Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter

This review was written by: C
Received: Publisher
Date of Publication: August 2016
Pages: 341
Stars: 5/5

Official Summary:

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancĂ©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

My Thoughts:

“The real powers at play never take center stage. Don't follow the marionette, follow the strings.” 
― Jackaby

I have to say that Jackaby has become one of my favorite mystery/historical/fantasy YA series ever. There is just so much to experience with each new installment. There's more to discover, fiercer challenges to face, and a whole lot of that Jackaby attitude that I love! He is simply one of those characters that you can't help but fall in love with from the very beginning. He possesses so much knowledge and insight in various situations involving the magical and fantastical, but he can be quite daft when it comes to social interactions, social norms, and common courtesy. It just makes him so damn lovable! For example:

“Bertram!” Jackaby patted him on the arm affably as he bustled past him into the front hall. “It’s been ages, how are the kids?” 
“I remain unmarried, Mr. Jackaby, and I’m afraid you can’t be seen just now.” 
“Nonsense. Miss Rook, can you see me?” 
“Certainly, sir.” 
“Well, there you have it. You must have your eyes checked, Bertram.” 

As you can see, Ritter truly knows how to craft a humorous conversation. Anyway, Ghostly Echoes continues the tale of Jackaby and Abigail, but so much more is revealed about Jenny, her death, her tragic past, and ghostly powers. I thoroughly enjoyed her character development and emotional journey. However, you don't only learn about Jenny's past, but Jackaby's as well. We finally get a better idea of his gift and the individual who previously possessed it.

I have to say that this third installment was much darker than the previous two (I feel as though the second book was the lightest of the three), and I think it just made the story even better. There is also quite a bit more magic in the mix as well as science. Ritter does such a great job of blending the two, but I did feel as though the magic took center stage in this volume, and the occurrences involving magic were a bit more out there than in the previous novels. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that various other realms aside from our own were explored.

I was also super excited to find answers to many questions that have come about from the first two books, and the grand scheme/plot of the series is coming to light. Although, this did result in more questions arising, and I still can't believe that there is only one installment left! Jackaby is such an amazing character and I don't want his remarkable story to be over just yet.

Most of all, I adored Jackaby's moments of brilliance and wisdom and Abigail's, too. There are so many quotable moments, but there was one in particular that stood out to me. While Jackaby and Abigail were out and about, they came across an individual that was transgender and being picked upon by a larger group. Jackaby didn't even register the character's outward  male appearance and automatically began to refer to the person as she. I thought that Ritter's addition of this scene was touching and profound, and I am so glad that an interesting LGBTQ+ character has been introduced. Anyway, there was one quote that referenced this individual that stood out to me:

There are lots of people out there who are terribly hateful. She could avoid a whole lot of trouble and dress and act as they want her to, but she chooses to be herself. That's brave. Also - the last time we met she stopped Jackaby from hurting the men who hurt her. They might have killed her. Kindness is an act of bravery. I think, just as hatred is an act of fear. I sure can appreciate that not all strength is muscle, Mr. Finstern. She has a strong spirit, and I believe she is brave about the way she chooses to use it.”

All I can say, is that this series is a must read. It blends so many genres (history, fantasy, paranormal, detective/mystery) that there is bound to be something for everyone. So, I shall leave you with one last quote from Ghostly Echoes:

“There is something humbling about knowing that an entity capable of moving mountains and reshaping continents still takes the time to tend to the smallest patch of dirt. Little things matter. Footsteps matter.” 
― William Ritter, Ghostly Echoes

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Sammie Street Adventures: Stormy Saturday by Jennifer Blyth


This review was written by: C
Received: Ebook from Author for Review
Date of Publication: Dec 14, 2015
Pages: 49
 Stars: 4/5

Official Summary:

A terrible storm keeps siblings Braydon and Brooklynn stuck at home. Does this stop their fun? No way! With the use of their imagination, these kids set out on all kinds of adventures inside their blue house on Sammie Street.

It was just a typical Saturday, or so it would seem.

Braydon sets the pace in his bedroom by teaching Brooklynn how to turn a normal pile of clothes into a grand adventure where they climb Mount Clothia, but things spin out of control for these two in the Flying Forest. Afterward, the pair travels down to the Whispering Waterfalls, where Braydon and Brooklynn show off their bravery. Something bad happens when Mom loses her ring, but the kids offer to help find it. The siblings head off in search of the missing ring and make some new friends while searching in Jolly Jungle. These kids enjoy one of the best days of their lives stuck inside on an awful rainy day.

