School for Psychics by K. C. Archer

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I didn’t know what I was expecting with this book. It sounded like a fun read and I wanted to see where the story would go. Also, I really like psychics. I’ve always wanted to go to one and see what it’s like to have someone do a reading, but I’ve never been able to. I thought this book would be enough to stave off my eagerness to meet a psychic! Here is my review:

35297405Summary (Goodreads): Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.

When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.

In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.


Review: This book definitely was not what I expected.

This was a story that I had thought was more geared towards new adults, considering that the main character is in her 20s. But it became quite clear that this novel is staying firmly in the YA genre. This was a bit of a problem for me because I was excited for an adult character who is realizing that she has something special going on with her. Instead, the voice and behaviour of the MC and the other characters in the story were more juvenile, and leaned towards the YA crowd. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I felt cheated out of a new experience.

My other major problem with this book is that it is pretty much like every other teen fiction novel out there. You have an MC who is special and she goes to a special school with other special people. As she learns to use her special powers/skills, she discovers that there is a secret – and she decides to uncover it. There wasn’t much to this book that I haven’t seen before. We have the characters going to classes, taking tests, becoming friends, flirting. Even the decisions that they take are predictable.

Now, this isn’t a bad novel by any means. If it had been clear that this novel was for a YA audience, I probably would have enjoyed it more. This novel had a very interesting premise what with the use of psychics in the government. However, this wasn’t explored as much as I would have liked and it lacked originality. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

I received this novel as an advance copy from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

This was one of those books that I was super excited to read. I love anything to do with magic or the supernatural and this novel seemed right up my alley. This book was released in February but I only got to it this month because I am struggling to get through the backlog of egalleys that I have … but at least I finally read it! Here is my review:

35216519Summary (Goodreads): Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family’s enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.


Review: This novel was not what I was expecting – and I don’t mean this in a good way. Unfortunately, this story just did not work for me.

From the very beginning, I struggled to understand what was going on in the story. I don’t know much about Celtic mythology and know almost nothing about Irish folklore so it was hard for me to just jump right into this story and roll with the punches. I kept hoping that the worldbuilding/explanations would come along, but they weren’t nearly sufficient enough for me to get into the plot.

I also struggled with the writing style in that it felt like the story jumped all over the place. There were random insertions about memories from the past combined with some facts/background on the augurs and the judges, and then some other random event going on. It was hard to piece it all together because it wasn’t conveyed in a very coherent manner.

Even the plot didn’t work for me. I was expecting a story full of danger with creepy forests and hunts. Instead, this was a lot more modern with more of a focus on Wren’s emotional turmoil and budding romantic feelings, neither of which were mentioned in the blurb. I struggled to get through most of the novel, and it was only in the last 100 pages that I actually felt interested in the story (but it was still confusing trying to figure out the significance of everything).

In short, this book let me down. I feel like I would have enjoyed this story a whole lot more if things were better developed and explained, and if the plot had stayed true to the blurb rather than veer off-course into a romance. For those reasons, I’m going to be giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

Books that involve witchcraft or covens are my thing. I will literally devour any book that mentions the word “witch” in it because I am THAT obsessed! I’m so glad I got to read an ARC of this book because it was such a fantastic read and fulfilled my need for dark stories!

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Summary (Goodreads): Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.


Review: I never realized how much I love urban fantasy until recently, but it is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres to read. And this book is such a fantastic addition to the genre.

One of the things I loved about the story was the pacing. This was not a very fast-paced story, but the slower pace worked very well because it allowed for the development of the darker elements. And the dark aspects of the story were worth waiting for! I knew this story wasn’t going to be a lighthearted read but even I was taken aback by the sheer evil mentioned in this book – and I loved it! The writing style that the author used was also perfect for building up tension in the plot and between the different characters. There was also no fakeness to any of the character interactions or situations; every remark, every scene was carefully crafted and served a higher purpose of solidifying the themes of the story.

There were quite a few characters to keep track of, and I will admit that I struggled here a bit. The author definitely did a great job of making each of them unique, but I would find myself forgetting how everyone was related or how old the characters were. The author does provide a helpful list of characters at the end of the book, but I wouldn’t recommend readers look at it while they are still reading the story because some of the descriptions of the characters can be spoilers.

But the plot was to die for: it was gripping, dark, and scary. It was everything I could ask for in an urban story centered around powerful witch families and covens.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this dark urban fantasy set in New Orleans. The characters, writing style, and eerie plot were absolutely amazing and I am definitely going to be reading more books by this author in the near future! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading ~

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #3

It may have seemed like I forgot about this series. BUT I DID NOT! I have been biding my time, trying to make a dent in my TBR list, and I’ve decided to make a real go at catching up with this series. Here is my review:

Synopsis (from the book): After Olivia Taylor-Jones found out she was adopted – not the child of a privileged Chicago family, but of a notorious pair of serial killers – her life exploded. Fleeing the scandal, she found a refuge in the oddly secluded but welcoming town of Cainsville. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a precociously successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she managed to partially clear her parents’ name in an investigation that also revealed darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. Fleeing Cainsville, Olivia now finds herself not only the target of the Cainsville elders and of the Huntsmen, but also of her ex-fiance, James. And this happens as her feelings deepen for Ricky, the son of the leader of a motorcycle gang, and confusingly also her feelings for Gabriel. Visions continue to haunt her; particularly ones of a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia. Will Olivia be able to prevent the tragic outcome that has been foretold?


