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review 2018-07-16 18:53
Not Terribly Cohesive, But Still Interesting Book
The Secrets of Ghosts - Sarah Painter

Well I got on a mini-magical realism kick and finished this book too. I read the first book in this series back in 2015. I gave that one (The Language of Spells) 3 stars, and the sequel to that is a strong three stars too. I think the main issue is that nothing really grabbed me in this one. I thought following both Gwen and Katie didn't really work this time. Gwen is dealing with trying to get pregnant and Katie is hell-bent on figuring out her Harper power. Katie is naive as anything for most of the book and I thought the ending was just so-so.

 

It's been 7 years since the events in the last book. Katie is now 21 years old and trying to still learn from Gwen so she can come into her Harper powers. Katie is a waitress at a private home turned hotel and is hoping that eventually she will be able to be like Gwen (wise woman that everyone seeks out in the village). When Katie finds a dead body her whole world gets turned upside down and she starts to have birds and ghosts talk to her. Gwen is troubled and hopes that there is someway to shut off Katie's powers since talking to ghosts is not a power anyone wants.

 

Katie is naive. She ends up liking a bad boy (with honestly no redeeming qualities) and does joint investigations with him as well as trying to figure out things solo. Even though Katie is warned her powers could be dangerous she doesn't care because she doesn't want to be seen as a kid and wants to be special and not ordinary like her mother. There was a lot going on there that I wish I had felt was resolved. I don't see what the big deal would be if Katie didn't have magical powers. And I have to say her "practicing" with Gwen didn't seem to be much of anything. I recall in book number one it didn't make much sense how the magic in this world works and it still doesn't.


We unfortunately don't get too spend much time with Gwen. Gwen is dealing with not being able to get pregnant and no spells or potions are helping. She is feeling lost and vulnerable. Her and her now husband Cam barely feel present in this one. Merely there to prop up Gwen.

 

The secondary characters are okay, just needed more developing. I was interested when I heard there were more witch families and how they try not to settle near each other cause things would happen. I wish that Painter had explored that more. 

 

The writing was okay, but the flow was off. I found myself getting bored and wanting the story to hurry up and finish already since it was a lot of Katie investigating, the guy she liked being "charming" and then her being mad that things were not working out how she wanted them.


The ending was interesting, we get to know a bit more about Katie's powers. But everything seemed a little too pat when we found out how much it could be costing Katie to use magic. 

 

I haven't seen a third book in this series appears, so am assuming that this is the final book. 

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review 2018-07-10 19:16
Contemporary fiction meets supernatural thriller
Graveyard Shakes - Benchmark Publishing Group;Stephen Jay Jackson;Rina Alvarez;Lisa Crane;Scott-Laura Schoeggl;Jessica Friedman;Sara Lynn;Sarah Alston;Emily Ku;Paula Maxheim;Michelle Posey;Melissa Madden;Jorge Gonzalez;Terry B Bruno;Samuel Guss;Erin Johnson;G.E. Masana

Continuing the trend of reading books selected for the Summer Reading program, I read Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry. The reader follows two very different storylines that at the outset have no correlation to one another. The first revolves around two sisters who have newly arrived at a boarding school and are struggling to come to terms with their change of environment. The second focuses on a little ghost and his friend Modie (I don't know either) who as best as I can tell is a reanimated corpse. So on the one hand we are rooted in reality with a situation that seems very familiar: wanting to fit in yet also wanting to be recognized as the individual that you are. On the other hand, the supernatural elements of ghosts and zombies are compacted with horror because the only way that Modie can stay 'alive' is to absorb the soul of a dead (i.e. murdered) child. Yes, this is a middle grade graphic novel. (It is at this point that I have essentially 'sold' this book to the reluctant child reader standing in front of me while the parent stares at me open mouthed.) The good parts: The illustrative style was excellent and I really enjoyed the character journey of Victoria, the older sister. The not so good: It was way more disturbing and graphic than I expected plus the ending was entirely too predictable after all of the narrative build-up. While I did thoroughly enjoy the illustrations, I don't know that I'll be rushing out to read Terry's next work (unless the cover draws me in again). I didn't overwhelmingly dislike this book but I also didn't love it with all of my heart and soul (get outta here, Modie!). The little guys and ghouls in your life that love a good ghost story will probably fall head-over-heels for this one. 5/10

 

An example from the inside. [Source: A Kids Book A Day]

 

What's Up Next: The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions by Russell Brand

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-05 16:30
The Name of the Star / Maureen Johnson
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

Jack the Ripper is back, and he's coming for Rory next....

 

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him - the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target...unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

 

Another example of really enjoyable YA literature. It reminded me of Paul Cornell’s London Falling (although it is not nearly so dark) what with the Jack the Ripper references and ghostly presences. But the main character, Rory Deveraux, made me think of Karen Marie Moning’s MacKayla Lane (the Fever series)—both are Southern girls with professional parents who go to school in the U.K. Both girls are capable of seeing things that ordinary people can’t—MacKayla sees the Fae, Rory sees dead people. However, Rory is much less self-absorbed & she is smarter and funnier as a main character.

I really enjoy this author’s sense of humour! I adored her descriptions of Claudia, the school’s house mother: “Something about her suggested that her leisure activities included wrestling large woodland animals and banging bricks together.” She is, in fact, the field hockey coach and very devoted to that sport. Later, Rory says, “She introduced herself to my parents with one of her mighty, bunny-crushing handshakes. (I’d never seen Claudia crush a bunny, to be fair, but that’s the approximate level of pressure.)” Perhaps she’s a bit of a female Hagrid, despite the fact that this is not a school for wizards.

