Category Archives: paranormal

Review: Into the Mists by Serene Conneeley

Into the Mists (Into the Mists #1) by Serene Conneeley

Enter the swirling mists of an enchanted land, and open your heart to the mystery...

Carlie has the perfect life. A wonderful family and a best friend she adores. A house by the beach so she can go surfing after school. A clever, rational mind and big dreams of becoming a lawyer. A future she’s excited about and can’t wait to begin.

But in a split second her perfect life shatters, and she is sent to the other side of the world to live with a stranger. In this mystical, mist-drenched new land, she is faced with a mystery that will make her question everything she’s ever known about her parents, her life and her very self. A dark secret that made her mother run away from home as a teenager. An old family friend who is not what he seems. A woman in blue who she’s not convinced is real. A shadowy black cat that she’d swear is reading her mind. A deserted old cottage she can’t always find. And a circle of wild-haired witches who want her to join their ranks.

Will she have the courage to journey into the mists, and into her own heart, to discover the truth? And can she somehow weave together a life that she’ll want to live – or will she give up and allow despair to sweep her away from the world forever?

Published 19 May 2013 |  Publisher: Serene Conneeley/Blessed Bee |  RRP: AUD$4.99 

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo  

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I met the author, Serene, at a bookclub meeting through Read3r’z Re-Vu and what really appealed to me was Serene’s own loveliness and the book covers. I thought the description was decent but didn’t particularly appeal to my reading taste.

It was a struggle to get through the first half of the book because it was just so choked full of grief that I could only read a small portion at a time. It should be acknowledged that the author has written it well if it could affect me in such terrible ways. However, I did persevere as I was assured of better things to come.

To be honest, I expected this to be more of a fairy story but if it was supposed to be so, that’s definitely not what I got in this first book. What I did get, however, is some education about paganism. The book lost me a bit here as I must confess that I have no interest whatsoever in paganism and at some parts, I felt that it dwelt a bit too much into theories behind it. However, I think for someone who loves paganism or even if curious, this may be something they’d love to read. They are lovely theories but they’re just not for me.

There was one particular part that I really really liked, and without telling too much, it explored a ‘what-if’ for the protagonist. What I really liked was the way the story was written; I just love this type of story (and I can’t tell you or it would spoiled). And at the end, the book raised quite a few more questions that I’d like to find the answer to so I think I’d try the rest of the trilogy and hope for more ‘what-if’.

Thanks to the author, Serene Conneeley, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Serene Conneeley is an Australian writer with a fascination for history, travel, ritual and the myth and magic of ancient places and cultures. She’s written for magazines about news, travel, health, spirituality, entertainment and social and environmental issues, is editor of several preschool  magazines, and has contributed to international books on history, witchcraft, psychic development and personal transformation.

She is the author of the non-fiction books Seven Sacred Sites, A Magical Journey, The Book of Faery Magic, Mermaid Magic, Witchy Magic and Into the Mists: A Journal, and creator of the meditation CD Sacred Journey. The Into the Mists Trilogy was her first adventure into fiction, and she is currently finishing three Into the Mists Chronicles.

Serene is a reconnective healing practitioner, and has studied medicinal and magical herbalism, bereavement counselling, reiki and many other healing modalities, plus politics and journalism. She loves reading, rainbows, drinking tea with her friends, and celebrating the energy of the moon and the magic of the earth. Her pagan heart blossomed as she climbed mountains, danced in stone circles, trekked along pilgrimage paths, wandered through ancient cathedrals and stood in the shadow of the pyramids on her travels, and she’s also learned the magic of finding true happiness and peace at home.

Find Serene on:  website  |  goodreads  |  facebook   |  instagram

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Serene! 😀

Blog Tour: It Came From The Deep by Maria Lewis

I’m so excited to hear about Maria Lewis’ new upcoming release, It Came From The Deep. It’s YA. It’s all about fantastic sea creatures… I’ve asked Maria to share with us her 4 favourite fiction involving sea creatures and I have to say they all sound amazing (I read only 1 – the fourth one). Have you read any of them? If not, well, you can read one while you’re waiting for Maria’s new book!