Do you want to know how? Do you want to try?

Well then, get comfy, pick up this book, and start turning the pages as you follow along. An adventure is at your fingertips.

My Thoughts:

Imagination is such an important aspect of any childhood, and I am so glad to have been given the opportunity to read a book that puts it front and center! My favorite aspect would have to be how the characters were able to remain part of fantastical adventures that stemmed from ordinary things found within their own home. It opens a child's eyes to the magic that can exist around them and the fact that there are no limitations, aside from what you are able to bring to life with your own creativity and passion. The Giggling Guardians were definitely a nice touch, as they were cute and adorable additions.

The illustrations were also enjoyable and Blyth was able to bring an engaging manor forth through her writing. Thus, her voice came across beautifully, and I believe that young readers will enjoy her style and the story's positive energy.

The only suggestion that I have would be that readers around or above the age of five may enjoy this story more so than those four or younger. In my experience, longer sections of text in books like this one might be a bit more difficult for younger readers to sit through. However, the story is truly enjoyable and you should give it a try if you think it might be something that your child would be interested in.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Hunger Within by Lily Luchesi

Vampirism isn't all sex, blood, and handcuffs.
Newly turned vampire Rebecca Renfield is about to discover that there is much more to the world of the Undead than sex, blood, and handcuffs. Her sire and Mistress is the direct descendant of Count Dracula, and that means she has a reputation to uphold. Meetings with vampiric dignitaries, secret blood and bondage dungeons, and vampire hunters now fill the couple's nights. is this world everything Bec thought it would be, or will she fall under the pressure of what it means to be the submissive to the most powerful vampiress in the world?

Lily Luchesi is a young author/poet born in Chicago, Illinois, now residing in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things "dark". At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle.
She is the award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series, published by Vamptasy Publishing. She also has short stories included in the following anthologies: Death Love Lust, Naughty Bedtime Stories: In Three Words, Naughty Bedtime Stories: Four You, Lurking in the Shadows, Lurking in the Mind, Black Magic, Weirdbook #35, and Beautiful Nightmares.
When she's not writing, she's going to rock concerts, getting tattooed, watching the CW, or reading manga. And drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Song of the Orphans (Silvers #2) by Daniel Price

21408184This review was written by: C
Received: Publisher
Date of Publication: July 2017
Pages: 752
Stars: 4/5

Official Summary:

After their world collapsed in a sheet of white light, everything and everyone were gone—except for Hannah and Amanda Given. Saved from destruction by three fearsome and powerful beings, the Given sisters found themselves on a strange new Earth where restaurants move through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances. There, they were joined by four other survivors: a sarcastic cartoonist, a shy teenage girl, a brilliant young Australian, and a troubled ex-prodigy. Hunted by enemies they never knew they had, and afflicted with temporal abilities they never wanted, the sisters and their companions began a cross-country journey to find the one man who could save them.

Now, only months after being pursued across the country by government forces and the Gothams—a renegade group with similar powers—the Silvers discover that their purpose on this unfamiliar earth may be to prevent its complete annihilation. With continually shifting alliances and the future in jeopardy, the Silvers realize that their only hope for survival is to locate the other refugees—whether they can be trusted or not. 

My Thoughts:

I was initially interested in this book simply due to the story being comprised of some intriguing characters being sent to an abstract Earth and given awesome powers. I found the description to be a bit strange as well, but I don't mind books that follow an unnatural order, as long as the happenings don't get utterly ridiculous and carried away. Thus, I just had to give it a chance, even though I rarely find a science fiction book that I can actually bring myself to finish. Its sheer size was a bit daunting, too, but it was a challenge I was willing to face.

Although I had not read the first book in the series, I was able to read a handy-dandy recap of it here. The summary was both informative and humorous in its abbreviation of the important events of the first book. (The pictures were also appreciated.) 

It is evident that the second book takes place about half a year after the happenings of book one. I honestly had no problem becoming engrossed in the story. The Given sisters and the other Silvers are thrust into facing the harsh realities that this new world possesses, such as its imminent demise and many parties trying to work against them. However, some of the most interesting aspects of the story involve the introduction of more information regarding the Pelletiers. These three beings are definitely fascinating and I just had to learn more about them! But of course, there are so many more questions that come along that MUST BE ANSWERED!

