Category Archives: Paranormal

Book Tour Book Review: The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

Self Published
Published June 25, 2018
303 Pages

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do. – Goodreads

This is not your typical vampire story and I am here for it. I am just going to jump in and say it that although Julia’s and Cameron’s story are connected (they told separately but trust me its completely fine and works fantastically), I found myself more engaged with Julia’s side than Cameron’s. Normally, I would figure it was due to me be able to empathize with her because she is a human that was dealt with a trash card but I actually liked her beyond that. She had a grit to herself that didn’t completely define her. She was able to still open herself to experiences outside of what she has always known or thought of and it made her an easier and enjoyable character to read.

Cameron was a bit. . . not annoying but a “alright, I get it. You have a chip on your shoulder, you’re trying to find the girl and life sucks.” His emotions became a bit redundant because it was constantly being repeated “I won’t come back until I find her.”

However despite this, I fully enjoyed reading both point of views because they provided, very clearly, details about what was going on each side. Although one side was human and the other vampire, as a reader you are able to sympathize with both of them and understand why things are happening in the way that they are.

The pace of the novel was really good. It was easy to get sucked into the world because you know it is full blown mess with hope of redemption once you meet Julia. The setting was clear and detailed without dragging on. Although I wish more for some more history and intensity, a reader couldn’t go wrong picking up this book.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published June 4th, 2019
456 Pages

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined. – Goodreads

Just like Margaret Rogerson’s first book, An Enchantment of Ravens, Sorcery of Thorns has been hyped months before it was released and hyped as one of the best books of June. However, just like An Enchantment of Ravens, Sorcery of Thorns fell flat half way through the book (you can see my review of it here).

I love love love the fact this story is surrounded by a library and books. Rogerson does a great job world building and spilling in that love of books not only within the characters but in the entire book and world. I was sucked into this story because of that.

There was a promise that Elisabeth would be this timid girl that will come out swinging to save her world, not just her world but her world. This promise holds for a while but every time Elisabeth did something, I never understood how. This girl who doesn’t really know much some how is able to do all these things. I was searching for her personality. Yeah, you can say she is determined, you can say that she is smart, you may even be able to say brave but there is nothing else.

The whole orphan mystery can only get you so far.

What bothered me was how she viewed sorcerers. She lumps them all in one category as evil and eventually makes an exception for one. This really bothered me. Because she is rude . . . like disrespectful rude and everyone allows that. Nathaniel entertains that stereotype she has and marks it off as if she is naive. I was not for that.

I was very close to DNF this book at 49%. Nothing was really happening and I was felt that I was being lead on the promise that something better was coming. I got bored. Nathaniel wasn’t really doing anything for me. He had no depth and was just as boring as Elisabeth.

For me, this book wasn’t worth how long it was. The ending was cute (yes I did finish it) and actually appreciated it although it was predictable.

Overall,

The book has massive potential but was dragged and the characters did nothing to help the amazing world, Rogerson was able to create.

2 Pickles

Book Review: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck

Delacorte Press
TBP: Sept. 11, 2018
416 Pages

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos. -Goodreads

Amazing Cover? 

Vampires? Witches? Devil? 

Romance? 

Save the World from complete doom? 

This book has some promising points and it starts off really well; especially around chapter 3. But what started going down hill for me was when Ember started talking. Not only was her voice extremely annoying but she asked the wrong questions all the time.

She was a newbie witch that was pretty much self-taught but you won’t think that when she meets Jack, she would try to learn. But nope. It also bugged me out how, Jack protected her and watched her for years but she still felt that he shouldn’t have been completely trusted. I was a bit weary of that and that is mostly because he never gave her the impression that he was lying. Granted he had a kind of mysterious vibe but she trusted people that she has known less than 5 minutes. So I was bugged out about that.

But beyond Ember, I felt that the book wasn’t as creepy as thought it would be. I mean given the cover, the nightmare references as well as the setting in the Otherworld, I wanted to be shook to some degree, especially when there are Sleepy Hollow and Hades and Persephone references. I don’t feel that the book delivered in this aspect.

However, the overall plot was strong. There is a lot of detail in the setting and the pace. You fall in love with the surround characters and even though Ember becomes less annoying I personally still did not like her and fell more for everyone else.

