Category Archives: paranormal

Review: A Clockwork Heart

clockwork heartA Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Del Ray via NetGalley

Please note this is a review of second book of The Chronicles of Light and Shadow and there may be spoilers in respect to book 1: A Conspiracy of Alchemist (you can check my review on book1, here)

I mentioned in my review for book 1, A Conspiracy of Alchemist, that I think the ending was somewhat dissatisfactory due to some ‘decision’ which I thought was quite silly in consideration of the situation. It took me some time to decide that I would like to know which direction the author is taking with this series and it was truly surprising. A Clockwork Heart turns out to be a darker read that I never would have suspected.

It was a rocky beginning. I just thought Elle was being such a brat and utterly selfish that it was all I could do from strangling her myself. The saving factor was a minor character, Ducky, who basically said what I wanted to say to Elle (*kowtow* thank you, Ducky!). From then on, I could see that maybe this book is worth the read, after all. Even then, there were still a couple of Elle’s decisions that I couldn’t live it. It wasn’t until towards the end where Elle’s picked up (and I’ll have to wait and see in the next instalment!) where I might actually start liking her again.

I have to believe that Elle’s rash and somewhat asinine decisions are what make this book. A little unfortunate that without these, the plot will not go in the direction it has. You will find A Clockwork Heart to be supernatural-steampunk world where Light and Shadow have collided; with the existence of an evil villainess who wanted to rule the world, clockwork-zombies, the tricksy Shadow’s world & characters –all who wanted a piece of the Light. It is a darker sort of paranormal-fantasy filled with actions but not so much romance.

If you are hoping for more of romance (i.e. Elle and Hugh) from book 1, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you are open enough to appreciate the direction of the story, then there is a chance you would like it. For myself, due to the frustration I experienced with Elle, the story (along with Ducky), I only just managed to finish the read with an average sort of feeling.

Thank you, Del Ray, for copy of eARC via Netgalley

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Review: Echo Prophecy

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00039]Echo Prophecy by Lindsey Fairleigh
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of L2 Books via NetGalley

Mention anything Egyptian, especially of the ancient variety, and you’ll have my attention. That’s how this book cover grabbed me on Netgalley. I do realise that ancient Egyptian has really been done to death and it will really be tough on the author to actually come up with something new / unique. Nevertheless, I just couldn’t resist some comfort read especially when it also includes some time travel.

The beginning where it started with a premonition seems to be promisingly exciting and thrilling. However, it slows down exponentially for quite a while before it picks up again. I had my doubts about Lex as she just doesn’t seem to be that kick-ass heroine and quite a few times, I feel like she needed to be kicked. What saves was the romance… I really liked Marcus and the ‘soul-mate’ bit was one I couldn’t resist but found sweet (I don’t care if that’s been done to death too!). The only scene that stuck to my head was Lex’s switch from modern woman to cave woman and the aftermath. Yep, there be sex scenes in this novel which were okay though not particularly hot. The ending was acceptable though it is set up for the next instalment whilst not being a cliff hanger.

All in all, this was a pretty average read. I wanted to say it was a fast read but while it was pretty easy to read in terms of language used, it’s not a small book so it was fast-ish if you skim read. If you’re looking for an ancient Egyptian fluff to pass a sleepless night, this is one to check out.

Thank you L2 Books for copy of eARC via Netgalley

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Book Blitz: Promises by Amber Garr (plus links for free ebook)

 

Life as a mermaid can be suffocating.

Free on Amazon Free on B&N Free on Smashwords

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.

When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.

A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those who she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so adamantly tried to escape.

Promises is the first book of The Syrenka Series trilogy following Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society.

About Amber Garr

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Amber Garr spends her days as a scientist and nights writing about other worlds. Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry kids. Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell. Amber is a multiple Royal Palm Literary Award winner, author of Waterproof, The Syrenka Series, The Leila Marx Novels, and the upcoming Death Warden Series. When not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie.

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Review: King Hall

king hallKing Hall by Scarlett Dawn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Harlequin Australia via NetGalley

My first reaction after I finished the book was:

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Was. So. Very. Extremely. Frustratingly. UPSET.

Why?!??! I really needed that disclaimer that this book ends with the Mother of a Cliffhanger. Bah! How in the world am I supposed to survive waiting for the next book?! I don’t even know when that will be!