I also fell in love with the story because I pretty much enjoy anything that reminds me of X-men, and the action scenes and powers in this book were right on par with my favorite group of mutants. Character development was acknowledged and nothing fell flat. To me, the writing was not sloppy or difficult to follow, rather it was extremely well though-out and crafted with immense precision and beauty. My mind was pretty much blown by how amazing this story was!

Congratulations Mr. Price! You have officially gained a fan and loyal reader. However, my only disappointment is that I must now wait for the next installment.

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Pre-Order Blitz: Blood Magic (Blood Books #2) by Danielle Rose

Genre: NA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: OfTomes Publishing
Cover Art by Gwenn Danae
Cover Text by Eight Little Pages
Expected Release Date: Aug. 1st, 2017
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR


Avah Taylor thought she had already faced the worst.

As her coven’s chosen one, destined to receive a power that could kill her, Avah was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice when she gave up her mortal life to become a vampire, the witches’ greatest enemy. But just when she begins to adjust to her new life, even as she falls in love with her sire, the high priestess of her new coven is seized by Rogue vampires.

Guided by Avah’s visions of the past, present, and future, Avah and the other vampires set out to rescue their priestess, but their journey leads Avah to the discovery that the conspiracy behind her power runs deeper than she ever imagined. As her visions grow increasingly terrifying, Avah begins to wonder if she may not have a future at all.

Release Party:

Danielle Rose holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Currently residing in the Midwest, where she spends her days dreaming of warmer temperatures, when she’s not writing, she enjoys pretending she lives in California, spending an embarrassing amount of time at Hobby Lobby, and binge-watching Netflix. Visit Danielle on the Web:

 Author Links:
                          Buy Links:
Blood Magic (Pre-Order):

Monday, July 10, 2017

Escaped the Night by Jennifer Blyth

28534157This review was written by: B
Received: Author
Publication Date of Book: Dec. 2011
Pages: 338 (Hardcover Jan. 2016 Edition)
Stars: 4.5/5

Official Summary:
Shanntal is like any other teenager, except for the mysterious nightmares that seem to foretell a shadowy future.  One night while playing with a Ouija board during a sleepover, Shanntal and her friend unwittingly summon Daray, a vampire who says they will soon be together.  Visibly shaken, Shanntal has no idea that the cryptic message seemingly intended for her is just the beginning.  When Shanntal returns home the next day, she discovers her family has been killed by mysterious bites.  After moving in with her aunt and uncle, Shanntal eventually meets Jayce, an immortal who unveils a new realm and Shanntal's destiny.  As she falls in love and befriends fairies, shape shifters, and others, she is hunted by an evil being as her past rises up and triggers her memory, reminding her that she is the one who can walk in both worlds.  While Shanntal becomes torn between her love for Jayce and her loyalty to Daray, the two worlds hang on the precipice of change.  Only one is the key to ensuring peace -- if she is strong enough to survive.

Escaped the Night is a tale of good versus evil as a teenager comes of age, learns her destiny, and battles to keep harmony in a paranormal world where only true love endures.

My Thoughts:

When I made mistakes, I tended to do them big.  Go big or don't bother was what my father always said. Stand up for what you believe in, because anything worthwhile always merited a good fight.
~Shanntal (Escaped the Night)

Escaped the Night was an amazing whirlwind of a debut overflowing with action, self discovery, true love, and so much more!  Never before have I seen a work with so many fantastical creatures under a single roof or friendships that transcend so remarkably off the page!  Plus, a smoking hot, dreamy love interest with a protective, yet sweet, side didn't hurt the story in the least bit!!!

When we first meet Shanntal, she seems like your average girl making her way through life.  Sure, she may not always agree with her parents and occasionally fights with her sisters, but she has a family that she appreciates and loves nonetheless and a best friend like no other.  Shanntal's just a normal teenager experiencing normal teenage things . . . except for her nightmares that are frightening and realistic enough to give anyone the shivers.  

Distraught and alone, I rushed through the forest.  I heard the sound of my feet stomping while gasps leaked out between labored breaths.  My heart pounded wildly, yet I stopped abruptly.  I couldn't believe this was happening . . . I was being hunted.