Ember’s and Jack’s romance wasn’t too bad if you get past the fact that Jack has been watching her since she was 12 (I believe) and he is old. I thought it was cute and fitting as it was Jack’s first time actually wanting someone and something more than just his job. He became something better and more honest going through the emotions for Ember.

I thought this was a good standalone (yes it is not a series). It has some strong foundations but I wanted more from horror aspect of it and the mythology could have been upped more as well.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

Delacorte Press
Published Oct. 10, 2017
272 Pages

Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.

Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.

One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.

She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.- Goodreads

It has been some time since I read a book that emotionally damaged me to the point that once I finished it, I sat in silence. This book has triggers. It has things in here that some women have experienced. If you are a sensitive reader, this book is not for you.

I am not a sensitive reader but this book definitely made me rethink that for a moment.

Bethan is attacked and in the worst way possible. Not only does the boy who tries to protect her gets hurt, she is hurt on a physical, spiritual and emotional level. I am hurt on that level for her. The author doesn’t shy away from what happens. You know what happens, you see what happens and man do you feel so horrible about it. But what I appreciate what the author did about making that the focus was she didn’t create Bethan to submit.

Bethan doesn’t fully allow her anger to take over. As angry as she is, she doesn’t try to let things get too far. She is fairly rational with her punishment. I call it punishment because its not revenge. Bethan seeks not only justice but to right a wrong to something done to someone trying to save her.

Beyond all of this, the author added a twist to the story, which was unexpected and well placed. However, it doesn’t really change the story or even the flow. It was a filler. A good one but a filler none the less. If the author did not add it in there, it would not have been missed.

The story moved along very well and although this was my first read by this author, the talent was there. To take a very sensitive topic and give readers the whirlwind emotions in a emotional and deep reading, is impressive.

The only fault or issue, I had with this read, is I was desperate for an affectionate relationship. Bethan has a relationship with her grandmother but I didn’t feel love between them. I felt that it was more of a obligation. I wanted there to be love and its kind of put in there but it isn’t there enough for me.

Overall, I was surprised about this read. I liked it but as previously mentioned it is not for sensitive readers.

4 Pickles. 

Book Review: Beauty and the Vampire by Zoey Hunter

Self-Published
Published Jan. 19, 2018
207 Pages

Honor student and cheerleader, Bel Winter, works hard to be a normal teenager. But deep down, she knows she is far from normal. The glowing rose-shaped mark on her shoulder is her first clue. 

As her 17th birthday draws close, Bel’s friends fear she is losing her grip on reality. Yet, Bel believes. The visions she sees are real. The men in black capes who come out of the shadows are real. 

And they are coming for her… 

On the night of Bel’s birthday, at the stroke of midnight, her world goes black. When she wakes, she is thrust into a new and frightening world—the underground Onyx City. 

It is a place rife with magic and creatures of the night. 

It is a place of dark beauty, dangerous intrigue and ruled by a beast—the ruthless vampire prince, Ezra Blade. 

When Bel makes a desperate attempt to escape her captors, she trespasses through the royal gardens, and is caught by the prince himself. Now, her fate is in his hands. Though she fears the mercurial Ezra, Bel knows he alone has the power to release her from the Onyx City. 

Can Bel tame the beast? And convince him to set her free? – Goodreads

What can I say about this book? A lot actually. Firstly let me begin by saying I liked it. Something about this book just sucked me and I liked it. But there were a lot of holes in this read.

Firstly the book promises a heart stopping romance. That isn’t exactly the case. The romance is there and its cute but heart stopping? It doesn’t even come close. What is missing in the romance is the actual courting, the stories they build together when no one is looking. In other words, the build up is missing. The attraction is there. Bel and Ezra are attracted to each other but author adds things to make it seem as if they are destined for each other.

For instance, Bel is special and she sort of knew Ezra before meeting him and I am cool with that but the author didn’t go deeper into that. There are no dreaming of a mystery man, there is no flashes of them being together. Bel sees a man she is attracted to, sees his goons and that is it.

Another thing that bother me, is Ezra isn’t a beast. He is mourning and he is angry about it. The author could have did so much with Ezra and not even on a physical level but his internal torment could have been more detailed and provided a bigger struggle in his relationship with Bel. He gave in too easy and I have an issue with that.

