28. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Paranormal

The Strangers by Jacqueline West, read by Angie, on 03/27/2014

This is the fourth book in the Elsewhere series. Olive Dunwoody lives in a magical house. The house used to belong to the McMartins, a family of powerful magicians who all died. The house is filled with magical paintings that lead to Elsewhere. With a special pair of glasses, Olive can enter the paintings and go to Elsewhere. In a previous book in the series, Adolphus McMartin and Annabelle McMartin both escaped from their paintings. They want the house and its magic back. In this book, Olive’s parents are kidnapped and a family of magicians come to town to help her. Olive has to figure out where her parents are and who she can trust.

I think my appreciation for this book would have been higher if I had read more than the first book of the series. I found the villains in this tale fairly predictable. However, the action was good and I am sure fans of this series were quite happy with how the story played out.

24. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags: ,

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, read by Eric, on 03/23/2014

Ten-year-old Birdie works as an apprentice for Alfred, surrogate father and bogler, in the poor, tough streets and houses of Victorian London. A boglers job is to kill the various dark monsters infesting London, and snatching up their favorite snacks, children. Birdie is the bait for the team’s salt-circle traps, and is vital to luring out the bogles. She’s proud of her work, even though it is very dangerous, and doesn’t pay well. When Miss Eames, an upper-class lady fascinated with the science of monsters, convinces Alfred to allow her to observe their work, they soon find themselves faced with monsters of both the bogle and human kind.

This is an excellent start to a new trilogy, and right up my darkened alley. The bogles are nasty, the dingy Victorian setting is ominous, and the Alfred-Birdie monster hunting team is great. The human murder mystery at the center of it all is creepy, satisfying, and makes me wish for the next book. Recommended.

14. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Daylighters by Rachel Caine, read by Tammy, on 03/11/2014

morganvilleThis Morganville adventure picks up right where the previous book left off. Claire, Shane and Eve have returned to Morganville only to find it greatly changed and a the anti-vampire group, The Daylighters, in charge. They aren’t sure what has happened to their vampire friends, Michael, Mrynin and Oliver. Eve’s only concern is getting Michael back safely. Shane is dealing with the affects of a mysterious dog bite. Even the Glass House and Matilda don’t feel safe. Claire however has to decide if she’s on the side of good or evil in this fight. People can now come out of their homes without fear and can be out on the streets after dark. Isn’t that a good thing? But what is happening to the vampires who have all been captured and hauled away to a guarded building at the edge of town. The leader of the Daylighters claims he is trying to find a cure but Claire doesn’t believe him. Her previous experience with the group back East makes her question everything about them.

I believe this may be the final chapter in the Morganville series. Many questions are cleared up at the end including relationships. The author’s wording of her opening also leads me to think this may be the last book. If so, it is a satisfying ending.

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Dark and Stormy Knights by edited by P.N. Elrod, read by Tammy, on 02/24/2014

dark and stormyNine short stories from some of today’s most popular paranormal fantasy authors. It’s theme is about “knights” who do dark deeds but for all the right reasons. I picked it up because it contains a short story by Jim Butcher author of the Dresden Files. Though this short story is set in Dresden’s world he does not appear. Instead mob boss, and one of the only human signatory of the Unseelie Accords, John Marcone is the featured character.

Includes stories from: Ilona Andrews,Shannon K. Butcher, Rachel Caine, P.N. Elrod, Deidre Knight, Vicki Pettersson, Lilith Saintcrow and Carrie Vaughn.

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles # 2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, read by Tammy, on 02/16/2014

Now that Lena has made it past her 16th birthday and managed to break the family curse of being chosen for either dark or light without any say in the matter, she is trying to cope with the cost. The death of her beloved Uncle Macon. And still she will have to make a choice…. light or dark caster. Ethan thinks she will have to choose by her seventeenth birthday as the song they can both her has changed from sixteen moons to seventeen moons.

But Lena’s not the only one trying to figure out who she really is and dealing with her family’s past. Ethan has some personal discoveries of his own to make. Will Lena choose light or dark? Will she and Ethan make it through these choices together or has to much changed?

