Review: Shadowland

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Shadowland by: Meg Cabot

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

There’s a hot guy in Susannah Simon’s bedroom. Too bad he’s a ghost.

Suze is a mediator – a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won’t leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn’t seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.

But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it’s not that easy. There’s a ghost with revenge on her mind… and Suze happens to be in the way.

Beware spoilers ahead!

When I was younger I was a fan of Meg Cabot. As far as I was concerned she could do no wrong and that all her books were fantastic! Last year I discovered that it’s not true. I found out that I didn’t like her contemporary books. But I still immensely enjoyed her paranormal/supernatural books. This year I remembered this series and was happy to find that my library has it! I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

The book begins with Suze mentioning the differences between New York and California. Her mother has gotten remarried and they had to shift to California because Andy her step dad owns a business there. Suze actually likes Andy and she doesn’t mind Dopey, Sleepy, and Doc (her nicknames for her step brothers) but she doesn’t like the fact that they had to move. Suze doesn’t share these thoughts with her mother. Andy makes her mother very happy and Suze is okay with that.

Her new family take her home. On the way there she notices again how different Cali is from New York. While they are talking it comes out that the school she’ll be attending is a very old building. As is there house. After hearing this Suze starts to freak out because she doesn’t like old buildings.

When they get to the house Suze tries to remain calm. Andy has put a lot of work into the house and has tried to make it comfortable for her. Once they reach Suze’s room she sees a guy sitting at her window seat. Only the rest of her family don’t see him. Suze can see ghosts and usually there are more ghosts in old buildings.

I seriously did not expect to enjoy Shadowland this much! It was so much fun! This book is written in first person told in Suze’s point of view. It takes place over the course of a few days.

I loved Suze. She is definitely my favourite Meg Cabot character! She was smart and a bit of a hot-head. She was tough and could handle a fight just fine.It was interesting to read about her experience with ghosts. And how the mediator stuff works. Throughout this book Suze trying to help people ends up being a bit reckless. She never accepts anyone’s help she goes solo. Throughout the book she decides to work with other and that it isn’t so bad.

The relationships were awesome! I loved how close Suze was with her mother and that she didn’t mind her step father. It’s nice to read about a good step parent. While Suze isn’t close to any of her brothers in the beginning of the book she does develop a good relationship with Doc. It was so sweet reading about! It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine but they were there for each other.

The little I read about Cece and Adam was nice. I liked Father Dom and Jesse. Father Dom is the principle (and a priest) of the school that Suze attends. Much to her surprise he is also a mediator and does offer to train her. He was a nice mentor. Jesse was a bit clueless but sweet. This does take place in a few days so there isn’t really any romance. Suze does consider Jesse good looking but at the moment they’re just friends.

The plot was pretty good. Heather was realistic. There are definitely girls like her. It was also nice to for a change that Suze didn’t like her powers. But that didn’t mean that she was rude to people she still did all her ghostly duty without a lot of complaints. I admire her for that.

I only had two problems with Shadowland. There were times when Suze would talk about how good looking Jesse that it would become annoying. And while I understood why she did so there were times when I felt it wasn’t necessary. Also I find it very weird that in a matter of a day Suze is very popular. Yes she did save one of the students and threaten to break another students fingers, I don’t think it’s possible to get popular that fast. Nonetheless I enjoyed this!

Overall this was a really good book! I recommend this series to anyone looking for a completed fantasy that it more focused on the character development.  

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Review: The Rose & the Dagger

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The Rose & the Dagger by: Renee Ahdieh

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Buddy read with Waukesha, Luke, and Adita! Once their reviews have been posted I’ll add the links.

For those of you that followed me back in November probably know that I did not enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn. You’re probably wondering why I bothered to continue this series. Part of it was curiosity. It was curiosity that got me to finish all the short stories. After I finished The Mirror in the Maze I was curious to see how the series ended. It came in my library I put it on hold. While I did enjoy this more than the first book I can’t say I’m happy with how this series ended. 

The book begins with a prologue in which a little girl and her brother are trying to restore their house. A storm blew their house over. Unfortunately the storm killed their mother. While the girl and her brother start clearing the area a boy appears in their door. The girl realizes that this boy is the prince. The prince mentions that he would like to help the girl and boy with their home. The brother agrees and they continue to work.

