Friday, September 23, 2016

Two Graves: A Novella by: Zoe Kalo


 (TWO GRAVES is a short novella, about 70 pages. It is volume #1 in Zoe Kalo's psychological suspense "Retribution" series.)

A Dante-ish descent through a sinister world of decadent shadows and woeful souls…

Seven years ago, he shattered her life. The town eventually forgot the headlines and the nightmares. But 23-year old music student Angelica hasn’t forgotten.

For the past seven years, she’s contemplated payback with as much intensity and unwavering faith as she puts into her violin playing. Finally, all the pieces are in place. Over the course of one night, disguised for a masquerade ball, Angelica orchestrates a journey of revenge.

* * *  

Being that this is a novella, it's a pretty quick read, for that reason alone, if you're into psychological stories I'd recommend picking this one up. That being said, I wasn't as in love with this as I hoped when I read the blurb and signed up for the R2R. I'm a big fan of Dante's Inferno and was really looking forward to seeing how that made it into this. I'm not sure how I got it into my head that there'd be some form of romance in this, but there definitely is not. That's not a deal breaker for me, at all, just something worth mentioning in case there are others out there who are looking for that. The blurb also makes it clear that the main character, Angelica, is currently 23, and that the event she's seeking revenge for happened 7 years ago, however, while reading this get's a bit confusing. Honestly, even though it's retold in the story itself, the constant back of forth of the timeline makes her age confusing. She doesn't seem like a young teen in the beginning, and she would be 16. I'm also not sure she would be doing her college interview/audition at that age. Usually it's junior year when things like this take place and she would be on her way to turning 17. Of course, she could be a 16 year old who's a junior in high school, but if that's the case (and I think it is) that needs to be clarified. Because it isn't, it's hard to get into the flashback aspects of the story. I spent too much time struggling to picture her as a sixteen year old, especially because (and this is somewhat of a spoiler, I suppose so you're warned) her son is at least 3 years old already. I say at least because I'm pretty sure at one point in the beginning it's mentioned he's 4, and then later he's mentioned as 3. This could just be my mistake, and if so I apologize, but the point is she had to have had him at an even younger age than 16, and I don't get that feeling from her. Add in the overly zealous mother, the wacky tired grandmother, and the ex who did something (we never find out what, but I assume it was abandon them) who wants to get back into their lives, and it's just a bit much for something less than 100 pages. And that's just for the flashbacks.

When we aren't in flashback mode, we're in the present where she's now 23 and it's been 7 years since this horrible thing happened to her (another event we never really get clear details about). As the story progresses we understand, vaguely, what happened, but nothing is definitively spelled out, which I found very disappointing. We keep being told that her target is a monster, yet we rarely see it. Instead, we see all these other crazy people acting like loons and even a boy who slits his own wrists. Right in front of her. What does she do? Not call the cops. I understand that would ruin her plan for revenge but, let's be honest for a moment, what plan? Because she didn't have one, not really. Unless her plan was to get completely turned around and lost in some crazy old guys giant house... By the end, she pulls the gun out and that's it, she doesn't even care there are cameras. If that's the case, she could have just shot him at any one of the rehearsals she had to sit through with him before this story even started. It would mean there's no novella, but it would also make a hell of a lot more sense for her. Which brings me to the happenings at the party in that mansion. Very little of it made sense. I was often times more confused about what was going on, where the hell she was, and what she was seeing. Because of this, it was really hard for me to follow, or even care, about the story. By these points I wanted to resume the flashbacks because at least they were straight forward, even if they rarely gave us useful information. She moves through the rooms way too quickly, and the descriptions about how all of the guests are acting are rushed and muddled. I understand this is a party with drugs and, apparently, sex in random places out in the open, but that should be explained from the very beginning. When I think of a production like the one they put on (they seem like professional musicians, even though it's mentioned they're still in school) and a mascaraed ball after I think elegance and high society. Basically, I think of people trying to appear prime and proper, but this is not that type of party, and I would have liked to be told from the very beginning. It's so complicated, with all of the different rooms and the house that is basically then like a maze, that I never knew where Angelica was supposed to be. It was obviously then very obvious she was following her target so how she thought she could keep that from him is beyond me. Again, not very stealthy. Going back to that one scene where a guy kills himself in front of her...It felt so forced. What should have felt like a thrilling, and sad, desperate moment, fell flat. I felt like by that point everything else was so confusing that now she was hallucinating him. And then when she wasn't (at least I think she wasn't) the information she got from him was something that could have been gained a different way. It wasn't even that shocking, and it should have been a shocking reveal about her target. Instead, I would have liked to see her figure it out on her own by being sneaky. She's had seven years. What has she got to show for that? She got her gun license. Wow. Good planning. And that ending...Not enough was explained. Almost nothing was explained, in fact, just eluded to, which for me wasn't enough. Unfortunately, the story I was interested in was the actual act that caused her to go on a seven year long revenge plan, and then also a story involving an actual revenge plan. I didn't get either of these things.  And her hallucinations? Not necessary. In fact, they only served to confuse me more, especially because by that point it's been so long and she's been planning this so long I feel like she'd have gotten past that stage already. Or, at the very least, have been experiencing it the whole time. If we were told she's spent the past seven years hallucinating, which has made it impossible for her to move on, then I would have bought into it. That would also explain why she's acting so manic and insists she has a plan when she obviously does not have one.

