Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 “Unputdownable” Reads


Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme that Bionic Bookworm hosts.  Today’s topic is Top 5 “Unputdownable” Reads

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A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface–and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

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I don’t think I have ever read a novel like A Head Full of Ghosts. There was a reality show on Marjorie who has been showing signs of being possessed. There a current day blog that goes into the episodes of the reality show, which happened 15 years ago. Plus there was all of the events that happened in the Barretts’ household during that time.

I did like the uniqueness of the novel. Even though we were in present day and looking back on the show, I didn’t see a lot of the events happening. You question what happened to Merry’s family, since we are only seeing Merry in present day. Let me tell you, what happened to them was shocking.

I wasn’t thrilled that I didn’t get all of my questions answered. There was some questions that I had about Marjorie that I feel didn’t come around full circle.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. There are some talks about a movie coming out and I think this would make for such a dark thriller (that I would be way too creeped out to ever see)!


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Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Lost Roses

It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorker’s treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanov’s. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia’s Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller’s daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya’s letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.

From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian emigre’s who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

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Lost Roses was a bit of a disappointing read for me, since I had loved Lilac Girls so much. It’s not that this novel was bad, I just couldn’t connect as much to it.

In the same format as Lilac Girls, the novel follows Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka as they each have their lives impacted by WWI. I found that there were a lot of similarities between the characters of Lost Roses and Lilac Girls. First, there is the obvious connection between Caroline and her mother, Eliza. In their respective novels, each woman uses their wealth and resources to help those in need. Since they are in New York, there is a bit of a disconnect between them and what is happening overseas.

Next is Sofya and Kasia (from Lilac Girls). These characters are the ones that are right in the centre and are the ones that have their lives most impacted by the war. Kasia was sent to the concentration camp and Sofya lost her home and family. Some of the things that Sofya went through on her journey to Paris, I found a tad unrealistic and far fetched.

Lastly is Varinka and Herta (German doctor from Lilac Girls). These are the characters that I was most confused about. Both of these characters start with good intentions and then make questionable and bad decisions that impact the other characters. I wish there was more insight to these characters and why they made the decisions that they did.

Overall, it was an average novel that had a very slow start. I didn’t start enjoying the novel until Sofya was on her journey to Paris and the war was over.

3 calculators out of a potential 5. To me, the two novels don’t compare. Lilac Girls is leagues ahead of Lost Roses, but they are both stories that should be told and taught.


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Book Spotlight – Sylvana by Sian Claven @sianbclaven @Shalini_G26

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Hey everyone! I’m part Digital Reads Blog Tours book blitz of Sylvana by Sian Claven. It is the third novel in The Butcher  series. Book blurb, excerpt and links are all below!


Diana and Robbie are tired of moving their family of five around. When Robbie is offered a great job, and permanent position, they must find somewhere to stay temporarily while they house hunt. Aware of the gruesome murders that happened in the Metz family house, they move in regardless and instantly regret it. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Diana and Robbie must face their greatest horror. A copy cat killer starts to strike around their neighbourhood, just like the Butcher once did, and Diana’s family seems to be right in the centre of it. Where is Sylvana when her tenants need answers? The Butcher might just strike them where it hurts most before they get the answers they seek.

When Diana saw the flashing blue lights outside her house, she panicked. James was home and Robbie wouldn’t be back until later, so as a mother she assumed the worse. She sped up and held her breath until she realised the cars were parked outside her neighbours’ house and not her own.
The police had marked off the area around their neighbours’ and, as they climbed out, Clinton asked, “What do you think happened? Do you think Lincoln is okay?”
Diana shook her head. “I’m sure he’s fine, baby. Why don’t you take Charlie and go check on your brother while I see what’s going on.”
She walked the short distance between the two houses and saw a nurse standing there, a cardigan wrapped around her shoulders. She had tears streaming down her face, crumpled tissue in her hand, dabbing at her wet nose, and her breaths were coming out short. Diana recognized her as her next door neighbour; she had seen her whenever they took the garbage out. Diana felt quite bad now, not knowing what her name was.
Quickly she made her way towards the woman. She was briefly stopped by a policeman before the nurse waved him away and said it was fine.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” Diana asked, putting an arm around her shoulders.
“Oh … oh … it’s Lincoln,” she sobbed. “He’s dead,” she managed to get out.
“What?” Diana gasped. “How? What happened?” she asked without thinking. “Never mind. I am so sorry …”
“Megan,” she said, hugging Diana and sobbing into her shoulder. “He was murdered in his bed,” she revealed between gasps for air. “I found him … someone cut off his head and cut out his tongue and … oh, my poor baby …” She burst into renewed sobs and Diana couldn’t make out another word after that.
She stayed with Megan until a family member arrived and took over. Diana quietly excused herself and went home to check on her children. She felt nervous; the murder was seriously familiar to those she had heard about when she rented the house.
Once home, however, she found her three children setting the table for dinner. James had a big smile on his face and was telling Clinton stupid jokes. Clinton was half listening, smiling as well, but his mind seemed far away.
“Clinton, honey, we need to talk …” Diana said, taking her son by the hand and leading him to the living room.

Author Bio:

Sian Headshots

Hailing from Johannesburg South Africa, Sian B. Claven has enjoyed stories for all her life, whether she was reading them or making them. She has written for as long as she can remember, but Ensnared is the first book she decided to publish. Moving towards writing more for the horror / paranormal thriller genre, Sian has subsequently published the first two books in The Butcher Books series, Tatum and Kallista. When Sian isn’t thinking of ways to terrify people, she enjoys writing science fiction stories, poetry and rather long and gushy birthday wishes. When she isn’t working on her writing you can find her knitting, scrapbooking, reading, or playing Xbox. Sian previously reviewed for The Blithering Bibliomaniacs and still reviews in her private capacity. She clearly doesn’t know what the words rest and relaxation mean, at least not in the traditional sense.

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