Genre: Paranormal

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Oct 07

Magnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Magnetic by Anya J. CosgroveMagnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove
on August 8, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 209
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars
five-flames

Who said life was a fairy tale? Because I’d gladly slice that jerk’s head off.

I’m Vicky, though that’s not really my name.

I never expected to end up half-naked in the woods with my guts hanging out. I didn’t plan to stumble upon the most powerful shifter clan in North America and three of the sexiest men I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Dominic, the fun and reckless new wolf. 

Sam, the hot doctor with glacial-blue eyes.

And Gabriel, the intense, secretive alpha who wants nothing to do with me.

My real name is a one-way ticket back to hell, and my secrets need to stay buried like the girl I used to be.

Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Red Riding Hood—I can be all three.  I can use my powers to earn a place in their werewolf town, away from the bite of my past mistakes. I can use them—and their bodies—to survive.

The only thing I can’t do is fall for them.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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So, I was on the blog tour for this a couple of months ago, but when I went back to copy the review and add it to GoodReads…apparently the review part of my post wasn’t actually there?!? *cue much embarrassment* I’m not sure what happened, but….here it is.

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“I play the cool cucumber, but I’m more of a distraught apple.”

Magnetic is Vicky’s story, a spinoff from the Bloody Hearts series. Vicky is a vandella – a supernatural creature that needs sex to survive. And lots of it. She’s phenomenally attractive (to both sexes, though only M/F relationships are in this book), and amazing in bed…but her heart is bruised and broken from constant rejection of herself. People either at worst call her a slut and a whore, or at best only want her for sex and status. She presents a hard, brittle front, but inside she wants to love and be loved.  I’ll be honest, I thought she was awful when I read her brief part in Shadow Walker, but seeing her entire story was pretty awesome and it totally changed my mind. I’m hoping for a sequel or two!

Things I Liked

  • This book was a HUGE improvement over the only other reverse harem novel I’ve read (which was so horrible I’m not even linking it). The way the author made having multiple lovers acceptable was interesting (i.e., Vicky needs a LOT of sex just to maintain a normal life, one person shouldn’t have to fulfill ALL of her needs).
  • The guys are all different. They’re not identical except for their hair color or height. They have different personalities, different styles, different needs of their own. Oh, and yes, they’re all hot. Which one you like best will depend on your own preferences. 😉
  • There was a plot! This wasn’t just a sex-fest, even though there was A LOT of sex. The whole reason Vicky meets the three guys is because she’s running from a group of vampires that wants to control her and use her.
  • Vicky goes through hell, and yet doesn’t let it break her. She puts up with SO MUCH SHIT, emotionally (especially this), mentally, and physically, and yet she never gives up. She WILL rise, and she WILL get vengeance on the one who most cruelly used her. Yessssss.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • There’s one BIG secret that stays a secret until almost the end, and it just didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. Can’t say what exactly without giving a lot away, so I’m just saying it kind of jolted me out of the story and made me sit there and frown for a bit while I tried to figure out exactly how this could have been such a THING…

Overall

4/5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable, recommended if you’re a RH fan or looking to try the genre.

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four-stars

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Aug 12

Remember Me – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★

Remember Me – Review and Tour!Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski
Published by Feiwel and Friends on August 6, 2019
Genres: Historical, magical realism, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth.

Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls--and most horrifying of all--visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.

Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Be sure to check out the entire tour lineup over at The Fantastic Flying Bookclub! Also scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway. 🙂

I was not, honestly, expecting this book to be creepy. In my experience most YA books that try to be “horror” or even just plain mystery are usually only vaguely so. I am thrilled to report that Remember Me was better than most! I actually felt the hair on my arms raising at points. It was awesome! It did have a little trouble getting off the ground, in my opinion, but once the settings (yes, plural, as the POV alternates with a modern day one and a historical one) were established I absolutely couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend if you enjoy both YA and mystery/paranormal type books!

My one caveat: mental illness is somewhat used as a plot device. Treatment is given respect and not made fun of, and Nell’s feelings about her mother’s death and her subsequent therapy and very common, but I didn’t like the way it was made to be just a result of a THING in the plot. Terribly vague to avoid spoiling.

