Category Archives: Paranormal Mystery

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Unearthly (Unearthly #1) by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: 4 January 2011
Read Date: 13 November 2011
Rating:

The best YA angel book I’ve read. Fully-fledged characters with no self-respect issues and solid, healthy relationships. No insta-love here, and no plot holes plus, there’s a truly mysterious mystery…but I won’t be reading the sequel.

Clara is one quarter angel who has just received her Purpose, the one thing she was born to do as an angel. Her vision of her Purpose implies she will be rescuing a boy from a forest fire. Small details show her he is somewhere in Wyoming so the whole family moves from California so she can fulfil her destiny. She finds the boy, Christian, is the most popular guy in school with a possessive girlfriend. Clara studies him to the point of obsession in order to understand the where, when and why she is to save him. She comes to believe she has quasi-romantic feelings for him until he manages to completely embarrass her at the school dance and sees Tucker, Clara’s best friend’s twin brother, step in to save the day.

Previously Tucker had acted like a child, calling Clara “Carrots” due to the shade of her dyed hair and picking on her. It isn’t until a school break when all her friends, including Christian and her mother, leave town and she’s alone on her 17th birthday when Wendy sends Tucker to be her present. He takes her on a nature tour over a number of days, always setting up another appointment to spend the day together. It’s during this time they grow closer. Unfortunately, when they first kiss, her angel powers activate and his love turns to fear…I absolutely loved this aspect of the story. It’s so well written I was right there experiencing the wilderness with them, wishing I could be doing the same activities. I was pleased to see Tucker and Clara gradually fall for each other. Tucker was a true gentleman cowboy with an easy smile and a loveable character. I was disappointed in Clara’s mother’s reaction though. Any mother would be happy for her daughter to be dating someone like him. And it’s not like it was against the rules to date a human. All work and no play…

Clara’s mother is a half-angel with secrets. She holds so much back to the point of putting her children in danger but as a mother she’s loving and caring and fully involved in their lives, always knowing how and what they’re doing. I do wonder what her Purpose is/was and whether it has something to do with her children. On the other hand, Clara has a long-distance, almost non-existent relationship with her human father who sends guilt presents.

Jeffrey, Clara’s younger brother, is practically an open book at first, struggling to balance his need to compete in sports, wanting to be the best but also needing to hold back to ensure he’s not accused of cheating. He feels like a fraud. At some point I believe he receives his Purpose but tells no one, he becomes pensive and broody. I’m assuming his Purpose isn’t a particularly “good” deed.

I liked these angels and the concept of White Wings (the good) and Black Wings (the bad, who don’t fulfil their Purpose and are unable to love). However, I found it strange there were so many angels in one small town, albeit a tourist one. Angela came across as not just intense but I kept expecting her to turn on Clara because she’s so enthusiastically helpful when it came to anything angel-related.

My only problem I have with this book is the serious implication that the reason Clara must save Christian is because they are meant to be together, romantically-speaking. I abhor love triangles. I hate them, I do. In this case, it really makes me mad because the love Clara has for Tucker, and vice-versa, is genuine. I fell for Tucker right along with Clara. Why must Hand go the route of so many other authors and implement a love triangle? It feels like a huge insult to have these characters form a strong relationship we rarely see in YA paranormals and then basically say “Nope, he’s not for you. This one is.” For a moment there I really thought “Yay! We have an honest to god healthy teen relationship.” And now, I’m pretty sure that will be ruined in a sequel, for a character I never cared about. I don’t want to see this happen so I doubt I’ll be continuing with this series.

ETA: I will, however, be interested in watching the TV show of the same name based on this book, announced in October.

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Review: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori — the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Release Date: 2 June 2011
Read Date: 27 September 2011
Rating:

Speechless. I’m utterly, utterly speechless.

Words, words, where are the words? How can I describe this?

Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Heart-achingly beautiful.

The writing, the language, the emotions and imagination -this is a work of pure genius.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to read something so completely original and inspiring.

And it’s a self-contained novel. No unanswered questions that won’t be satisfied in a sequel due out in a year. Oh, the glee.