All that being said, you're probably wondering why I gave this novella 3 stars. That's why. Because it's a novella. If this was a novel, it would be amazing. Not even, add another 30 pages and I could see this being ten times better than it is. That's because, as stated above, everything in this was rushed. Because of that it was confusing, hard to follow, and hard to connect with. I could feel bad for Angelica if I actually got to see/know, in detail, what happened. I could understand that she's seeking revenge and yet doesn't actually have a plan if I saw how she's been dealing the past 7 years. Like, what ever happened to the father? Or her mother? Or her grandmother? How are all of them dealing? We don't know, and because of that it's hard to care about them during the flashbacks. If Angelica is going to have that many issues in her past, they need to be given to us in smaller doses, not all at once, so that we can connect with her. If this was a longer work, that would be possible. It would also then make describing the many rooms (the layers of hell from Dante's inferno) less of a hindrance on the reader and more of an eye catcher. As it is, because it's so much being packed into so few pages it's way too hard to follow and the descriptions are boring, confusing, and makes the rest of the story drag. So, basically, I gave 3 stars because of the idea behind this, and the potential I think this story has. As this is part of a new series that's coming out, I hope that the next book will be better explained, and contain either less meaningless description or more meaningful pages. I would still read the next installment because of how much potential I can see in this story.

Title: Two Graves (Retribution Series #1)
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: Dark Psychological Suspense
Audience: New Adult/Adult
Word count: 18,000 words – 70 pages (short novella)
Launch date: October 1st 2016
Purchase on Kindle:
About Author Zoe Kalo
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading
led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her
classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sing Sweet Nightingale (The Dream War Saga, #1) by Erica Cameron

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Mariella Teagen hasn't spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella's life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

* * *
This was a hard one for me to rate. On the one hand, there were things about it a really liked, and on the other...there was Mariella. Yup. I hated an entire character, which almost never happens to me. I mean, I guess by the last chapter she was ok, not so bad, but for the rest of the book.... Here's the thing about her, she's been made to believe that she was miserable growing up and sad and lonely all the time when in fact she wasn't. This is a good premise, and with this knowledge I can see why she'd buy into Oran's whole spiel, not to mention the fact she's known him for pretty much ever. BUT that's not expressed until more than halfway through the book, so for the first half of the book she just comes off selfish and whinny and I couldn't even bring myself to feel bad for her. Honestly, I wanted her to get killed or whatever at the end just so Hudson could move onto someone else. That's how annoying and arrogant she was. I feel like if we'd gotten more about how she had this entire horrible fabricated childhood it would have been different, but because it came too late in the game it couldn't change my opinion of her. It's sort of like what happened to her with Oran. I'd spent so much time by them believing she was awful that I couldn't believe that she wasn't once I was told. There were moments where she'd get angry with her parents for not noticing she was trying to communicate with them through their scrabble game. Only, she's the one who decided not to speak. Ever. She has no right to get mad at them for not recognizing she's attempting to use a different form of communication, especially when we already know they had to twist her arm just to get her to learn sign language and spend time with them. She also thinks about how she doesn't want to hurt them and feels bad for it, but doesn't once feel guilty over the fact she's planning on leaving and never coming back.
Honestly, the saving grave was Hudson. It sort of felt like their POVs were being written by two different authors even, that's how good Hudson's parts of the story were. And not just because of his character, but also the other characters and how they all reacted. Whenever we met someone through Mari's eyes, they seemed flat and almost trope-like, but everyone in Hudson had personality and drew my attention deeper into the story. Hudson is also the opposite of Mari, in the sense that he's selfless, and always has been. He's also patient and acts more like an adult that she ever does. The only issue I had with his part of the story was that it never really gets made clear what "answers he's looking for". It keeps being mentioned that there are some, and that he hasn't gotten them, but I mean, we know why these creatures are doing this, how, what they're called, and where they come from by the end of the book. What other questions could he possibly have? I did really like the ending though, and really hope that we get another book focusing on these particular characters (because book two is about other characters who, kind of unbelievably, are related to these ones...yeah). I might read book two anyway though, because I really did enjoy it every time I read Hudsons parts.
All in all, I would recommend as it was creative and a fast read. I'm attaching my Reading Progress from Goodreads to give you a better idea what I mean about Mari.

