Book Review: Haunted Visions

NOTICE! I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review which reads as follows:

haunted-visionsDetails:

Title: Pacific Cover: Haunted Visions

Author: J.E. Grace

Publisher: Self-Published

Published: August 13, 2016

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal

Pages: 90 (eBook)

Synopsis:

Naomi and Jason Sanders move to Pacific Cove Ranch shortly after their wedding. Prior to her graduation from college, Naomi’s younger sister is killed in a hit and run accident. Naomi is having a hard time accepting her loss, and the isolation of her new surroundings bring a new type of terror: haunted visions that keep her on edge, terrifying her.

Is Naomi being tormented by her own inner demons or some new type of ghostly visions that haunt the Pacific Cove Ranch? Can she survive or will they drive her mad?

Can she convince her family that she isn’t just grieving for her sister, but that these ghosts are trying to tell her about a secret she is supposed to discover? Will she figure it out and prove to her family she isn’t imagining things?

What I First Thought:

J.E Grace emailed me asking to review two of her short stories. I accepted her request because I don’t have many short stories and I want to review more of them. And this book Haunted Visions, seemed like it would fit perfectly with the mood and atmosphere October usually brings.

My Overall Opinion:

Overall, I didn’t really care for this story. I really wanted to enjoy it, because the synopsis described a really good idea for a story. However, the flow was so choppy that I felt like I was constantly shoved out of the book between scenes.

The author’s biggest problem was falling victim to the imbalance of show and tell. I understand that it can be a hard concept to grasp, and it really depends on the author and the reader. However, I felt like the author spent 90% of the book telling me what happened, telling me what her characters were like, and telling me how every one and thing felt about every event. I was told about the characteristics of all the characters, but wasn’t given the opportunity to see them for myself in the story. I was told how Naomi felt about everything, but wasn’t given the chance to visualize her reactions. I was told that she was angry and not shown how her faced changed with the emotion, how her voice sounded as she was screaming.

Bottom line, this story read like a play script. There was normally more description at the start of each scene, spending a few paragraphs describing the scenery and set up. Then the author would rely on dialogue to tell her story with a few brief lines of actions between each conversation. For some readers this may be enough for them, but I didn’t really care for it because I couldn’t grasp the concept of time for this story. I was told how long each action took, how long it took to get from point A to B, or how much time passed between two scenes, but it didn’t read like it in the story. I would stop several times in one page to sit and think about how the author was treating time, and it just felt so flimsy to me. I want to read about the path a character takes to get from one place to another, I want to be able to see if I can glean anything of their personalities from that simple action.

Sure the idea, events, and the dialogue are like the bones of the story, but I always felt like descriptions served to be the meat, the muscle. To me, this story was very anorexic. In fact, I believe this story would have been much better as a normal length novel and not a short story. If there was more description, which could help with the flow between the scenes, and not a bunch of random events than this story could have been easily 180 pages or more and much stronger than it was. I’m not saying that short stories aren’t strong, but this book didn’t read like a short story.

Another problem that I had with this story was the dialogue itself. Most of the time it felt rather unnatural or robotic. I wasn’t alive during the setting in the book, 60s-70s I believe, but the dialogue felt out of place and not of the time period. And the characters didn’t seem to have natural conversations, they were too quick but often felt like they were supposed to be longer and more drawn out. Sometimes the characters’ reactions felt out of place as well. For instance, when Naomi’s husband tells her happy birthday her response was “I guess it is”, no thank you or affection, just state up acknowledgement of the statement. Another it he got her an early gift for her birthday, and she had a similar response and showed no love or gratitude for the gift. Little things like this really bug me, especially since I know of several authors who pride themselves in understanding human behavior and making realistic characters.

Final Thoughts:

I would recommend this novella to anyone who wants a short read between longer stories. This story is pretty straight forward, nothing to really confuse the readers, making it a quick read for those who may enjoy it.

I would not recommend this short story to any teen or young adult trying to read more ‘adult’ fiction, because this is vastly different and may be a turn off. The lack of descriptions and choppy flow may not sit well with those used to reading current, popular YA novels. However, if there are readers who want a story that is straight to the point with little details, this story may be up your alley.