This is a very hard book to review because of the risk of spoiling, which really would ruin a lot of the story…so here are some quotes to whet your appetite! It really is an amazing, multi-layered tale and I strongly recommend it. Also, there’s a good bit of sweet, swoon-worthy romance. 😉

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It’s as if the air is heavy with their presence, every year and every guest superimposed on the other, all occurring in the same place, standing on the same floors, surrounded by the same walls. The only thing separating us is time.

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He does not have to say the words: Or else. They are implied in the tightening of his fists and in the memories of bruises hidden where no one could see. “Yes, Father.”

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I just keep feeling my hair twisting in midair, keep hearing the bulbs shatter, keep seeing those bodies lying on the floor, drenched in blood, and the man standing over them, asking me to join them.

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He looks at me with a hunger so intense, I feel it radiating down to the tips of my toes. He looks at me like I’m the only thing he wants. The only thing he’s ever wanted.

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I understand kissing now.

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About the Author

 

Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals, and Buckeye pride. She’s always had a penchant for the fantastical, the stories that teach us there is more to this world than meets the eye. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and a dash of destiny in their bones. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, she promptly married her high school sweetheart and settled down in Northwest Ohio with her notebooks and daydreams and copious amounts of chocolate. THE WOOD is her debut novel.

 

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four-stars

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Jul 01

A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 1 ★★★★



A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!A Bad Breed (Gaslamp Gothic, #3) by Kat Ross
Published by Acorn on May 31, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 292
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

Pricolici.

A creature out of folklore. And nightmare.

January 1889. When a Romanian village suffers a series of brutal attacks, occult investigator Anne Lawrence is dispatched to the forests of the Old Country to hunt the killer – only to vanish without a trace.

The trail leads her mentor Vivienne Cumberland deep into the Carpathians to a remote monastery. As a blizzard rages outside, trapping them all with the pricolici, Vivienne risks sharing the fate of the woman she came to find. But is the culprit truly a werewolf … or something even more dangerous?

A man bent on revenge. And a love that was never meant to be.

Imprisoned in a decaying castle, Anne finds herself ensnared in a web of dark enchantment, at the mercy of a mysterious captor with a beast inside – and a memory as old as the ancient legends.

As the weeks pass, Anne learns his real identity, and slowly uncovers a complex and deeply passionate man. But is she willing to pay the price for falling under his spell?

Author’s Note: This darkly magical reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series, but can be read as a standalone with no need to start with Book #1, The Daemoniac.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

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A Bad Breed is a hugely atmospheric read, dropping you into a gothic Victorian world from the first page. I really wished it was longer, to delve more into the background of Anne and Vivienne – but I guess that’s what the other books are for! This is the first book I’ve read by Kat Ross, so I took the description at its word, that A Bad Breed could be read as a standalone despite being the third novel in the series. It worked out just fine, and I’ve already downloaded The Daemoniac to read soon as well. 😉

Favorite Things

  • Vivienne and her fake marriage. It was fun and lighthearted, if sad that it was necessary for both the parties involved. Accurate to the time though, I think.
  • The way the paranormal was brought into the story. I wanted more details, but I think (hope) that all that is delved into more in the other books of the series.
  • Anne using her small stature and feminine wiles to get what she wants – hurrah for our girl not being afraid to use what nature gave her!
  • The dark, sinister atmosphere. This was done so, so well and just sucked me in completely!

Less Favorite Things

  • To be honest, the romance between Anne and the “beast.” It felt kind of contrived, and due to the whole captivity thing, I found it hard not to be a little uncomfortable. He never outright abuses her (is quite the gentleman, outside of the whole OH HEY YOU CAN’T LEAVE thing), and she is clearly a woman experienced and in full control of her own desires…just, Stockholm syndrome? I did THOROUGHLY approve of the way it ended, and I’m glad to see that the fourth book will continue Anne’s story!

4/5 stars overall, and I’ll definitely be reading more by Kat Ross!