Reading Progress
09/20 marked as: currently-reading
09/20 page 29
7.0% "So far the only issue I have is how damn naive she already is. I mean, I don't care how hot you are or how long I've known you, if you ask me to hurt my family I'm going to question it. Not talking for no reason? Hurts them. Why isn't she more suspicious of such a ludicrous request? It'd be a simple matter of him being like, hey just don't talk about this. On I somethings up."
09/20 page 51
13.0% "She's worried about hurting her moms feelings....yet she basically plans on running away and never coming back again......huh? Honestly, I really like Hudson but I'm hating Mari."
09/20 page 71
18.0% "I. Hate. Her.

It really doesn't help that he got shitty parents and came out selfless and she has great parents and came out selfish. Like, so much so, that I wouldn't be surprised to find her picture next to the word in the dictionary."
09/20 page 76
20.0% "Pay attention! He's not saying you'll never HAVE to, he's saying you'll never.

I don't usually rate books this way, but if I were to give it a rating right this second, I'd rate 5 for Hudson and -1 for Mari."
09/21 page 211
56.0% "The sad thing is I think I would love this book, if it was only told in Hudsons POV. I can't stand Mari. Even the attempts to make her seem more human and caring fail miserably. I get that she's been brainwashed since she was young, but she's also painted as this intelligent strong willed person and I just don't see that. She just seems selfish, naive, and moronic."
09/21 marked as: read

Briar Queen (Night and Nothing, #2) + Nettle King (Night and Nothing, #3) by Katherine Harbour


The dark, moody, and mystical fantasy begun in Thorn Jack, the first novel in the Night and Nothing series, continues in this bewitching follow up--an intriguing blend of Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alice in Wonderland, and A Midsummer Night's Dream--in which Finn Sullivan discovers that her town, Fair Hollow, borders a dangerous otherworld . . .
* * *
I absolutely LOVE this series. LOVE IT. It may even be one of the best things I've ever read. I love the feel, and the characters (even when they're annoying) and the gripping gothic atmosphere that always makes the terrible things that happen seem fitting. And terrible things do happen. A lot. These aren't your typical bright and shiny, sparkly fairies with wings and crowns of light. They're dark and mysterious and very, very bad. But in the best way. These creatures do awful things and look at humans as toys (and sometimes furniture, yikes), and even knowing this Finn willingly enters their world in the hopes of finding her sister, who in the first book she believed to be dead. It's a wild ride discovering this new world with her, and watching as her friends get yanked in as well. I'm a big fan of old fairy tales and folklore, the ones that depict the fae as dangerous, deadly, and beautiful, instead of always helpful and sweet. Harbour does an excellent job of stringing all of these things together, including many characters from old lore. She does keep most of the names given to them in said lore, so it can get a bit confusing and complicated when pronouncing a name or recalling what it means, so you'll probably have to check the index in the back one or two times, but it's worth it. We really get to see Finn and Jack's relationship develop a bit more in this one, which is good, considering how awful he could be at times in the first book (awful in the sense he did bad things, but I still loved him). There's also a lot more development for other characters, like Christie and Sylvie, and new characters to love like Moth. The first book focused more on the aesthetics, whereas this one is more about characters and the lore, which is great.
I highly recommend.
The mesmerizing conclusion to the Night and Nothing series—part Buffy the Vampire Slayer and part Alice in Wonderland—finds Finn fighting against the land of the dead.

