Book Blitz: The Cursed Trilogy

Book Blitz: The Cursed Trilogy

I’m always on the look out for more diverse books, so when I heard about The Cursed Trilogy I fell in love. Diversity, family ties, and high fantasy makes this an instant add to my must-reads list.

Here you’ll find the series summary, a giveaway (opened internationally), and an excerpt.

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Summary: An urban fantasy series for fans of the “Supernatural” TV show, CURSED tells the story of Constance Ramirez, a hardened young woman determined to protect her adopted sister, Dro, from the bloodthirsty demons hunting her– and from Dro’s own deadly powers. As the sisters cross paths with demon slayers, psychics, and angels, they become tangled in a dangerous web that brings Constance’s past back to haunt her. Protecting her sister and her new allies will test Constance in ways she never imagined– though she may be too human to survive it.

Excerpt:

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About the Author: Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.

You can hang out with her on her author website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

 

Book Review: KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale

|+| Warnings: Violence, gore, consensual sexual situations, talk of suicide |+|

“Some people ought to die-but people dying can’t ever not matter.” ~ Hanekawa (KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale)

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Author: NISIOSIN (Illustrations by Vofan)

Genre: Mature YA Paranormal; Horror

Summary: Around midnight, under a lonely street lamp in a provincial town in Japan, lies a white woman, a blonde, alone, robbed of all four limbs, yet undead. Indeed, a rumor’s been circulating among the local girls that a vampire has come to their backwater, of all places.

Koyomi Araragi, who prefers to avoid having friends because they’d lower his “intensity as a human,” is naturally skeptical. Yet it is to him that the bloodsucking demon, a concept “dated twice over,” beckons on the first day of spring break as he makes his way home with a fresh loot of morally compromising periodicals.

Always disarmingly candid, often hilariously playful, and sometimes devastatingly moving, KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale is the perfect gateway into the world of author NISIOISIN, the bestselling young novelist in Japan today. The prequel to BAKEMONOGATARI (“Monster Tale”), this is where the legendary MONOGATARI series, whose anime adaptations have enjoyed international popularity and critical acclaim, begins.

My Opinion: This was a fun and interesting read. It turned out differently than what I expected, but in a good way. I really enjoyed the fresh take on vampires and I also wound up learning a lot about Japanese culture. But the writing style was a bit too manga like. Not to mention some parts just went on forever which killed tension. Because of those reasons I gave the book three stars.

I’m a big fan of anime and manga. Now I don’t watch/read them as much as I’d like to, but I love the series that I’m invested in. When I first found this book I had never read anything by this author and I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t seen the manga series around. So when I realized that this was a prequel, and the author said it was totally fine to read it before reading the rest of the series, I was game. I read the book and wound up learning a lot about Japanese culture, and I’m also pretty sure I found a new series to check out.

Now with all that being said, if you’re familiar with manga and animes, you know there is melodrama! It’s just a thing. When it’s done well it’s awesome, fun, and completely loveable. I am a huge fan of melodrama! Here…well there were some hits and misses. In some parts scenes were so dragged out to add to the melodrama. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t need or want to read 10 pages of our hero monologuing about the current situation when the answer was rather clear. Frankly, a lot of tension could have been added to the book if some of the monologues were cut back. Secondly, the sexual situations. Ok, I get it, spring break, boys and girls meet and even if they don’t fall in love (and in this book they don’t), there’s a high chance for fooling around. But our hero Araragi was just too much of a guy at times. Usually it was done to add humor, and it did consistently work towards character development. So yay for that! But sometimes he was so much of a guy that it just lowered the intensity of the story. Now about that writing style…look, manga is a visual medium, and novelizations of visual things (mangas, animes, movies, what have you) don’t always work. The writing style for this book was so close to reading a manga that honestly it was difficult to read at times. Mangas are very visual based, regular books are not. It’s awesome to blend genres but for this book the blend didn’t work the way it needed to.