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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four-stars

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Jan 14

How to Marry a Werewolf

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

How to Marry a WerewolfHow To Marry A Werewolf (Claw & Courtship, #1) by Gail Carriger
on May 13, 2018
Genres: Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 196
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars

Guilty of an indiscretion? Time to marry a werewolf.

WEREWOLVES

The monsters left Faith ruined in the eyes of society, so now they’re her only option. Rejected by her family, Faith crosses the Atlantic, looking for a marriage of convenience and revenge.

But things are done differently in London. Werewolves are civilized. At least they pretend to be.

AMERICANS

Backward heathens with no culture, Major Channing has never had time for any of them. But there’s something special about Faith. Channing finds himself fighting to prove himself and defend his species. But this werewolf has good reason not to trust human women.

Even if they learn to love, can either of them forgive?

How to Marry a Werewolf is an adorable novella set in the Parasol Protectorate universe (the Parasolverse). I was in desperate need of a good paranormal book fix after the catastrophe that was my last foray into paranormal books, and as usual Gail Carriger did not disappoint! I giggled and swooned my way through this little story and my only complaint is that it IS little.

Note: You can read this even if you haven’t read any of the other Parasolverse books, but it is much, MUCH more enjoyable if you’re already familiar with the world and some of the characters. Recommend starting with Soulless.

Now, I have absolutely LOATHED Channing ever since he first appeared in I think it was the second Parasol Protectorate book. I hated how he treated Alexia and his general airs of superiority towards the entire world. I was more than willing to see him get his icy little heart crushed and broken in this book. Faith is an entirely new character and I loved her! I love that she totally disdains societal expectations of her interests and hobbies (she’s an amateur geologist).

“Are the British opposed to the immigration of foreign rocks in principle or just in theory?…I assure you, sir, these rocks are mostly harmless. Your virtue is safe from nefarious rock infiltration.”

Also, the narrative voice is hysterical, as is usual for Gail’s books (yes, I might be fangirling just a little bit here). There are some amazing quotes, especially near the end, but I’ll leave most of them out so you can discover them for yourself. Please just go read this story. It’s so worth it and really doesn’t take long!

Short, sweet, a little bit sexy – but much less actual sex than Poison or Protect, another of the novellas. 5/5 stars, highly enjoyable and highly recommend, and can we please have more Channing and Faith?!?

“I’ve looked all my life for family…now I know it is you…this is what you and I will do now. We will hold these broken parts of ourselves dear because they brought us to this point, and we will love each other wholly and completely.”

five-stars

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Jan 10

Review of Wolf Tamer

Book Reviews 0 ½

Review of Wolf TamerWolf Tamer (Claiming My Pack, #1) by Yumoyori Wilson
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadshalf-star
four-flames

An Orphan Girl. A Group of Wolves. A Destined Fate for War.

Don't you ever wish to find where you belong? A place where you can rest your head without worrying about being jumped or your possessions being taken from you? Not like I had much, to say the least.

A pendant, an ancient blade, and a picture of my murdered family were all I had left when I was five years old. Foster homes to homeless shelters, I never found a place of refuge. I simply didn't belong, and everyone made it their duty to remind me of my predicament. Until I finally came across a place that felt like home.

Sacred Moon Shelter for Endangered Wolves. I'd stumbled upon the sanctuary when I was near death, but I was miraculously saved.

Since then, I've become a Wolf Tamer; the only one who can get close to touching the six rare breeds. When I'm with them, I feel safe and sometimes wish I could be like one of them and escape this cruel world.

But such inhumanity strikes home, a group of hunters shows up, ready to take my wolves to an unknown place or murder them in cold blood. I won't allow them to kill the only true family I'd ever known.

My name is Harper Blake, and I vow to claim and protect my own.

Wolf Tamer is a new Wolf Shifter Reverse Harem Romance. Recommended for 18+ Audiences.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Warning: rant ahead. If you read this and liked it, click away now.

What. The fuck. Did I read. Seriously, I don’t think I even read the same book as the majority of reviewers on GoodReads, because this SOMEHOW has a 4.12 star average review. If you loved it, great. As I said before, click away.