This story is written a lot like a play. In fact, I believe that this story would work wonderfully as a play, if the author wanted. Seeing this story on the stage with props and actors would probably be a more enjoyable experience for me than reading it. And it would serve as an interesting play to see around Halloween, getting viewers in the mood for the occasion.

Rating:

2/5

I feel like this story has a lot of promise, but fell a bit short of the desired mark. From experience, I know that writing short stories can be hard; you have to go through all the stages a longer story has but in a fewer pages. However, you have to have an idea that works best for a short story rather than a novel. Grace’s idea for Haunted Visions is best suited as a novel and not a novella, and I believe that’s where this story suffered the most. If she expanded the story with more details, and not just description, but things to connect all the various and seemingly random events together she would have easy had a longer and stronger narrative. Instead, this short story is a string of random events that kind of fit together in the long run but are too choppy to tell in the moment of reading them. The story is driven by unnatural and robotic sounding dialogue, which may put some readers to sleep or make them angry. The characters don’t seem to progress any as individuals, they’re static by appearance but at the end the author tells us of their growth that isn’t actually supported by the reading. The relationship between the characters aren’t really shown, but we’re told how they feel about each other. And the elements to the story (paranormal, romance, mystery, etc.) are barely tapped into, making the tone of the story rather flat and boring.

With all that said, the story concept is still interesting but suffered by the number of pages it was written in. If the author were to go back and expand the novella and turn it into a novel, then the story would be stronger and the narrative would be more compelling and interesting.

Book Review: The Midnight Glass

NOTICE: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

the-midnight-glass

Details:

Title: The Midnight Glass

Author: D.T. Vaughn

Publisher: Branford Books

Release Date: September 20th 2016

Genre: Middle Reader, Paranormal, Fantasy

Pages: 251 (paperback)

Synopsis:

Every town has a secret… but Davenport has the darkest of them all…
Life is rough for eleven-year-old Wyatt Dumont. He’s too small to fend off his mean older sister, and the school bully picks on him every day. But life changes when his mother is offered a job in the secretive town of Davenport. Wyatt is excited for the move until he notices that some of the townsfolk are more than human. There’s a man with green skin and gills, and a middle school teacher with red eyes and fangs! Even Wyatt s new classmates are a spark elf and a wulfyn–a werewolf, but don t call him that… or else!
Wyatt is panicked. But nothing alarms him more than the darkest secret of all: Davenport hasn’t seen the sun in over four hundred years. Wyatt quickly becomes obsessed with the town’s mysteries, and he begins to uncover the truth–one deadly secret at a time.

My First Thoughts:

I’m always looking for good middle reader books to add to my library, and this story really interested me. The idea behind the story also intrigued me, it sounded rather unique, and something I haven’t read of this genre yet.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

For the most part, this is a pretty solid book. The setting is pretty interesting, though I did spend some time trying to figure out how everything would work with just moonlight. After a while I had to completely turn off the scientific-thinking part of my brain to be able to read through this book at a good pace. For a book like this for a target audience of children, that’s really not a mark against the story but more like an observation. Children won’t sit there and question why the moon is always in the sky instead of a period of total darkness when the sun is supposed to be out. They won’t question how all the plants are growing off of just moonlight, or why only the bugs have strange mutations and not the vegetation or the people too. These were just a few of the things my brain tried to work out while reading. Kids probably won’t notice or care about these things, however the adults reading this to kids or reading it to themselves may find this a bit annoying. For the category, it’s okay for things like this not be explained because it may bore the target audience or go right over their heads.