So if I’m going to be honest here, I don’t think I enjoyed this book as much as I did the rest of the books in the series. And I think it had to do with the content of the novel. For most of the other books in the series, the story was about solving a mystery while understanding more about the fae. That’s what I loved about the series: there were sinister characters and gruesome deaths, and Olivia was learning how to recognize and interpret the omens and visions she was receiving. However, with this novel, there was a huge focus on this love triangle that the author decided to add into the mix. This book was more of a romance than a mystery novel, and it felt like I had been deceived (haha – get it, deceptions, deceived?!) by the premise of the story. I really don’t like love triangles because they are so tedious to get through and they don’t really add anything to the story. I also don’t like it because it changes the dynamics between certain characters. There was some mystery to it because we learn some more about the fae and Olivia’s connection to everything, and we do find out about the Larsens and whether they are innocent …. but it was all overshadowed by the love triangle, which was a little annoying for me. I will still be continuing with this series because I think it still has merit, but I definitely hope that the love triangle gets resolved soon so that I can focus on the really juicy stuff! But this book specifically gets a 2/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

 

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell – Lychford #1

Yay for urban fantasy stories featuring witches! I really wanted to get myself into a short book, and what better way than to read a novella?

When a supermarket wants to build a major branch, the villagers of Lychford are divided. Some are open to the prospect of new employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment. But Judith Mawson, local crank and hedgewitch, knows the truth: Lychford lies on the boundary between 2 worlds and the construction of the supermarket will destroy this border, opening the gateways to maleovalent beings beyond imagination. No one is ready to listen to the words of an old woman … but maybe she can get help from some unlikely allies…

This novel was a lot lighter than I thought it would be. There are 3 main characters: Judith who is not the friendliest neighbour you can have, a local vicar, and the owner of a shop that deals with all things magic. They are the weirdest trio to face against evil, but I really liked them. I found the story to be interesting, and events moved along quite quickly. The humor in this novel is very dry but very good. The witchy aspects of this novel are more fae-like and have a lot to do with symbols and herbs, so if you were looking for something more intense, then this might not be right for you. I thought the use of the supermarket as the force for evil was really interesting and entertaining and unique! My overall feeling was one of enjoyment but I always wanted more. I wanted to learn more about the characters and see more of the magical beings … which is why I’m going to give the next novella in the series a try! If you like novellas from the urban fantasy genre and are looking for something with a dry humor, then give this one a shot!

Happy reading ~

Soulless by Gail Carriger – Parasol Protectorate #1

Going into this novel, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the premise contained all of my favorite things: supernatural beings, the Victorian era, and a feisty heroine. That was enough to intrigue me and give this book a shot. After reading it, I am so glad I did. Here is my review:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Unfortunately, Alexia accidentally kills the vampire while protecting herself – and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. News on this vampire’s death leads to an investigation that reveals that unexpected vampires are appearing and expected vampires are disappearing. And everyone seems to believe that Alexia is somehow involved. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy?

To define this book by one genre would be doing it an injustice because it is such a mashup! You’ve got steampunk, Victorian social etiquette, comedy, romance, and of course, supernatural/paranormal fantasy. I loved this eclectic mix of themes because it added so much variety to the story! I absolutely adored Alexia. She is funny, and inquisitive, and everything I wanted her to be! She adheres to Victorian etiquette standards only when it suits her and her independent thinking gets her into a great deal of trouble. I love that the author always keeps her in the center of the action and never makes her rely on men to fix things for her. I also loved her romance with Lord Maccon, which I had guessed would happen right from the start; it is VERY believable and not exactly pg-13 (so I would advise younger teenagers to not read this book). The story itself was intriguing, with witty humor thrown in every now and then. I liked the mystery and the action, and the different supernatural beings who were involved. If anything, I wish the organization of the different societies had been given more details, as that would have given me a better understanding of this world that Alexia lives in. I had a great reading experience with this novel because I just found it to be so funny and interesting that I couldn’t put it down. I’m giving it a 5/5 stars for being weird and funny and everything else in between!

Happy reading ~

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After reading urban fantasy novels, I’ve been really wanting to find more books in this genre. It’s so different from high fantasy and stories set in alternate worlds … and it’s really addictive once you get into it! I was super excited to receive this ARC so here is my review:

Greta Helsing is a doctor with a very unusual patient pool: she treats the undead. Whether it is a vocal strain a banshee or entropy in mummies, Greta is known for her skill. After all, this is what she has been groomed for since childhood. But when a sect of murderous monks emerge, Greta is overwhelmed by the deaths of the undead AND humans. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must put her unusual skills to work to stop this cult from ruining her life.