Half a star for the cover art. It has beautiful cover art. IT LIES. This book sounds like it has a decent storyline, or at least the potential for it. Four flames for the sheer amount of gratuitous and graphic sex (that was not hot in the slightest, gag).


This book was absolutely horrible. HORRIBLE. I usually love shifter stories, and stories with strong female leads. But the writing, the characters, the plot (lack thereof?) was just…omg. Such a train wreck. I only finished because I did receive a copy for a review.

Characters 

Harper and Ian are the most perfectly perfect people you’ve ever met. Physically they’re both a 15/10. Perfect bodies, perfect virgin sex (*gag*), and some of the most cringeworthy sex scenes I’ve ever read.

I guess the other reason Ian was protective was how “attractive” I’d become, according to others. Puberty hit me in the face at 14, and I went from 4’11 to 5’6 with the perfect set of breasts, hips, abs, and a “snatched” waist…I kept my brown hair nice and long, and it seemed to have the perfect shine that always caught the attention of the girls in town as to what shampoo, conditioner, and hair food I used on it daily…Now that I was sweet sixteen, I’d gained another four inches in height, and stood at 6’0. I doubted I’d get any taller at this point but I definitely didn’t look sixteen to most people anymore.

Stab me now.

Ian spoiled me with clothing that was similar to his. We’d essentially caused a new “trend in town; young couples left and right tried to wear matching outfits and look lovey-dovey.

^I just threw up a little.

Oh, the sex. Harper is a virgin at the beginning, and she is “claimed” as Ian’s mate at the ripe old age of fourteen. She’s eighteen by the time they get around to having sex, and while I definitely wasn’t expecting any blushing-bride type scene, I do have SOME expectations and the writing for any of the sex scenes contained in this book just DID NOT DO IT FOR ME.

When he turned around though, my eyes immediately locked onto his length, and I kid you not, I could have fainted out of utter happiness. Ian was officially the whole package, right down to his damn length that I knew was longer than 6 inches.

Harper is also annoying AF, which is unfortunate since the book is mostly told from her first-person POV. For most of the book she’s 21-ish, and she is so incredibly full of herself it’s not even funny. I love confident female characters. But this went way beyond confidence into sheer arrogance and I really just wanted to slap her. Ian is just there for muscles and sex. He has the personality of a two by four.

Plot 

What plot? Yes, there is this whole “wolf pack” thing going on at the rescue facility, and Harper has a strange bond with the wolves that stay there, as well as her own “internal wolf” that she won’t tell anyone (except Ian, natch) about, but really it just goes in circles with breaks for sex until about the last 10% of the book. Then there is a MASSIVE explosion of an info-dump with ALL OF THIS STUFF that was supposed to have been going on in the background. I felt cheated. There was no lead up, there were no hints along the way (so that at least you could look back and have the “aha” moment), nothing. Just, “Oh, this is how we’re going to explain all of this shit! And have some unicorns and glitter while you’re at it!”

I still have no clue about how the paranormal is supposed to fit into the world of this book. Is it accepted by the world at large? What kind of governing body is there? Who makes the rules? WHY are there shifters? Why is this particular pack so important? Where did they come from? The only one that is even PARTLY explained is the last question, which sort of starts to be answered at the end but you know, cliffhanger. That I don’t give one flying fuck about.

Last Complaint 

In the first few chapters, Harper is five years old and Ian is seven. They have full on adult style conversations that devolve into baby talk for a few minutes and then go right back to discussing how they’re going to educate themselves for the greater good. It’s ridiculous. Has the author ever even MET children?

1/5 stars because you can’t give zero. Never, ever ever ever going back to this series or author.

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half-star

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Nov 13

Girl of Nightmares Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Girl of Nightmares ReviewGirl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen on August 7th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to the ever-so-popular Anna Dressed in Blood, so be warned there may be SPOILERS for the first book! This review is also very short because books like this are hard to review without giving too much away and ruining the fun of the read for everyone.