Before I began reading, I was actually in a bit of a rut and wasn’t in the mood to read (Sorry, what?!? I know, the weirdest feeling ever). However, the humorous beginning lured me right in and though I was worried that this world might be a little bit complicated at that time of the morning, I was totally sucked in by first the humour, Lily as MC, the idea of lifemates (I’m a sucker for that type of romance), and then broken hearted. Within a few chapters, King Hall has had me chuckling, snorting [eye-roll moments], and crying (well, quite teary at any rate). I was raving about it a couple of hours later at lunch to my colleague who probably thought I was a little bit nuts since we haven’t seen each other in a while but all I could talk about was this book I’m reading. Errm, I love you too  xx

King Hall is the name of a college for Mysticals (ie. non-humans / “Commoners”). There are 4 types of Mysticals: Shifters, Vampires, Elementals, and Mages. Whilst showing a united front to Commoners, Mysticals do not like to mix and each group has their own ruler. Lily is not supposed to be one. In fact, she’s not supposed to even exist. However, she and 3 other Mysticals are the next in line to ruling each groups. Whilst relationships between rulers are usually quite reserved and sometimes, strained, due to the segregation, a tragedy brought these 4 together and forged a beautiful friendship. Of course, due to their Mystical natures, they are all beautiful physically and ‘friendly’ –so there’s that very interesting aspect of their friendship.

The friendship between Lily, Ezra, Jack, and Pearl was amazing to behold. It was an unfortunate tragedy which truly brought them together but they stayed strong together, trusted each other and truly accepted each other as different as they are. This was one of the best bits of the book. Of course, the quirky, snappy, sarcastic comments were most entertaining. And any sparks between characters helps the total enjoyment of the story. There was always something happening and it keeps me swiping through to the end [Note: only available in ebooks so there is no turning to be done, only swiping ;)].

I’m a little confused with the world building though as I feel there are some things that weren’t explained properly (or if it was, I completely missed it). For example, each Mystical have different powers but what exactly are their nature? I don’t understand how vampires are walking around in daytime and have body heat though I love the significance of hair colour – just imagine what a colourful the world it is.

King Hall was un-put-down-able for me. I had to keep on reading just one more chapter till I suddenly reached the end. I hope book 2 will come soon with lots of answers to questions I had from this book though I wouldn’t mind (in fact, I would totally love it) if there is a prequel of some sort about Lily & Dominic. psst, Dawn, I may just forgive you for this cliffhanger ending, if I can have this prequel to tide me over whilst waiting for book 2 This book will be one of those I’d recommend waiting for the next book, unfortunately. Can’t you just tell how very upset I am…. 

Thank you, Harlequin Australia for providing copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

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Review: Banish

banishBanish by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Source: Book courtesy of Harlequin Teen Australia

Just look at that cover – extremely eye-catching pink (have you seen my nails today?) with close-up of a gorgeous blond-blue-eyed chick. Yea, I am totally a sucker for pretty covers. I’ve not nailread any other of Nicola Marsh’s works though she seemed to be a prolific author; mostly adult romance novels which I rarely touch. This particular work in the YA / thriller / paranormal fits right within my comfort zone though so it was a snap decision to pick this up.

Alyssa came to New York to live with her aunt in order to escape from a painful past. However, just as she thinks that things are settling down, she’s moving on and is starting to dare to grasp happiness once again, the past came back to haunt her. It’s driving her crazy because she refused to believe in the supernatural… She believes someone’s got it bad for her and her logical head is pushing for a realistic answer. Is she going to get the result she wanted and will it be free of the supernatural?

[Alyssa describing herself] …beanpole strawberry blonde with blah-blue eyes, no curves and a nasty habit of picking at her cuticles

Alyssa was an easily likeable character though I really get the feeling that all her refusal to believe in the supernatural was a little too forced. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. However, she really is a mature character as is evident by her dating older guys. And Ronan! Well, I’ve to say that not only is he HOT, he sounds to be really mature for a 21 year old musician! It was lovely to read a relationship where both sides knew the need to communicate and tried hard at it – a refreshing change in a romance! And let’s not forget the sizzles!

His knuckles grazed my cheek in a strangely intimate gesture that had me wanting to leap into his arms and wrap my legs around him, like some corny scene out of a romantic movie…. He stared at my mouth for another few seconds before he shook his head slightly, as if trying to clear the fog. I know the feeling. Confused, befuddled and totally in lust.

The book opens with a Prologue that was quite thrilling then the book started the week previous to explore events leading up to the prologue. I don’t usually find this type of start annoying but this particular one, I actually did. The start was pretty explosive that I found it hard to settle to read the book. I kept getting distracted and was really impatient to get to that part so I can move onto the next exciting bit but it turns out to be the ending of the book and it was repeated word for word which was somewhat disappointing. I skimmed that couple of pages to read the closing of the book.

