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The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman Audiobook {4 Stars}

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman Audiobook {4 Stars}

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham
(Lady Helen #1)
Published by Brilliance Audio, Viking Penguin on Jan. 26th, 2016
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Page Length: 482 pages
Audio Length: 14 hrs and 59 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
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New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

4 Stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Dark Days Club from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Strengths:
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A Familiar Tail by Delia James {4 Stars}

A Familiar Tail by Delia James is a paranormal cozy mystery where Anna visits her friend in a small east coast town and stumbles upon a murder scene and a strangely smart cat that seems to appear and disappear at will. The problem is that she knows its a murder scene because her psychic Vibe tells her so, which isn’t much evidence to go on. I’ve just started getting in to the para-cozy genre and feel like they are the perfect books to read during autumn!

Note: I received an advanced copy of A Familiar Tail from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

A Familiar Tail by Delia James {4 Stars}

A Familiar Tail by Delia James (Witch's Cat Mystery #1)
Published by NAL on Feb. 2nd, 2016
Genres: Paranormal Cozy
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Magic and meows meet in the first enchanting Witch’s Cat mystery!
 
Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

Suddenly saddled with a witch's wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town....

Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her more than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal {Just Hatched}

Just Hatched Book Feature

Just Hatched is a feature where I share my first impressions of a book after the first chapter. Check out the announcement post for more information.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal is a book that will instantly grab attention with that gorgeous cover and then intrigue you with the idea of mediums being used to gather intelligence from soldiers after they die. I am already impressed with how the mediums are involved in military operations and definitely want to read more.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Ghost Talkers from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal {Just Hatched}

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Published by Tor Books on Aug. 16th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Historical Fantasy, Military Fantasy
Page Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

4 Stars

[Read more…]

Imprudence by Gail Carriger eARC {4 Stars}

Imprudence by Gail Carriger is the second in the Custard Protocol series and every bit as fun and adventurous as the previous book! Prudence and friends are in for another adventure touring a different part of the world, discovering forgotten magical beings, and getting into all sorts of trouble. If you are a fan of audiobooks, I highly recommend this series on audio, the narration adds a whole new element of fun :D. I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to delay reading this one in order to listen to the audio, but in the end, I couldn’t resist!

Note: I received an advanced copy of Imprudence from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Imprudence by Gail Carriger eARC {4 Stars}

Imprudence by Gail Carriger (The Custard Protocol #2)
Published by Orbit on July 19th, 2016
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Steampunk, YA
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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London is in chaos.

Rue and the crew of The Spotted Custard returned from India with revelations that shook the foundations of the scientific community. There is mass political upheaval, the vampires are tetchy, and something is seriously wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most inappropriate military types.

Rue has got personal problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they all really are… is frightened.

When the Custard is ordered to Egypt, transporting some highly unusual passengers, Rue’s problems go from personal to impossible. Can she get Percy to stop sulking? Will she find the true cause of Primrose’s lovesickness? And what is Quesnel hiding in the boiler room?

4 Stars

Strengths:
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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather ARC {4.5 Stars} + Giveaway!

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is a spooky mystery filled with rich historical details that really bring Salem of past and present to life. Further, How to Hang a Witch brings the effects of bullying to full and painful light and made me instantly connect with Sam as she struggled to survive high school on top of a curse. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Note: I received an advanced copy of How to Hang a Witch from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather ARC {4.5 Stars} + Giveaway!

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather (How to Hang a Witch #1)
Published by Knopf on July 26th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials.

Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history is about to repeat itself.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Gasp by Lisa McMann {4.5 Stars}

Gasp by Lisa McMann is the concluding book of the Visions trilogy and continues the tradition of edge-of-your-seat action with lots of awesome banter and cuteness thrown in to lighten the mood. If you haven’t read Crash or Bang yet, I really recommend you check out those reviews and read the books instead, since there will be major spoilers (the fun is finding out how the vision is going to play out after all!). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me just warn you that there will be fangirling and I read this book in literally one four-hour sitting. Gasp was everything I hoped it would be and still managed to surprise me despite all my speculating up until release day, ha.

Note: I purchased Gasp because I couldn’t resist. Buuuuuuuuuyyyyy iiiiiiiit!

Gasp by Lisa McMann {4.5 Stars}

Gasp by Lisa McMann (Visions #3)
Published by Simon Pulse on June 3rd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Thriller, YA
Page Length: 256 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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After narrowly surviving two harrowing tragedies, Jules now fully understands the importance of the visions that she and people around her are experiencing. She’s convinced that if the visions passed from her to Sawyer after she saved him, then they must now have passed from Sawyer to one of the people he saved.

That means it’s up to Jules to figure out which of the school shooting survivors is now suffering from visions of another crisis. And once she realizes who it is, she has to convince that survivor that this isn't all crazy—that the images are of something real. Something imminent.

As the danger escalates more than ever before in the conclusion to the Visions series, Jules wonders if she'll finally find out why and how this is happening—before it's too late to prevent disaster.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule {3 Stars}

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule tells the story of Sing as she starts at a music conservatory and gets pulled into a world where creatures from stories have come alive even though she’s just trying to get the lead role in the upcoming school opera. The fantasy elements of Strange Sweet Song are pulled from a fabled opera written by the conservatory’s founder and the setting evokes imagery of mist-covered woods and bright eyes shining in the dark. If you enjoy stories involving music and singing, you definitely have to check out Strange Sweet Song.