Super Short and Sweet Review:

  • Cas is back, and he’s just as moody and kind-of-sort-of angry as in the first book. He’s not as hell-bent (no pun intended) on revenge, but now he’s kind of mooning over the fact that Anna is gone…or is she? At first he thinks he’s going crazy as he starts to see her when he’s out ghost-hunting, but then he becomes convinced she is in some kind of trouble (more trouble than a usual trip to the afterlife would entail) as she always appears to be tortured when she appears. Yikes.
  • Cas’s friends are more real in this book. At least, this time I actually remembered them, whereas when I started this one, I only had a vague recollection of there being other people involved somewhere…maybe that’s my fault, my memory is not the greatest. 😛 His mom is sweet and adorable and reading the scenes with the two of them kind of made my heart hurt. Like, what is it like to be able to be friends with your parents?
  • Partway through, the book moves to England and I LOVED IT. It just made it that much more interesting even if they didn’t get to explore nearly as much as they should have because obviously they were trying to save Anna.
  • Anna herself is only in this book in VERY short segments. I was a little bit disappointed by that but there was really no way to bring her into the story that would make sense.
  • The descriptions succeeded in making me pull my covers up and make sure my doors were locked (not that locked doors would help me if there was a ghost after me…buuuuut you know). I love it when a book succeeds in raising the hairs on the back of my neck! Surely I’m not the only one that literally has that happen…not just a figure of speech here!
  • The ending was…well, it was closure…and that’s about all I can say without spoiling it! My hat is off to Kendare Blake for ENDING THIS DUOLOGY right here. I can imagine it might have been tempting to extend it, with the popularity of Anna Dressed in Blood, but it felt really good to finish not only a book but an entire story.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Girl of Nightmares! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!

   

GoodReads

five-stars

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Mar 14

Review of The Graveyard Book

Book Reviews 6 ★★★★

Review of The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean
on September 30, 2008
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal
Pages: 312
Goodreadsfour-stars

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Another one for my Newbery Award Reading Challenge! Somehow, I had never read anything by Neil Gaiman. The closest I had come until last week was seeing the movie Stardust. Which was…different. This is what sticks out most in my memory from that movie because for whatever reason it struck me as absolutely freaking hilarious:

Ahem. Yes, I might have the sense of humor of a 12 year old, at times. ANYWAY. This was my first foray into Gaiman’s works, and it definitely won’t be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade novel, and hope that his adult books are just as entertaining if not more so. So without further ado, I present my review of The Graveyard Book!

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There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

Well, if that’s not a hair-raising beginning I don’t know what is! The first chapter was very creepy and just odd enough to make me suspect that something more than just a mass murder was afoot. Thankfully for the target age range, this chapter is by far the most creepy and the rest of the book is mostly adventures and Bod (the MC) growing up.

How you interpret or read this book is going to be greatly effected by how familiar you are with its inspiration, which was Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The resemblance is clear but the characters and setting are SO different and I love the way Gaiman wove in supernatural legends to the basic story of a child raised by ghosts. While all the events of Bod’s growing up years are connected, many of the chapters read like individual short stories, especially when there are jumps in time as Bod grows older.

Silas, Bod’s guardian, is a character that puzzled me right up until the very end. “Not dead but not alive” is the description given of him, along with a few other things that REALLY should have clued me in but for whatever reason I was oblivious. Even though he is Bod’s ultimate authority, Bod is mostly raised by the benevolent ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens, along with many other helpful specters. As it is stated in the beginning, when the ghosts decide to allow Bod the protection of their borders, “It will take a graveyard,” to raise the lost boy properly.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bod’s journey. As he moves through very young childhood towards his teen years, he meets many creatures from outside the world of the living. He talks to people centuries old. He learns things. Gradually, he comes to realize that while the graveyard has offered him protection and care in the best way its residents know how, he will have to leave in order to learn about the current world outside. Leaving though, is full of peril, because the evil that killed his parents and older sister, still seeks after him. Bod however, is not a shrinking violet.

“Well,” said Bod. “If I go outside in the world, the question isn’t, ‘who will keep me safe from him?'”

“No?”

“No. It’s ‘who will keep him safe from me?'”