When her beloved Jack disappears, Finn vows to find him—even if it means a daring odyssey into the land of the dead. But saving Jack comes at a terrible price: a dangerous fissure has opened, giving the dead access to the true world.

The lines between worlds are more blurred than ever. Finn’s sister, Lily, recently returned from the Ghostlands, seems to bear no scars from her time there. But then their friend Moth returns from Sombrus, the magical house once owned by Seth Lot, bearing shocking news. Something evil—a fearsome creature bearing a striking resemblance to Jack—has escaped Sombrus and is now stalking Fair Hollow, killing everyone it encounters, transforming them into terrifying Jacks and Jills and recruiting the Unseelie.

It will not stop until it gets what it wants . . .
* * *
I adored this book. There really isn't much more I can say but that. I think it's a great end to the trilogy (though that very second to last sentence bothers me because of EVERYTHING they've been through and so in mind they find a way around that eventually, lol) and I loved all the twists and turns it took. It didn't leave anything unsettled, and while some bits of action or reveal could have afforded a little more time to be fleshed out, overall it all worked. I can't really say more than that without giving things away so, my advice is to just read this series.
If you're into gothic novels like Wuthering Heights, then reading the first book in the trilogy Thorn Jack, is definitely for you. If you're not so into the description of gothic settings, get through the first book because these last two ease up a TON on the descriptions. That was my only problem with the original, in Thorn Jack there is a lot of repetitive descript on houses and the town. And Emory. There's LOTS of Emory. But these two don't have that problem and are definitely worth getting to!!! :)


Friday, September 16, 2016

Sorry I've Been Away...

I have not been upkeeping this review blog, I admit. :/

HOWEVER I have still been reading a TON, and I still post reviews and ratings up on without fail. I am very VERY active there. I'm going to try and be better about posting here as well, but to be honest, with working on my own book, and juggling both my Goodreads and Instagram accounts that's difficult.

That being said, if you're interested in seeing more book photos and getting suggestions on books you might want to check out, please follow me on Instagram! I post there DAILY.

My handle is @TempestChani

And, again, is always a good place to see my reviews, and ratings. I also tend to post updates while I'm reading a book, so there are always lots of comments and whatnot in my activity feed.

Currently, I'm reading the second book in the Night and Nothing series, and I ABSOLUTLY LOVE IT.

As you can see below, I've posted 7 of my recent reviews, but I've read over 70 books this year already, so clearly that's no where near the amount of reviews that I've done, which you can check out on Goodreads.

Here's my link again:

Thorn Jack (A Night and Nothing Novel, #1) By: Katherine Harbour

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They call us things with teeth. These words from Lily Rose Sullivan the night of her death haunts her seventeen-year-old sister, Finn, who has moved with her widowed father to his hometown of Fair Hollow, New York. After befriending a boy named Christie Hart and his best friend, Sylvie Whitethorn, Finn is invited to a lakeside party where she encounters the alluring Jack Fata, a member of the town's mysterious Fata family. Despite Jack's air of danger and his clever words, Finn learns they have things in common.

One day, while unpacking, Finn finds her sister's journal, scrawled with descriptions of creatures that bear a sinister resemblance to Jack's family. Finn dismisses these stories as fiction, but Jack's family has a secret—the Fatas are the children of nothing and night, nomadic beings who have been preying on humanity for centuries—and Jack fears that his friendship with Finn has drawn the attention of the most dangerous members of his family—Reiko Fata and vicious Caliban, otherwise known as the white snake and the crooked dog.

Plagued with nightmares about her sister, Finn attempts to discover what happened to Lily Rose and begins to suspect that the Fatas are somehow tied to Lily Rose's untimely death. Drawn to Jack, determined to solve the mystery of her sister's suicide, Finn must navigate a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems.

