Tag Archives: supernatural

ARC Review – These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

23688792Title: These Vicious Masks

Author:  Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

Huge thank you to Raincoast Books/Swoon Reads for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

When I heard the pitch for These Vicious Masks, it just sounded too ridiculous to be true. Jane Austen meets X-Men? What kind of crack is that? While I went into this with rather low expectations, I can’t get over how much fun this book was on a whole.

First off, let me talk to you about how awesome and badass the heroines, Evelyn and Rose. Despite all their hardships, these two women really know how to stand up for themselves and show how strong and capable they are. I also loved how they respond to their abilities, how they try to rationalize the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with them. The writers did a fantastic job making them characters that you can not only root for, but who are actually fun and engaging to read about.

I admit, I’m not a big romance person, but I even found the romance in this novel pretty good. It didn’t over power the way I was worried it would, considering a lot of young adult romance novels are very cliché in its approach to romance. A lot of the time I generally don’t like the romance itself or the characters, but here I found it worked very well.

In a lot of ways the book does a great job of taking the reader by the hand and whisking them into this weird pseudo-Western, steampunkish novel. The world building is great, it’s vivid, and then there’s the ending. Lord, that ending is really good. If I have any complaints about this book, it’s that sometimes I found the writing hard to get into, so it felt like a rollercoaster for me writing wise, moving up and down in terms of my enjoyment. While I liked the characters, the story had its moments for me where it dragged in spots.

Overall, These Vicious Masks reads like delicious ridiculous candy. Sometimes you just want a book that grabs at your attention and does it in a way that is just plain fun. This book is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy supernatural abilities and kick ass heroines.

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ARC Review – A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

20499923Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Huge thank you to Bloomsbury Kids for sending me an advanced copy of this book!

River’s Review:

When I found out that DeStefano was writing a middle grade novel I was a little apprehensive. I’m a huge fan of her prose and was worried that things might be a little… lacking in that department since she was writing for a younger crowd. But this book did not disappoint. I was actually quite surprised at how dark it was from the first page!

This is a story about a girl named Pram who can see ghosts. She can speak with them and even touch them. She makes friends with the ghosts around her, and there are a lot since she lives with her Aunts in their elderly care home. Pram is considered to be an unusual girl, but she is well loved and well cared for. Her mother died before Pram was born (she died with Pram still, uh, inside her) and Pram misses her mother and unknown father very much. What little she does know about the two makes her wish to know more.

Pram is sent to school where she meets a boy and they become fast friends. I was actually surprised at the slight romantic undertones of their friendship. I mean, I remember being in Elementary school and having ‘boyfriends’, but this isn’t something I’ve seen in the few middle grade books I’ve read before. I liked that this showed Pram’s maturity (because she was a very mature young girl).

Pram’s new friend, Clarence, lost his mother too, but he can still remember her and he misses her very much. He’s convinced that his mother’s ghost is haunting their house and Pram confesses that she can speak with ghosts. Clarence is actually quite believing and he drags her off to meet a woman who can commune with the spirits, a Lady Savant. Lady Savant can sense that there’s something special about Pram and bespells her, forcing Pram to come back to her, where she then whisks Pram away to suck away her powers for herself.

I love how reading DeStefano’s books is like being in a fever dream. Quiet often her characters aren’t always lucid and they do things both in reality and outside of it. There’s a beautiful sense of what is real and what should be make believe juxtaposed against each other with themes of friendship, depression, love, and family mixed together. I loved all of Pram’s relationships, especially her friendship with Felix the ghost. And I loved how Pram pieced together her own mysterious past as well as the driving force behind Lady Savant’s ambitions.

As much as I would love for this to be a stand alone, it appears there might be more to come? And I am okay with that.

ARC Review – Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

17449519Title: Waistcoats & Weaponry

Author: Gail Carriger

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style–with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what–or who–they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I think of all of the Finishing School novels, this one might easily be my favourite. It was crazy, cracked out and just plain fun from start to finish. Furthermore every character in this series got some great development, so it was nice to have a bit more about Sophronia and her gang of nut cases.

Gail Carriger’s writing continues to delight in this instalment, and for those who are huge Parasol Protectorate fans, this book has so many references it’s pretty fabulous. I admit, reading this book on the bus ride home and giggling in public — yeah, that happened pretty often. It’s just great to see some of the references being made to her other series and the interaction between those characters and the ones of Finishing School is just done with such ease.

Can I also say how much I loved Bumbersnoot in this book? Oh my goodness, Bumbersnoot.

This series just has such a fun tone overall, and despite this one being a lot darker in atmosphere compared to the previous two, I feel like there’s still so much to offer fans of this series and of Parasol Protectorate. Carriger also makes the supernatural elements and the political conflicts amongst the paranormals to be very complex, but not so complex that the novel is over saturated by it. There’s just a great balance between the political, the character conflicts, the humour and the supernatural and I adored it from start to finish.

This means, however, that the wait for Manners and Mutiny is going to be insanely painful. I need it now. Like, right now. Please?

ARC Review – The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

20804408Title:  The Dark World

Author: Cara Lynn Shultz

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Paige Kelly is used to weird–in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn’t fazed by Paige’s propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she’ll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that’s overrun by demons-and she might never make it home.

Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

So I liked this book a lot more than I expected to! The blurb sounds a bit meh, but I was intrigued by the ghost aspect (and the cover is gorgeous!) so I thought I’d give it a shot. I LOVED Paige. I love sassy-smart girls and she fit the bill! Paige can see ghosts so when she stars talking to squirrels (who are standing near ghosts in the park) her parents freak and she gets help (drugs, therapy, etc) and labeled the school weird-o. But this doesn’t really deter Paige, she just deals with it, puts herself above the petty girls and boys that mock her, and sticks to her guns. Sure she doesn’t let her parents know that she’s talking to ghosts, but she doesn’t let it stop her from chatting with her ghosty BFF in the girls bathroom. 

This all comes to a head when some new kids show up… and they turn out to be demons. This was a really cool part of the story that I didn’t expect and was happy to have. I thought that Paige was going to get caught up in a love triangle with the funny-cute new boy (Logan) and the dark sexy new boy (Aiden) but nope! That didn’t happen. I loved that there was no love triangle at all. Even Ajax had potential for it, but nope. Didn’t happen. And the romance between Logan and Paige was really well done. Slow, sweet, and it felt real. 

Anyway, Paige turns out to be an important key to the war between the Dark World and Our World and the demons want her. Logan, who’s a demon hunter, vows to protect Paige and even teachers her how to fight and protect herself. She gets her own magic sword! I really liked this too. Often the girl doesn’t really learn how to fight, or if she does she’s not very good at it. So I really liked that Paige not only learned how to fight but she got her own weapon. 

I liked the demons in this story. I love it when an author makes the demons creative. The demons in this world are all attached to elements or strong emotions and they look like people (or can make themselves look like people) and they bleed different colors, have different abilities depend on their element, and when they die… they “go” in different ways… 

The only problem I really had with this was that it felt too long. I found myself falling into lulls at times and I’d start to skim a bit before I found something that caught my attention and then I was sucked back in. I also didn’t really FEEL anything when the big revels happened. Like, I knew I was supposed to be feeling something but I didn’t. So that fell a bit short. 

Overall this was good though, and Paige was a great MC. If you like paranormal or demon books then this will be right up your alley!