Edith Warton's story 'Kerfol' is a ghostly tale of revenge and while it's not my favorite story of hers, was still a (short) pleasure to read. The end...moreEdith Warton's story 'Kerfol' is a ghostly tale of revenge and while it's not my favorite story of hers, was still a (short) pleasure to read. The ending will leave you wondering about the purpose of the story though as it's left very open-ended.(less)
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of School Spirits was provided to me by Disney-Hyperion/Netgalley for review purposes.
Izzy Brannick comes from a long...moreMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of School Spirits was provided to me by Disney-Hyperion/Netgalley for review purposes.
Izzy Brannick comes from a long line of monster hunters. Her family hunts them all for the Prodigium, the council that governs them all. The council that her cousin Sophie Mercer is in charge of. Izzy hasn't been the same since her sister went missing on a job both of them were supposed to be working on. She blames herself since she was supposed to be with her but ended up letting her go off by herself. Add to that, she just screwed up her last solo job and her mom has given her a lame assignment. It involves a ghost. And a high school. Which she has to personally attend.
I was a bit undecided when I heard about this spin-off series but when I got my hands on it my love of Hex Hall that had lay dormant sudden came alive again and I had to read this immediately. And in a single day. Hex Hall fans will love this spin-off, I have no doubt.
Izzy is such a charming yet completely clueless girl when it comes to the normal lives of teenagers. She considers black a satisfactory color for her entire wardrobe and she lacks any sort of social skills considering she's never been social and has never attended public school. So when she finds out she's going to have to actually attend a high school in order to get the necessary information to bring down the ghost that's currently haunting its halls, she's at a loss on how to acclimate. She buys all the teen magazines and the goofy teen TV shows in order to 'understand' more and... suffice it to say, it's hilarious.
Despite her lack of social skills, there still manages to be a completely adorable romance. Izzy and Dex are hilarious and awkward and it was completely endearing. It totally gave the warm fuzzies, I only wish it had gone on for more pages (this was an extremely quick read!) but fortunately this is the first in a new series so I look forward to seeing more Dex and Izzy time. Dex was definitely my favorite character with his peppy one-liners, but there were tons of characters to love in these pages. Torin, the 400-year old warlock currently trapped in Izzy's bedroom mirror, was a runner-up favorite.
Despite my gushing, I wasn't completely content with the ending. It wasn't so off-putting that I won't be continuing this series, but it'll be interesting to see where the story leads.
School Spirits is a delightful paranormal series with an unforgettable set of characters. Fun and full of witty banter, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for some quick mystical entertainment.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author for a Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of...moreMy rating: 5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author for a Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Two months have passed since Dex and Perry’s trip to New Orleans and things have never been better. Rebecca has joined their Experiment in Terror team and the show is becoming more and more successful. Their next haunted adventure takes them back to Oregon, back to where it all began. The location is a haunted school that used to be a sanatorium for children dying of tuberculosis over a century ago. Some of the ghostly children are friendly and only want someone to play with. Others are much more dreadful and have spine-chilling things in mind.
"To the thing that hurts you most. To the paranormal and to never being normal." He winked at me. "To us."
On Demon Wings was holding the crown of ‘my favorite installment’ but Ashes to Ashes blew it out of the water. This was quite possibly the best installment to date. It was an intense page-turner that was thrilling and steamy and swoony and of course scary as freaking hell. Karina’s ability to describe these scenes of intensity in detail completely bring them to life and leave you feeling completely unsettled.
'I waited, frozen on the spot, until I heard a dull slap, the sound of bare feet hitting the ground. Someone coming out of the body cooler. Someone dead.'
The best part of Ashes in Ashes is returning to Perry’s POV. Perry is such a fabulously intricate character and I really missed out on her thoughts and feelings in the previous installment, Come Alive. We’re also able to experience first-hand her dreamy visits to the Veil, her interactions with Pippa and the sense of foreboding that she exudes. Pippa feels as if something bad is about to happen and she hopes to be able to prepare Perry, but the threat is shrouded in fog and she isn’t able to determine who Perry should be fearing. Prepared or not, this is one threat that Perry will never see coming. This dramatic conclusion sets the stage for the undoubtedly exhilarating final installment of the Experiment in Terror series.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars Source: Purchased via Amazon
You have no idea how much it pains me to give this book only a 3 star rating. The Experiment in Ter...moreMy rating: 3 of 5 stars Source: Purchased via Amazon
You have no idea how much it pains me to give this book only a 3 star rating. The Experiment in Terror series is one of my favorites, ever, and I was anticipating this so very badly ever since I got hooked on this series earlier this year. I can't say for sure whether it was my extremely (and possibly unrealistic) expectations that made this not as good or not but I definitely had some issues that nagged at me.