* * *
I absolutely loved this book. I loved the characters and the mythology and the dark gothic tones. But I can also see why people don't like it. Fortunately for me, I know enough about the mythology of creatures mentioned in this book that reading all of the vague descriptions and hints ended up adding to my enjoyment. For someone who didn't know anything? That could probably get pretty frustrating. And being that I love gothic romance novels, like Wuthering Heights, I enjoyed the constant descriptions. However even there I can see where they might bore a different reader. There was also the fact that this book took me much longer than a book usually would to read. That might have something to do with the physical size of the pages however (I have the hard cover, haven't seen the paperback so don't know if the shape is similar). They printed this book on wider paper than normal, and because of that there were more words per page. Even though I loved this story, even I got frustrated a few times that it felt like I'd been reading forever and hadn't made a dent in it.

All of that being said, if you don't know anything about old faeries or Tam Lin, look it up and then READ THIS BOOK. It's worth it. I fell in total love with Jack, despite all of his flaws, and I fully enjoyed the other characters as well. Some of the scenes are so colorful and full of life I one hundred percent felt like I was there while reading about them. This is a fantastic read, so long as you keep in mind while doing so it might take you longer to get through than you're used to.


Second Star By: Alyssa B. Sheinmel


A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

* * *
** spoiler alert ** Let me be clear from the get go, the one star is because the ending.


BUT I absolutely HATE being lied to. Hate it. And I hate it even more when I feel like it's the author who's doing the lying. I absolutely loved this book, even though it was simple and sweet and (up until the 180 ending) very predictable. But that ending? Nope. I understand where the author was trying to go with it, I do, I just think it was executed poorly. For one, she's going to have that on her record. Forever. That she was crazy and had to stay in a psychward for help even though, oh wait!, she wasn't crazy at all. Which also makes me the reader feel cray because we're jerked around at the end just as much as she is! It really happened. It didn't. It did. It didn't. It did. AND then the fact that none of her friends, WHO ARE FRICKEN REAL AFTER ALL, came to see her or help her or, I don't know, reveal to her damn parents she wasn't insane, makes me hate them. Which sucks, because I really liked some of them. I did. And it's cleAr Jas was in the process of telling her he'd spend the rest of his life with her, presumably trying to help her get over the loss of her brothers, but then vanishes because suddenly Pete is back in his life?! Bullshit. And what about her? She just thinks it's all hunky doory and eventually she'll find him again and be able to say she loves him to. To s guy who basically abandoned her when she really did need him the most. Him being there wouldn't have hindered her getting over the loss of her brothers either, because she now knows what really happened and she wouldn't have had to spend so much time locked to. The whole thing is just ridiculous and forced and because of that now I hate a boom that I've loved right up to the last few chapters. Basically, if you like endings that jerk you around, and stories that happen but don't really but do, read this. Otherwise...pass. The ending makes the rest of the book not worth reading, in my personal opinion. Which sucks. I'm sorry but anyone willing to walk away without even checking on her, and then letting her stay locked up like that when all they had to do was appear once quickly to prove their existence is an asshole. And it pisses me off even more that instead of seeing this, she's still pinning away. Sure, she isn't going to drop everything and run after them like she did her brothers, but big deal. At this point, who cares?


Dream a Little Dream By Kerstin Gier

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Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv's dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she's in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They're classmates from her new school in London, the school where she's starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what's really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn't possibly know--unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute....

* * *
If you read my activity feed in this book, you might be surprised that I rated this so highly in the end. Going to be honest, so was I. Liv's constant disbelief in the demon throughout the book got on my last nerve, especially because it gave away a huge chunk of the plot when she was still doing it around 60% in. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Only in the reverse, because it was actually in her constant protesting that I guessed at what was going on. Making her that annoying otherwise would have served no purpose other than to make readers want to hit her over the head--still--at the end of the book. HOWEVER, even after guessing at the rest of the plot....the ending wrapped up rather nicely. The whole thing went down with enough action to keep me interested, while making sure not to drag its feet, which I appreciated. All in all, as a whole I've got to say I loved this book. I also believe I read somewhere, and please do correct me if I'm wrong, that this was also originally written in German? If that's truly the case, then I've got a feeling some things got a bit lost in translation when it was switched over to English, which might have been the cause for many other moments where I was bored, annoyed, or rolling my eyes over certain words and expressions. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book now, and highly recommend this if you've got the patience to get through the somewhat slow beginning.