Book Review

Book Review: City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Middle-Grade Paranormal
Length: 285 pages
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

They’re here.
They’re watching.

Cass can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead.

When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh. Here, graveyards, castles and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms.

But when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift”, she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil—and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

DELIGHTFUL AND SPOOKY.

And a fantastic audio book!! I really enjoyed this. I haven’t read a middle grade book in a long while and this reminded me why I like adding these into the mix. This was fun in a creepy way, and had cute friendship moments that I adored.

I thought Cass was a great main character. The writing was amazing in that I felt like she was definitely younger, but it never became annoying or drew me out of the story. I wanted to be her friend, cheer her on, and keep reading this story. The dynamic between her and Jacob was so sweet. I’m curious how that relationship will grow and evolve over the books (tears coming? MAYBE).

The plot was complex in its simplicity and I feel that really sways to middle grade. You knew exactly where things were going, but because of the writing and set-up, enjoyed the ride it took you on.

I just love Schwab’s books. And this is her first middle grade book I’ve read. After this, I have plans to read more of these!

Overall audience notes:

  • Middle grade paranormal contemporary
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: a little physical, nothing intense

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Book Review

Book Review: Bottling It (Wayfair Witches #1) by A.A. Albright

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Length: 215 pages
Author: A.A. Albright
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: October 9th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Wanda Wayfair is a bit of a late starter.

At almost twenty-one she still hasn’t received her magical powers, and she’s running out of time. But that doesn’t bother Wanda. Much. Not when she can spend all of her time in the human world and pretend that her coven doesn’t exist. But when Wanda takes a job at Berrys’ Bottlers, working with the handsome Will Berry and his unpleasant Aunt Alice, she soon realises that she’s a lot closer to the magical world than she thought.

All over Dublin, humans are murdering witches. When asked why, all they’ll say is, ‘I dunno why I done it.’ But Wanda thinks she does know why they’ve done it – and hopefully she’ll receive her power in time to help her coven discover the truth.

DIVING INTO COZY MYSTERIES.

I’m not sure if anything I’ve ever read has qualified as a cozy mystery. This I believe does! And I found it to be something I’d love to read more of.

This was funny, short, and so very quirky. I liked Wanda as the main character and found her likable and someone I wanted to be friends with. I snickered and found myself smiling multiple times over the ridiculousness of the story, but also realizing how much I was enjoying it.

A very fast read (200ish) pages and plenty was packed in! There’s quite a few books so I’m definitely interested in seeing how these continue. I spied the beginnings of a budding romance, and many more mysteries to solve. I love how quick this opener was and how easy it made me want to know more about the Wayfair Witches.

Overall audience notes:

  • Paranormal cozy mystery
  • Language: very little, light
  • Romance: hugs
  • Violence: murder; nothing overly bloody/gory; kidnapping

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction +fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh, begins to give way. But before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

The epic conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Jackaby series features wry humor and a cast of unforgettable characters facing off against their most dangerous, bone-chilling foe ever.

READ EVERY LAST DANG PAGE OF THIS BOOK.

Or you might feel like throwing it across the room. Like me. Then I read it all. Then I got the ending I was demanding from my bookish soul.

This was a great finale! Definitely the best book of the series by far.

I loved watching all of the story lines come together. Seeing all of the characters align. It all was beautifully woven and closed the ending as it should be. I wasn’t left with questions or concerns. I closed the book at peace. That’s a good ending. There was even a double crossing betrayer that I had no idea was coming. It was a twist that added an edge.

ABIGAIL AND CHARLIE ARE SO DANG CUTE. Absolutely precious. This was the first time I wish they had some more screen time. I was smitten with Charlie and their interactions. They were a great, simple, no drama relationship that added the touch of romance to round out this series.

Jackaby and Abigail are once again a dynamic duo. Jenny became team member number three and I loved having her around more! The banter and dynamics between everyone always make me smile and really appreciate their friendships. I was so happy that Jackaby got the ending he deserved. It made a lot of sense and I figured it would have to move in that direction to bring closure.

This is one of those books that handles the addition of literally every magical creature from fairytales and folklore well. They’re SO MANY CREATURES. I love learning more about them and the way they each added their own touch.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction/fantasy/paranormal mystery
  • Language: one word (witch)
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, magic, swords, murder, animal attacks, vampire attacks, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy + paranormal (witches)
Length: 601 pages
Author: Laurie Forest
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

GOOD ENOUGH TO PURSUE BOOK TWO.

I had heard about a million different conflicting reviews and issues with this book. But with a personal friends and Morrighan’s Review (give her a follow!) I chose to give it a chance.

Overall, it was good. I definitely had some issues with it but I liked what was being laid out and want to see where it continues to go.

Things I liked:

  • The way that racism was depicted as always a bad thing (this is a fantasy so it’s between the different races in the book: witches, fae, werewolves, etc.). Elloren (and others) would make me so mad with how they were all treating each other and the things they would do and say. But, as time went on Elloren consciously realized what she was doing and how wrong she was. This allowed her character to grow a lot and made the book so much better.
  • I really loved the setting. There wasn’t a lot of world-building, but I thought it was fun to have it at a school. I feel like any school setting is immediately judged against Harry Potter, but this is so vastly different I had a good time with it.
  • The nuanced relationships. Things were a lot more focused on friendships rather than relationships (though, those are definitely building up). Since Elloren was evolving she was opening herself up to new people and they were all learning from each other.

Things I struggled with:

  • For a witch her doesn’t have powers (but obviously does) they NEVER SHOWED UP. I thought surely within 600 pages we have that grand moment where her powers come in full force, but nope. So now I have to wait til I get book two to see how that comes out.
  • Elloren was a wreck most of the time. I felt she cried literally every other page (not saying crying is a bad thing, but if I notice something recurring that often, holy wow). Her emotions were kind of all over the place and boys were taking up a lot of her time.
  • There wasn’t much that moved the plot forward. She spent her time at school, making friends, overcoming her own misguided sense of hatred, but at the same time, it didn’t lead anywhere. Things are happening further away from her, but the “battle” hasn’t come to them yet. I guess this book was setting up for all to come.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + paranormal (witches)
  • Language: b**ch used a few times
  • Romance: a lightly passionate kiss
  • Violence: magic, physical, bullying
  • Trigger warnings: racism, bullying, racial slurs, animal cruelty

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