I started reading this series because I love ghost novels especially because they aren't so paranormal as to be completely out of this world; that there are instances where you could really feel this being fact. I absolutely loved Perry and Dex as a team and I loved watching their relationship grow over installments. But what I loved the absolute most was the well-blended way that Karina Halle mixed the two together. It wasn't a paranormal novel and it wasn't a romance novel, it was a perfect amalgamation of the two. And therein lies the main issue I had with this novel: the lack of blending.
While Into the Hollow left Dex and Perry's relationship at an imbalance, I understood and expected drama to have to be sorted out in Come Alive. What I didn't expect was for it to take up practically the entire first half with no plot in sight. Now don't go get me wrong, I love me some Dex and Perry but it just felt way too focused on their crazy (and oftentimes unnecessary) drama and their equally crazy sex life. For those of you adverse to this, Come Alive toed the line of erotica and while I'm not against this, this is not what I've come to expect from these novels. If I wanted to read erotica, I would read erotica.
The other big issue I had: the point of view. I did read 'The Dex-Files' and while I enjoyed these short glimpses into Dex's point of view, they weren't my absolute favorite. I was a bit leery when I found out that Come Alive would be told solely from Dex's point of view but of course I reserved judgment. WELL. Dex is one crazy fucker, I think we all know that, but being inside his head and knowing each and every one of his (mostly sexual) thoughts was a bit much. He's just too much sometimes and can be quite intense. I wouldn't be completely adverse to a story from his point of view again, however, I think I'd like it more if it was shared with Perry's POV because, well, Perry is the absolute best.
Regardless, I'm still a die-hard fan and will gladly read anything Ms. Halle writes because she really is an amazing writer of truly entertaining stories. While this is not my favorite installment, the ending did hold much promise for future installments so this is far from my last Perry and Dex story.
3.5 This is Pippa... Crazy Clown Lady... I don't know. I was expecting her to be a bit more interesting. Still enjoyable and a good insight into Dex's...more3.5 This is Pippa... Crazy Clown Lady... I don't know. I was expecting her to be a bit more interesting. Still enjoyable and a good insight into Dex's childhood and the connection between him and Perry.(less)
Hannah Wagnor is struggling to cope with the recent death of her best friend, Lillian, and the details surrounding it. There...moreMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Hannah Wagnor is struggling to cope with the recent death of her best friend, Lillian, and the details surrounding it. There is also the fact that Lillian’s ghost now follows her everywhere. While trying to overcome her guilt at not being able to help Lillian when she was alive, Hannah is also trying to understand how to go on with life without her. In addition to Lillian’s ghost which haunts her are several other ghosts that start appearing and they are all victims of a recent serial killer in her small town.
This is actually the first story I’ve read of Brenna Yovanoff’s and I definitely enjoyed the story and her writing skills but Paper Valentine didn’t wow me as much as I’d anticipated. The storyline itself was a tale full of emotional resonance but the combination of the ‘coming-of-age’ tale of Hannah finding herself after the death of her best friend AND the serial killer taking out locals was a strange yet engaging mix that managed to work for the most part.
The narrative is told in the first person from the POV of Hannah from which we are able to see just how deeply rooted her depression is. Hannah is a compelling character yet I found many of her actions to be extremely unreasonable especially when it came to the expeditious love for the local bad boy, Finny Boone. Like the time Finny suggested they take a shortcut through the dark park? When there’s a serial killer on the loose? Or when Hannah leaves her younger sister home alone and her and Finny go off to swim in the lake? The overwrought lines regarding him were also treading on ridiculous:
"And then we’re looking at each other, and it’s a look that goes on and on, stretching across space and time. Across galaxies."
The insta-love was there but was subdued enough to not be too bothersome. Seeing Hannah’s progression throughout the novel in finding her individual identity separate from who she was when Lillian was still alive was the most satisfying and convincing aspect of Paper Valentine. While this book had its flaws, it was a somewhat satisfying of a read and succeeded in capturing my interest for the authors previous novels.(less)
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars A copy of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven was provided to me by Da Capo Press for review purposes.
'Thinking back...moreMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars A copy of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven was provided to me by Da Capo Press for review purposes.