A confrontation looms closer and closer, and at last Bod has his chance to avenge his family and reclaim his own life. This is the one part of the story that I really felt unsatisfactory. Though in the end, the reason for the murder of Bod’s family and the attempted murder of Bod is somewhat explained, it’s really a very murky, insubstantial reason that left me squinting at the book and thinking, “That’s it?” The ending is rather bittersweet too, as Bod realizes that, with the world safe for him at last…he must go out to seek his own fortune.

Overall, this was an entertaining coming-of-age story, with a unique twist. Bod is a very plucky little guy, and his spirit made me smile all the way through.

Bod said, “I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want,” he said, and then he paused and he thought. “I want everything.”

“Good,” said Silas.

 

four-stars

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Jan 07

Review of Dracula by Bram Stoker

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review of Dracula by Bram StokerDracula by Bram Stoker, Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley, James Adams
on February 20th 2012
Genres: Classic, Paranormal
Pages: 16
Goodreadsfour-stars

15 hours and 28 minutes
Because of the widespread awareness of the story of the evil Transylvanian count and the success of numerous film adaptations that have been created over the years, the modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
This production of Dracula is presented by what is possibly the best assemblage of narrating talent ever for one audiobook: Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry plus an all-star cast of Audie award-winners.

This review of Dracula is long, LONG overdue even if I just finished it last week. Why overdue? Because this was supposed to be part of my Halloween Read-a-Thon! Shameful, I know. To be honest, I got distracted about 2/3 of the way through and it took me forever to start it back up again. Also shameful. It’s a classic! It’s what started the popular image of vampires! Aaaaaand…yeah, I never did care for the whole vampire craze a few years ago. Bram Stoker’s book helped solidify the vampire’s place in literature and popular culture though, so I really wanted to read it. Sadly it doesn’t count for my audiobook challenge, as I finished it between Christmas and New Year’s! Bah.

Narration:

The narrators for this Audible Editions version were fabulous. Each character has their own narrator for their various journal entries, letters, etc., and they were all easily distinguished from each other. I listened at 1.25% speed, which helped with the 15 hour, 28 minute length.

Feels:

I was mostly just very intrigued the whole way through! It was so very different than anything I’ve ever read. I was invested in the characters but not terribly attached, if that makes sense. I felt like I learned a lot from this novel, even though it was fiction. I learned a lot about British/European culture at that time, how they looked at the supernatural, and how they looked at women.

Characters:

First of all, let’s get this Count Dracula straight. Dracula is not something out of True Blood or Twilight. He is not sexy. He does not sparkle. He is not emo or hurt and in need of someone to comfort and heal him. He is evil, cruel, barbaric, and intent on taking over the world. Ok, maybe just England, but still. He is imposing and has a certain ability to manipulate people even without his supernatural powers, something that I think must have been a part of even his regular-human personality.

Then you have the other main characters, which starts off with Jonathan Harker and his fiancee’ (later wife) Mina. They are just normal people trying to live a happy life, and suddenly they are thrown into this mess of Dracula’s creating. Jonathan actually travels to Dracula’s castle, never realizing until much later that the Count is much more than a normal man. Mina doesn’t actually meet Dracula until much later, but she has quite an experience with him due to his involvement with her dearest friend, Lucy.

Lucy is the person who actually brings all the other characters together. She is the typical Victorian blushing virgin, and somehow manages to attract marriage proposals from several men all at once. When she becomes a target for some unknown horror, they all come together – not without some awkwardness – to try to help her.

Plot:

The plot can be summed up in two words: vampire slayers. Because while this book takes AGES to get to the point, in the end that’s what it’s about. Vanquishing the evil that is Count Dracula and his minions, preventing him from further colonization. There are a couple of sub-plots, but they really don’t add a whole lot to the story, in my opinion. Like many books of this era, Dracula is very wordy and goes on and on and on about points that most modern readers really don’t care about.

Worldbuilding/Setting:

The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.

Stoker does a marvelous job of making us see, here, feel, and even smell the setting of Transylvania, the seaside, London. I have absolutely no complaints. I never once felt as though I couldn’t picture the world of the characters. To him of course, the world was HIS world.