It’s not possible for me to go in to detail because I would give away too much. You really need to go in blind and discover that R. J. Anderson deserves an award, many awards. And of course, the tools to write yet another piece of art I can admire, clutch tightly in my hands and call it my precious.

Go read this. Beg, borrow or steal it if you have to, it’s worth the jail time, I promise. Go now. I’ll see you on the other side.

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Manic Monday | Drive-By Reviews ~ Psychics Make Mistakes Too

MM-DBR

Manic Monday | Drive-By Reviews is a weekly feature where we’ll share some mini-reviews Alice-style.


Killer Insight (Psychic Eye Mystery #4) by Victoria Laurie

When a childhood friend of Abby’s from Denver, Colorado, finds herself short one bridesmaid, it doesn’t take a professional psychic to see the opportunity for a much-needed getaway. But one bridesmaid after the next is mysteriously flying the coop, and Abby’s intuition tells her their final destination isn’t pretty. With the wedding party falling apart and her gift of sight never quite so foggy, Abby has to save the date-and herself from becoming the next taffeta-clad target.









“Curiouser and curiouser!” ~ Alice

Opening Line: As I looked down the black barrel of the .38 pointed directly at my chest, and into the familiar eyes of my killer, all I could think was, I’m a friggin’ psychic, for Pete’s sake! {Abby}
Closing Line: “Deal,” he said, and we shook on it. {Dutch}


“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you’re at.” ~ Mad Hatter

Abby and Dutch have, what she’d hoped would be, a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. But, when things don’t go as planned and Dutch tells her that he needs a little time to work on a major FBI case, she feels like he’s blowing her off and they split. She heads to her best friend’s wedding in Denver. There she reunites with her BFF’s older brother and Abby’s former crush, Duffy. When Abby sees a picture of Gail, one of the bridesmaids, she realizes she’s dead. Abby tries to help Sheriff Duffy find the body and the killer. She starts to believe the killer is her BFF’s fiance. Not exactly the relaxing vacation she’d planned.

Rating:


“What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations” ~ Alice

Victoria Laurie is not a new2me author.


“That’s just it. If you don’t think, then you shouldn’t talk.” ~ The Hare

I always enjoy reading books in this series. The characters are a hoot and the relationship between Abby and Dutch has been fun, up until this book that is. While anyone who has read this series knows, Abby is a trouble magnet. Her psychic abilities while strong are not infallible, but that is one of the things that makes her more “real”, IMO. The start of this book had me flying through the story to find out who the killer was and what was really going to happen to Abby. It was a 4★-read for me until ROLL-OVER SPOILER That just didn’t fit for me. I’m interested to see if this has further impact on their relationship in the future installments. What I did like was getting more info on Abby’s relationship (or lack thereof) with her mother, Claire.


“Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves” ~ The Dutchess

“Top? Or bottom?” {Dutch} “Side to side.” {Abby}


“We are all mad here.” ~ The Cheshire Cat

This book receives the Cheshire Cat award for reminding me that psychics make mistakes too.




Until Next Week ~ Happy Reading!


Review: ‘Dead Reckoning’ by Charlaine Harris

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can’t ‘read’ vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam well – and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human – and that there is a new Queen on the board . . .



Details:
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Gollancz
ISBN#: 9780575096523


My rating:

Read: 16 July 2011

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

It was all a dream! Sookie wakes up in a sweat freaking out only to realise it was all just a harmless nightmare. Her life isn’t a supernatural mess, she’s settled down with her man and is happily living in domestic bliss. The curtain comes down on the book.

That didn’t happen but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, as a series closer that is. There was so much WTFery in Dead Reckoning it’s hard to know where to start. My feelings shifted through indifference, exasperation, WTH and the occasional chuckle.

Changing agendas and personalities of the characters over the last few books has left me lukewarm. Sookie is no longer someone I sympathise with. My exasperation came into play with what I perceive to be Sookie’s drawn out break up with Eric. It’s been on the cards for a while and many fans have predicted such a thing. Sookie thinking of her future and the impossibility of children with her current beau, his love of violence and her hatred of it plus his level of understanding of her feelings plummeting when the bond is severed has her reconsidering her options.