DROWNTOWN (2013)

This is one of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever read and was also miles ahead of the cli-fi (climate fiction) movement that is really taking off now. From the minds of Robbie Morrison and pen of Jim Murray, it’s set in a London heavily impacted by climate change to the point that the whole city is basically underwater. Boats, jet-skis and any propeller-based device are the main modes of transport as you see humans and the entire animal species interact on a day-to-day basis. It’s a crime Drown Town never got multiple books, as it was a darkly intriguing world depicted in a bright and visceral fashion that really stayed with you.

JAWS (1974)

It’s a classic for a reason and I revisited Peter Benchley’s seminal thriller last year, delighted to find that it still holds up. It’s pulpy fun and – ironically – the definition of a great beach read. It doesn’t dip into schlock territory as heavily as his later works, Creature and Beast specifically, but through Chief Brody and his family you get a super tense, creepy story. Definitely not one for the squeamish, but if you can make it through that opening chapter then you’re in for a treat.

HELLBOY (1993 – onwards)

Mike Mignola’s creation first popped up in 1993 and it’s easy for all of the focus to be drawn to ‘Big Red’ himself, after all, Hellboy is the title character. Yet it’s his best friend Abe Sapien that always captured my interest, an amphibious man of sorts with intuitive psychic abilities and a penchant for boiled eggs. He was like a sweet-hearted, old school gentleman in the comics … who just so happened to have scales. Abe got to move in to the spotlight with the B.P.R.D run, which was wonderful, and Doug Jones’ portrayal of him in Guillermo del Toro’s two films cemented his status as one of – if not the best – fictional sea creatures.

THE BLOOD IN THE BEGINNING (2016)

I was only put on to this super recently after I announced It Came From The Deep and someone recommended that I check out Aussie author Kim Falconer’s novel from last year. It’s a mix of a lot of different things I love – action, adventure, dystopia, romance, urban fantasy and sassy heroines. It also features a warring, fictional sea creature race unlike anything else I’ve seen in spec fic before. There are about five or six different merpeople shows set to drop in the next two years from a range of networks and I feel like their version of the creatures is going to be tapping into a lot of the ideas represented in this epic. The Blood In The Beginning is huge in its scope and how much story it’s trying to tell in just one book, so if it doesn’t always hit the target the promise of what’s to come in future Ava Skyes’ stories is enough.

If you’re interested in my review for this last book, you can find it here

About the book

It Came From The Deep by Maria Lewis

An elderly professor is murdered, leaving a puzzling crime scene for police to unravel and a laboratory housing all kinds of marine life. But something is missing … something huge.

Recent highschool graduate Kaia Craig has problems of her own, with her career as an ironwoman on the Gold Coast in jeopardy after a horrific accident. Yet someone wants to hold her accountable.

After nearly drowning in Lake Pelutz and her attackers on the run, Kaia is left with more than just physical injuries. She’s convinced she saw something in the depths of the lake: something that choose to spare her. Uncertain whether she’s running towards the discovery of a friend or foe, Kaia begins digging into a mystery that may have bigger ramifications than she or any of her friends can fathom.

Add it on Goodreads: It Came From The Deep

Buy it on Amazon: It Came From The Deep

About the author

Maria Lewis is an author, journalist and screenwriter based in Sydney, Australia. Getting her start as a police reporter, her writing on pop culture has appeared in publications such as the New York Post, Guardian, Penthouse, The Daily Mail, Empire Magazine, Huffington Post and many more. Seen as a presenter on SBS Viceland’s nightly news program The Feed and as the host of Cleverfan on ABC, she has been a journalist for over 13 years.

She’s the producer and host of the Eff Yeah Film and Feminism podcast. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Who’s Afraid? was published in 2016, followed by its sequel Who’s Afraid Too? in 2017. Who’s Afraid? is being developed for television by the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Hoodlum Entertainment.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | facebook |  twitter  | youtube  |  instagram  | tumblr

Blog Tour: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

freeksFreeks by Amanda Hocking

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

My Blurb

I’ve probably said it enough times that thanks for Enid Blyton’s Mr. Galliano’s Circus series, I have this deep abiding love for circus in fiction. Needless to say, I was drawn to this novel by the fact that this is set within a circus sort of scene. The difference is that this is actually a travelling sideshow so you know… lots of those strange and wonderful and not-so-wonderful things! You go there to be entertained, to be horrified, and to have lots of stupid fun.