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake , read by Courtney, on 09/29/2013

Things aren’t going so well for the gods of old. Athena has been growing feathers on the inside of her body while Hermes has been wasting away. In an attempt to find the source of their mortality, they begin traversing the country in search of answers. It appears that the other gods aren’t doing well either; each is dying in their own way. Their power is fading. Demeter points them in the direction of someone who might be able to help, provided they can find her and make her remember who she is before Hera and Aphrodite do. War is brewing and they’ll need all the help they can get. The person they need now is the prophetess Cassandra, the same girl who was cursed by Apollo to see the future but to not be believed by anyone. The original Cassandra died centuries ago, but her reincarnation lives a normal high school existence and is completely unaware of her potential role in the brewing war.
Fans of Greek mythology won’t want to miss this one. The gods are doing all the things the gods are known for: drama, trickery, intimidation and deception. Cassandra is a pretty cool girl with a doting brother and loyal bff, both of whom will come in rather handy as the story progresses. Athena is not someone to mess with, even in her weakened state. Old alliances are tested as desperate goddesses seek to save themselves at the expense of everything else. Some knowledge of Greek myth and classical literature will definitely help readers to appreciate the motivations of the various characters, but plenty of background information is presented as well. I really enjoyed this dark take on the gods-in-the-real-world theme.

30. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Tammy

Ghoul Goblin by Jim Butcher, read by Tammy, on 01/05/2014

ghoul goblin   The first graphic novel in the Dresden Files series that is not based on one of the original novels. Harry Dresden, a Chicago private investigator and wizard is contacted by a small-town police deputy from an isolated town in Missouri. A local family has suffered for generations from a curse with family members dying in strange unfortunate accidents. The deputy wants to protect the remaining family members including two children but the sheriff is convinced it’s all coincidence so he turns to Harry for help. Can Harry save them? Is it just the family curse or are other supernatural creatures at work in this small town? Can Dresden cleanse the Talbot bloodline of its curse without a blood sacrifice of his own?

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Courtney, on 01/14/2014

Blue comes from a long line of women with psychic abilities. Unfortunately for Blue, the only ability that seemed to manifest for her is the ability to amplify the abilities of others. For this reason, her mother takes her to the church road on St. Mark’s eve so that her mother can speak to the soon-to-be-dead. They do it every year, but this is the first year where Blue actually sees one of the ghosts. It’s a boy around her age and the only thing she can find out about his is that his name is “Gansey”. Her mother and some of the other women in their house of psychics tell her it must be because she is going to fall in love with him, which is a problem since there’s been a prophecy going around that if Blue kisses her true love, he’ll die.
Meanwhile, at Aglionby Academy, Richard Gansey and his friends have devoted their time to finding the grave of a lost Welsh king. According to Gansey’s research, there’s ample evidence that this king would be buried along ley lines, lines of energy and power. Gansey is positive that that he’s close to his goal, which, if found, will grant them a favor of epic proportions. As it turns out, however, Gansey is not the first to search here and the other person searching doesn’t have intentions nearly as kind as Gansey and his pals.
In an effort to find out what the local psychics know about ley lines and sources, Gansey pays a visit to Blue’s mother. Once these two paths cross, things start to get really interesting.
I wasn’t very excited going into this one as I was not a fan of the Mercy Falls series. I had heard enough good things about this series that I decided to assign it to one of my bookgroups so that I’d have to give it a try. Fortunately, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. The premise is fascinating and very unexpected. I found some of the trajectory to be a bit predictable, but still found some surprises along the way. I did have some issues with Blue only being able to act as a tool for others. I wanted her to have more power on her own. The amplification thing starts to make Blue seem like a passive character, when I believe that she’s got more going for her. I’m still a little sketchy on some of the smaller details and I felt like it took way too long for our protagonists to meet, but this may all be rectified with further installments in the “cycle”. Overall, a nice, fresh take on the paranormal genre.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, read by Eric, on 01/25/2014

“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly.” This tasty tidbit is from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to the book, and wonderfully sums up my view of most of his writing. He has a way of stringing letters together which makes the mundane magical, or at the least, a bit odd. I like a bit odd, and so enjoyed this collection of short stories. It also was interesting to compare stories written earlier in his career to more recent ones, both of which are in this collection. I had read a couple of these tales before, and one in particular (The Witch’s Headstone) became a chapter in Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book. Short stories are a great introduction to an author, and so if you are one of the five people not familiar with Neil Gaiman, this collection is a decent place to start. Although it is a collection intended for younger readers, the content is pretty mature, including older cultural references I doubt young readers will understand.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Kira, on 01/19/2014

