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Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Title: A Certain Slant of Light
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source:  Public library
Pub. Year: 2005
Purchase: Amz/B&N/

Blurb from Amazon:

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen—terrified, but intrigued—is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.

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Cover Love: Love it, the cover actually points towards an event in the book so it is beautiful and useful

I knew I love the book the moment I saw the cover but story within the pages cements my love for it. It is so haunting and lovely at the same time.

Helen makes a very compelling character; she loves literature so she clings to those who like literature. She needs to be attached to a living person so she can continue to exist in the world of the Quick (the living). The ghosts called themselves Light (if they aware that they are dead). It’s when Helen meets James that she begins to consider her needs. James is a Light inside of Billy (a recovering drug addict). James introduces Helen to the idea of possessing a body that a soul no longer wants. The possession of the bodies helped both of them move on with their lives and be somewhat happy for awhile.

Helen posses Jenny and has to deal with a super conservative Christian family while James posses a drug addict. By helping the lives of the individuals they are possessing, they are bringing closure to their own stories by remembering their memories of their final moments. They died with the belief that they were sinning and probably deserve their death but as the memories come back, they start to remember what really happened.

Helen as Jenny helps the family move on from their extremely closed minded view of the world. Helen makes a better world for Jenny to live in and tolerate. James as Billy struggles to make a better life for Billy because Billy was such a troublemaker. In the end, he manages to bring closure to his brother.

Normally, I have issues with books but I can’t find anything that would decrease the rating of this book. Some may take issue with the portrayal of Jenny’s family. The family is hardcore Christian so deeply religious. I don’t have a problem with it because the type of philosophy the family claimed is very true. It’s also very true that certain lifestyles do smother people and Whitcomb showed both sides of the equation. Billy had extreme freedom while Jenny’s freedom was restricted and they both were just drowning in misery. Hating their very existence that Billy and Jenny were glad to have someone else take over their lives because they couldn’t deal with their lives. The book is sad on some level because the possessed individuals are so young.

I love the ending, it is very Titanic like. Anyways, I really liked this book. I will be on the lookout for another book by this author because I like the story she told.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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71st in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Ghostly

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Review: Jaded by Kenya Carlton

Title: Jaded
Author: Kenya Carlton
Series: Standalone
Genre: Supernatural Romance
Format: E-book
Source:  Bewitching Book Tours
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I receive this novel free of charge from BBTours in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:

War correspondent Mia James is back on US soil and ready to tackle a juicy political story that could make national headlines. A politician’s aid goes missing, and the son of the wealthiest family is the only suspect. Determined to take down the mayor of the small seaside town, Mia comes up against an angry ghost with her own agenda.  Afraid she may be suffering from post traumatic stress Mia figures that she’s way over her head and enlists the help of resident black sheep Gabe Montgomery. Now, she must solve the mystery of her not so friendly ghost, stop herself from falling in love with the mysterious winery owner, all while making it out alive.

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Random: Am I reading the same book as everyone else? Because this is not what I was thought it would be.

(P.S-I’m sick right now so I might be judging the book too harshly)

I’m in complete disbelief regarding this book. Either I am a really negative person when it comes to reviews or I misunderstood the book completely because I’m unsure of it. I think it has potential but it was squandered away by the book’s short length. This is a book that should have been longer by at least another 100 pages.

Let’s talk characters. I had trouble separating characters from each other because there was a rapid introduction. Mia and Tracy are the journalist who are investigating a crime that is just launched upon the readers.  It turns out only Mia is investigating a mystery while Tracy investigates Sheriff Martin Conway. There is Gabe who knows Mia right off the bat. There is Jonathan and his father, the Mayor, who are feuding with Gabe. In the beginning, it was hard to keep track of the characters but they were shelled out later. That’s the good thing. I like that Sherriff Conway was developed a little more than just the Mayor’s errant boy and Tracy’s boy toy.

I have issues with the crime introduction. Yes, it is in the blurb that an aide disappears but it should be introduced in the book more gently. The disappearing aide disappeared before the books started and as a reader, I didn’t know that. I had assumed that the missing aide would disappeared after the women arrived in town because it looked like Mia just wanted a gossip piece on the Mayor instead of investigating the missing woman angle. It would have been nice to know that the characters were already investigating the disappearance prior to their arrival so the information doesn’t appear out of nowhere. I was like “What aide” and I thought I skipped something so I had to re-read the first twenty pages. There was one reference to the aide and it used to word “diddled” but I thought “diddled” meant “fool around (sex).” I’m starting to think it meant “killed.” Yeah, it meant killed. Maybe this is my misunderstanding. I don’t know. (I’m blaming it on the fact that I’m sick). I guess in the end it doesn’t matter because I still felt like I was dropped into the middle of an investigation.