Rating/Other Thoughts:

Let me get to these other thoughts before I give my rating.

First of all, the religious atmosphere of this book. It really took me by surprise, but I guess, given that the main characters are British during the 1890s (Queen Victoria’s reign). I was disappointed that the only things (other than garlic) to repel the vampires are relics of the Christian church. I was extremely disappointed by how many pages were devoted to the characters musing on their rightness with God, on whether or not they would go to heaven or hell, and other similar topics. All very accurate to how people thought and believed during that time.

Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause.

Secondly, the treatment of women. Again it’s very accurate to how women in Victorian England were expected to behave, how they were looked at by men and the world at large. Mina Harker, at least, does not entirely accept the traditional role of the fainting female even if she is very willing to accept being the weaker sex. Accurate or not, I find the subservience the female characters demonstrate disturbing. Also disturbing is that Jonathan Harker objects to the female vampire who come to him based solely on the fact that they appear sexually attractive and do not behave like Victoria’s shrinking violet female model. He is attracted to them by their beauty and their open admission of their desire, and yet he feels he sins in the attraction.

I realize that this is all my perspective through a 21st century lens. The points that strike me as repression and bigotry were completely normal and accepted in society at that time. Does that make them right? Of course not. It does explain how and why characters reacted the way they did, however inexplicable their actions seem to a modern reader.

Overall, I’m giving 4 stars. The story, for all its faults, is still gripping even over a hundred years later. Dracula has given rise to countless spin-off tales, even if most modern day readers consider vampires (and werewolves) more sexy than terrifying. Vampires, with their super-human powers of shape changing and manipulation, have enthralled people’s imaginations for decades. I don’t see Dracula leaving the classics list any time soon.

 

four-stars

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Dec 20

Book Review: The Sense of Death

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Book Review: The Sense of DeathThe Sense of Death by Matty Dalrymple
Published by William Kingsfield Publishers on November 30th 2013
Genres: Cozy, Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 326
Goodreadstwo-half-stars

Ann Kinnear has created a peaceful existence at her cabin in the Adirondack woods. But the calm is shattered after Philadelphia socialite Elizabeth Firth is reported missing. With few clues and fewer options, detective Joe Booth calls upon Ann's spirit sensing abilities to help solve the mystery. With Joe and her brother Mike, Ann attempts to uncover what Elizabeth's husband may be hiding beneath his cloak of wealth and privilege. As Ann is drawn deeper into a web of lies and betrayal, she realizes she may be racing against time to keep herself from disappearing too.

So, in full disclosure, when I requested this from Netgalley I totally misread the publication date. Why is a book published in 2013 even still on Netgalley, anyway? I was actually approved (shocking…or not), so I read it anyway because if I didn’t it was going to make my review percentage even worse! How’s that for motivation? ANYwho, behold my review of The Sense of Death!
———————————————————
The Sense of Death is a first novel, and while it’s an enjoyable cozy mystery – it shows. There are several things about the styling of the story that I didn’t care for, but in the end Ann’s character was one with which I could sympathize (even if I don’t sense spirits). The place descriptions are good. The premise is intriguing. I liked Ann and her relationship with her brother. I personally am intrigued by the idea of spirits or ghosts and the possibility of communicating with them, and I enjoyed how the author used the idea in the book.
It was very disappointing to have the who-dun-it of the story revealed in the first couple of chapters. Takes the mystery right out of it, takes the suspense away, and almost made me DNF it…but then there were more Ann chapters and I was more interested. A lot of the plot honestly seems very far-fetched, especially in the end. I was constantly reading with one eyebrow raised in skepticism. The plot is also a very common one in murder mysteries, but I guess there are only so many. While the deterioration of the culprit is believable, I didn’t feel the motivation was convincing. Also, there are several chapters AFTER the climatic event, most of which were unnecessary.
The author struggles with POV. Even though it’s written in 3rd person throughout, it’s mostly limited 3rd person with random bits of popping into another minor or even walk-on character’s head. That part was very jolting and annoying.
The old telling vs. showing that interferes with a lot of writing is EXTREMELY present. There are entire chapters of almost nothing but backstory, paragraphs going on and on and Ann’s childhood or past experiences. Don’t just TELL us how she felt, SHOW us! At a few points showing was successfully accomplished, but then it would lapse right back into a monologue of info-dumping and it was just a struggle to read.
All that said, I still enjoyed the book. I’m undecided about whether or not I will read the second one. I was going to rate at 2/5 stars until the climatic chapter, and a certain event that actually brought tears to my eyes.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
two-half-stars

