favorite things about “Wuthering Heights”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Brilliant Things about Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

by Trevor Noah

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: Literally born a crime, Trevor Noah explores his upbringing living in South Africa during apartheid. Being colored he never seems to fit in, Trevor is too black to be white and too white to be black. His coming of age story is touching, full of hardships and yet, unbelievably hilarious as Trevor Noah uses humor to remain resilient and portray the absurdity that humans can partake in.

10 Brilliant Things about Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Hilarious

“Born a Crime” was hilarious, like laugh-out-loud funny! Even though the book deals with some very heavy topics, Trevor Noah uses his humor effectively and allows the reader to really grasp the absurdity that can be life.

2. Honesty

One of the most effective things about “Born a Crime” is the brutal honesty Noah has. He doesn’t attempt to sugarcoat things or only portray his loved ones in a positive light. He is real, genuine, and straightforward no matter if it is good or bad.

3. South Africa

Learning about a different culture and place in the world is always worthwhile. Obviously with Trevor Noah being born and raised in South Africa, this is where “Born a Crime” takes place and while Noah is just a single person from this country, he does a great job of showing some of the country’s diversity and difference amongst its people.

4. Racism

Probably the most important subject in “Born a Crime” is that of racism. While one might assume that racism wouldn’t exist in a country that is majority black, colonialism has influenced all of Africa and has created huge discrepancies between races. These negative influences continue to have an impact today as Noah shows throughout his book.

5. Not Fitting In

While not many of us could claim they understand what it is like to be a colored kid growing up in apartheid South Africa, I think most people can relate to feeling like they don’t fit in. Noah paints such a powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of the hurt, confusion, and desire of wanting to belong.

6. Love

Throughout “Born a Crime” the reader can truly sense and feel the deep love and respect Trevor has for his mother and the unconditional love that his mother has for him. It is absolutely beautiful and resonates throughout the novel.

7. Shit

Intellectual and profound in many ways, Trevor is constantly reminding the reader that we are all just human, no better, no less, and the most memorable and hilarious way he reminds us of this is through his comments on shitting:

“It’s a powerful experience, shitting. There’s something magical about it, profound even. I think God made humans shit in the way we do because it brings us back down to earth and gives us humility. I don’t care who you are, we all shit the same. Beyoncé shits. The pope shits. The Queen of England shits. When we shit we forget our airs and our graces, we forget how famous or how rick we are. All of that goes away.”

8. Perseverance

Overcoming poverty, racism, and a bad childhood is never an easy endeavor. Coming back from being shot in the head seems nearly impossible and yet, these are the stories that Trevor Noah shares. The perseverance that him and his family have shown and continue to show is inspirational and leaves an overall sense of hope that is much needed in a world that is rampant with poverty, racism, abuse, violence, addiction, hatred, and ignorance.

9. Writing

Overall, “Born a Crime” was written well and a relatively quick read. Without sounding like a boring history book, Noah gave pertinent facts needed for readers to understand context and continued using humor and wit to bring light into some very dark situations.

10. Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a fantastic comedian and while I am unsure if he will ever write another book in the future at least we can enjoy him on “The Daily Show.”

What were your favorite things about “Born a Crime”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

5 Dashing Things about Donna Grant’s “Dark Heat”

Dark Heat

Dark World Book 8.1-8.3; Dark Kings Book 0.1-0.3

by Donna Grant

NIKKI’S RATING: 5 OUT OF 10

Summary: Sworn to defend and protect dragons at any cost, the Dragon Kings have sworn off attachments to humans. As humans once hunted and nearly drove dragons to extinction, the Kings know how dangerous it is for their kind if their secrets get out and have used magic to harden their hearts against all women. But they are in for a surprise as they find out that love is the strongest magic of all.

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5 Dashing Things about Donna Grant’s “Dark Heat”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Short Stories

While short stories are not my favorite as you do not get to know individual characters as well, it is always nice when short stories are collected in one book. With “Dark Heat,” three short stories are included: Dark CravingDark World 8.1/Dark Kings 0.1; Night’s Awakening Dark World 8.2/Dark Kings 0.2; and Dawn’s Desire Dark World 8.2/Dark Kings 0.3. There is also a bonus story, Passion’s Claim included.

2. Dragons

Dragons are AWESOME! I’m so happy that Grant included dragon-shifters/dragon warriors in the Dark World series. These warriors are amazing, they can shapeshift into dragons, their original forms, and they are also responsible for protecting and caring for the dragons. Breaks my heart that they had to send the dragons to another plane of existence due to dragons being hunted by humans. Humans ruin everything!