One of the things that lays heavily in favor of the book is Jade the Ghost. She is really fantastic in her possessions and how she makes her presence known. She is aggressive and strong. It’s halfway scary. Her background and the events before her death are interesting. Jade’s background is interesting because I haven’t read a modern book that uses that twist anymore. I love it because it proves that classic twists are classic for a reason and they stand the test of time. I was surprised by it because it is so classic that it is rare to find in a modern book. Jade and the dream memories are amazing, by the way.

Technically, I should give this book four black butterflies because every lost element is a half of butterfly. Rapid introduction of characters and dropping the case on the reader is one lost butterfly. Except I can’t give it to the book because it lost the potential to tell a fantastic story. More pages, more character development, better transitions between scenes would have gone a long way. There is a scene that starts “Where the hell have you been” and I thought Mia had said it about her sunglasses because she was looking for them. Maybe she lost the sunglasses previously. No, that sentence is spoken by Steve, her boss, and it’s a cell phone conversation. I’m like “Where did he come from” because Mia is not on phone, she never picked up the phone nor did she dialed Steve. Awkward. There are a few scenes like the one above. Random but there are not enough commas in the book.

A lot of what I focused on may seem like minor things but they are important to me. I think that it is a good book. It has a solid storyline. The mystery is good and it doesn’t have major plot holes. It just needs more fine-tuning.

3.5-Pretty to look at, maybe capture

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65th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, Ghostly, Men in Uniform

Review: Afterlife by Naomi Clark

Title: Afterlife
Author: Naomi Clark
Series: Afterlife # 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: E-book
Source:  Author
Pub. Year: 2009
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
I receive a copy of this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
Yasmin Stoker is a ghost tour guide who spends her days showing tourists around Shoregrave’s haunted hotspots. She also happens to be a wraith who spends her nights hunting Revenants, newly-risen flesh-eating vampires. On one of her regular hunts, she witnesses a mysterious ghostly girl pulling the body of a teenage boy underground. Who and what is this girl, and why is she attacking men around the city? Yasmin investigates, but it quickly becomes clear that somebody wants to keep her from finding the killer and they’ll do anything-including ambushing her with ghouls and cacodaemons-to stop her. With only a persistent private eye and a taciturn vampire (one of the Immaculate, no less) to help her, Yasmin must deal with fanatical necromancers, crazed ghosts, and a sexy history teacher in her quest to solve the mystery. And along the way she uncovers some heartbreaking truths about her own existence.

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What I like about it: Props for creativity.

(I’m feeling a bit under the weather so let’s start with a bang).

Yasmin was a strong protagonist who has a very high moral ground. She prides herself on never hurting or killing humans so she looks down upon those paranormal beings who need humans to survive. She is a wraith; she needs to feed on souls in order to live and she only takes the soul of vampires. Yasmin is hard on her roommate, Emma, who is a succubus. Emma wants to feed on who humans who unfortunately end up dead or in a coma. That’s a huge “No-no” for Yasmin. Yasmin and Emma have a tense friendship but they are good friends. It is my first time reading about wraiths (other than the ones mentioned in Stargate: Atlantis which do feed on humans) so I can’t complain about the wraith mythology. Clark revealed some interesting tidbits about the true origin of wraiths so I’m looking forward to reading about it in the next book.

Secondary characters are interesting as well. Private Investigator Ethan Banning is investigating the murders of children in Shoregrave and Lost Anchorage. He may be freaked out by the Pale World and its paranormal inhabitants but he is enjoying the ride. Nicomedes the Lich Lord and overlord of Shoregrave was insane but intriguing. He is pinning after his lost love while slowly losing touch with reality. Plus, he stitched his eyes together. Creepy. Vampire Durante is a constant source of irritation to Yasmin because she needs him but doesn’t like what he is. It’s a interesting relationship but it should become even more so because Clark keeps hinting that they have a past together that Yasmin cannot remember.

Plot-wise, the story moved at a good pace. There are enough interactions between different paranormal creatures while the murder case is moving forward. The murder case and the Golden Ghost are fascinating because there is so much more going on than what is on the surface. There really isn’t a major plot hole in the story overall. It is solid.