Wyatt was a rather interesting hero to follow as he fumbled his way through the mystery of the Midnight Glass. For those of you who care, and I know some of you reading this will, he isn’t your typical white male lead. Not much is said about what he look like except that he has a mop of curly hair and dark tanned skin like his father. This didn’t really change anything for me while reading this story, but I do know that there are readers out there that really want popular literature to be more diverse. The story never mentions anything about nationality or race just that Wyatt and his sister look a lot like their father. As a character, Wyatt seemed rather mature for his age even before he moved or solved the mystery. His only true development came when he overcame his negative reactions to the people of the town, accepting and treating them like people. The other characters were pretty flat, staying pretty much the same from start to finish, which was fine really since the story was focused on Wyatt. My only real grievance with the characters came from Wyatt’s sister, Roxanne. Her character changed as well, but it seemed so superficial that it made me a bit sick to read. At first she was completely repulsed by the people in the town but then kind of got over it a bit after finding a hot guy that happened to be a werewolf. The switch was so sudden that I was caught by surprise, but it made me sick because it seemed like the only way a girl could grow to like a place is if she found a hot guy that lives there too. I know that most kids reading this might not pick up on that, but it still bothers me.

Other than that, there really isn’t that much else to say. The story was pretty solid, and it was a mystery that kept me stumped for a while. I wasn’t surprised by the reveal of the villain, but it did take me a good chunk of the book to figure it out. The pacing of the book seemed a little bit off to me and I can’t really place it. While I was enjoying the story, by the time I neared the end I really wanted to get it over with. That isn’t a feeling I normally get with books that I’m enjoying, however, I can’t figure out why.

Final Thoughts:

This is a pretty good book to read, especially if you’re still in the mood for monsters, paranormal, or mystery. I recommend this book for parents to read to their children, or for children that want something new to read. I must advise caution though. There is death in this book and mentions of suicide. One character actually has a bit of a gruesome death, even though the author made light of it, parents might still want to investigate it for themselves before their children read it.

I would also recommend this book to any adult looking for a fun, light read. If you can turn off your brain and not overthink the plot and some of the things that happen in this book, then you’re golden. If you can’t, or like me who had a hard time turning off their brain, this book may frustrate you a bit. So I wouldn’t recommend this book to all adult, but those who really like to read within this genre.

Rating(s):

3/5

Overall, The Midnight Glass has a pretty solid story, one best suited for children in middle school. Wyatt is a hero that I think a good number of kids can identify with nowadays, and he learns a pretty important lesson that I think everyone needs to learn: accept those who are different from you. The setting is rather creative and fun to imagine in your head, especially with the unique townsfolk. Wyatt’s journey is an interesting one, and the narration behind it adds to the mystic nature of the book. D.T. Vaughn has a rather interesting narrative voice, one that I wouldn’t mind reading again in other books.

My biggest complaint was Wyatt’s sister, Roxanne. She was your stereotypical big sister who antagonized her younger brother for no apparent reason most of the time. She was also the second character to have any major development and it was all because she found a hot guy, which is something that made me a bit angry. I saw the need for her character in this story, but I believe that she was the weakest part of this story.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty

Details:

Title: Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: January 28th 2014

Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Paranormal

Pages: 342

Synopsis: (from the paperback)

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom−all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the centuries-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle−a shifting maze of magical rooms−enthralls her. As Nyx tries to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, should she refuse her duty to kill him?

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

 

My First Thoughts:

Originally I bought the book because I had ordered Hodge’s newest book Crimson Bound, and wanted to read her earlier works while I was waiting for it to arrive. The cover looked amazing; it was definitely beautiful and eye catching. I loved how the spiral staircase was interlocked with red petals, making the design into a rose, which shows up all the time in Beauty and the Beast stories. In the past I haven’t read a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that I have liked, so when I saw that this version would be very different, with Beauty as an assassin, I was extremely excited to read Cruel Beauty.

Story Breakdown:

Nyx Triskelion is the heroine of this story. Her fate was sealed when her father made a deal with the Gentle Lord, a demon who makes deals with mortals and rules over the world of Arcadia. Since birth, Nyx was trained in the Hermetic arts (think alchemy) to kill her future husband, the Gentle Lord, and free Arcadia from his evil tyranny. As she grew and trained, Nyx developed a deep hatred for her family. She hated her father for making this fool’s bargain and never truly showing her any sort of love. She hated her Aunt Telomache for teaching her the art of seduction and other kills they believed Nyx needed, and for sleeping with her father. And she hated her twin sister, Astraia, for being too naïve and sheltered, for receiving all the love from their father and aunt, and being not the one chosen to marry the Gentle Lord. But her devotion to family and country help her to turn her anger into a weapon that she will use against the Gentle Lord, because if it were not for him none of this would have happened!

