Tag Archives: paranormal

Book Review: The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills

Annick Press
TBP: Sept. 10th, 2019
192 Pages

Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts. In their hair.

Just like all the women in their family, they can see souls who haven’t transitioned yet; it’s their job to help the ghosts along their journey.

When Shelly’s mom dies suddenly, Shelly’s relationship to ghosts—and death—changes. Instead of helping spirits move on, Shelly starts hoarding them.

But no matter how many ghost cats, dogs, or people she hides in her room, Shelly can’t ignore the one ghost that’s missing. Why hasn’t her mom’s ghost come home yet?- Goodreads

This book is heavy but the good kind of heavy. Although the summary states that Shelly is going to lose her mother, I wasn’t expecting it to happen. The author did a fantastic job of making you feel invested in Shelly’s world that you feel the pain as Shelly feels it. And again although the summary kind of tells you what happens next, you are not exactly expecting it. I felt so bad. Everything in me felt so bad for Shelly and how now her whole world is these ghosts and wondering where is her mother.

Shelly doesn’t have much of a personality but that doesn’t mean she is growing. Because that is what we are reading; a turning point in her life that helps her grow. The best word to describe Shelly is inquisitive. She wants to learn and another important thing to note is she lives for ghosts, her grandmother and her mother. She wants nothing more than to be a ghost hunter to help ghost go on and to make her grandmother proud.

When her mother dies, everything changes. What I loved about this book was how it was written. It was so easy to get into this read, to get into this world, to see it and feel it. The words just flows so smoothly and it isn’t only easy to read for children but as an adult reading about a child and how they handle and overcome grief this was great.

The pace of the novel was fantastic and I loved the fact that the story is only told in Shelly’s point of view and there isn’t a best friend influencing her emotions but instead its her learning about herself. I believe adding other voices to this story would have made this book lost its luster and Shelly’s voice would have been lost.

The ghosts, because I am sure you are wondering, are and aren’t the focal point of the story. They are important and push a lot of the story. However, they are the foundation that help lift the story but they aren’t the main point.

Overall,

A great read about grief that I would recommend for a child that understands what is going on and for an adult, any adult.

4 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

The Minis

These Precious Scars by Emily Suvada is the background information you didn’t know you needed until you read it. Listed as the 0.5 to the This Mortal Coil series it provides a quick story about how the kids came to be who we know and love. Does it add to the overall story? Not really. But it fills the time; not only the “I need a quick read in between reads” but the time in between books. Because This Cruel Design doesn’t release until the end of the month (October 30th).

3 Pickles

Capture by Beverly Jenkins was a random Kindle buy and it was because the author tweeted about this book on #nationalpriateday. I fell in love with the cover first and then with the summary. ” . . . a stunning young slave and a roguish privateer share forbidden passion on the high seas. (-goodreads).” The book itself was much more than I had hoped for. The history was rich and the author was able to dig deep into it without dragging the story.  Also there was a hopefulness and a need to look into the history of Black priates and just to see who, what, when and where. I fell in love with this book and although it is the third book to a series, it feels like a complete standalone.

4 Pickles

Legacy by Necole Ryse is like but unlike the stories you read where the kid who grew up without a silver spoon in their mouth gets sent to a elite school. The biggest difference is its an all Black Ivy League school. So you know I am here for this. What is great about this book is the mystery that pulls everything together. I didn’t care for Raevyn Jones, the MC, but everything else around her strengthen the story. Althought I wasn’t too invested in this book to contiune the series, it is a solid read.

3 Pickles

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab reminded me of A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano, which is such a good book that I am mildly upset the author didn’t make this into a series. But because I saw similaries with these two books, City of Ghost didn’t hit that paranormal spot for me. Yes, this is a middle school book and I have zero issue with this. I enjoy books for middle schoolers just as I enjoy books for young adult. So the intended age range did not bother me. I see why people love Ms. Schwab writing so much but I didn’t within this book. Between the MC talking in her head and a mind reading ghost responding as if she is talking almost every other sentence, it just wasn’t for me. However, it is a solid read that I can see many people enjoying. But if you liked this book, then you’ll love A Curious Tale of the In-Between.

2.5 Pickles

[YAY for mini reviews] <3

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.

Manga Monday: The Ghost and the Lady by Kazuhiro Fujita

Kodansha Comics
Published Oct. 25, 2016
304 Pages

Deep in London’s Scotland Yard sits an evidence room dedicated to the greatest mysteries of British history. In this “Black Museum” sits a misshapen hunk of lead–two bullets fused together–the key to the untold story of a wartime encounter between Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, and a supernatural Man in Grey.

The record books show Florence fought for compassion as empires’ petty rivalries threatened to destroy the hopes and lives of common people. But a guest in the Black Museum knows the truth is not so simple, and the famed Lady with the Lamp had a ghastly secret.- Goodreads

I had no idea what to expect with this read as I picked up the book before even checking out the summary.

Its different. The entire paranormal historical plot is different from any manga I have ever read and it is slightly hard to explain. But overall, the man in grey is telling someone his story and why he is where he is at. This story includes Florence Nightingale and it is a interesting twist to her story as she becomes the mother of modern nursing. I would say this manga is romantic but not in the way most people think of it now. It provides a lightness, even though it mentions death and sickness. It isn’t dark, at least for me. But this is also not saying it can’t get dark. The author seems to leave a lot of openness in the world and I am not 100% sure if that is intended.

The story is slow and towards the end of volume one you get to know about the man in grey as opposed to majority of the volume was about Florence. What I liked about this manga beyond its uniqueness, its lightness and feel of romance, is you can take your time reading this and feel like you’re not missing anything. You’re reading a twist on historic events and that is the pull. The man is grey, although can be funny at times, tells the story as if he was speaking with you.

In regards to artwork, it is not typical manga style not even close. It is though detailed and as the story follows very light.

I know this is a fairly short review but its hard to really describe this manga. I liked it though. It is well throughout, full of history, emotional and at times full of giggle moments.

Overall,

4 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.