One of the things that I liked about this novel was the origin story of the vampire. In Clark’s world, vampires are created when the soul of the deceased return to possess their own body. It looks like they still required another vampire to exchange blood with but the soul is returned back to its body. It solves the dilemma of wondering whether a vampire has a soul or not. The vampire with a soul and vampires are a great source of philosophical inquires and emotional turmoil for Yasmin.

A thing that left me off-balance was the location. I don’t know if the world of Afterlife takes place on our world (Earth) or if it is a secondary world. I think it takes place on our world because it is modern. It left me unbalanced since there are no recognizable cities or monuments. It is obvious that humans don’t know about the Pale World though. I wish there was something more to anchored the reader.

Overall, it was just a solid story with a murder case at the heart of the Pale World.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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64th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, First in a Series, Ghostly

Review: The Carousel Ghost by Andrea Pelleschi

Title: The Carousel Ghost
Author: Andrea Pelleschi
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Supernatural
Format: E-book
Source:  Author
Pub. Year: 2012
Purchase: Amazon / MuseItUp Publishing
I received this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb from Amazon:
Fourteen-year-old Kate’s traditional first day at Wildwood Lake Park couldn’t get any worse. Besides problems with her best friend and the obnoxious, but cute, boy from school named Tommy, there’s the new haunted carousel ride. When Kate goes for a spin, she finds herself transported back in time and into the body of a ghost named Isabelle, circa 1928. Isabelle’s husband carved the horse, and the rumor is that he also murdered Isabelle.

Back in the present, Kate teams up with Tommy to solve the mystery of how Isabelle died, even if it means more terrifying rides on the carousel. As the investigation goes on, Kate finds herself growing closer to Isabelle than she is with Meghan. So when the carousel is slated to be dismantled for the park museum, Kate hurries to solve the mystery before Isabelle is doomed to wander the park–and Kate’s dreams–forever.

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What I liked: A great clean ghost story that does not rely on blood and mayhem.

This is a ghost story without shock or bad luck. It is just a simple ghost story about a woman haunting a carousel which is a great contrast to most ghost stories that are used to scared people. The story of Isabel spiked interest instead of terror.

Kate was a great protagonist. In the first chapter, she was a bit annoying with the whole “I don’t like Meghan’s new friends so I’m going show I know more about her” attitude but it is realistic. Kate would feel possessive about her friendship with Meghan around new people who want to claim Meghan as their new best friend. The fact that we see this possessive side of her is a good thing because it shows Kate’s character growth. She slowly goes from being pessimistic about losing the friendship and finds a silver lining in moving away from from Meghan. As much as this novel is about solving a mystery, it is about the Kate growing up.

One of the best features about this novel is that even though Kate is hanging out with Tommy, it is not focused on building a romance between them but rather a friendship. Kate, at the start, couldn’t stand Tommy because he acts like a typical boy for his age. She grows to tolerate him and then truly considers him a friend because the mystery murder quest brings them together. He may turn her into a little trespasser and lawbreaker but that is part of growing up. Tommy proves he is just not an annoying boy but can be a loyal and interesting person. He helps Kate mature as a person and he does too.

The ghost story of Isabelle haunting the carousel was a nice, little creepy story. Especially with the dream sequences. Isabelle had more power to communicate with Kate through the dreams than through the carousel warhorse. She wasn’t creepy, she was just sorrowful. I like how they solved the case as well. It wasn’t just independent research or looking for clues. They had adults involve in the case (without full details) in a positive way. The adults weren’t too oblivious and instead of hindering the case, they contributed to it. I applaud Pelleschi for showing well-meaning and present adults.

Overall, this is a five butterfly rating for me. It is a different type of ghost story, Kate and Tommy grow into their own skins, and a positive portrayal of adults make me love the book.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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53rd in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: E-book, Ghostly

Review: Bizenghast Vol. 1 by M. Alice LeGrow

Title: Bizenghast Vol. 1
Author: M. Alice LeGrow
Series: Bizenghast Series
Genre: Manga
Format: Paperback
Source:  Personal Purchase
Pub. Year: 2006
Purchase: Amz / B&N

Blurb from Goodreads:
Time passes in every town…except one. When a young girl moves to the forgotten town of Bizenghast, she uncovers a terrifying collection of lost souls that leads her to the brink of insanity. One thing becomes painfully clear: The residents of Bizenghast are just dying to come home

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What I like: Dinah’s lolita clothing=Beautiful. That is an amazing cover.