After they have finished most of the work the brother asks for the princes name. The prince says that his name is Khalid. The brother introduces himself. And the girl turns out to be Shiva.

The plot in this book was much better than the first! There was a large focus on the war and some politics. The magic was interesting to read about as were the new characters. There wasn’t that much focus on Shazi and Khalid’s relationship. I actually found Khalid to be much smarter in this book. He started acting like a King. I enjoyed reading about Shazi’s sister Irsa! She was so refreshing to all the strong and confident females you read about. And I absolutely loved her romance! Rahim was so sweet! All of the twists and reveals were very surprisingly. Especially concerning Despina. There was this really sweet scene were Shiva comes in! 

Shazi and Tariq were the same. Which is to say annoying. I actually noticed an error while reading this book. In the beginning of the book it is mentioned that Shiva’s mother died in the storm. Yet when Shazi and Tariq are talking about Shiva, it’s mentioned that his aunt (Shiva’s mother) committed suicide. Please do correct me if I’m wrong. The curse was pushed aside in this book. You’d think with it being deal in the first book it’s reduced to nothing in this book. The magic wasn’t really explained.

I also wished that Irsa and Rahim were the main characters as I would’ve preferred to read about their romance. You are given constant reminders in this about how strong the women are. In the form of a stupid man touching her. And said women defending herself. How was it that most of the men Shazi ran into were pervs? I am not at all happy with how Irsa and Rahim’s romance was dealt with. While the epilogue was somewhat sweet it left a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m really not happy with a certain part of the ending.

Overall this was not a good conclusion in my eyes. But I still recommend it to fans of forbidden romance and fairy tale retellings.  

Review: The Case Study of Vanitas, Chapter 6

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The Case Study of Vanitas, Chapter 6 by: Jun Mochizuki

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Jun Mochizuki, acclaimed creator of PandoraHearts, continues her epic adventure tale, The Case Study of Vanitas!
Showing up without an invitation, an old friend of Noe’s appears and…collars him?! Vanitas can’t very well let his companion up and disappear, but where exactly are his quarry headed??

Find out what happens in the sixth installment of Jun Mochizuki’s latest epic adventure tale, The Case Study of Vanitas, the same day as Japan!

Beware spoilers ahead!

After finishing the last chapter I was eager to read this one. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this chapter!

The chapter begins where the last one left off. Noe is doubling over in pain and says that he indeed did see the Charlatan. Dominique a woman claiming to be Noe’s fiancee enters. Noe reveals that he isn’t engaged to Dominique and that she is a childhood friend. Dominique then takes Noe with her leaving Vanitas.

When Noe asks why she came after him she explains that it is because she was worried about Noe. As readers have already seen Noe is absolutely clueless and very child-like. Dominique thinks that Vanitas is using Noe for some personal gain. Dominique mentions that she was able to get an invitation to a party so that Noe can have a word with one of the attenders about curse breakers. Eventually Vanitas finds them and goes with them. The chapter ends with Dominique telling Vanitas Noe’s backstory.

The only reason I rated this 3 stars is because I felt that the chapter was too short. When I got to the end I was surprised and assumed that there would be more. But alas I finished it. What I really enjoyed about this chapter was Dominique. I liked her character. And as usual this was funny. What’s interesting is that Dominique is Noe’s teacher’s granddaughter. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Noe’s past in the next chapter!

Overall a good but too short of a read. I recommend this series to people looking for a unique fantasy. And for anyone who is new to reading manga, who would like to start off with fantasy. 

Review: Wolf by Wolf

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Wolf by Wolf by: Ryan Graudin

My Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

This book was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Chantal! Click on her name to read her review. 

I had been hearing about this book for quite a while. I never paid attention to it. It wasn’t until I came across Chantal’s review that I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately it wasn’t for me.

The book begins in the year 1944. Yael and several other Jews are being transferred to a death camp. Everyone around Yael is either screaming or crying. Once they reach their destination the men and women are separated. Yael sticking to her mother comes across a very peculiar man. He continues to stare at Yael. Eventually he tells one of his people to get Yael sent to a lab for experiments.