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Nov 04

Book Review: Of Flame and Light

Book Reviews 3 ★★★½

This book was such a fun read and nice break from all the YA I’ve been buried in lately! I participated in the blog tour when it released a couple of weeks ago (you can read an excerpt in that post). I love YA, don’t get me wrong, but you know how adding salt to caramel just makes the flavor POP so much more? That’s what mixing in different genres does for my reading. The different “flavors” really enhance all the flavors. Anywho. Enough comparing books to ice cream and chocolate.

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Like this amazing cake from Chowhound (click for recipe)

Of Flame and Light is fast-paced, hilarious, and full of super-sexy men and women intent on screwing the living daylights out of each other. 4/5 FLAMES (not stars, FLAMES…there’s supposed to be flame icons somewhere but I can’t get them to work, haha…still figuring out the new website). I really think this is one of those books that, while you CAN read it as a stand-alone and enjoy it, I would definitely have understood more and enjoyed it more if I had been following along through the entire Weird Girls series. So while I was somewhat confused at points, there’s enough explanation to get a who’s-who and a general idea of the supernatural creatures and world. I definitely plan to start at the beginning and read through at some point. Actually vaguely considering obtaining the other 6 and binge-reading on a weekend…this was a terrific feel-good book and I could use some more.

The plot never stagnates and I was CERTAINLY never bored. This was the main part where I felt like I was missing things, as this book focused on the werewolves and witches and only briefly mentioned the vampires (which seem to have played a bigger part in previous books). Of course Taran’s strange limb and the new magic fusing with her old starts the story off, but it’s soon overtaken by the bigger, overarching problem of a dark, wicked power rising. I liked the conflict between the weres and the witches, but I wish I understood it a little better. I’m guessing the zombies were new to this series?

Taran is a hilarious narrator. Her descriptions of her attempts at “training” with the witches had me snickering as I read. Other than that, honestly…she was pretty bitchy. I wasn’t super fond of her and found her kind of hard to relate to…her strange powers, those I could imagine. But her perfect (except for the arm, which is basically a crazy prosthetic she can’t take off) body, her constant tight dresses and platform heels…THAT I didn’t get. Same goes for her sisters, who all seem to have perky boobs, tiny waists, flat stomachs…yadda yadda. Also, there are SO MANY strapping, hot werewolf men in this book…holy bejeezus, I felt like I was constantly fanning myself! Gemini, Koda, Aric, Bren…phew. She definitely has the sex appeal of werewolves on point. 😉 Of course now I want to know ALL the stories…anyway. I absolutely despised Vieve, the witch coven’s leader. I wanted to reach through the pages and stab her with a fork.

The world-building was good but I still got confused on some things. Like I said before, I’m pretty sure this is partially because I picked up this book partway through the series. Her descriptive powers certainly lit a fire in MY imagination. Did I already mention sexy werewolves? Oh, right, I did.

Issues I had: I was kind of bothered by the fact that – in my opinion – the whole conflict between Taran and Gemini could have been solved if they had JUST SAT DOWN AND TALKED. That’s all. I kept thinking there would be something bigger revealed…but no. Just one big miscommunication that they were too scared to talk about. Besides my annoyance with Taran’s personality, I felt like she really had NO IDEA how to handle her magic, she just happened to get lucky every time it worked for her. She also never really seemed to learn anything from her time with the witches. I find it seriously hard to believe that one person could be that lucky THAT many times.

Overall, 3.5/5 stars. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series! I just downloaded the first, Sealed with a Curse, onto my Nook. 🙂

Thank you so much to Cecy Robson for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

 

three-half-stars

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