I didn’t realise that this book is a spin-off of some sort of the Trylle Trilogy and I’ve not actually read them yet so I can’t tell you (if you’re a fan) if this compares well to the original trilogy or if any of previous characters is in this book though from what I can see on Goodreads, they seem to have different sets of characters. After reading this book though, I am rather curious of this world as it’s paranormal with a gothic vibe (especially with all the ‘freeks’ or to be PC, specially talented people).

For some reason, it rather shocked me that the whole book is set in late ’80s. I mean why would you set a book in the ’80s? Especially a YA? However, there are a lot of historical/paranormal YA books set in 19th century & other periods so why not the ’80s?! It really is an historical period despite the fact that I was already alive then :p Of course, quite a few things resonate with me (ie. cassettes, music, etc) and that brings back other memories.

Freeks is a very easy read though rather long. The main characters were easily likeable. The mystery was acceptable. The ending was rather abrupt but totally as I expected. Overall, it was a rather average read; entertaining enough but missing that particular sparkle. I think there was too much in the middle and the build-up for the final confrontation didn’t quite deliver. It’s a cute read for the romance and of course, the ‘circus’ feel.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom – all three books in her bestselling trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles – are out now.

Her latest book is Freeks – a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a travelling sideshow, and it is a available now. Her next books will be a duology about Valkyries – due out in 2018.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  tumblr  | facebook  | youtube  | instagram

Review: The Blood in the Beginning

the blood in the beginning
The Blood in the Beginning by Kim Falconer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher

The Blood in the Beginning sounds so appealing and could fit right in my comfort reading zone. A paranormal/urban fantasy/dystopian novel with a “kickass nightclub bouncer” female main character, this is a potential for a pick-me-up feisty fabulous read but whilst I enjoyed the read, it fell short of my expectation.

Ava Sykes is not actually ‘Ava Sykes’ and she has a blood disorder so rare, she has to fly under the radar. Unfortunately, there are people (& others!) sniffing around her and will not leave her alone. On the other hand, this could be an opportunity she cannot miss in finding out the truth about herself and who she really is. But will the truth set her free?

Her secret reminds me so much of a certain movie trilogy (view spoiler) though of course, there are differences. I’ve really enjoyed the world-building and without giving too much spoilers, I wish to see a lot more of the ‘under world’. Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel any sparks between Ava and her male counterpart(s). She’s one confused little lady and this, I think, also affects any ‘sparks’ she may/may not have for anyone. I wanted more from this part of the book.

As I read an Uncorrected Proof, I did find that it needs some tidying up so I do hope the final copy will proof to be a better read. The book ended, however, with a promising note of more exciting things to come so I will definitely give book 2 a chance.

Many thanks to Harlequin Australia; I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club

lady helenLady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher

I very much adored The Eon Duology! I still remembered vividly staying up late whilst heavily pregnant with my first because I just could not put down The Two Pearls of Wisdom; absolutely captivating and one of my favourite books ever! Therefore, I’ve kept my eye on Alison Goodman and have heard about this Regency project some years ago… I’ve waited a lifetime for Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club!

This story is told from Lady Helen’s perspective and readers are privileged, as well, to know her private thoughts. The novel opens with Lady Helen’s preparation for her presentation to the Queen. Immediately, we are deliciously teased with a taint on Lady Helen’s reputation or rather her mother’s and therefore, hers. A few pages later, her aunt entered with a scandal involving one of her good friends and the second chapter brought a disappearance of one of the maid. The mysteries continued to be piled on top of one another until there is a knot that demands untangling.