3. Erotic

Each story heats up with erotic scenes between the featuring couples as they fall in love and can no longer deny the passion between them.

4. Characters

As always, Donna Grant writes enjoyable and likable characters. Her men are usually gentlemen who are tender, strong, and fiercely loyal to each other and their women. And most importantly, Grant doesn’t write damsels in distress but rather strong, independent women who are equals to their men.

5. Midnight’s Seduction

Donna Grants Dark World series continues in “Midnight’s Seduction,” the Dark Warriors Book 3.

What are your favorite things about “Dark Heat”?


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

7 Liked Things about Donna Grant’s “Midnight’s Lover”

Midnight’s Lover

Dark World Book 8; Dark Warriors Book 2

by Donna Grant

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Thrown four centuries into the future, Ian is in bad shape. Torn apart by the death of his twin brother, Ian is now in a desperate battle against the demon god he and his brother shared. Worst of all, if he cannot control his god, he may end up hurting and possibly killing Danielle, the beautiful druid that has captured his heart.

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7 Liked Things about Donna Grant’s “Midnight’s Lover”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Twins

While it was absolutely tragic that Duncan died, I think Grant really captured the beauty of the special connection many twins can share with each other. Made total sense that they equally shared one god and could feel each other’s pain.

2. The Villains

Ugh, Deirdre and Declan. These two are just so vile, greedy, and delusional. They truly deserve each other and I’m hoping that one of them will take out the other in their grab for power.

3. Malcolm

Malcolm continues to struggle with his orders from Deirdre and I’m hoping that it will be enough for him to walk away from her soon and join up with the MacLeods et al. Always intriguing to have those characters that are more fluid in their morals and alliances because you are never really sure what they are going to do in the end.

4. Sizzling

A true romance, “Midnight’s Lover” features sizzling erotic scenes between Ian and Danielle.

5. Pacing

As always, Grant gives a good story with some twists and turns. As a whole, she writes well with likeable characters, enjoyable banter, a vivid imagination, and great pacing, keeping the story going and readers interested.

6. Happy Ending

Overall the ending was pretty positive and I’m grateful for that as things could have gone totally south. Ian and Dani survived and stay together, the infiltrator was discovered and destroyed, but most importantly, Duncan has moved on and found peace.

7. Dark Heat

The Dark World series continues in Donna Grant’s “Dark Heat,” a collection of short stories that begins her Dark Kings series.

What are your favorite things about “Midnight’s Lover”?


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

7 Memorable Things about Donna Grant’s “Midnight’s Master”

Midnight’s Master

Dark World Book 7; Dark Warriors Book 1

by Donna Grant

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Attempting to trackdown Deirdre, the all-powerful evil magic-wielding drough, Logan is hurdled through time. As he tries to navigate the new times, he meets the beautiful Gwynn, who is much more than she seems. As they realize that she may be the key to the next artifact needed to stop Deirdre, another powerful drough comes into play. Now against two powerful druids, Logan must protect Gwynn, the woman who may save them all and win his heart.

7 Memorable Things about Donna Grant’s “Midnight’s Master”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Declan

Having one all-powerful evil druid was enough but things just got very interesting as Grant introduces Declan, a drough so powerful that he has been able to capture and hold Deirdre. Hoping that perhaps they will end up fighting and killing each other.

2. Time-travel

A nice twist to the plot, the Dark World series has jumped forward to our time period. Very cool to see how the characters change and adapt to the new times.

3. Gwynn Austin

Very independent, Gwynn is a druid who can hear the wind and shows immense courage, daring, and resourcefulness in her journey to find the artifact.

4. Logan Hamilton

Logan has been one of my favorite Warriors and it was enjoyable seeing him fall in love and finally lift the burden of his shameful secret. Totally cool that he can control water!

5. Heat

As always, Grant delivers a true romance novel as things heat up between Logan and Gwynn.

6. Writing

Grant continues her fantastic writing style in “Midnight’s Master.” The novel moves forward at a good pace and offers enough description to create the scene without boring readers with too many details.

7. Midnight’s Lover

The Dark World series continues in the Dark Warriors book 2, “Midnight’s Lover.”

What are your favorite things about “Midnight’s Master”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

10 Welcome Things about Philip Gourevitch’s “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families”

We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

by Philip Gourevitch

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: With devastating clarity, thorough research, and extensive interviews of survivors, Philip Gourevitch investigates the horrors that occurred in Rwanda during 1994. In just three months starting in April 1994, 800,000 Tutsis were killed by the Hutu majority. Unbelievably, it was not simply soldiers or government agents but neighbors, friends, and family members of the Tutsis who participated in the mass genocide. Gourevitch examines not just what led up to the genocide but the aftermath for Rwanda, its people, and the world.