Note: I received Strange Sweet Song from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule {3 Stars}

Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 11, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Gothic, Paranormal Romance, YA
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.

Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?

Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.

3 Stars

Strengths:
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3.5 Stars: The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce eARC

The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce grabbed me immediately with that gorgeous cover. I was further intrigued by the family curse that plagued Taylor. Avenging murder victims sounds pretty noble and not so bad until the whole ‘Darkness coming for the murderer or you if you don’t find the murderer fast enough’ thing comes up! I didn’t actually realize that Weight of Souls takes place around London, but that was a very pleasant surprise. I don’t read enough books based in the modern world but outside of the US (as was made obvious by my need to clarify British slang, haha) and so Weight of Souls was a fun introduction to the culture there that TV hasn’t revealed to me ;-).

Note: I received The Weight of Souls through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I read an eARC and so some things may change in the final version.

3.5 Stars: The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce eARC

The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce
Published by Strange Chemistry on August 6th, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, YA
Page Length: 350 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…

She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.

Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?

And what happens if she starts to fall for him? -- Goodreads

3.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • While ghosts are a pretty normal paranormal (haha) element, the idea of murder victims needing to be avenged by a cursed family was pretty cool. Add to that some London flair and I was quite happy.
  • The romance ends up being quite sweet and I thought the pacing was done well.
  • There is a pretty cool twist about 2/3 through, though you don’t really notice it as a twist so much as a plot development. In any case, I won’t give it away, but it was cool :D.

Weaknesses:

  •  There were a lot of loose ends at the conclusion of Weight of Souls. There isn’t a series listed yet on Goodreads, but the ending of Weight of Souls barely stands on its own, so there better be a sequel.
  • There is a really awesome secondary character (Hannah) who is not involved in most of Weight of Souls and this made me sad. When awesome characters exist, they should be used!
  • The mystery element of Weight of Souls wasn’t all that gripping for me. It’s pretty obvious from the beginning how it will turn out (in a general sense), though maybe it’s not supposed to be a mystery? I’m not sure….

Summary:

The Weight of Souls was an enjoyable book to read for the premise and setting. I wish that there had been a better conclusion (just make it longer?) and there definitely has to be a sequel. While I’m making wishes, can we get more character development and pages for Hannah please?

3.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce

Two Stars: Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu

Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu is a YA paranormal about a high-schooler Hillary who goes to visit her sister for a peaceful summer vacation in Hawai’i and ends up meeting a spiritual entity, saving the world and finding out that she does indeed have something special and magical about her.

When I spotted the recruitment for a blog tour I was excited since it seemed a good opportunity to meet more book bloggers, read a new book, help an author and maybe get some more traffic. Unfortunately I didn’t end up enjoying Moa as much as I thought I would from the description, and have had further confirmation that maybe YA is just not a genre for me :(.

Goodreads
Title:
 Moa
Authors: Tricia Stewart Shiu
Pages: 157
Genre-ish: YA Paranormal with an indie feel
Rating: ★★ – Promising premise, dragged down by writing
Setting: Moa is set in modern day Hawai’i but there is much more magic and spirits than what you thought. There are portals between heaven and earth and ancient guardians assist people to move through them.
Premise: The portal between heaven and earth has been closed by the negativity in the world (and an evil spirit?) and the narrator spirit Moa knows that Hillary is the one destined to help reopen the portal, thus saving the world (because if the portal isn’t open the energies will get out of wack and volcanoes, death, destruction, etc).

Strengths:

  • A really interesting premise, I’ve always been a fan of the lore of Hawai’ian native culture and was excited to see a book using that
  • It was a cool idea to have the story told from the perspective of the ancient spirit instead of the heroine
  • The cover makes me happy just looking at it :)
  •  I really liked the spells or prayer or whatever at the beginning of each chapter, though Hillary only seemed to use them a few times…. I honestly thought they were the best written.

Weaknesses:

  • The writing completely fall flat in this book; way more editing was needed (or just a spell checking program in general….) since one in ten sentences wasn’t actually a grammatical sentence…. Also “tootsies” shouldn’t be used instead of toes, ever, unless it’s a children’s book…. Also the semi-first person, semi-omniscient doesn’t work well at all.
  • Half the book (literally every other paragraph at times) was a giant info dump that was sometimes a copy and paste repeat of a previous info dump. Show don’t tell is a rule that Shiu really needs to work on more.
  • What the heck was up those illustrations? Maybe they would have look better in color since my Kindle isn’t in color, but they didn’t seem to relate to the story, they looked like they were done by a child, and they were completely distracting from the story….
  • The characters didn’t seem all that concerned that the world was ENDING in THREE days unless they fixed it; they just went along for the ride and made rice for dinner
  • The lore and magic didn’t seem to all fit that well together, getting a mix of native Hawai’ian myths combined with a heaven and angels concept, it just ended up feeling very forced and fluffy to me in the end.

Summary:
I’ve said before that YA isn’t my favorite genre, but I really don’t think that that was why I didn’t like this book. The writing really needed more polish (or any polish….) to bring out what was definitely a promising premise. If you are able to see past clumsy and annoying writing to the interesting idea underneath, you’ll probably like the book more than I did, but if you care about character depth, compelling writing, or grammar, I would skip this one unfortunately.

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I would love to see other’s opinion on this book, please let me know what you thought if you’ve read it. Or if you’ve seen other reviews, link them here and I’ll add the links!

-A
Anya from About The Story