When her family is later gruesomely murdered after Shanntal spends an evening at a friend's house experimenting with a worrisome Ouija board that relays to her a troubling message, she has no choice but to pack up her bags, try to make a new family with her aunt and uncle, and move on miles away from home.  Grieving and coming to terms with her loved ones' untimely demise took some time, and while it may seem as though Shanntal was temporarily destroyed emotionally, she is not to be mistaken as weak.  Honestly, she is one of the strongest, most admirable female protagonists that I have come across in my reading this year!  As a result, she attempts to get back to a normal routine by taking a chance to explore the new town she's recently landed in.  It is there that she meets the tempting, heart-stopping Jayce, an irresistible immortal who falls deeply in love with Shanntal.  He is the one who opens her eyes to a world she didn't even know existed . . . at least she doesn't remember it previously existing.  He then reveals an ancient battle between the creatures of the light (fairies, unicorns, the four elements, shape shifters, etc.) and the creatures of the dark (vampires, werewolves, doomahorns, etc.) and how she belongs to both worlds.  It is then up to her to challenge centuries worth of distrust among species in an attempt to bring two polar opposite worlds together for the greater good of all, no matter who tries to oppose her . . . that is, if she's strong enough to face her past and her future!

Jennifer Blyth incorporated countless beautiful themes and messages into this exciting paranormal/fantasy novel, including struggles that all readers will undoubtedly be able to relate to.  Also, Blyth got right to the point establishing her story line, not wasting any time on frivolous details that would have added nothing to the story, which I was more than grateful for!  I'm sure that many readers, myself included, have come across those books that spend pages upon pages on introductions and relationships between particular characters or explore meticulous descriptions of something as simple as vegetation.  (On a side note, these are not necessarily bad qualities, in fact they are at times more than helpful.  However, they can be an unnecessary distraction for a reader or pull them out of a story at the most inopportune of times.)  Within the first twenty pages, Escaped the Night was in full swing and never slowed down, even for a second!  I was on a constant ride that I had no desire to get off of!  

Another notable quality to Blyth's writing is how she establishes friendships throughout the novel that I couldn't help but notice were undeniably powerful and honest.  

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.

I rarely experience such chemistry and intricate understanding between family, friends, or romantic interests as was demonstrated in this novel.  Shanntal never took those around her for granted and only wanted what was best for everyone, even if it meant sacrificing her own safety for their own at times.  In the novel, Shanntal is assigned protectors who are to come to her aid in times of desperate need and put their lives on the line and die for her if necessary.  While some in this position may resent their duty, the two brothers charged with this paramount task thought of her as not just their charge but rather as an invaluable friend.  The three had a deeper bond than what could ever be described with words.  A single look at their eyes told each other everything.  I cherished these affections and intimate devotions the author was able to bleed into the story.  

Shanntal herself is an inspirational protagonist worthy of a story written entirely around her!  Despite her colossal loss, she rose up and became stronger than her heartache.  Also, her daring spirit allowed her to put on a brave face, despite the fact that death and adversity were constantly staring her down.  She was truly a strong female lead with a long list of admirable qualities under her belt.  Two of them included her upbeat personality and a profound affection for her friends.  As I have previously mentioned, she had a strong hunger to protect those she loved, meaning that she would rather run off on her own if she thought it was for the best, even when she was advised against it.  However, she eventually learned that it was better to rely on her friends instead of dying for them.  Unlike untold characters before her since the dawn of literature, she learned the true meaning of camaraderie: you are stronger as a single entity than single petals scattered on the wind.  I also loved how Shanntal was a normal person despite her abnormal history.  She wasn't perfect and she suffered more than her fair share of struggles and downfalls, but she learned from them.  It might not always be easy to make the right decision.  It may have even taken a few tries, but she always got there because of her reliance on intuition and the wonderful people she surrounded herself with.  This was a fundamental part of what made Shanntal so human, and I loved that she wasn't made out to be this more than perfect savior who had absolutely no flaws.  Instead, the reader in me was able to connect with her because of her flaws.

The swoon worthy Jayce was my second favorite character!  The love and devotion he showed to both his duty towards the elements and to Shanntal with his affections were fabulous.  Shanntal and Jayce are literally goals!

