Tag Archives: ghosts

Review: Razorhurst

razorhurstRazorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Source: Purchased own paperback copy

It was a last minute’s decision to attend the book launch for Razorhurst though it was such a enjoyable night listening to Justine Larbalestier talk about the inspiration behind this book and the research into the historical background of this novel. Her passion, not only for writing but also for this dark-piece of Aussie history, was easily felt and very contagious. I dived into this brilliant novel with a very high expectation.

I expected ghosts. I expected tough characters. But what I didn’t expect was the complex layering of the book. Whilst we follow 2 main characters (Kelpie and Dymphna), there were several other perspectives injected throughout the novel along with some historical background (fictional and / or real) to either characters or setting. This could easily have been a pretty mess of structure BUT I was amazed that it wasn’t at all. It was done expertly and it worked a treat –a remarkable feat!

The ending saddened me, somewhat. Honestly, I knew not to expect a neat little package tied up with a bow. In all possibility, with the mafia involved, that just wasn’t realistic still… it didn’t stop me being sad although I think, Justine Larbalestier managed to find just the right amount of mess to be realistic and yet, still gave some sense of optimism.

Razorhurst is not your typical paranormal (romantic) novel despite the ghostly encounters. It is rather a novel to be appreciated by point of structure, characters, and historical value (especially if you’re a Sydneysider). It was hard for me to really understand just how hard the life these young girls had in those days. For parents of younger audiences, I’d suggest some parental guidance / discussions. I don’t have girls of my own but if I do, this book is not to be missed as a book to read together as it has the potential of really good discussions.

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Review: The Whispering Skull

the whispering skullThe Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

I read the first book of Lockwood & Co. at the beginning of this year and was completely enamoured with the whole setup. Whilst I first started with the thought of finding out what’s available in the children’s sections these days (my son is starting school next year, eep!); I truly completely loved The Screaming Staircase that I didn’t hesitate to request The Whispering Skull when I saw it on NetGalley. I enjoyed the company of Lockwood & Co. even more this time around.

The book opens with a creepy scene with action quickly following on its heel; an investigation of Lockwood & Co. that didn’t quite turn out as they wished. This was such a terrific and most engaging start. It also promises a more sinister tone to this book than the first instalment. A promised well-fulfilled, if I may say so. The Whispering Skull gives us scary situations, frightening creatures, & spine-chilling items that threatened the well-being of the whole world.

What I mostly loved about this book, however, is the development of characters, not only of Lockwood, George, and Lucy but also of Kipps & co. I loved how Kipps is (whilst being the most annoying nemesis) ‘humanised’ and all are called to sympathise with him. I also loved the development of friendship between Lockwood, George, & Lucy – that there’s ups and downs in friendships & that trust is a requisite in a well-oiled relationships.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to all children and parents out there looking for an adventure. You will love the characters and be thrilled by the plot. Girls & Boys, get into it!

Thank you, Disney-Hyperion, for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Review: The Screaming Staircase

staircaseThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

Until the last few years, I rarely read children’s books as I find that I’m usually a bit impatient with them. However, I’m trying to change this habit because I’d like to know what my son will be reading when he’s ready to read on his own. Not only that, I’d like to be able to recommend books to him with the gusto of a contemporary (I’ll probably be one of those really embarrassing mums!). Hence, my picking up one or two children’s books these past few years. The particular reason that this book attracted my attention was the title and the similarity of it to a favourite series I read when I was growing up.

The series was called Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators with the particular title I had in mind being The Mystery of the Screaming Clock. This was a series loved by my family, the screamingbooks were passed from brother to sister, sister to sister, aunt to nephew, etc (I’m not quite sure where they are at this point in time, overseas, but they are a family treasure). The three teen detectives are made up of the quirky chubby genius boy, the not-so-intelligent-but-athletic boy, and a smaller boy who’s very good at research. These characterisation I found to be similar to Lockwood & Co., not necessarily the same but more of a mix-match sort of similarity.

The basis of this story is not something new or totally unique. There are a lot of ghost stories out there and who doesn’t know Ghostbusters? But Jonathan Stroud has successfully created an exciting world full of old wonders and new adventures. It is a world where only the talented young are able to detect these spectres and therefore have the capabilities of banishing them.

The characters were mysterious, appealing, and (some are) quite repulsive. There were quite a few suspenseful moments thought I can’t comment on the level of scariness as I am an adult and I didn’t find it scary at all. However, know that I rarely read horror novels because I am a scaredy cat. There were a few back and forth jumps in time at the beginning of the novel which may make for a shaky start but I completely enjoyed the smooth (though spine tingling) ride later on. This is definitely not a world I would like to live in, for real, but definitely one I love to read.