One of the saving elements was the interesting characters. We have humans, vampires, half vampires, and humans that might not be humans after all. Each character, no matter the species was fleshed out. By the end of the book, despite the aforementioned issues, I really was invested in everyone. I want to know what happens in the rest of the series and will gladly get my heart ripped out for these fictional characters. I found my heart breaking when multiple characters struggled with suicidal thoughts. This story doesn’t have a happy ending, it’s a tragedy with bursts of comedy more than anything, so while no one commits suicide, the problem isn’t fixed with a perfect bow, which I appreciated-it’s clear that those issues will come into play later in the series and I hope that it’s handled well. While Araragi wasn’t my favorite, I loved his character development. Over all I was impressed with not only the main character’s development, but the development of Hanekawa and Oshino as well. I felt like Kisshot was well layered and fleshed out, but I didn’t feel like she grew as much as the others. Regardless, she made a lovely foil and I was surprised by her depth.

Another thing that made me enjoy this book was the take on vampires. Now as someone who’s spent all their lives in the States I’ve never realized how western vampires are. This book is so cool because it’s a western monster in an East Asian setting and both the monster and the people from a culture that doesn’t have vampires has to adjust. It was a new spin that I had never seen before and made me realize that I have a lot to learn about monsters and the world in general. I also found myself learning a lot about the Japanese culture. Araragi is such a straightforward narrator and is so practical about what he says (for the most part), so I found myself learning a lot about his culture in a really fun way.

With interesting characters, and a unique take on vampires I found myself enjoying this book. True, at times it read like a hot mess due to the odd writing style that just didn’t seem to work, but I can forgive the book for that when it gives me such a unique story.

TL; DR: With a fresh take on vampires and well developed characters KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale is a really cool story. While the writing style is bizarre at times and some of the issues and topics are pretty dark, it’s a good book for fans of anime and manga. If you’re new to the series, this is a fun introduction and will probably leave you wanting more. If you’re already familiar with the series, then this is a must read. Looking for a new take on vampires as well as looking to diversify your shelf? This is a good bet!

6 Books You Should Read This October

These books are books I can’t get enough of. They’re eerie, terrifying, unsettling or sometimes all three. Although not all of these books are horror, these are books I recommend to people looking for a perfect October read. Be careful when you pick your poison though, some books have possible triggers in them.

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Asylum (Madeleine Roux; warnings: unreality, torture) First in a haunting series, Asylum is the story of Dan who goes to a summer camp for high school students that actually want to learn. He and his friends quickly learn, but what they learn isn’t mathematical equations, history, or new art skills, it’s about their temporary summer home-a former asylum. And with that knowledge comes a nightmare that Dan and his friends weren’t expecting and might not ever be free of. You can check out my review here.

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Skulduggery Pleasant (Derek Landy) There’s a talking skeleton mage that can control fire. How much more Halloween do you want? Filled with dark humor, suspense and excellent world building, Skulduggery Pleasant is the story of Stephanie Edgley discovering quite a lot about her uncle when he passes away. She meets her uncle’s unusual friend Skulduggery Pleasant who takes her under his wing. Skulduggery does things on his own terms though, and magic isn’t an easy subject to  learn, even without people trying to kill you.

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Tamsin (Peter S. Beagle) Perhaps the most underrated book on the list, Tamsin is the story of Jenny Gluckstein and her encounters with the paranormal, love, and cats. Although furious with her mother and her new-stepfather for taking her from her home in New York City, Jenny can’t deny that the English countryside has a plethora of unsettling mysteries and dark dangers which are calling to her.  And the strongest call of all is the ghost Tamsin.

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Sabriel (Garth Nix) Necromancers have never been so cool. First in the Abhorsen series, Sabriel is our heroine that frequently walks in death to battle all sorts of undead things. Monsters, corpses, other necromancers, you name it, she can kick its butt and master walking through death. Hopefully. The magic system of this world is complicated (beautifully so), and even the most well trained of the Abhorsens need a bit of help now and again. Read it and thank me later.

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The Demonologist: (warnings: gore, violence, language, and torture) One of the few horror books that actually scared me, The Demonologist follows a professor who doesn’t believe in the demons he studies. But then they kidnap his daughter and send him on what feels like an impossible quest. Adjusting to the reality of demons is soon the least of his problems. But hey, a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do. The ending just about killed me. It’s a beautiful and haunting read that stuck with me. If you chose to read it, I’m sure it’ll stick with you too.