The reason I couldn’t finish this book is because of the experiments. Yael was 6 when she was experimented on. To me it was horrifying. I kept on cringing when I read the first chapter. I should’ve known that I wouldn’t be able to finish this because of the experiments.

Overall this book was not for me. But I still recommend it to fans of dystopia and sci-fi.  

Review: The Lonely Ones

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The Lonely Ones by: Kelsey Sutton

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Purchase links: Amazon    Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House   Indie Bound

Fain hasn’t always been lonely. Her family used to be close; she used to have good friends. But as circumstances—and people—changed, Fain was left behind. That’s when the monsters appeared.

While her parents argue and her peers and siblings either pick on or simply ignore her, Fain spends time in a world of her own making. During the day, she crafts stories of fantastical adventures, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life alongside a legion of imaginary creatures, with Fain as their queen.

In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day, but when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk opening herself up to the fragile connections that can only be formed in the real world?

Told in lyrical free verse, The Lonely Ones reminds us of the need for imaginative play and the power of true friendship.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Penguin Young Reader’s Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Blog Tour for this book. 

I heard about this book from an email from Nichole at YAReads BlogTours. Nichole emailed asking whether or not I would be interested in participating in a blog tour for The Lonely Ones. At first I was skeptical as I have been hearing about all these blogger scandals. I checked out the website and I realized that I had heard about this blog before. I read the synopsis and I agreed. I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy the book once I started reading it. I am happy to report that I loved this book!

When Fain was younger her family used to be happy and close. Then one day her father lost his job as a car seller. Her mother was in law school at the time and she dropped out because of the bills. Then the fighting started. Her older siblings Dana and Tyler moved on. Tyler started dating and going to parties. While Dana became externally glued to her phone. Only her younger brother Peter interacted with her.

Upon moving the situation only worsened. The fights continued. Her father still had difficulty finding a job. Meanwhile her mother worked in a fast food restaurant. Dana and Tyler continue on as they were earlier and Peter continues to play with Fain. Fain despite having Peter feels alone. Her voice isn’t heard over the fighting and no one notices her. Then one day while she was sleeping some monsters come at her window and invite her to play. These monsters later become the only friends she has.

One day a new boy comes to their school. Much to Fain’s surprise the new boy Matthew actually talks to her. Fain’s not used to people interacting with so she has a hard time answering simple questions because she is in awe that someone actually saw her and is now speaking to her. Matthew continues to hang out with Fain. The two form a friendship. Fain’s neighbour Anna is another person who sees her and they occasionally talk. Eventually becoming friends. For awhile Fain stops talking to the monsters. And circumstances have it that Fain and her siblings become close again.

Then Matthew and Anna hurt her and she goes right back to the monsters. But this time she has her siblings by her side. And she’s okay with that. Eventually Anna and Fain make up and then she has Anna by her side as well. By the end of the book Fain has stopped talking to her monsters. Her family is happy and she has a real friend in Anna. 

The most interesting thing about this book is the writing style. Each chapter is short and formatted the way a poem is written. There are chapters titles that go along with the poem format. This was quite unique and enjoyable! The book is short and I had it finished in two hours.

The author did an excellent job with the characters! They are completely realistic and so are there interactions with one-another. While Fain’s family wasn’t happy all the time they were there for each other. Her friendship with Anna was sweet to read about! I connected with Fain. I understood where she was coming from. It was interesting to read about the monsters and the stories Fain wrote. I was happy when Fain stopped seeing the monsters and became friends with Anna and her family. It was also nice that there wasn’t a romance!

This book is about finding our own voice. And understanding that while you may feel like you don’t matter there is always someone who cares about you. It’s about family. No matter how tough your current situation is there is always someone by your side.

Overall this was a wonderful and touching book! I recommend it to everyone because this is an important read and everyone will be able to connect to Fain. Also keep a tissue box with you while reading.  