The real details of homework, living in residence, cafeteria meals, etc. grounded the novel for me. Rory gets drawn into the paranormal gradually, but still has to cope with reading assignments and essays like a regular student. Rory has just the right amount of snark in her soul to make all these tea-drinking, field hockey-dreading moments highly entertaining. She also acquires a small circle of reliable friends, reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to pick up book two, but I am very much looking forward to it!

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-21 16:01
Immortown by Lily Markova (2015 Review)
Immortown - Lily Markova

ImmortownImmortown by Lily Markova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Famous actress Freya Auror suddenly finds herself in a very odd town where the townsfolk spend all their time consuming powerful substances and killing themselves. She soon discovers she's trapped, yet not all hope is lost. Maybe there's a way out for her, a way to escape the clutches of Immortown. Or just maybe she'll remain there until she fades...

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. My thanks goes to Lily Markova for giving me the opportunity!

In truth, I'm not a believer in life after death or anything like that, but Immortown definitely left me thinking and probably will continue to do so for a while to come. I didn't know what to expect and from what initially started off as serious confusion, turned to fascination as the story progressed and events were explained. I've never read anything quite like it before so, for me, it was certainly unique. Markova clearly has a lot of talent, from the way she writes to the overall tone of her work; the latter being how well she implemented the dark, disturbing feel yet could pull off the occasional humour. Despite that, I feel it took me a lot of effort to read it - I had to pay the utmost attention or I feared I'd miss something relevant; even minor distractions forced me to go over passages more than once. It was easy to lose place of what was happening amongst the lengthy narrative which whilst oftentimes beautiful, also dragged on in other areas. I struggled to rate it, but after some consideration I decided firmly upon the four stars; I really think it deserves such, given my overall enjoyment and the unmistakable thought that's been put into it.

Freya Auror was, in short, a troubled character. I know what it's like to lose someone extremely important and feel like letting go, so I could somewhat relate to her in the way that she lost herself to what she enjoyed doing; for her, it was the acting and the roles she played, such as Astra. She was also a woman enthralled by art, which in itself is characteristically attractive as it's so rare this day and age. I didn't particularly understand her connection to Kai, but I think she was the only one to truly see he wasn't the supposed villain everyone thought he was. Yes, perhaps he was a selfish man, but the burning of Immer wasn't exactly intentional. I actually really liked him, even though he wasn't perfect; quite the opposite in fact. He held an air of mystery and attitude that I found appealing. The childish India, her husband Remy and Chace were also good characters and of course, "Dude", who added some comic relief yet still succeeded to be a haunting figure. I wasn't fond of Kristle, but I suppose that was the whole point.

Indeed, the entire book was about death and suicide, but it was an intriguing take on things. It wasn't just a typical, simple purgatory tale, but something I found original. As I've already mentioned, the beginning had me scratching my head several times, but I'm glad I didn't let it scare me away. Eventually, it all clicked and that, when you sit back and realise all the ties are coming together and making sense, is a great and satisfying thing to experience. The two PoV's complimented and fit together nicely and the plot itself, whilst not action-packed, still greatly entertained.

In conclusion: A very deep and thoughtful read; one I found myself impressed with. I can't help but wonder about the aftermath of Immortown. Will there be a sequel? It surely looks like it could be continued, so fingers crossed! I'd be very interested in reading more just like this.

Notable Quote:

"You know, when people lose someone, they are horrendously hypocritical. They don't pity the ones gone; they mourn themselves for being left without something familiar or loved."

© Red Lace 2015


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/06/21/immortown-by-lily-markova-2015-review
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review 2018-06-17 00:35
Ghosts & Exiles
Ghosts & Exiles - Sandra Unerman

Hugo is being tormented by ghosts. They are the ghosts he summoned himself in hopes they would befriend him and keep him company at his boarding school. However, the ghosts have done anything but, causing Hugo to become even more of an outcast and act out. Hugo's uncle, Stephen has become concerned about him and has turned to the mother of the two boys who have seemed to befriend Hugo at school. Tilda Gray and her boys, Nicholas and James seem to understand Hugo's problem more than Stephen can comprehend. Tilda Gray's husband came from the land of Spellhaven where magic was used regularly, a gift from the spirits and unseen inhabitants of the land. However, Spellhaven is no more. The spirits are now free and there are those who would like to use their powers again. When Hugo's ghosts attract the attention of a Spellhaven native who is using the spirits for evil. the boys, the Gray's and Stephen get pulled into the world of the Spellhaven natives, the Exiles club and the Unseen spirits that still roam then land.

I did not realize that this was a second book in a series and I think it would have helped me a lot to read the first book, however I was still able to understand everything. I was pulled in by Hugo's ghost problem, although it is Tilda who pulls everything together for me. Her nature was sweet and surprising considering the danger her children were in. I enjoyed the fantasy elements with the ghosts and the spirits, especially Tilda's interactions with Thistlebeard. I did get confused for a few parts in the middle especially with Lyulf, but was able to pick things back up. Part of the suspense was not knowing who to trust throughout the story, although I'm still not sure about a few characters. Overall, Ghosts and Exiles is a good combination of suspense and fantasy for young adult to adult readers. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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