'Thinking back now, it was really just a creepy house that creaked and shuddered, but to impressionable nine-year-olds, it was the vacation spot of the devil itself.'
To give you all a proper introduction for those who are unaware, Corey Taylor is the lead singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour and the author of Seven Deadly Sins. 'A Funny Thing Happened' is a worthy follow-up novel and another tantalizing look into the mind of an incredibly interesting man.
At face value I was expecting 'A Funny Thing Happened' to be a random smattering of ghostly encounters he has had over the years, and it is, yet it's a fascinating exploration into the reasoning behind ghosts. His scientific details will definitely get you wondering because his hypotheses generated some genuinely possible answers. Surprisingly intellectual and educational, 'A Funny Thing Happened' is definitely a conduit that spurs some serious debates regarding the existence of the paranormal.
'Cynics will claims that my "eyewitness accounts" can easily be described as "flights of fancy," or "the trappings of an overactive imagination." [...] the one I hate even worse than those others: "You saw what you wanted to see and nothing more." Let me fucking telling you something: I did not want to see this shit, and I still do not want to see this shit.'
A Funny Thing Happened is written with a humor that is harsh and biting yet oh so entertaining. This is a man that isn't afraid to speak his mind yet is graciously considerate of others beliefs. He's mindful and respectful of others beliefs regardless of whether or not he shares them. Simply put, he is a man of many opinions and isn't afraid to share... such as it should be.
'Belief is a gift you should cherish; knowledge is a gift you should never squander.'
This book is like one big discussion, all topics are left open to interpretation, without concrete facts, just mindful musings and hypotheses. It will definitely generate antithetical opinions, however, approach this with an open mind and you may find yourself actually considering the possibilities of an alternate opinion. Or maybe you'll remain a skeptic. Either way, this book will definitely leave you something to ponder.(less)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars A copy of The House at the End of Hope Street was provided to me by Pamela Dorman Books for review purposes.
"If you stay I can...moreMy rating: 2 of 5 stars A copy of The House at the End of Hope Street was provided to me by Pamela Dorman Books for review purposes.
"If you stay I can promise you this. This house may not give you what you want, but it will give you what you need. And the even that brought you here, the thing you think is the worst thing that's ever happened? When you leave, you'll realize it was the very best thing of all."
Alba, Carmen and Greer all recently experienced life-changing events that they never thought they could possibly persevere over, and that's when they discovered the House on Hope Street.
To me, magical realism is based in contemporary with subtle magical undertones. When well done, magical realism has the ability to absorb you so completely in the story that all of the magical elements become real and possible. With 'Hope Street' it was so magical and at times far-fetched in the belief department I would almost go so far as to consider it a lite-fantasy novel, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
From the very first page, I knew that this novel would require a suspension of disbelief when Alba walks into a strangers house and immediately accepts the offered invitation to stay for 99 days so she could get her life back on track. Alba had never been there before and had never seen the house before, yet had felt safer within those walls than she had in a long time. Hm. What I never quite understood was their complete acceptance of the 'out-of-the-ordinary' events that were taking place in the house. Like the talking pictures of deceased individuals or the letters that the 'house' would leave for them. I would've at least liked a moment of aw by these characters in regards to the amazement they felt towards the house rather than an immediate blind acceptance without question.
Much is disclosed about all of the characters, yet I had a hard time liking or 'feeling' anything for any of them. Alba is an intellectual prodigy and is fighting internal battles over a personal secret, Carmen is from Portugal and has run away from a bad situation but it always manages to follow her, and Greer is healing after heartbreak and trying to discover what she wants in life. In addition to the women, there are two incredibly tortured male characters that provided additional yet unnecessary drama. Albert had an affair with a woman two decades ago, fathered her child, yet she ended up returning to her husband and forcing him out of her life. He spent the rest of his life waiting and hoping she would come back to him. Blake has resolved to never marry and frequently cheats on whoever he's with in order to avoid feeling anything for her. He says he does this because his mother left him when he was young. The amount of dramatic effect that was added to all the characters was in excess. It made them less realistic and made me less likely to empathize with them.
The frequently alternating POVs (I wasn't even trying to keep track of the different POVs but I remember 9 just off the top of my head) was distracting at first but once you get a handle on the chaotic mess of characters it did become slightly easier to follow. I did think that each character section was far too short and ultimately created a jarring effect whenever the switch in POV was made. Also jarring, was the fact that it felt the story jumped around in time and I was always unclear how much time had passed.