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The Raven Boys (Maggie Steifvater; warnings: abusive situations, language): Although the book starts in April it also starts off with psychics and ghosts. It’s a dead king that’s at the heart of this story. The very much alive Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys and their quest for magic and a dead king that can grant wishes. In their quest the group becomes involved with curses, ghosts, and a growing series of unsettling events. It’s filled with all the stuff people love to read about in October. You can check out my review here.

The Shattered Seam (Book Tour!)

The Shattered Seam (Book Tour!)

Fan of haunted houses? Looking for an authentic voice? The Shattered Seam is the book for you! Below you can find my review of the book as well as a bit about the author and a giveaway for Kindle Fire (US/CAN only). Be sure to check out the rest of the tour here!

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Giveaway (US/CAN)

Author: Kathleen Groger

Genre: YA Paranormal, Horror

Summary: Spending spring break on an isolated island rumored to be haunted is not sixteen-year-old Sam’s idea of fun. Spending spring break with her uncle and his ghost-hunting film crew on an isolated island is even worse.

Way worse.

Her family’s secrets—and a genetic ability she can no longer deny—surface, along with the ghost of a rich serial killer who left behind a trail of trapped souls.

And he’s not through yet.

With only one chance for escape, Sam must embrace her family’s curse and close the Seam between the living and the dead. Or be lost, forever.

My Opinion: The Shattered Seam is a cool concept with a unique narrator. I immediately fell in love with Sam’s voice and the other characters were fun to read about too. In many ways this book reminded me of an updated version of the horror classic Hell House. Overall I gave this book 3 stars due to a major issue that touched too close to home for me.

When I read the first page of The Shattered Seam I gasped. Sam’s voice was so authentic I had to pause to take it in. It was beautiful. I really enjoyed reading from her view point because it really did feel like I was reading a 16 year old’s thoughts. I also really liked that Sam started out a skeptic and was thrown in with a group of hardcore ghost hunters that fully believed in what they were doing. It added a fresh spin to the old “non-believer” trope. This book reminded me of Hell House, but in a good way. The violence, the mysteriousness, and the numerous creepy going-ons hailed back to that sort of thing. But the story behind the castle is unique and interesting, making The Shattered Seam stand on its own.

But despite the fresh take on a classic (and favorite) horror trope, I can’t overlook the schizophrenia issue this book has. Note, Sam does not have the illness, nor does anyone else in the book. But schizophrenia is a real mental illness that impacts real people and real families. Sam thinking that she had schizophrenia, her mother allowing her to think this, as well as her grandmother allowing this thought, came off almost as insulting to those who are impacted by it to me. From the get-go we know that Sam is going to see ghost at some point or another and her skepticism will turn into belief. We’re here for the fun stuff of seeing how that all pans out. It wasn’t fun reading over and over again, Sam trying to justify what she saw because she was “supposed to be” mentally ill. It didn’t feel like a quest for self discovery. It felt awkward and unrealistic. Mental illness is never something you want to make cool in any form because that mindset can prevent people from getting the help they need. As one of the most demonized of mental illnesses, I worry that people reading the book will misunderstand what schizophrenia is really like. Because it is nothing like what is described in the book. There were some other issues, but they were easily overlooked thanks to the wonderful writing style and characterization.

I think that Uncle Eric was my favorite character. At first he appears to be a ghost obsessed man, trying to get good ratings for his show, but as Sam discovers more about herself, she also discovers more about her uncle and his crew. Her bond with Eric became something I really enjoyed and looked forward to as the book went on (I was not dissapointed). Each of Eric’s crew members have distinct personalities. This mix of characters was so authentic that the book really did feel like a behind the scenes look at a paranormal investigation show.

While there was a stand out issue for me, The Shattered Seam was a fun read. Cool characters, creepy setting and situations, and a nice mystery to go along with it all makes it a good read for anyone who’s a fan of haunted houses or who’s into paranormal investigation shows.

TL;DR: Despite the poor use of mental illnesses, this is a good book. Sam’s voice is completely authentic. Sam is not the only interesting character though and she’s joined by many others who are just as fun and interesting to read about. It’s a solid read that has some great takes on haunted houses.