There is a lot of holes in this story. Mythology, traditions all of that could have added to the story making it richer and more entertaining. Also there was predictability in one situation but it is huge.

But the worst offense of this book was the ending. IT FREAKING STOPS MID THOUGHT. It is the most crap ending that pissed me off. It was there. What you have been waiting for was there and then the author stopped. Dude, I was pissed.

Despite all of this, I really liked this book and I think it is a good foundation for at least a book two. Anything more than that, I’m not sure. Would I consider this a retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Nope, but the author does add some cute references in the book.

Overall, I liked the book. I guess I’m a sucker for vampire romances *Kayne Shrug*.

3 Pickles. 

Book Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

St. Martin’s Press
Published Feb. 1, 2011
310 Pages

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice.

Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?- Goodreads

If I had to describe this book, which I do because this is a review, but in short words it would be this quote:

“That took balls.”

“Please,” I said with a snort, “that took ovaries. Of which I have two.”

Yeah, that is Charley. And she is hilariously blunt, demanding and mentally strong. I liked her…for the first half of the book. She is so gun ho, that she makes some really dumb decision without care of herself and how her actions will affect others. It gets redundant and annoying. She is a grown woman, who has been using her power for years and still makes reckless mistakes as if she is a newbie. It is frustrating.

But Charley and her rushing and blunt nature keeps the book going. You are instantly drawn into this book and kept interested for a majority of it. The author, thankfully, does not go the route you think she will go. You know the cliche love triangle, the I must choose between the modern world and magical world  and things like that. The series is long so it may or may not pop up but it didn’t in this one.

I loved the pace of this novel and I also,surprisingly enough, enjoyed the fact that the author gave Charley some form of emotional discord with her powers, family and her overall job as a PI. It made her more human and I began to take her a bit more seriously.

But in regards to her romance, I can’t say I liked it. It is fairly new and it starts off really weird, not what she does for the relationship to happen but where her emotions come from, I was actually jaw dropping surprised that she wanted a relationship or some form of intimacy. I can completely understand wanting to know more about this person but she took it kind of far. At the end of the novel, the relationship is crazy new, so it doesn’t development much but I think there will be a lot of it in the second book.

I would have liked more supernatural aspects in this book and more mythology and dark things happening.  It was light and I hope the author goes deeper in the next 13 books.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

HarperCollins
Published July 25, 2017
288 Pages

“Harper doesn’t trust her new how from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of deja vu but she can’t remember why.

She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in the hours, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?”- Goodreads

Before I give my thoughts on this book, I need to explain why I picked it up. I don’t follow Ms. Ellen Oh on Twitter but someone I follow does and she happened to liked a tweet that caught my attention.

Just based off that my curious its was peaked. So I requested the book from the library that same day. I didn’t have a lot of thought or even a pressing need to read this book. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. But let me tell you once I started this book, I did not put it down until well after 1 a.m. This book was fantastic from beginning to end.

Harper is what I would picture of a child having to deal with something paranormal when you family doesn’t believe you and also sent you away for help. It was such a realistic viewpoint of not a disobedient loner child but of a little girl, who loves her family but is struggling to deal with her own past and keeping it all together. I’ve always wondered what if the child that can see things, no one else can see, actually said something to her family as opposed to hiding it and dealing with it on her own. For anyone that has ever wanted to know that, this book is the answered.

It touches on a lot of subjects such as family and doing what you feel is best for that family. It touches upon family ancestry and the divide that can cause. It touches upon racism and diversity without it feeling as if the author is trying to hard. This book flowed extremely easy with these topics and of course the paranormal aspect of it.

But what I liked most about Harper, herself, was her ability to face her fears. It’s cliche I know but she literally faces the worst head on and keeps pushing through until she has done what she set out to do. She wasn’t bratty, mean or even desperate. She was a little girl that wanted to be with her family and make some friends in a new town.

Beyond all of this, what sold me was how freaking creepy this book was. Whatever resource Ms. Ellen Oh used as a reference to help her write this book was on point. Every scene, every time Harper felt something or saw something, it was so visual it was as if I was watching a movie. As a grown woman, there were things in this book that creeped me out and I loved every moment of it. Harper stood tall and faced all of that and I have nothing but respect for her.