Lady Helen herself turns out to be a very admirable character. Right from the beginning, she evinced her independence of thoughts and ingenuity in problem solving. Nevertheless, even as she finds herself becoming different, her upbringing constrained her and she struggled with this new knowledge of herself and the world. I found this struggle to be very realistic and actually made me like her a lot more than I thought I would. Honestly, I wasn’t sure which outcome I’d like for her though of course, the other one will mean that there will be no series ;p

I think I looked too hard for Eon in these pages… I loved Eon very easily but Helen took some time to understand. The world building was just as incredible and hence, probably the reason it felt quite slow… It’s a whole big old but new world! I expect the next instalment to be at a faster pace and even more amazing; I can’t wait!

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for copy of Uncorrected proof in exchange of honest review

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Review: Night Walker

night walkerNight Walker by Aaron L. Speer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: ebook courtesy of author

Night Walker piqued my interest mostly due to its setting; Sydney. I’m always keen to read a books set in my hometown so when the author, Aaron L. Speer, approached me, I really couldn’t refuse. He stated that he didn’t think there was a vampire story in connection to the Australian history before… I can’t think of one either so, I was really quite curious.

I had quite a bit of expectation of some historical content with some well-known historical characters with some being, secretly, creatures of the night who are alive (or rather, undead) now. The historical part of the story was only at the beginning of the book with only references to the past later on in the story.

The unfortunate bit was that I struggle to sympathise with any of the characters so it really took me a long time (maybe halfway) before I started enjoying the story. I don’t think I’ll go into exactly why because that’ll take a long time; suffice to say that I found each character to be annoying in a different way. There are characters that I don’t think I’d get along well, in life, at all.

I feel this novel to be plot heavy –lots of characters talking and doing things but I’m missing the atmosphere of this world. I’m just not quite sure what it’s supposed to be like! I’d like a bit more of world building –more descriptions on the surrounding (the colours, the smell, the feel, etc). And then, the ending… hhhmmm, I was utterly exasperated by the turnaround!!!

Honestly, I think I have been completely spoiled by All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness so please bear this in mind when you are considering my review knowing where my perspective lies. Night Walker has an appealing premise but I’ve only found delivery to be average.

Thanks to Simon Aaron L. Speer for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Raven

the ravenThe Raven by Sylvain Reynard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

My first impression was formed upon the attractive cover and premise of the novel. At the time of writing this review, I realize that I’m actually looking for something similar to the All Souls Trilogy since I just loved that trilogy. There are quite a few similarities: American heroine, old European city, ancient handsome European vampire, artworks (instead of books), etc. The Raven didn’t quite engage my heart on the same way but it was still an enjoyable & easy read that I devoured in a couple of days.

The beginning of the novel was a bit rocky for me. At first, I was unbalanced by the not-so-perfect heroine but then I thought, this could be really good and admire the author for writing a heroine who isn’t off-the-bat gorgeous. But then there was an incident which changed this condition and then another twist. I really didn’t know how to handle these! In the end, I understood this to be a lesson which Raven required and only made her stronger.

Another bit which annoyed me in the beginning is the way the Prince (William) is established as a great lover (chapter 3!). Ugh, this was way too soon and turned me off a little that I needed a day in between before I continued reading. Other than this, I found the Prince to be quite intriguing especially his background (before being turned) –which hasn’t been quite explored though I believe this could be a promise for the rest of the series.

Overall, this novel leans heavily on the romance with a tad too much focus on the main characters’ insecurities (Raven’s body and William’s nature) –which irritated me a little. The story is told from 2 perspectives though mostly from Raven’s. I do wish there was a little more of William’s, especially to have the Underworld of Florence’s developed more –the political intrigue, the power play which I’d reckon will ratchet up the suspense factor of the story.

The ending wasn’t quite believable for me; I guess it was sweet but I wasn’t convinced. Although the preview for book 2 actually made me laugh though I’m not quite sure whether I’m invested enough in this series to continue on. 3 stars for easily digested reading, beautiful atmospheric setting, and fascinating facts on artworks.