Despite the above slight disappointment and the predictability of the mystery (I figured it out midway), I still quite enjoyed the book. Primarily due to the turn of language and the suspense was still there though hubz dared to show up (to pick me up from the station) when I was 5 pages from the end! Arrgh! Banish is a good-easy-read with enough sweetness and suspense to spice it up. I’d recommend it if you’re after some sweet brain-fluff to while away a summer’s day. This is the perfect book to read out in the sunshine.

Thank you, HarlequinTeen Australia, for providing copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Weight of Souls

soulsThe Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Source: ecopy courtesy of Strange Chemistry via NetGalley

One of my favourite moments in life is when I’ve just read a book that exceeded my expectation. A book that is so engaging, that absorbed all your attention, that totally ruin everything else in the day for you, and that you can barely put down. Even better is a book you can devour in the one sitting. The Weight of Souls is one of those books for me. It was so easy to read with engaging characters and a pretty suspenseful plot; I was immediately immersed in the book and did not think of anything else for the day (fingers crossed that I didn’t do any major mistakes at work!).

What originally attracted me to this book is the ghost idea. I am Chinese in descent and they’re pretty superstitious especially when it comes to ghosts. Despite my being westernised, ghosts are just one of things that I cannot un-believe. Though personally I’ve never come across one nor do I want to and am pretty sceptical if someone said that they have come across one, I believe in the idea and ghosts in fiction would usually say to me, “Read Me!”

Interestingly, Taylor Oh is a halfie (ie. her mother is Chinese but her father is not) and it is through her mother that she has inherited this familial curse of seeing ghosts of murdered victims which usually comes with the obligation of avenging their murders. She was 10 when she saw her first ghost and from then on, her life has gone on a downward slide especially since she’s been unable to confide in her friends of what she’s seeing or doing. Not only that, she’s also been bullied at school. Life as a teenager is hard already without the extra burden (curse) that Taylor has to carry but then one of her bullies died and she’s the only who can see him. She felt forced to help him especially since her life is at risk from the Mark she carries but who murdered him and why? Will she be able to work together with him to solve this mystery?

I really liked the dynamic of relationships in this book, between Taylor and her dad, Taylor and Justin, Taylor and Hannah and Pete, etc. Each of them different and each revealed parts of Taylor: her loneliness, her strength, her loving nature, etc. There were also snippets of the origin of the curse which was told from Taylor’s memory of her mother’s voice which was really sweet and I really enjoyed this ‘ancient story’. As with all ghosts story, it’s always interesting to find out how the author would spin the romantic side of the story and I’ve to say that it was pretty sweet 

This story will string you along so be prepared to read it in one sitting. I loved the suspense, the “historical background”, the character interactions, the supernatural idea, and of course, the romance. I’m hoping with the way the book is ended that there will be an awesome sequel.

Thank you, Strange Chemistry via NetGalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Dance of Shadows

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing and The Reading Room – get your own copy from The Book Depository

In my adolescent years, growing up in Asia, manga was very popular. I devoured many series though my most favourite would have been Sailor Moon. I remember the wait for the publication of the first book then the next and so on and so forth. One other type I would voraciously hunt down are any ballet related manga. I probably would have read all the Mari-Chan’s series and fell in love more and more with ballet. The lines of drawing ballerina gracefully in mid-flight, each character’s love of ballet and determination to succeed –what can’t you love about these series?!

I just love love love this cover of Dance of Shadows –beautiful colours which gave an impression of movement. The blurb falls along the line of a ballet manga and I couldn’t resist. It was a pretty easy read despite struggling with ballet jargons (I know some but not all) and whilst I know the theory, sometimes, it’s just hard to imagine the movement they’re supposed to do. Knowing ballet and ballet terms would definitely help in understanding the characters’ struggles in their ballet class and goals.

Whilst Vanessa was likeable enough, Blaine was the character which made this book for me. He’s Caucasian-Japanese in descent, bread in Texas and bat for the other team. He might be a bit flamboyant and at time, stereotypical, but you can only be stereotypical up to a point with a Texan-Japanese boy. Most of all, he made me laugh! I always fall for guys who make me laugh…

[Blaine] “Or I could settle for a Russian dance. They’re so severe. I love it. I wouldn’t even care if he spoke no English whatsoever. As long as he made sweet, sweet love to me while feeding me caviar, and then helped me play with my set of Matryoshka dolls.” He paused. “Not that I have any Matryoshka dools.”

Vanessa and the girls continued staring at him. “The how would you communicate?” Elly asked quizzically.

“Darling,” Blaine said, leaning forward and batting his eyelashes. “The language of love requires no words. Haven’t you seen The Little Mermaid?”