Needless to say, I absolutely adored The Screaming Staircase. With a great plot, fun characters, and marvellous world building, you will not fail to love this book. I, for one, am impatient to, one day, introduce this to my son and at the same time, will watch for the next instalment of this series so I can read it for my own enjoyment. I highly recommend this book to all adventurous sorts out there (real or vicariously) 😉

Thanks to Doubleday Childrens & The Reading Room for the eARC via NetGalley

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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: A Ring Through Time

A Ring Through Time by Felicity Pulman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of HarperCollins Australia via Netgalley

The descriptions on Goodreads and Netgalley are identical and practically told the story! Nevertheless, it was a hauntingly good read and I loved it.

The story is told from the perspective of Alice Bennett (she is called Allie). She with her family have moved to Norfolk Island for a sea change. Her family, however, has had some historical presence in the island but as Allie found out, it wasn’t like she’s always been led to believe by her father.

Allie is then determined to find out for herself the truth. As to how she’ll do this, she’s not quite sure until an encounter with the past brought her the exact perspective she needed to be convinced her of what the past was truly like…

As always, any penal colony stories are just tragic and this one is not an exception. There were a couple of instances which niggles my belief that such a thing would happen but let’s just say that if I were to face the same sort of thing, I’d run away as far and as fast as possible. So, full points to both Alices for their strength, courage, and boldness. Bonus points for Noah and Cormac for being just lovely boys *sighs dreamily*

One of my best reads in 2012 proven by the fact that I stayed up reading despite being so very tired and was kept up even after I’ve finished reading it. A rare story which haunted me for the night and the next few days, at the least.

Thank you, HarperCollins Australian & NetGalley for the opportunity to read & review.

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Blog Tour: Across The Winds of Time -a Review

While on a genealogical research journey through the Midwest, Molly Hamilton impulsively buys a 100-year-old Victorian house in the middle of a cornfield, and falls in love with the house’s owner…the original owner, that is. Can he be a ghost? The handsome, intriguing attorney certainly feels solid—and somehow her soul knows she has always loved him.

Darius Ferguson has no idea how he has come to present-day Iowa. The last thing he knew, the year was 1880, and he had just buried his fiancée, who happens to look exactly like Molly. He cannot separate the two women in his heart—to him, they are one.

In spite of being drawn to him, Molly thinks Darius is unhinged. Darius wonders if he has joined his fiancée in purgatory. If time travel is possible, will love be enough to build a future together?

My Blurb

This love story is woven between a swoony 20th century heroine and a true blue 19th century ‘gentle’ –man.  Does this description make you smile or cringe?  A bit of both to me!  These days (maybe I’m turning into a bit of a cynic) I don’t handle swoony heroine that well but…  Molly is just one of those likeable female and her swoony-ness is written in such a way that it’s more sniffy funny than roll-the-eyes-here-we-go-again type of swoons.  And seriously, having a gorgeous gent ready to catch you when you fall… which one of you will not fall for him, hhmmm?

I have really enjoyed this light-hearted romance which reached through time.  I just can’t get enough of time travel!  There was one thing I really liked about this book which I can’t mention just cuz it’ll spoil it for you :(.  For a novel where it’s just the two of them most of the time (most other characters flow in and out pretty quickly), it was Not boring…  Her modern-ness and his old-fashioned-ness provided more than enough amusement plus the uncertainty of their future together (when, how, if ever…) certainly drew me to the story.

A perfect beach read #amwishing #atthebeach

About Author

Bess McBride made her first serious writing attempt when she was 14. She shut herself up in her bedroom one summer while obsessively working on a time travel/pirate novel set in the beloved Caribbean of her youth, but she wasn’t able to hammer it out on a manual typewriter (oh yeah, she’s that old) before it was time to go back to school. The draft of that novel has long since disappeared, but the story is still simmering within, and she will finish the adventure one day soon.

Bess was born in Aruba to American parents and lived in Venezuela until her family returned to the United States when she was 12. She couldn’t fight the global travel bug within and joined the U.S. Air Force at 18 to “see the world.” After 21 wonderful and fulfilling years traveling the world and gaining one beautiful daughter, she pursued her dream of finally getting a college education. With a license in mental health therapy, she worked with veterans and continues to work on behalf of veterans. She writes romantic suspense, contemporary, light paranormal/fantasy and time travel romances and currently has eight novels published. She can be contacted through her web site at http://bessmcbride.com/ or blog at http://willtravelforromance.blogspot.com/.

GIVEAWAY

Bess is generously giving away the winner’s choice of a backlist eBook to one commenter at every stop, and a $25 Amazon gift card to one random commenter during the tour.  Do check the tour schedule to visit & comment on all stops!

PS: Sorry, folks, it appears there are some technical glitches that I can’t see!  Everything seems to be fine from my view but I’ve heard that the links aren’t working for basically everyone elses & you can’t leave comments either.  I’ve tried clearing up my cookies & caches & even changed the theme, in case there was an issue with the earlier theme (which I’ve only changed to a couple of days ago).  I’ve logged a ‘help’ post with WordPress but for now…  Sorry!!