Wow!  I was so impressed with this 2nd book of the Raven Cycle trilogy.  Definitely, a book that stands on its own (well the background stoThedreamthievesbluery would be nice to have). tumblr_mswuqaIkXF1r181heo1_500135343_10202156284849292_698349595_oBlack Prince effigycabes water  Part of the credit goes to the awesome narrator of the Audiobook – Will Patton.  Patton manages unique and appropriate voices for each character.  The other part I really loved about this book, is the way it takes comaurora lynchmon narratives and breaks them, oh oh, the mother and aunties are letting the Hit Man into their house! danger danger, oh, but these women aren’t stupid, no they’re just braver and more clever than women usually get dreamthivscredit for.  This story focusesThe-Raven-Boys-IB2(pp_w573_h441) on Ronin and his abilties to dream objects and bring them back.  Also: Great Worldbuilding!

Pics include: Blue, the gang, Kavinsky’s car, Glendauer, Cabes Water, Aurora Lynchtumblr_mqgw0pp1ej1s2qitso1_500 tumblr_mdmygfZaTa1qmbg8bo1_500 and 2 collages.

21. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Tracy

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts, read by Tracy, on 01/12/2014

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland. County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits. Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package. Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Teen Books

Asylum by Madeleine Roux, read by Courtney, on 12/06/2013

Ugh. I got suckered into reading this one for a few reasons: 1)it’s about an old asylum and things really don’t get much creepier than places like that, 2)it has pictures and those pictures looked pretty creepy and 3)in spite of mostly bad reviews, I found one positive review and decided to give the book a chance. The premise is pretty simple: Dan Crawford arrives on campus for one of those college-prep-for-high-school-kids summer programs. He’s pretty excited about it since he’s a bit of a nerd and looks forward to taking college level classes with other smart kids. The weird thing is, the college is renovating its dorms and has decided to house the high school kids in the abandoned asylum that the college bought since it was adjacent to their property (and, presumably, for some sort of research/historical purposes). So all the kids are staying in the old asylum, and the desire to go exploring in the closed-off parts of the building is too strong for Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan. During the course of their explorations, they discover a bunch of old photographs and documents from the old hospital. Then Dan starts having strange dreams and the occasional hallucination. Jordan gets inexplicably mad at Dan and Abby moves on to another group of friends. It continues like this for awhile, with none of the main characters talking to each other, until a townie turns up dead and all signs point to a former serial killer who was held at the hospital prior to its closing years ago.
There are a lot of problems with the premise and the characters that I simply couldn’t look past. First of all, what type of college/university decides to renovate ALL their dorms at the EXACT same time and thus sends a bunch of minors (for whom they are legally responsible) to live in a building that probably violates a ton of building safety codes (from the sound of it, anyway)? Seems a bit on the irresponsible side, right? Then there are the main characters. Dan is probably the most well-developed of the bunch, but even he reads like a stock character. There’s evidently some sort of mental health issue that he’s dealt with in the past, but the reader never really finds out what or how it connects to the rest of the story. His roommate, Felix, is a painfully stereotypical nerd, right down to his manner of speaking. Jordan is similarly stereotypical, except his stereotype is “flamboyant funny gay guy” who also may or may not have some sort of bi-polar thing going on (that’s not really developed much either). Abby is the love interest that’s really not all that interesting. Her stereotype? The artsy “manic pixie dream girl”. Yawn. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters. The photos that part of my reason for picking the book up in the first place were so-so. The vintage ones were cool, but there were quite a few more recent photos that were altered to fit the story, which was disappointing. I was really hoping for photos more along the lines of those seen in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children or Shadow of Blackbirds. Alas, it’s clearly what the author and publisher were going for, but fact that some were constructed exclusively for the book takes a lot of the excitement out of it. What kept me going was the pervasive sense of dread that the book did manage to accomplish in spite of all its shortcomings. It was genuinely creepy. There’s definitely going to be a readership for this book, but I have a sneaking suspicion that many will be just like me: hoping for more and being left empty-handed.

08. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy, Paranormal, Teen Books

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, read by Kristy, on 12/18/2013

Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.

26. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags:

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, read by Kira, on 12/24/2013

Jonathan Stroud has done it again, actually this title is better than the Bartimaeus series (imho).  The Lockwood Investigative Company of ghost investigators burn down a house in the process of eliminating a problem specter haunting a house.  That’s when things get really interesting, when a wealthy CEO hires them to clean out a mansion where other larger & more experienced agencies have failed.  Join Lucy, George, and Anthony as they attempt to stay alive and solve this mystery.

A wonderful read – good plot, and delicious atmosphere, transports you to another London.

 

 

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18. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Tracy

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, read by Tracy, on 12/08/2013

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

16. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur, read by Angie, on 12/14/2013

Sienna is devoted to her little brother Lucca. She plays with him and takes care of him and reads him stories. She does this because she loves her little brother and because she feels like she is the reason he doesn’t talk. There is nothing wrong with Lucca, he just chooses not to talk at all. He makes noises and acts like a normal boy in all other ways. The parents decide to move the family away from their Brooklyn neighborhood and buy a house on the Maine coast. It is a house Sienna has seen in her dreams and things get even stranger once they move in. Sienna starts having visions of the family that lived there during WWII. She finds a pen that allows her to write the little girl Sarah’s story while in a trance. Sienna believes that Sarah and Joshua’s story is connected to her and Lucca’s in some way. She must solve the mystery of what happened in the past in order to fix the present.

I liked Sienna’s story. For the most part she is a very realistic girl devoted to her brother, scared of making new friends, etc. I even thought her hobby of collecting lost things was quirky and fun. The ghost story/visions of the past however fell a little flat to me. It was a plot line with little reason for being other than to bulk up the story. Sienna’s connection never really made sense to me and I wish there would have been a little more reason for it being there. I also had problems with Lucca. He basically chose not to talk when he was a toddler. At three he has made the conscious decision not to speak to anyone. I am not sure a three-year-old could really make that decision or think that deeply. It would have made more sense if he was a bit older, but the fact that he was so young made it really hard to buy into. However, if you suspend your disbelief when reading this book you will find a charming story about a close family trying to make a fresh start. Even with all its problems I did enjoy the book.

11. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Graveyard Child by M.L.N. Hanover., read by Kira, on 12/01/2013

Jayne Heller finds out a LOT about her past in book 5 of the series.  Like what happened on her 16th birthday, who was her real father, and was Eric a bad guy, or a victim, and where did the very powerful demon that shares her body come from.fallen-angel-black-dark-female-goth-gothic-scene-winged-78921graveyard childDemon_Hunter_  Creative world-building in another fast-paced enjoyable read.  Loved it!

04. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Novel, Paranormal

Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle, read by Courtney, on 11/19/2013

This lovely graphic novel depicts angels watching over the affairs on earth. Eventually, the strain becomes too much of one of them and the angel sinks to earth. Immobilized by the overwhelming struggle, the angel is mistaken as a statue. Eventually, a rag-tag group of beings start to rehabilitate the angel.
There’s minimal text; the story is mostly told through pictures. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. It’s mixed media and it’s beautiful. This is a very fast read, but the story and art will stick with readers long after the cover is closed.

03. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel, read by Courtney, on 11/13/2013

One hundred years ago, steamboats ruled the rivers. Captain Twain of the Steamship Lorelei is one of the best-known captains on the Hudson River. One day, he rescues a mermaid who has been injured by a harpoon. The captain hides her away in his quarters and tends to her wounds. As she recovers, the two begin get to know one another. Twain, who hopes to be a writer one day, also finds that his writing block has vanished. Meanwhile, the ship’s owner, the Frenchman Lafayette has been corresponding with a mysterious author about ways to rid oneself of a mermaid’s curse. The mysterious author prepares for a very public debut aboard the Steamship Lorelei. As the three characters’ lives converge, so too do elements of mythology and folklore, culminating in a series of events that none of the characters could have ever foreseen.
I went into this thinking that it had something to do with that other Twain of Midwestern fame, but such is not the case. The real Mark Twain is, however, referenced at least once by the characters themselves. Captain Twain is, in many ways, a parallel to the literary figure. I loved the artwork in this comic; it suited the story beautifully. It tends to have an almost-underwater/dreamlike quality to it. The story is rich and unexpected, with distinct magic-realism tendencies. In short, it’s pretty much everything I look for in a graphic novel.

25. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tracy

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston, read by Tracy, on 11/08/2013

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can’t quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumours that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.