Dinah

If you like beautiful gothic drawing, ghosts and bold eyes, then this is the book for you. The gothic and dark elements of this manga are striking. I love it.

Dinah and Vincent, best friends, have to help the spirits of the dead find peace by breaking them out of their routines. Before they can even reach the spirit, they have to solves riddles. The riddles are pretty cool but I couldn’t solve them so that is awesome. Vincent is the one solves them and helps the spirits move on. This manga has four ghosts that Dinah and Vincent have to help. The first ghost has the best riddle and answer but it is the second ghost that has the tragic love story. The third ghost involves a drowning, it is a good storyline but not my favorite. The fourth ghost involves a quasi-wolf boy elements going on and it has a great image of Dinah becoming one with a tree. It is beautiful.

The people who are forcing Dinah to go a nightly quest to help spirits are the caretakers of the mausoleum/cemetery. Bali-Bali is a crazy spider lady; she is scary. Edaniel is another entity that belongs to the mausoleum; he is a Guard that is meant to help Dinah on her quests. He is a weird cat like being but he is so adorable and funny. Reminds me of the Cheshire Cat. He is helpful in explaining in more details what is going on. Bali-Bali was more frightening than helpful. Edaniel shows that there is more going at the mausoleum instead of just putting spirits to rest. I can’t wait to see the storyline become stronger and more concrete.

Edaniel

One of the issues I take up with this first volume is Dinah herself. She is a very weak character. I think it has to do with Dinah being depressed or sick but she just has no energy. I love her bold eyes but she has no charismatic personality. The one time she shows a backbone, I don’t believe her. Dinah has been close to useless pretty much the entire length of the manga that it is hard to believe that she would keep her contract with Bali-Bali when she is offer a way out of her contract. It does show Dinah could grow into a strong character later on but first, she does have to get physically and mentally better.

The art is fantastic but the storyline is not strong. Dinah, Vincent and any human are not strong characters; they are a little one dimensional. Edaniel is a fun character and I like him very much. I hope Dinah grows a backbone because she is the main character. I love her eyes.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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52nd in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, Ghostly, M/GN/VG

Wishlist Wednesday # 14

Wishlist Wednesday is hosted by Pen to Paper. It is the place to showcase one book that has been on our wishlist. Click on the image if you feel like joining in on the fun.

On My Wishlist is: On The Fringe by Courtney King Walker

Blurb from Amazon:
Claire is struggling to overcome the murder of her childhood friend and secret crush, Daniel. Everyone else seems to be moving on with their lives, but she’s still trying to cope. The fact that she finds herself alone and drowning on her 16th birthday isn’t helping.
Neither is thinking she sees Daniel’s face in murky water as she mysteriously resurfaces. But something happened during those four and a half minutes that will make her realize it was not just her imagination.
As Claire and Daniel try to grasp a possible reconnection, other grudge-holding beings have plans of their own. Now, the two of them have to decide if their fleeting relationship is worth the possibility of Claire being trapped on the fringe forever.
Beautifully told, On the Fringe intertwines fresh ideas about devotion, revenge, and the consequences that come with life and death.

I’m really loving the whole drowning and water imagery so the cover attracted me to the book. It does sound like something I could have read before, old storyline, but it could be interesting. I do love the reading the impossible romance between ghosts and the living.

Reviews: Dark Shadows by D.J Arneson

Title: Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest Interrupted Voyage
Author: D.J. Arneson
Illustrated by: Joe Carta
Series: Standalone
Genre:  Supernatural, Horror
Source: Netgalley
Format: Galley
Pub. Year: Feb. 15, 2012
Purchase: B&N /Amazon
I received this book free of charge from Netgalley in return for an honest opinion.

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What I will remember: A great mix of supernatural creatures.

I had to get this book from Netgalley, it’s Dark Shadows. It was a gothic drama on daytime TV in the late 60’s -70’s and again in the late-90’s. If that doesn’t captivate someone, Johnny Depp is playing Barnabas in the new Dark Shadows film by Tim Burton. My favorite combination, Depp and Burton.

Dark Shadows

Barnabas and Quentin

I absolutely love the artwork that accompanies the book. The art has an old feel to it which I love. It has very dark tones and shades. The best part is that it accompanies the storyline so the pictures capture moments in the story. Plus, all the characters are drawn there so there is no need for a physical description of them. It may have to do with the fact the story was written while Dark Shadows was on TV. I wished I knew what the art style was called so I could better explain it.