The story was a little slow for me until maybe the last 100 pages when the pace picked up and things progressed in a tremendous whirl. It began with Vanessa’s arrival at a most prestigious ballet academy though it was foreshadowed by her missing elder sister. The story was slow as we follow Vanessa in fitting into school-life and discovering a mystery surrounding the school. The foreshadowing is there, bits of darkness lurked around but after pushing through 2/3 of the book, I found the resolution quite a bit exciting. All the time I was reading, I could so see it in my head in something like

This story is not in any way light-hearted though much darkness (and slowness) was pierced by chuckle-worthy humour [see Blaine above]. Whilst the ending isn’t a cliff-hanger per se, it is well set up for the next book which I look forward to!

Thank you Bloomsbury and The Reading Room for the privilege to read and review this book

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Review: Pooka In My Pantry

Pooka In My Pantry by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eGalley courtesy of Carina Press via NetGalley

I had such a fun time reading the first book that I really couldn’t resist when I saw book #2 was on Netgalley.

I still love Zoey’s fun, bold & quirky fashion. She loves to dress to her taste and yet, there were times where she was also self-conscious and that’s really something all women can relate to. Her compassion and empathy was fully played in the first book but now, we get to see her strength and courage as she fought for what she believes.

This book continues on a few months after the first book. Things apparently haven’t been that good with Riley and bad luck has come to town. All over the town, there are “funny” sort of accidents and Zoey has to cope more than her share of it because she not only had to stand against the Leprechaun Mafia but she’s also being tested by the Board of the Hidden.

A fun and easy-going read if you’re after something fluffy to de-stress. It’s sort of like cozy mystery in Monster Haven 😉 There were kisses but other than that, a clean (and *sighs* sweet) romance.

Thank you Carina Press & Netgalley for the privilege to read & review galley.

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The Hidden -GIVEAWAY (AU only)


The Hidden (Avena #1) by Marianne Curley
Publication Date: 1 March 2013 (in Australia)

For as long as Ebony can remember, she’s been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It’s as if she’s being hidden.

But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can’t be concealed. She’s growing more beautiful by the day, she’s freakishly strong, and then there’s the fact that she’s glowing.

On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she’s intensely drawn to him. It’s as if something explodes inside of her—something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn’t know that she’s a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.

GIVEAWAY (AU only)

Totally by coincidence, I have got 2 copies of this gorgeous looking book so I’m sharing the love by giving away one of the copies.  I’ve not read it yet but this just looks really good, I had to share the love around 😉  Please note the right hand bottom corner is slightly creased (for a folding or something) but that is how I got it in the mail.

Giveaway is limited to Australian mailing address only (am about to sign a new mortgage docs so am feeling terribly poor :() and condition of entry is that you are either over 16 or have your parent’s / guardian’s permission to enter.  The only other condition is to like my Facebook page, as the Rafflecopter is being hosted over there, but that’s all there is to it.

The giveaway is open NOW and will end on Midnight Thursday 21 February 2013.  I will draw on Friday and you will have the weekend to respond with your mailing address.  I’ll be away for the weekend but I will post the book on Monday so that it will hopefully arrive by 1 March 2013, at the latest!

Review: Sisters Red

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: My local library -get your own copy from The Book Depository

I am notorious when it comes to picking up books to fit a challenge and not paying too much attention (if any at all) to the blurb. I enjoyed the prologue and the first chapter then after a few more chapters, I started questioning my choice… And then (and only then!) did I flip to the back to read the blurb! Oh dear… 2 girls 1 boy – a recipe for disaster (I absolutely abhor love triangles! Especially when I just know that one will be hurt terribly / left behind).

The book is told in alternate perspectives between Scarlett and Rosie March. Scarlett faced down an attack to protect her sister and since then, all she lives for is The Hunt. She has seen the light now and will do her duty to protect all innocents. Rosie is also trained as a hunter but she hasn’t Scarlett’s passion for the hunt. However, she loves her sister and owes Scarlett her life, she belongs with her sister. When Silas Reynolds returned after a year’s absence, there were numerous attacks, unexplained presence of strangers, and things between the three of them just weren’t the same anymore…

I was debating whether I should read something else concurrently so I don’t get to upset with this book or rush through it to get it over and done with. I was still debating this point when I kept reading and couldn’t put it down because I really really like Scarlett and kept wanting to get to her POVs. Scarlett is strong. She is a warrior. She is passionate. And for her, I may just read the next book in this series!

I am also happy to say that there wasn’t really a love triangle though near the end, the lovey-dovey-ness was starting to make me sick. I am a romantic but I have my limits or maybe I’m just channelling Scarlett here…

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