It seemed like Harris was throwing men at Sookie left, right and centre, offering them up as alternatives. Alcide’s weird Little Red Riding Hood move was both completely out of character and unexpected. Alcide has always been a gentleman and gentlemen simply do not take off their clothes and slip into a girl’s bed without her knowledge or permission when little more than polite words have passed between them in recent times -WTF? Creepy as hell.

Claude eyeing Sookie’s close friendship with Sam, her desperate run, whilst completely starkers, into dead-to-the-world Bill’s arms to hide from kidnappers -did she have to be naked? Did we have to be reminded of his love her and his willingness to get back together? Even her fae family were being offered up as possible love interests? Erm, incest anyone? I know Sookie’s Christian beliefs have had to stretch to accommodate her increasingly dangerous lifestyle but incest is probably pushing it.

The storyline was partly one that wouldn’t die. The death of Debbie Pelt which if I remember correctly was in book 4. This is #14. Debbie’s sister Sandra who’s one-track mind is hell bent on Sookie’s death -again, by any means necessary. The other part is how-to-get-rid-of-Victor. Digging up old storylines and rehashing them isn’t something I’m interested in, while the Victor-problem was much the same; someone seeks to control Sookie and friends and they must be eliminated, only the character to be disposed of has changed.

The introduction of a certain fae object is discomforting and leads me to believe what I’ve said in my opening paragraph is entirely possible. I really don’t want to know what Sookie will use it for, whether it be a selfish purpose or an altruistic one.

Claude, Dermot and the fae from Hooligans sparked my interest. I wished we could’ve seen more them and their plans. Dermot was sweet and I enjoyed his renewed vigor and sense of purpose.

I’m not so secretly hoping for a Hamlet ending -one in which everyone dies, including Sookie herself. I think that’s the only way to both shock readers who’ve predicted Sookie’s final situation and ensure the series isn’t somehow extended beyond an all ready long overdue point. I’m ready for Sookie stories to go the way of the dodo.

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Review: “Dead-ish” by Naomi Kramer

DEAD[ish]DEAD[ish] (DEAD[ish] #1) by Naomi Kramer

Linda’s had a bad day. First her boyfriend killed her. Then she woke up, still on this boring plane of existence, and with an odd obsession about her missing body. Mike won’t tell her what he did with her body, and she can’t find the stupid thing herself. There’s only one thing she can do – torment the bastard until he coughs up the information.
This is a very short work – novelette length.
Warning: Frequent foul language, mild sex scenes, and Australian spelling.



Details:
Kindle Edition
Published July 29th 2010
ASIN#: B003XVYJ2S


My rating:

Read: 07 July 2011

A quirky and humorous story that although may seem stupid to some, I found quite entertaining. The language, especially Mike’s, had me thinking this was a short story set in Britain but was confused by the use of the $ sign. It’s Australian.

Linda’s methods of revenge as a ghost on her still living ex, whom she suspects killed her and has hidden her body, are ingenious and hilariously funny though as a person she’s incredibly annoying, at least from Trent’s, the paranormal private investigator she’s hired to find her body, perspective.

*Warning: much foul language, and if you’re squeamish there is cannibalism.


Favourite Quotes

From Mike (Linda’s ex) POV
#1

‘My hair’s blue, and my eyebrows are green, and my skin’s orange. I look like a smurf, a munchkin and an oompa loompa had an orgy and I was their love-child. Shit.’

#2

‘Cops.

Fuck.

They’re looking shocked, which scares me a little.

I look down. Fly’s unbuttoned, for a start. My dick’s waving hello in the breeze.

“God, sorry!” I say, putting him away and straightening myself up. “Rough night. Um…can I help you?”

One of them tears his eyes away from my pants and looks at my face, trying not to look fascinated by the fact that I’m still bright orange, I guess. My fingernails are still pink, so I must look like a freakshow even with my clothes in order.’

*snickers*

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Review: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The 1820 Washington Irving classic, now in ebook form!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a chilling tale of romantic rivalry and supernatural terror. The story begins with Ichabod Crane becoming the new schoolmaster of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod comes to the idea of marrying the wealthy Katrina Van Tassel.