Ignifex, or better known as the Gentle Lord, is the Lord of Bargains and rules over Arcadia in the ruined castle of the old kings. For nine hundred years, Ignifex has been commanding demons and striking deals with the mortals of Arcadia. With the beauty of Adonis, the only thing that reveals his demon nature is his cruelty and his red cat-like eyes. Nyx will be his ninth wife, and possibly his doom.

Then there is Shade. The shadow of the demon, Shade is the captive and save of Ignifex. By day, he is but a shadow that creeps across the walls of the house. By night, he is something more real. Shade is the first friend, and possible ally, to Nyx and he helps make her stay in the Gentle Lord’s home more bearable, and helps her in her plan to kill Ignifex.

Finally, Cruel Beauty is set in Romana-Graecia Arcadia, which has been ripped out of time from the world by the Gentle Lord. The people here live under a parchment sky, where the sun is painted and its light just a cheap imitation. The aristocrats follow the Greek Pantheon while the peasants believe in the hedge-gods, or the gods that their people believed in before being conquered many generations back.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Unfortunately, this book frustrated me to no end. I went in with such high hopes, because of all the raving that I have heard for this author and her first book, and I believe that I just set the bar too high. The story is nothing special.

I loved most of the story ideas: the use of Greek mythology, a setting out of time, a demon being the ‘Beast’, a house with a mind of its own, the Beauty being forced to marry the Beast and being trained as his killer, etc. However, all these ideas combined seemed good in theory but was mixed poorly in execution. While Ignifex is a cruel demon, which can be beast-like, he is drop-dead gorgeous with a crude sense of humor, but a gentleman nonetheless. And honestly, he wasn’t that much different from the main character, Nyx.

Nyx, another thing that drove me crazy. I could not, for the life of me, like this character consistently enough to make this story enjoyable. She is a hateful, spiteful woman who can’t make her own decisions without being completely influenced by someone else. I can see how this can be realistic, because the author made her father out to be a total tool, who never showed her any love and trained her to be a weapon to fix his own mistakes. But the constant switching back-and-forth between doing what she wants to do, like love a demon lord, and what someone else wants her to do, like kill said demon lord, gave me whiplash. In the end, her decision was her own, but it was several pages too late for me. Another thing that I hated about Nyx was how her opinions/feelings for the other characters changed almost at the drop of a hat. One minute she loves her twin sister, the next she hates Astraia and wants her to take her place; Nyx feels guilty later, but she keeps hating her sister at all the wrong times. The same goes for Ignifex, she attracted to him, she’s repulsed by him, she wants him, she wants to kill him even though she really loves him. The back-and-forth was just too much for me at times.

Then there was the love triangle that was never advertised on the back of the book. Yes, there’s a love triangle that was so important to the plot that it should have been in the synopsis because it changes the whole story! I’m okay with love triangles if they’re done right, but this had one side that was instant love and made no sense while the other was a slow burn kind of thing. To me, the love triangle read like it was added in during the final draft. Like the publisher said, “Hey, this story needs more drama so make this guy love Nyx too because everyone loves love triangles! Yay money!”

There were a few other things that drove me nuts. At times the sentences were way too long in the action sequences, which brought me out of the mood too much. Some of the characters’ personalities changed so suddenly without any sort of hints or explanations, which confused me. And by the end of the book, the original plot line was made moot after a big discovery, but the author decided to stick with that plot line anyways, which pissed me off to no end. The last hundred pages were the hardest to follow, and I had to reread them a few times to actually understand why things were happening as they were.

Final Thoughts:

The book was sub-par, end of story. The main character was a strong heroine, who unfortunately has many unfavorable traits found in media’s idea of strong women. The love triangle frustrated me and most of the love did not make any logical sense. Time was wasted in certain points in the story that made it too long. There was way too much whiplash for me. And while the world that the story was set in was described beautifully, I believe that it wasn’t described well enough, meaning there were many holes in the mind’s picture. Though the mythology used was done well, the author didn’t spend too much time ‘educating’ her readers in the mythology that she was using. Instead she used enough information for the stuff to make sense to her readers, especially if they don’t have the same knowledge of it like I do. In the end, it isn’t my favorite book or retelling of Beauty in the Beast that I have read, but it is one of the better retellings, which is absolutely sad.