"I love you, Shanntal," he said. - Jayce
"I love you more," I said back. - Shanntal
"Impossible." - Jayce
"Then I've done the impossible." - Shanntal
~Escaped the Night

The portrayal of Shanntal's battle of good versus evil was extremely exciting and perfectly executed!  With this subject as a central plot line, Blyth was able to explore the inner struggle of a girl forced into a position that probes her true nature.  This allowed for yet another wonderful theme to come into play:  Even though our true nature may be good, there will be occasions when we may be tempted to give into our more primal or less desirable sides, becoming less than our ultimate potentials.  However, we can overcome anything and even challenge our true nature if we have the willpower and mindset to do so.  Mistakes or fallbacks don't make or break a person.  They serve as lessons and reasons to keep fighting!

Last but not least, the lore behind true love in this story is stunningly romantic!  Blyth made it so that immortals walk the earth until they find their true love, no matter how long it will take, and when they both die, they become stars in the night sky for all to see, staying together for the rest of eternity!

Escaped the Night is a great book for people who want a paranormal/fantasy novel with a fast pace and characters that shine as bright as the stars themselves!  (Plus, it seems perfect for either YA readers or those younger readers who are just trying out YA for the first time.  For some reason, I feel as though it would be a great stepping-stone moving from MG into this new age group.  I've never found a novel quite like that, and it's unique in  this regard!)  Also, it's got an HEA, wrapping up the story perfectly for all of those readers who hate unanswered questions or cliffhangers!

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Date of Publication: May 2017
Pages: 322
Stars: 3.5/5

Official Summary:

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

My Thoughts:

“Sometimes when you go through things, you bottle them up inside and try to act like everything is fine. Because you want to forget they ever happened. But you have to trust me when I say that doesn't work. In order for you to move on, you have to let them out.”
― Gwen Cole, Cold Summer 

 Time travel is a concept that I love to find in books. However, its inclusion can result in the story following one of two paths: time travel takes far too much precedence and convolutes the story with overcomplicated events and technicalities (for me, this happened with Pathfinder) or the concept isn't thought out well enough, resulting in plot holes and the inclusion of time travel becoming lackluster. However, with Cold Summer, Cole didn't overcomplicate any aspects of time travel, which surprised me. She made the explanation of Kale's abilities simple and to the point, which I greatly appreciated, but was slightly disappointed that there really wasn't much else to it.

Cold Summer reminds me of The Time Traveler's Wife in the sense that the main male protagonist will eventually die as a result of his time traveling abilities. This definitely peaked my interest and I just had to know how the story would unfold. I also found a happy medium of time travel and emotional depth/development of characters. Kale and Harper have a mature and fleshed out relationship that I fell in love with. Bonus, the two are just too freaking adorable together. 

It was strange that Kale went from traveling infrequently to random points in the past (he has never traveled to the future) to traveling every three or four days to World War II where he was mistaken as an enlisted soldier, forcing him to fight and come to terms with his new reality -- killing Germans. He was stuck in a terrible situation and he came back to the present with a lot of baggage, including PTSD. What made it even worse was that only a handful of people actually believed that he traveled to the past, and his parents were not in that category. His mother eventually left and his father simply believes that Kale's running away from home or disappearing for selfish reasons. Thus, Kale has an extremely strained relationship with his dad.

Kale's circumstances and gift make him a broken character and this just made him even more interesting, especially when he has to come to terms with the reason as to why he has been time traveling more frequently. Cole also makes a point of bringing up the fact that maybe the universe has a plan for Kale and that his excursions could occur simply because he is capable of making even the slightest of good impacts. I also loved the fact that Harper respected Kale's secrets. She promised never to ask where he went when he disappeared and he in turn promised that he would always come back to her. They had such a sweet relationship and it just made the story so much better. Also, Harper was a gamer and often wore various video game related t-shirts, which I can appreciate.

There were a couple things that did bug me about the book, but only one involved travel. It was a little too good to be true that Kale could disappear from World War II without anyone noticing. This just seemed a little strange. I understood that he reappeared pretty much exactly when and where he disappeared. However, wouldn't someone have noticed, especially when Kale was in a foxhole with a fellow soldier? The second aspect that got under my skin was the fact that Kale's father didn't believe his son could travel through time for probably a decade, but all of a sudden he believed once Kale's brother tried to talk to him. The change seemed far too sudden and a little unbelievable. However, I did enjoy the book in the end.

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