Details:
Kindle Edition, 73 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by Public Domain Books
ASIN#: B000JQUJHO


My rating:

Read: 06 July 2011

Having seen the movie, one I’ve seen over and over again, I wanted to read the story it was based upon. I’m quite disappointed in it.

Apart from being excessively wordy, I was surprised it was more about Ichabod’s and Brom’s courtship of the flirtatious, thoughtless airhead that was Katrina Van Tassel. Ichabod’s pursuit of her appeared purely shallow, admiring her beauty and salivating at the prospect of inheriting her father’s money.



The competition between the two men led to the creation of the legend of the Hessian Headless Horseman by Brom and the pumpkin scene which appears in both book and movie which successfully scares off Ichabod, the local schoolteacher, who disappears and later resurfaces as a lawyer in another part of the country. Brom wins Katrina and smiles whenever Ichabod’s name is mentioned. The End.

I disliked these characters and the only part of the writing I enjoyed was the gothic description of Sleepy Hollow itself and it’s influence on the minds of its inhabitants. I’ll be sticking with Tim Burton’s movie. It truly took the best parts of story and made it dark and creepy, as well as making Ichabod funny and loveable, Katrina innocent and virtuous and Brom less of an asshole.

Left to right: Ichabod, Brom and Katrina

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Review: “Grave Sight” by Charlaine Harris

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly #1) by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connelly has what you might call a strange job: she finds dead people. She can sense the final location of a person who’s passed, and share their very last moment. The way Harper sees it, she’s providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living-but she’s used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. Traveling with her step-brother Tolliver as manager and sometime-bodyguard, she’s become an expert at getting in, getting paid, and getting out fast. Because for the living it’s always urgent-even if the dead can wait forever.

Details:
Mass Market Paperback, 263 pages
Published September 13th 2007 by Gollancz
ISBN#: 9780575079236


My rating:

Read: 11 June 2011

I started off reading the book and listening to the audio at the same time but the narrator, Ms. Monotone put me off so I gave up on her and relied on my own inner voice as I read the rest of the book by myself.

The first half was pretty interesting but at 51% I’d guessed the main murderer and the motive. After that, the book was no longer as interesting as I waited to be proved right or wrong. The violent attempts on Harper’s life kept me reading but if it hadn’t been for those the rest might’ve dragged. In the end, I was disappointed to be proved right in my guess.

However, Harper’s background with her difficult childhood and family situation together with her intelligent observations and reactions to how others treat her as well as her determination to not be damaged by them, are the reason why I’m awarding this 3 stars instead of 2.

Her relationship with her brother is an odd one and is explained by Tolliver’s observation:

“You need to stop reading mysteries for a while. Or get a new sidekick.”

“Sidekick?”

“Yeah, if you’re the brilliant sleuth, I must be the slightly denser but brilliant-in-my-own-way sidekick, right?”

“Yes, Watson.”

“More like Sharona.”

“That’d make me Monk?”

“If the shoe fits.”

Monk is a TV show in which Sharona is Monk’s nurse, handler and personal assistant all rolled into one. Harper was hurt by Tolliver’s evaluation of his role in her life because it was a little too close to the truth but just because she was extremely vulnerable without him she managed to survive when she was physically attacked. She fought back with gusto and refused to back down to a pack of teenage bullies surrounding her. I admired Harper for this. She could easily play the role of a typical victim, persecuted for her natural talent for detecting the dead, their names and cause of death after being struck by lightning.

Tolliver, on the other hand, I couldn’t get a complete grasp on him. I wasn’t enamoured with him at all despite his obvious caring and protectiveness towards his step-sister. They live difficult lives on the road and I sympathised with their way of life, their erratic and depressing sex lives and just a general lack of genuine friends and family whom they can turn to in a crisis.

Overall, the mystery wasn’t quite as mysterious as it first appeared but the characterisation and observations of the leading lady made up for this.

In comparison to Harris’ other paranormal series, Sookie Stackhouse, this has a much more serious tone and a darker outlook on the realities of life.

I have the next two in the series so I will continue reading.

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