Rating(s):  2.5/5

I’m giving this book a 2.5 just because I enjoyed the mythology used in the book and I liked most of the ideas used individually, just not altogether. This book could have gotten a better rating if the characters, especially the main character, were more likable and if the author didn’t have to resort to time travel to fix some pretty big plot holes.

Related Reviews/Books:

Stitching SnowA Curse of Ash and IronA Court of Thorns and Roses

Graphic Novel Review: Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes Vol 1Details:

Title: Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Creator(s): Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Writer(s): Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Illustrator: Brooke Allen

Colors: Maarta Laiho

Letters: Aubrey Aiese

Released Date: April 7, 2015

Genre: Middle Reader, Action, Adventure, Paranormal, Friendship, Mystery

Synopsis:

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

First Thought:

It was the cover that drew me in. It looked like a mash-up between Gravity Falls from Disney and Adventure Time from Cartoon Network, granted I like the former way more than the latter but I wanted to give this a try. I was also intrigued by a cast of girls of different ages and personalities appearing as best friends in a camp for girls.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

First, I have to say that I love the setup, treating each chapter as a chapter in the Lumberjane’s Field Manual. At the beginning of each chapter (issue) there’s a little excerpt from this field manual describing a badge that is either gained by the girls or used by the girls within that chapter. The idea is clever and it allows the reader to guess what is to come in the chapter.

Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley were an interesting group of individuals. Each girl had her own personality and was easy to distinguish from each other. Jo is the boyish mathematician and Ripley is the youngest, and silliest of the bunch. April is the girliest of the group, constantly updating her diary. Mal is the punk, while Molly is the tomboy.  The minor characters were also pretty cool, especially their camp counselor, Jenny, and the camp director, Rosie, who were wonderful in their brief appearances. The design of each character definitely aided to their personalities, and I enjoyed the unique detailing of each one.

Now, let’s talk art. Some people have complained that the art style was too messy for them. Honestly, I rather enjoyed the art style, yes, it was messy but I feel like it added to the story. During the most thrilling or dangerous moments the art was the messiest, adding to the adrenaline rush of the characters, like when an author constructs their sentences more loosely in a similar situation in their story. I will say that the art style didn’t necessarily match up to what was on cover, but that’s because the artist of the cover was different than the main artist of the actual story. Yes, that’s a little aggravating, but I have seen it done elsewhere too, no need to whine about it.

As for the story, at first glance it appears that each chapter is an unrelated adventure. However, if you look closely, you can see the beginnings of a plot start to come together, especially in the last two chapters. A few people have complained about there not being enough plot, which I can understand, but this volume leaves a lot of room for the writers to branch out. I’m sure that there will be backstory to read in later issues to come and more story heavy issues later. For a first volume, I believe that this was a fine attempt at trying to draw people in.

Final Thoughts:

As a whole, I really liked Beware the Kitten Holy. If you don’t mind the messy, simple art style or the loose storytelling that isn’t heavy on plot, then this story is for you. If you enjoy a group of diverse girls in personality and skills, then this story is for you, especially if you like independent, go-getting young girls. If not to any of these, then this story may not be one of your favorites or well-liked.

Ratings:

Art: 4

While not the best art I have seen in a while, I definitely like it. The style has a sort of professional child-like appearance that I believe makes the story seem more kid-friendly than serious.

Story: 3.5

The story is a little hard to see at first, especially if you are not used to reading comics. Each chapter acts not quite like standalone adventures, but from the outside they appear that way. Towards the end you can see some of the things from the earlier chapters come together, and if you look close enough you can find the loose beginnings of a plot come together that will probably be addressed more in the later issues.

Overall: 4

Technically, the average was 3.75 but I felt like rounding up because I really enjoyed this graphic novel and I would definitely recommended it to people. If you’re looking for a graphic novel to start your young daughter with then I think I’ve got the one for you!