Review: Dead Is the New Black

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Dead Is the New Black by: Marlene Perez

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Welcome to Nightshade, California—a small town full of secrets. It’s home to the pyschic Giordano sisters, who have a way of getting mixed up in mysteries. During their investigations, they run across everything from pom-pom-shaking vampires to shape-shifting boyfriends to a clue-spewing jukebox. With their psychic powers and some sisterly support, they can crack any case!

Teenage girls are being mysteriously attacked all over town, including at Nightshade High School, where Daisy Giordano is a junior. When Daisy discovers that a vampire may be the culprit, she can’t help but suspect head cheerleader Samantha Devereaux, who returned from summer break with a new “look.” Samantha appears a little . . . well, dead, and all the most popular kids at school are copying her style.

Is looking dead just another fashion trend for Samantha, or is there something more sinister going on? To find out, Daisy joins the cheerleading squad.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book series when I was in high school. But for some reason I didn’t read it then. One day a friend of mine on GR wrote a review for Dead is The New Black and I remembered how when I was in high school I was interested in it. Of course I added it and checked it out from the library. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Daisy coming to school. While walking in the hallway she sees her former best friend Samantha sporting a new look. One that consists of a lot of black and a coffin backpack. This isn’t the normal dress code for Samantha. But of course since she’s popular everyone else start to copy her.

For the next few weeks Samantha’s new clothing choice is all the school can about. It’s driving Daisy nuts. One day her mother comes home and mentions having trouble with a case. Her mother is a detective and she uses her powers to find the wrongdoers. Her mother has never asked any of her daughters for help. Feeling left out yet again for being human Daisy decides to look into the case as well.

This was better than I expected it to be! The book is written in first person in Daisy’s point of view. It’s really short so it made it easy to finish. The plot is interesting and engaging.

My favourite part of this book is the relationships. Daisy has a complicated relationship with Samantha. And Samantha wants to make it up to Daisy, because her intention was never to hurt Daisy. I’m glad that Daisy didn’t forgive her right away. It was realistic and made sense.

Daisy was close to her sisters. But there were many times in the book where Daisy felt left out because she was human and her sisters were keeping secrets from her. They didn’t do it to hurt Daisy. It was a realistic relationship and well done. While they did fight here-and-there they still cared for each other.

The powers were pretty cool! Rose (Daisy’s oldest sister) could read minds. Poppy (Daisy’s second oldest sister) could use telekinesis and her mother could read objects and tell you who touched it and so forth. There is an actual name for her mothers powers but I’ve forgotten it.

I did have three problems with Dead Is the New Black. I guess because this was so short I didn’t really get to know Daisy. I ended up feeling indifferent to her. The murder mystery wasn’t that good. It was pretty easy to figure out who the vampire was based on a certain clue. The romance between Ryan and Daisy came out of nowhere. One minute Daisy is telling you that Ryan has had a crush on Samantha since sixth grade. Then all of a sudden Ryan likes her. Part of it probably was because Daisy didn’t believe Ryan liked her that way. Nonetheless this was still a fun read!

Overall this was a fun book! I recommend it to people who are looking for a fast supernatural mystery series.  

Review: A Darker Shade of Sorcery

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A Darker Shade of Sorcery by: William Collins 

My Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.
Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis.
In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-opera’s and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.
Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon magical creatures and shoot Spellzookas, Evan meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way.

He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

I received this E-ARC via the author in exchange for an honest review.

When I got the email from Collins asking me to read A Darker Shade of Sorcery I immediately said yes! I love fantasy and paranormal books! This sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this.

The book begins with Evan mentioning that his grandmother recently passed away. He is constantly haunted by her death and has nightmares about her. It doesn’t help that he has bullies bothering him everywhere he goes.

While trying yet again to outrun the bullies a monster appears. At first Evan doesn’t notice anything as his back is toward the monster. But the bullies faces go pale and one of them is murdered by the monster. Then Evan turns around and finds himself face-to-face with a horrifying monster. The monster speaks to him and kidnaps him.

This was a case of ‘It’s not you but me.’ As I continued to read I felt no connection to the story. While the pace was fast and it was engaging I felt nothing. I should’ve felt really bad for Evan but even when he mentioned his grandmother it didn’t pull on my heart strings. I have given this book a two star because the premise sounds interesting.

Overall this book was not for me. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good fantasy series.