The pace was great. The down time didn’t even feel like down time because there was so much going on emotional as well as physically. The imagery was pure talent actually the entire book was and I hope and pray that there will be a book two.

5 Pickles.

Book Review: The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Spiegel & Grau
Published June 13, 2017
448 Pages

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love. – Goodreads

This book was really different for me. I normally, for one, do not read adult fantasy. For whatever reason they do no appeal to me as much as YA fantasy does. But I am trying to change that and my first book for that goal is The Changeling. I was not disappointed.

Let’s start with the pros. The story is about a black family in modern New York City. For me it not only making it relate-able by because of location but because racially and culturally I can identify with the characters. (Diversity for the win!). But also beyond that, I really really loved the fact the author decided to write this from parents point of view and not a brother or a sister. This added a completely different emotion and truth to the book even if you are not a parent.

Also the way the author was able to wrap Apollo’s world as well as New York City with the mythology was smooth and seamless. There was an art and care as well as a appreciation for a world that was already existed. That is not something your find all the time in books.

Despite these points, I did have an issue with the book. It was long. It was so long and drawn out that I had to put the book down breathe and then dive back in. I appreciate the author building up to the point but the build up was like climbing a tall snowy mountain the first time. It was a bit rough.

In regards to characters, everyone played their role and fit together well. I wanted Apollo to be more supportive of his wife in the beginning because of his out-worldly experience. But at the time, I was a bit disappointed in him because although he was a book collector/seller business man it felt like he didn’t actually read. Its slightly hard to explain but reader to reader you can tell.

Overall, I enjoyed this read would have liked it to have not been as stretched but I enjoyed it.

 

3 Pickles. 

Book Review: Rising Tide: Dark Innocence (The Maura DeLuca Trilogy #1) by Claudette Melanson

Self Published
June 2015
370 Pages

Could Maura’s life get any worse? …turns out it most certainly can.

Isolated and sheltered by her lonely mother, Maura’s never been able to make friends. She seems to drive her classmates away—except for the odd times they pay enough attention to torture her—but she doesn’t understand why. Maura considers herself to be a freak of nature, with her unusually pale skin and an aversion to the sun that renders her violently nauseous. Her belief is only worsened by the fact that almost everyone around her keeps their distance.

If life wasn’t already challenging enough, Maura begins to experience bizarre, physical changes her mother seems hell bent on ignoring, compelling Maura to fear for her own life. Vicious nightmares, blood cravings, failing health and the heart-shattering loss of Ron—as well as the discovery of a tangled web of her own mother’s lies—become obstacles in Maura’s desperate quest for the unfathomable truth she was never prepared to uncover.- Goodreads

This read was not as enjoyable as I wanted it to be. Maura whines… a lot. Her voice in whiny. Even when nothing is happening and she is just going through the motions she has that whiny, “but mooom” tone. It is rather annoying.

Maura also did not have a backbone and attached herself to the first boy that showed her interest. I was not enjoying that. For me, she didn’t have a real personality other than the fact that she did everything she could for her mom to not feel as if they were struggling or if her mom wasn’t being a good mom. I wanted more of Maura and even if her loneliness was supposed to be the biggest launching pad in the book, it doesn’t mean that she couldn’t be a developed person.

But beyond that my biggest issue with this read is, the author tries so hard to not tell you or show you, before the ending, what Maura’s issue really is. It comes off as forced and it feels stretched. Do not get me wrong you know Maura is not human from the beginning but what you don’t know until closer to then is what exactly she is. There is predictability, so I am sure it can be figured out but if not the conclusion was lack luster.

I also wish that there was more to Maura’s relationship with her mom. There was love but it felt more overprotective I don’t really talk to my daughter even in the littler for her to not always feel some type of way relationship. It was hard to really enjoy the book because the mom played a huge part and their relationship seem more like a burden.

This book wasn’t doing anything new. A parent hiding a life and world changing secret from the world and her daughter is nothing new. But I picked this read in hopes that it would be different. But unfortunately, it feel short and cliche.

Overall,

1 Pickle