Related Material:

COMING SOON!

Book Review: Escape From Witchwood Hollow

Details:escape from witchwood hollow

TitleEscape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Release Date: October 24th, 2014

Format: eBook

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Myster

Pages: 270

Synopsis:

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

My First Thoughts:

Shortly before Thanksgiving this year I received a request to give this story an honest review for a free eBook copy. This was actually my first request (also my first eBook), which got me super excited to read the book. The synopsis is interesting enough and the cover appears interesting enough to catch the eye.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Honestly, with this book I’m not quite sure where to begin. I finished this book days ago, yet I waited until the last minute to write the review because I didn’t really know how to write it.

The synopsis is a bit misleading for a few reasons. From the summary, it appears that the story only follows Honoria (which is a very old name that originated from ancient Latin). Instead, the story follows three main characters from three different time periods (1600s, 1800s, and 2000s), two heroines and a misguided female antagonist. I didn’t really mind this; it was just a bit jarring when the story switched from Honoria’s point of view to Lady Clifford and then Albertine without much warning. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to book summaries because they’re there to sell the book, so if the summary doesn’t fit the book, then it makes me feel like I didn’t get the product that I paid for. Honoria didn’t find any lost children, and anything she did discover she did it with the help of her male companion Leon. The citizens aren’t actually in trouble, at least Honoria doesn’t know if they’re in danger, and she doesn’t go on a saving mission, more out of curiosity and solving a mystery. Even solving the mysteries, at least revealing them to the readers, was done mostly by Albertine, who plays a major role in the story yet isn’t mentioned in the summary.

Speaking of the main characters, Honoria, Albertine, and Lady Clifford weren’t terrible. There were times in which Honoria got on my nerves, mostly by her inner thoughts, especially when it came to talking about the ‘country’ people of Arnn. Otherwise, Honoria wasn’t a character that I connected with. As a character, she was fine, but she didn’t appeal enough to me for me to make a connection with her. Instead, I connected more with Albertine and some with Lady Clifford. Albertine, coming from the 1800s, should have been the major main character of the story and mentioned in the synopsis because she does the most in the story. Without her, the story would not have progressed as it did. In fact, the story would have been a lot stronger if it focused around Albertine more; Escape from Witchwood Hollow fits more with Albertine’s side of the story than Honoria’s. As for Lady Clifford, there isn’t much to say other than she was an interesting character and her story, while short, was definitely engaging.

The other characters were alright, they didn’t really have a lot of depth, and some were really stereotypical. Except for Leon, not much else can be said for the minor cast. Leon, while not the most well defined male romantic interest, was actually one of my more favorite of all the characters after Albertine.  He’s the first male character that I have read in a while that loves history, which instantly attracted me to him because I also love history. And for a minor character he also does a lot to progress the story, in fact, I would argue that he did more than Honoria to progress the story.

The last thing that I’ll mention here is the ending, which is what really made me procrastinate writing this review. The ending is not what I was expecting. After the major climax of the story, the last few chapters really hurt the book in my opinion. I was curious as to how the story would end after the climax, but I was not prepared for the ending I read. When I finished the book, I was so shocked that I literally sat in silence and stared at the wall for five minutes, trying to wrap my head around what happened. It’s not a complicated ending, however, if made me think about what was the point of reading the book. In my opinion, the ending not only tarnished the climax but totally destroyed one of the main characters by obliterating their overall potential to grow.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the story well enough, but I’m not sure that I read the same story as everyone else. Most of the reviews for this book gave it fantastic ratings, but I believe it to be average, nothing more. Looking back, the cover does not really represent the story very well. The pink hair is what really ruins the cover. While I understand that the color is to draw the person’s eye, especially since the rest of the cover is extremely dark, they could have had the same effect using blonde or even red hair.