Thank you, Penguin Books Australia, for copy of paperback in exchange of honest review

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Review: Emblaze

emblazeEmblaze by Jessica Shirvington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy won via giveaway

Please note this is a review of the third book of The Violet Eden Chapters and there may be spoilers in respect to earlier books, Embrace & Enticed.

Wow, the prologue took me by surprise and reduced me to a sobbing mess. I just cannot imagine being her shoes. It was utterly heartbreaking –especially since I’m a mother myself which then brings me to my inability to sympathise with Violet & her anger. I know the reasons for her anger but I just can’t understand it.

The stakes have gone up considerably and Phoenix will do everything to get what he wants. Or at least, that’s what it seems like. Phoenix is another character whom I found confusing. I guess Violet found him a bit confusing too though she still has hopes for his humanity.

I didn’t really feel the presence of Lincoln in this book though he IS present. And had stepped up to the mark too –especially in his leadership which I liked. The tension between Lincoln & Violet has also ratcheted up though both are doing their best to ignore it. Don’t worry though, there is at least one scene which is swoon-worthy!

The best bits in this instalment for me is the prologue and the last chapter. Man, Jessica Shirvington certainly knows how to end a book! In Emblaze, Violet if faced with many choices –on which many lives & destinies depend upon. It was full of twist upon twist and was set ablaze with action. The most action-packed instalment so far and I’m loving it. I’ll be jumping on book 4 as soon as I can get a copy!

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Review: Enticed

enticedEnticed by Jessica Shirvington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: bought own paperback copy

Please note this is a review of the second book of The Violet Eden Chapters and there may be spoilers in respect to the first book, Embrace.

I was really happy with the way book 1 ended and I really wanted to know how that decision pan out for Violet. After the ‘bang’ of finishing Embrace, I felt Enticed started at a slower pace though there were lots going on that it was necessary to go at a slower pace so I can get my head around it all.

I loved the new characters introduced in this book; an easygoing guy, a kick-ass gal, and also a couple which represent hope… for Vi, for Linc, for us. I am really loving Stephanie (she’s a True BFF!) and I’m happy that she’s got a bit of a role to play than just Vi’s bestie. The second half of the book went quite fast with lots of twists and turns. Tidbits of info are scattered like crumbs throughout and are begging for me to follow on.

The only disappointment I had was Lincoln, especially at the beginning. He wasn’t there as much in the beginning and I thought he seemed weak. In a way, this highlights Vi’s strength even more. Thankfully, he redeemed himself later on.

Enticed is a fantastic sequel full of friendships, betrayal, ancient secrets, and of course, love. I have completely enjoyed the read and have got book 3, Emblaze in my hand, ready for my reading hour (which is now).

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Review: Embrace

embraceEmbrace by Jessica Shirvington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: bought own paperback copy

My first read for 2015! I was happy that I’ve kickstarted the year with a fairly good read. It has taken me quite some time since I first heard a work colleague raved about it though. The good thing? I’ve 4 out 5 books so I don’t have to wait or anything like that, I can just plow through it all!

The reason I waited so long is that I have this unexplainable aversion about angels in fiction. I thought about it so many times but I just don’t know why. Perhaps it has to do with the face that I am a Christian and so I think that angels should be just as they are described in the Bible. That sounds a bit small-minded, doesn’t it? Well… I don’t have that problem anymore! I adore Embrace.

At first, I didn’t quite like Violet; turning her back on who she is because she’s got her life all mapped out already. However, as I continue reading, I appreciate this as her strength in not just being pushed into things just because… She’s intelligent, loyal, courageous, and really, quite sensible. She is far from perfect and made mistakes too, of course. It’s a part of growing up and discovering oneself and we get to see this through with Violet; where I, the backseat driver, conveniently, shook my head, rolled my eyes, screamed ‘NO!’, as well as nodding in understanding, smiling in approval, & punching the air in victory at the appropriate moments.

I really enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. And I also like the idea of Angelic beings and the ancient battle to protect earth & humans. I, most especially, loved the ending which I will described as sensibly romantic; rather hopeful though nothing is resolved. At least, it wasn’t a cliffhanger even though the mystery is still to be solved. I have very high expectations for the rest of the series!

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