Story wise, I love it. It is a gothic tale through and through. We have Annabelle as the ghost, Barnabas as the vampire turned human, Angelique as the evil sister of Annabelle, and Calandra the witch. Oh, and Michael the zombie as well. The setting also contributes to the gothic feeling. It is a shore city where the inhabitants don’t trust strangers and are into burning at the stake. Plus, it is a tragic love story where the lovers (Annabelle and Michael)  are both dead and are trying to reunite with each other in the afterlife. A very lovely story.

The bonus features at the end is something that I really enjoyed. It mainly consists of the photographs of the original Dark Shadows with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas.  Some photos are of the cast posing for pictures and a few screenshots. Most are in black and white but some are in color.

Final thoughts on Dark Shadows, it is awesome. The artwork reminds me of the style use in comic books. It has an eclectic mix of supernatural creatures and somehow it makes sense for a witch to control a zombie. It is a gothic tale. Plus, Johnny Depp is going to be in the film adaptation and so is Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix from Harry Potter and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd) but more important, Tim Burton is directing it. I totally have to see this film. The only thing that would make this film even more exciting would be having Alan Rickman in it. Oh, I love him.  Hmm, getting off topic. Um, this is a five for me because I’m a huge fan of Dark Shadows and the movie has me pretty hype up.

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5 BB- Total Keeper

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows Photo Promo (from Teaser Trailer)

Review: Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garrey

Author: Terri Garrey
Title: Dead Girls Are Easy
Series: Nikki Styx # 1
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Source: PapebackSwap
Format: Paperback
Pub. Year: 2007
Purchase: Amazon/B&N

Book Blurb (from Amazon):
There’s something about almost dying that makes a girl rethink her priorities. Take Nicki Styx—she was strictly goth and vintage, until a brush with the afterlife leaves her with the ability to see dead people.

Before you can say boo, Atlanta’s ghosts are knocking at Nicki’s door. Now her days consist of reluctantly cleaning up messes left by the dearly departed, leading ghouls to the Light . . . and one-on-one anatomy lessons with Dr. Joe Bascombe, the dreamy surgeon who saved her life. All this catering to the deceased is a real drag, especially for a girl who’d rather be playing hanky-panky with her hunky new boyfriend . . . who’s beginning to think she’s totally nuts.

But things get even more complicated when a friend foolishly sells her soul to the devil, and Nicki’s new gift lands her in some deep voodoo.

As it turns out for Nicki Styx, death was just the beginning.

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What I will remember: Ghost Whisperer in book format

I wanted to read this book because it reminded me of the Ghost Whisperer and I love that show. If you have seen the show, then you have read the book already. The book plays out almost like a TV episode with Nikki Styx instead of Jennifer Love Hewitt. Let’s see: both own a vintage store, have a man by their side that works in the medical field (and who are a little bland), angry ghosts they have to cross over, and the best friend that tends to get spooked intentionally by the ghosts. That’s not to say the book isn’t any good. It is a fun, entertaining read.

Nikki Styx (can you say Motley Crue? Cause I do) can see ghosts after a near death experience and falls for her doctor, Joe. He’s a little bland, takes the whole crazy situation in strides and pretty much declares his love for Nikki in one episode. I’m always suspicious of those types of men. I believe relationship and love take time to build and frankly, I didn’t think there wasn’t enough in-depth conversations to really figure each other out. Sex and adventure are great but they don’t maintain a relationship.

I do like Nikki, she has a nice personality even though she declares herself a player in the field. That put me off at first but since I never saw her “playing the field” it leads me to believe she was exaggerating. Actually, I don’t think the description she gave of herself is accurate at all. She also states that she has many walls around herself but she trusts the majority of people around her which lead her to trouble. To be fair, she is being captivated by New Orleans voodoo which is really fascinating (then again, I’m a  fan of the occult).

Plot-wise, I was a little annoyed a Nikki because she was literally told who is the one causing her problems and she did nothing with the information until a confrontation was absolutely necessary. To make matters worse, Nikki was completely surprised to see who the culprit was. She was obviously not paying attention to Grandma Julep, the old voodoo lady trying to help her.

The book is a fun, nothing serious type of book to read. I’ll always see it as Ghost Whisperer in book format with the show being better. Nikki missing who is behind the haunting is a blundering error that seriously drops the book in my esteem.

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3.5-Pretty to look at, maybe capture