The story before the ending is well enough. Sure it was a little bumpy in the beginning, but by the climax the story smoothed out enough to be really enjoyable. It would have been smoother if the author wrote the complete story of one of the three main female characters. I would have enjoyed it more if the story was centered around Albertine, and it would have made the title make more sense. Instead, it was weakened by the hopping around and some of the smaller chapters that briefly followed some flat minor characters. The romance in the story also felt a bit forced by the author, as if it wasn’t present in the original proposal but added in last minute to keep the reader interested. In fact, the romance was flat and totally unnecessary just like the ending of the story. Not every story needs a romance and there are too many that have a romance that only serves to draw in more readers, even if the romance weakens the story as a whole and the characters involved.

Lord, that ending. I will say this again, it is the weakest point of the story. It was a quick, shortcut way to end the novel, one that I believe the author took because she didn’t know of a better ending. That may be harsh, but that ending was a copout and took away any chance of a character to learn, further diminishing the quality of a main character. If I didn’t care much for Honoria in the main part of the story, I cared less about her after it ended.

Rating(s):

Without the ending: 3/5

With the ending: 2.5/5

Why did I give this book two ratings? Well, I didn’t want the ending to lower the overall rating of the book; however, the ending frustrated me so much that I couldn’t just ignore it. So I was persuaded by my boyfriend to give this book two ratings and I’ll explain them both.

The first rating is for the story up until the ending. The story was about average, nothing spectacular but entertaining enough to keep me interested until the end of the climax. The second rating includes the ending, which I’m sure I have ranted enough about by now for you to get the picture. It was like ending a baseball game with a hit that appeared to be a homerun; unit an outfielder makes an insane leap to catch the ball before it hits the ground.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!

Book Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Detail001

Title: The Nightmare Before Christmas (B&N Exclusive Edition)

Author: Tim Burton

Publisher: Disney Press

Release Date: October 5, 2015

Genre: Young Reader, Poetry

Synopsis:

In this beloved picture book that could only come from the visionary mind of author and illustrator TIM BURTON, we meet Jack Skellington— a well-intentioned inhabitant of Halloweenland. Jack is bored of “the scaring, the terror, the fright….tired of being something that goes bump in the night”. And so, in an effort to bring to joy to his town, Jack kidnaps Santa and takes his place as the jolly old elf. But instead of bringing joy to the world Jack, who is a little more than a grinning skeleton, brings fear by delivering creepy toys and riding a sleigh carried by skeletal reindeer. Only through a number of things going horribly wrong does Jack learn the true meaning of Christmas.

Rating:

5/5

This book is absolutely fantastic! I have seen the movie every year around Christmas and I  am ashamed that it has taken me this long to find and read the poem it was based on! Yes, folks, the movie is based on the poem, not the other way around. The poem was originally written by Tim Burton when he was an art student, making up the sketches of most of his characters like Edward Scissor Hands.

Anyways, this book is fantastic. The poem was beautifully written, it spoke to the poet inside of me and made me smile. As oppose to some, I love the simplicity of the story and find it equal to the movie. The artwork that went with it was lovely and unique, expected nothing less from Tim Burton.

As an added bonus to this edition, which I highly recommend, is a DVD of Christopher Lee reading this poem alongside some added illustrations. His reading made me cry; it sent chills down my spine and made me wonder why this wasn’t a thing sooner. The DVD has very simple animation, with an art style similar to the book. Also, characters that were created for the movie (i.e. Sally and Oogie Boogie) do appear on the DVD version of the poem, so people upset that they didn’t appear in the poem can be appeased.

All in all, a wonderful read and officially on my favorites list! You should add it to your list, especially if you’re a big Nightmare Before Christmas fan or a Christopher Lee fan.

Book Review: Hidden Moon

Hidden ValleyDetails:

Title: Hidden Moon

Author: K.R. Thompson

Publisher: Createspace (self-published)

Release Date: June 17th 2013

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

Pages: 370

Synopsis:

Seventeen year-old Nikki Harmon knows that her life will never be the same. Forced to move after her father’s death, she is determined to keep what is left of her family together, even if she can’t get cell service.

What she doesn’t know, is that she will encounter mythical creatures in her quest to solve the mystery of the Trail Killer, and that she will be torn by her feelings for two very different guys.

As she unearths the deadliest secret of all–will she lose her heart to one of them…or will she lose her life?