10 Welcome Things about Philip Gourevitch’s “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

“We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families” should be required reading in school, this book has so much educational worth! One of the most important educational piece that Gourevitch includes is the role that colonialism and Western interference had that helped pave the path for the Rwanda genocide.

2. Well Researched

Gourevitch meticulously researched other works on Rwanda in order to write this novel. While his sources are not listed in a reference list, he does include the authors of the works he used in his acknowledgments.

3. Personal Interviews

The most powerful and effective aspects of “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families” are the personal stories. Speaking with hundreds of Rwandans, Gourevitch weaves their stories throughout this book and it allows the reader to really understand that these atrocities happened to individual people, it is not a tale of fiction but rather the reality for thousands of Rwandans.

4. Failure of the World

In a perfectly summarized sentence Gourevitch states,

“If Rwanda’s experience could be said to carry any lessons for the world, it was that endangered peoples who depend on the international community for physical protection stand defenseless.”

In so many ways, the international community failed epically and Gourevitch shows this time and time again throughout the novel.

5. Consequences

Returning to Rwanda in 1997, Gourevitch looks at how Rwanda has continued on since the genocide. He realizes that the genocide is not just an isolated event but one that will have continued consequences for years to come. And while the rest of the world had moved on, Rwanda had not and even 4 years later ethnic killings continued weekly with no end in sight.

6. Vivid

This novel is so vivid and haunting. Descriptions are plentiful and really capture the scenes Gourevitch is painting. There are moving scenes that will be imprinted in the minds of readers forever.

7. Writing

While reading Gourevitch’s novel, it is apparent that he went to great lengths to give as much information as possible while not losing the reader. He writes in a fluid, engaging manner that allows the reader to know dates, facts, and names without being read like a dry history textbook.

8. Courage

While Philip Gourevitch is one of many reporters who have braved visiting a dangerous area in order to get the facts, it doesn’t make it any less impressive. Gourevitch had the courage to not only do the story but to visit Rwanda multiple times and to travel to different areas in the region regardless of the hazards to himself.

9. Outsider

Regardless of Gourevitch visiting Rwanda, interviewing hundreds of its people, and doing extensive research, Gourevitch humbly acknowledges that he is an outsider. He comprehends that no amount of visitations or education of Rwanda will allow him to understand the country, its politics, or people fully. He could never truly grasp what it means to be Rwandan, he is and will always be an outsider looking in.

10. Powerful

Ultimately, “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Families” is a powerful novel. It truly paints the picture of what humanity is capable of, the horrors we commit against one another but also the beauty in our resiliency and bravery to survive and help each other in times of adversity. The book ends on a hopeful note of a group of schoolgirls refusing to separate based on being Hutu or Tutsi but rather said they were simply Rwandans.

What are your favorite things about “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be Killed with Our Familes?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

5 Magnificent Things about Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s “My Dear Hamilton”

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: The wife of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Eliza Hamilton suffered greatly due to her husband’s ambition. But she was more than the jilted wife of a public sex-scandal. Eliza, being the daughter of a great revolutionary helped shape and influence America’s independence and the shaping of the Union. This is the tale Eliza’s great love, loss, and legacy.

5 Magnificent Things about Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie’s “My Dear Hamilton”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Educational

Other than knowing that Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, I knew nothing else of the man or his life. “My Dear Hamilton” provides a glimpse into his personal and political life, as well as his many careers.

2. Politics

Another educational piece shown in “My Dear Hamilton” is that of the political environment of early America. It was interesting to get a feeling of the overall political climate and to see how the Founding Fathers interacted and influenced each other, whether good or bad.

3. Collaboration

“My Dear Hamilton” was written as a collaboration between Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, both respectable writers in their own right. Always nice to see authors working together to create a well thought out and researched novel.

4. Female Perspective

While Kamoie and Dray could have easily written this novel through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton, they instead did it from the perspective of his wife, Eliza. This is extremely powerful as women of history have been consistently ignored and excluded from most history books and novels, which is rather ridiculous because as this book shows, women play a huge role throughout history whether up front or behind the scenes.

5. Research

Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie did meticulous research of letters and other original sources to create the basis of “My Dear Hamilton” and it shows. This novel is full of rich history and is a wonderful example of historical fiction.

What are your favorite things about “My Dear Hamilton”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.