I was hoping for a light, fluffy read, something that would fit that cutesy cover that drew me in to begin with. There were some good bits where I found myself really enjoying it but unfortunately, the chaotic mess of characters with a ridiculous amount of problems and the implausibility of the whole thing lessened my overall enjoyment.(less)
A copy of In the Shadow of Blackbirds was provided to me by Amulet Books/Netgalley for review purposes.
'Stay still. Smile. And summon the dead.'
Mary S...moreA copy of In the Shadow of Blackbirds was provided to me by Amulet Books/Netgalley for review purposes.
'Stay still. Smile. And summon the dead.'
Mary Shelley Black is a sixteen year old girl living in a war ravaged world. After her father is arrested she is forced to flee and stays with her Aunt in San Diego. After losing her father and finding out that her childhood love, Stephen, has lost his life in the war, Mary Shelley struggles desperately to cling to a reason to continue living when she's visited by Stephen, as a spirit who is traumatized by visions of his death that he continues to re-live. Realizing that she's the only one that can see him and the only one that can help him she begins to seek out information regarding his death and what truly happened to him.
Wowsa. This book was high on my anticipating in 2013 list and I'm so very glad to say that it lived up to all the anticipation. This was a fabulous, and fresh ghost story that fans of the genre will enjoy.
'I think between the war and the flu, no one's going to escape getting haunted. We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.'
Blackbirds had an amazing story albeit based strongly on actual history. The story centers on the year 1918 when the Spanish influenza has swept through cities and World War I is ongoing. It was quite a dreary time to write about and Cat Winters didn't hold back or try and make the story any less bleak and I loved that. The black and white pictures that were included throughout the book made the perfect addition to really showcase the mood of the story.
And oh, young love. The love between Mary and Stephen was so touching and quite shocking in its fervency. It may have seemed a tad unlikely that two could love each other so much at such a young age but it was beautifully written and completely believable. Your heart will ache for them.
This could have been like any other typical war story but what really managed to make this something special and distinctive was the focus on the increased interest in a spiritual nature as mourners became willing to attempt anything to assuage the pain of losing a loved one. A truly wonderful story, Cat Winters debut is an absolute triumph. In the Shadow of Blackbirds possesses a subtle intensity that will leave you breathless.
*All quotes taken are from an uncorrected proof*(less)
'That I am your heart's secret fills me with song. I wish I could sing of you here in my cage. You are my heart's hidden poem. I reread you, memorize...more'That I am your heart's secret fills me with song. I wish I could sing of you here in my cage. You are my heart's hidden poem. I reread you, memorize you every moment we're apart.'
This was a real shocker for me that I enjoyed it as much as I did. For one, this has been on and off my TBR shelf several times as I would occasionally decide that this is simply not for me and I have no plans to read it. But go figure a few months later it pops up on my Goodreads timeline, I take another glance and decide it may be worth a shot. Thanks, Wendy, for giving me that final push. :)
I was actually quite touched by Helen and James' relationship/connection (at least I was once I overlooked their questionable acts). Helen had been Light (a spirit) for well over a century and not once spoke to anyone that entire time and had never quite realized how desperately she craved the company of another. Their feelings for each other were instantaneous yet it thankfully managed to not feel akin to every other insta-love situation these days in YA literature. Helen and James have their own special situation and instead of calling it insta-love I would consider it more of an extreme fascination with one another as they are the only ones of their 'species' as they called it.
I know that I should have been repelled by the whole concept of human's walking around 'empty' just ripe for the taking for deceased spirits. That their soul can be absent, drifted off to a new place, while their body remains living its life. It really was a creepy concept/possibility but what honestly scared me the most were Jenny's religious extremist parents. Before Helen came along, she watched Jenny for some time as she simply went through the motions of life without exuding any sort of emotion. Being so constricted by your family, being forced to obey and follow such rigid rules, and forcing their religion into every facet of your very being? Now that's scary.
This is one of those books where the writing truly took my breath away. It flowed so beautifully and was a real delight. I loved how she kept Helen's speech true to form considering she wasn't from this day and age. That type of extra little touch really helped make this a very special book.
This is a novel about love but it's mostly about learning to forgive yourself for the very reason Helen and James were still on Earth to find each other was because they hadn't relived their final moments in order to forgive themselves for the actions they made. This was a wonderful, mature, YA novel with hints of romance, paranormal, and learning to find peace.
'Your mind will never lose anything forever that's worth keeping.'(less)