Category Archives: paranormal

Review Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act – singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets stir. 
Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry’s involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton’s stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Page Count: 225
Source: My copy.
Rating: 2/5

I did not like this book. I rolled my eyes a lot. Fantastically, the second half was better than the first, but there was still eye-rolling. And that ending!

Page 63, and hello insta-love. Our protagonist has fallen for an automaton. Which is not that far fetched, I guess, considering he is alive, but, up to that point, barely anything has passed between them! They have had like, one conversation, that involved them communicating their names to each other. Which is hardly grounds for true love. I mean, I could even understand the insta-love, the story being set in Jane Austen days (I’m guessing, there were carriages?) but I just expected more from Nimira. She didn’t appear to be one of those girls. She exuded strength, even in the very beginning when times were tough for her, and I expected more character from her. And I could totally see her falling in love with Erris when he is no longer an automaton (well not really an automaton) – I mean the guy is hot. And charming. And a prince. – but not before.

The characters are memorable (even the bad ones), I have to give the author that. The world building was even good – I pictured the story’s setting very easily, especially as the characters moved place to place. And though nothing particularly wonderful stands out about the writing, the story did flow well. But the romance was so, so cheesy.

And that ending! It was terrible. It was one of those endings that tried to be mysterious in leaving the reader to think about it and come to their own conclusions about where the characters end up? But it didn’t work. The most pertinent question that you want the answer to never gets resolved. And as far as I know, there is not a sequel. So if you’re like me, and you can’t stand insta-lovey books that leave you with more questions than answers, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

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Review Every Day by David Levithan

In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. 

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Page Count: 336
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5

This book was just okay for me. I’m unable to point out anything that I particularly loved about the book, but wholly, besides a few gripes I have with it, it was a good book.

What stands out to me the most though, was how unrelatable A was. Not being able to pinpoint A’s gender was very frustrating. Had A been a girl with raging hormones, or a laid back teenage boy that just wanted to hang out with his friends, I could relate to A’s emotions. Yet A was in limbo. A’s actions portrayed A as a girl, with how quickly A fell in love with Rhiannon (and yes, this book suffers from insta-love – on A’s part, not on Rhiannnon’s), yet I got the sense that, deeply, A was a boy. This confliction was not only confusing but frustrating, as I said, and I desperately wanted to know which side of A I should hold on to.

I also think A’s expectations of Rhiannon were unrealistic. A expected Rhiannon to accept their situation without question – love conquers all etc. – without really thinking of her feelings. I’m a big believer in true love and destiny and all that, but I just wasn’t buying it. I couldn’t see their relationship ever working.

I had no quarrels with the way Levithan told this story. He certainly can write a sentence. Though I thought the world building could have been better, I have noticed lately that authors in YA contemps are focusing more on their characters than their worlding, so I won’t fault him for that. I can forgive a less-than-perfect storyline. I cannot forgive bad characters.

I thought the ending was very rushed, and totally incomplete. So incomplete that, I think there is enough of an adventure left in A that there could be a sequel. That there should be a sequel. I have no idea if there is a possibility of a sequel, but I think I would definitely read it to find out what happens.

Overall, it was an okay read. I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a book Levithan co-authored with John Green, and I know the man can write. I also admire him. I know he has taken a stand on homosexuality in YA literature and I think the YA community needs more advocates like him. Despite my issues with this one book, I would definitely read more of his work.


Review The Walker in Shadows by Barbara Michaels

 

The house next door to Pat Robbins–eerily identical to the home Pat shares with her college-aged son, Mark–has been empty for years, the darkness within seeming to warn all to stay away. Now new tenants are moving in: affable Josef Friedrichs and his lovely daughter, Kathy, who has stolen Mark’s heart on first glance. But something is not right–something old and secret lurking in the shadows that fresh paint and new furnishings cannot mask or exorcise. There is evil alive in the heart of the house next door–and it means to feed on the fears of two families . . . and drag Kathy Friedrichs with it into peril.

Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: HarperTorch
Release Date: 1979
Page Count: 352
Source: My copy.
Rating: 2/5

I don’t really like ghost stories. But this was a book club read so… yeah. I read it. Thankfully it wasn’t scary, or I may have put it down. I don’t do scary things.

The rating system says a two star rating is for “it was okay”. And this book was okay, I guess, despite the general boringness and lack of development. I liked the writing style – it had that going for it.

I wasn’t impressed by the background or the supposed “twist” at the end. Which is strange because I generally enjoy historical fiction (not that that is what this was, but it had some elements). I loved Between Shades of Gray and The Russian Concubine series, and The Red Scarf is one of my all time favorite books. But this backstory failed to capture my attention. I found it all to be very uninteresting. The worst was the ghost. It only appeared at 1 AM? Was that ever explained? How unbelievable is that??

It’s obvious that the author really tried to focus on the romance of the story, but I just wasn’t buying it. Mark and Kathy’s (whose name definitely didn’t match her naïve, young girl personality – I could see Katherine or Katie or even Kath, as Mark sometimes referred to her as, but Kathy? It didn’t work for her) romance was practically nonexistent, if anything all appearances pointed to them being very good friends. And Josef and Pat’s romance? Where the hell did that come from? I sensed not one attraction even, through the entire course of the book, and all the sudden he’s jealous that some other man is touching her? And then they’re kissing? (removed for spoilers)

So that was annoying. But there were some elements I enjoyed. The writing was very refined – I found the whole thing very easy to read. And I liked Mark’s character – my reaction to him was almost automatic. He lived a very humorous, easygoing existence and I found myself smiling whenever he would speak.

Mostly though, the book bored me. The backstory was very meh, and I literally fell asleep reading the last twenty pages. The romance was completely botched. The book just really wasn’t for me.


Review Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me, #1)

 

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Page Count: 340
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4/5

I have so many mixed feelings about Shatter Me, but one cannot deny Tahereh Mafi’s gift as a writer. From the very first line she cuts this poor girl open and forces her emotions to bleed all over the page. I’ve never read anything like this book. I was immediately enticed by Juliette. She’s this vulnerable, broken child that just wants a place to fit in. The depths of her very soul are portrayed so beautifully in this novel, I felt her pain, her fear at the very core of my heart. I couldn’t get her out of my head.

The use of strikeouts in this novel really made me think. I may have thought I knew what she was trying to say at first glance but I didn’t always. There were times that I would be staring at one line of text for what seemed like hours drinking in her soul.

Adam was amazing. He was this strong guy who could really take care of Juliette, but he was confident in her ability to take care of herself as well. Any growth that Juliette experienced in this novel was mostly due to Adam’s faith in her, I think. Their story is beautiful. They’ve both been in love with one another all their lives, but their story isn’t forced. It isn’t rushed. They fall into one another’s arms so effortlessly I never question them as an item.

The character development isn’t perfect, though. There were times when Juliette strayed from her own personality to meet this other Juliette who I felt like I didn’t know at all. I don’t know if this was to show her development as a character, but in any case, I didn’t buy it. By the end, it was way too drastic.

There were a lot of unresolved situations in this novel. Juliette, Adam, Warner – they all continue to be a mystery to me. I get that the author was setting us up for the series, but, by the end, I felt like I was running on dead air. When it came to these characters, I felt like I had barely anything to go on.

The plot was otherwise strong; through her powerful writing style Mafi really sets the stage for the story and the dark world these people live in. I was a little bored through the middle, but the last 100 heart-stopping pages were worth the wait. While there are still secrets to be revealed about the characters, the goings-on really wrapped up nicely. The ending wasn’t much of a cliffhanger, but it’s definitely open. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.