My First Thoughts:

I’m all about supporting local authors, especially if they write fiction set in places that I know, so I wanted to give this story a try. The cover throws me off a little, but the summary sounds well enough for a first book from a first-time author!

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

Was there a love triangle? I was expecting to see a love triangle somewhere within these pages. However, all I saw was a love that apparently defied science by affecting the characteristics of air. Sure, I could see the love between Nikki and Adam, but all I saw between Nikki and Brian was friendship, nothing more. However, sometimes Thompson would throw in weird trains of thought for Nikki in which she briefly and randomly thought about her relationship with Brian and how there might be something more. I could see Brain’s love for Nikki, but it always seemed unrequited to me.

With that said, the novel wasn’t a bad start for a first-time author, especially a self-published one. The story was unique, one that I haven’t run into before, though I don’t read much in the way of murder and mysteries. However, this story flowed rather smoothly and every scene counted. The characters were likable and were not easily forgotten, especially the ones that didn’t show up within the story often. The description was lacking, but that’s mostly because I love reading descriptions and painting the scenes from the book with the author’s words. Being set in the Appalachian Mountains, Thompson missed a wonderful opportunity to describe the mountains’ majestic beauty and the unique characteristics that define the land and its people.

Some of the things that bothered me the most about this book are some details most people don’t think twice about. Sorry, but as a person who has to take a lot of science classes and is going into a scientific field, I can get picky with how writers use it in their novels. Air doesn’t sizzle, or snap, or pop, or crackle. Air doesn’t get heated by the presence of two people or by whatever emotion they’re feeling at the time. Also, water is rarely warmer than air. If water is warmer than air, then that means there is a breeze, which doesn’t normally occur in an enclosed area. Also, water has this nasty property of being able to suck the heat out of your body really quickly, increasing a person’s risk of hypothermia in cold conditions. One more thing, a split lip or open wounds don’t go away quickly, they tend to stick around for a few days.

Some of the other things that bothered me were about the area itself. No, I am not from Bland, the area that the book is set in. However, I am familiar enough with the area to know when a writer is making something up, which they are allowed to do but it’s distracting for the people that know the area. I know enough that the high school scenes kind of grated on me because that’s not how things would have happened. Also, the athletics bothered me because they were just kind of thrown in there, they weren’t really developed, and they didn’t match the way things are done in the area either.

I have no problems with authors using their creative licenses, like when Thompson created an American Indian reservation for the setting of the book. In real life there isn’t one; in fact, the group she uses is mostly concentrated at the top of the Chesapeake. However, not many people are going care about that tidbit of information. And Thompson does make an effort to add American Indian lore into her book. The things she uses are just skin deep, but it’s enough for people without a tie to that background to notice. I also liked how the author created her own type of faerie. Sure, there are tons of different types of faeries from mythology and lore that she could have used, but it shows a level of creativity to create one. I would be interested to see how she fleshes out the character later.

Final Thoughts:

While I am a picky when it comes to basic science and other details most people don’t focus too much on, I found this story enjoyable. It was not the most amazing first novel that I have read from a new author, but it was not the worst either. Writing is a skill that must be honed over time, and I believe that Thompson has a good start; she definitely has guts to be a self-published author.

The story was unique and the characters were likable and easy to tell apart. Sometimes I wished that some of the minor characters played a bigger role. Other times I wished that they didn’t act so juvenile for senior high school students. However, they were well fleshed out and easy enough to relate to. I could have gone without the high school drama and class-by-class play, but I feel that way about most books set in high school.

Like every novel there were grammar mistakes, but those are a lot harder to catch when you are your own publisher. And other things like continuity errors, linguistics and other things that a publisher usually looks for are harder to find as well. Thompson could have used more description, but that could also be a personal taste rather than a point against her writing.

Rating(s):

3/5

The mystery of the book was easy enough to follow and she didn’t beat you over the head with who did it. I was able to guess who the killer was about halfway through, but I tend to be a rather good investigator and can guess the major twists in most books. The romance was well enough, not necessarily as science defying as it was described, but you could see the progression of the love through the book. It was a nice average story from a first-time author.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!