 

About the Author

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Author Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Kathleen wrote her first story in elementary school about a pegasus named Sir Lancelot. It had no plot or conflict, but it sparked a dream. After serving a fifteen-year sentence in retail management, the bulk in big box bookstores, she turned her love of reading into a full-time career writing dark and haunting characters and stories. She writes paranormal, fantasy, suspense, horror YA books. She is a contributing member of READerlicious, writers who love readers. Check out her blogs here.

She lives by the mantra that a day is not complete without tea. Lots of tea. Kathleen lives in Ohio with her husband, two boys, and two attention-demanding dogs. When not writing or editing or revising, you can find her reading, cooking, spending time with her family, or photographing abandoned buildings.

Book Review: The Raven Boys

|+| Triggers: Abusive home situations |+|

“She wasn’t interested in telling people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.” ~The Raven Boys

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Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA paranormal/mystery romance

Summary: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

My Opinion: I totally blame the read along by buttermybooks  for getting me to finally read this book. But note in that very friendly blame is an incredible amount of gratitude. I heard someone say once that you don’t pick books, they pick you. You’ll read the right books at the right time. This was definitely the case for me with The Raven Boys. The diversity and depth of characters, the world building and the mythology completely sold me on this book and series. 5 stars!

I’ll start off by getting my one complaint out of the way. Blue. Without her you don’t have a story. Blue is the trigger for everything just about. Yet I feel like I knew very little about her. From the summary I was under the impression that Blue was the main character and so we’d see a lot of her. We saw a good bit of her, and I really enjoyed what I did read about her, but I felt like I knew Gansey and Adam simply because so much time was spent on them. I’m hoping this will improve as the series goes on, but that was the one thing that got on my nerves.

Despite that I loved this book. I learned a lot about myself in this book in a way. Not only does it have a plethora of Welsh mythology (my family is originally from that area, a few generations back mind you, but still, I felt connected to my history), it also touches on a lot of raw human emotions and situations that I could relate to. I found myself wanting to pack up and look for my own Cabeswater or find a magical portal and move into the world of the Raven Boys.

In my favorite books I’ve been able to see a large part of myself in the main character, and only really in them. Yet in The Raven Boys, I saw a part of myself in Blue, Gansey, Noah, Adam, and Ronan. Together the elements of them all added up to me in a way. It made the book a very personal experience because I could deeply and equally connect to the five main characters. That made certain parts of the book hard to read for sure, but made the book so worth it. While I wasn’t able to relate as deeply to the minor characters, they were still fleshed out and interesting. This speaks to Stiefvater’s skills as a writer, to be able to flesh out each character to the point where readers can deeply connect to each one.

I really do think Stiefvater is my new favorite author. Her style reminds me a bit of the writing found in The Great Gatsby (which is one of my favorite books fite me). Lyrical, somewhat repetitive in parts to get the deeper meanings across, and very natural. Something about the writing style made the book incredibly emotional, even in the slower parts. Even if Stiefvater wrote in loving detail how Adam made a sandwich and spent 12 pages on it I would enjoy every single one of those pages (she doesn’t but seriously I’d read it). I’d also probably know a whole heck of a lot about Adam. That’s just Stiefvater for you. Slips in things that you don’t think are important that lead to massive plot twists.

Kind of like the major plot twist that I’m not talking about because of spoilers. I had to put the book down for a bit to comprehend what I had just read when I came to that part. Yet that wasn’t the only plot twist and all twists were well done. Each twist used everything that was already previously explained. I never felt like these twists were out of the blue and never felt like I was cheated by them.

Ultimately you should read this book. Go read it. The characters are deeply interesting, the plot twists are actually twisty and the mystery is well done. If you like magic, epic quests, smart people sometimes doing stupid things/stupid people sometimes doing smart things, really freaking weird forests, and Welsh mythology you need to read this. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of all of those things, give this book a try.

TL;DR: The world building, character development, and beautiful writing style made this book one of my favorites of the year. It’s a beautiful book on so many levels and I really cannot recommend it highly enough.