I so so so badly wanted to like this book, you really have no idea! It seemed like the perfect book for me, with its cool protagonist and story setting. However, I just couldn’t get into this story. No matter how hard I tried, it all was just too bizarre. The switching of voices between characters was very jarring and it was hard to keep it straight in my head. One minute, the story seemed like it was set in Victorian times and the next minute, it seemed way more modern. It all just threw me off and I couldn’t enjoy myself. There are a lot of positive reviews on GoodReads so maybe this is just one of those times where I am in the minority. If this book’s premise sounds like something you would like, give it a shot!

Happy reading ~

Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I began to read this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I wish I had known because it would have explained away a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I was reading. Anyways, here is my review:

Owl is an antiquities thief who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. And she is in for another adventure. The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural hidden… but they are also the ones responsible for ruining Owl’s archaeology career. Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that. But now, the IAA has a bounty out for the 2 designed of World Quest, an online RPG that is a whole lot more than it seems. Owl needs to find the gamers before the other mercenaries do … but when every clue points to them hiding in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not only does Owl have to deal with competitors, she also finds herself dragged into a game of wits with someone who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The stakes are high, especially when losing means an all-out civil war between 2 powerful supernatural factions.

I felt that I was really at a disadvantage when it came to this novel because of my lack of knowledge on this series and the characters. There was a lot going on and not everything made sense. You definitely need to read this series in order in order to really understand and appreciate all that is going on. I’ve decided not to rate this book or post my review on Goodreads because I don’t think any of my comments would be a fair assessment of this novel since I didn’t do my due diligence and read this series properly. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of this series or is looking to start a new urban fantasy/supernatural series!

Happy reading ~

Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~

Omens by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #1

One of my best friends really loves Kelley Armstrong and has been urging me to read one of her books for a long time. So I took a look at some of her work. I know she is a very popular author and is well-known for her Otherworld series but it is a LONG series and I didn’t think I would have the time to plunge into that right now. The Cainsville series seemed really interesting so I decided to start here!

24-year-old Olivia Taylor-Jones has the perfect life. She is the only child of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, and she is engaged to a handsome CEO who is entering the political field. But Olivia’s world shatters when she learns that she is adopted and her real parents are notorious serial killers, Todd and Pamela Larsen, who are in prison serving a life sentence. When the media makes a field day out of this news, Olivia sees no choice but to go into hiding. She ends up int he small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and tight-knit community that takes a shine to Olivia … and harbors secrets of its own. When Olivia becomes acquainted with her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh (who also has ties to Cainsville), Olivia decides to take the opportunity to uncover her birth parents’ past. But as Olivia and Gabriel dig deeper into the crimes, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that she never knew she had, abilities that make her valuable to Cainsville but make her vulnerable to unknown enemies. It seems there are darker secrets and powers in play than Olivia could ever have imagined.

There are so many things that I loved about this novel and I want to talk about all of it so I’m going to try to approach this systematically:

When I first picked up this book, it was labelled as an urban fantasy. After reading this novel, I’m going to have to disagree with this classification. There is very little fantasy elements in this novel. Olivia is not going around tapping into some kind of magical power and using it. The title aptly describes the kind of supernatural influence that is pervasive in this novel: it’s all about seeing omens and interpreting them. There are also allusions to Wiccan rituals and fairies and other supernatural beings …. but they are not too heavily involved. First and foremost, this novel is a mystery. We follow Olivia and Gabriel as they go back into the past and try to uncover who was really behind some of the deaths that Olivia’s birth parents were accused of. Even when we do get to the bottom of the investigation that is at the forefront of this novel, the author has left enough room for the story to continue to delve deeper and expose bigger secrets in the following novels. That is one of the things that I really enjoyed about this novel; it did a great job of setting the scene for the story that is going to come in the next book. Incidentally, as soon as I finished this book, I went out and got the next one in the series. So that should be a good indication of how well the author was able to tease me into wanting to read more.

I really loved the characters. Gabriel and Olivia are sarcastic, selfish, and absolutely perfect. They are a great team and I loved reading about their interactions. If you are looking for a strong romance connection between them, you will be disappointed. But that is one of the things I loved: the romance was not strong! For once, the relationship between 2 main characters did not end in love!!!!! The fact that the author deviated from the stereotype made for a far more interesting relationship between the main characters. I loved their banter and their sarcasm and their confusion about each other and their tentative friendship.

The writing style is nothing elaborate or fancy. And that made it perfect for this story. Everything was told as it is, with no crazy metaphors. You got everything point-blank. This worked in the story’s favor because it made me really connect with the emotions and the characters. I laughed, I freaked out … I felt everything genuinely. The chapters were mostly told in Olivia’s perspective but there were other perspectives thrown in here and there that made the story pop out. The different perspectives had that supernatural aspect that the author alluded to in her blurb, and it made me curious to see where the story would go.

When the final pieces of the puzzle came together, I was a bit skeptical. I don’t know if I really loved the direction the author took in terms of the perpetrators of the murder but it was unusual and I’m interested in seeing where the author takes it in the next novel.

With all this being said, I really loved this novel and had a great experience. I would not recommend this book to anyone looking for a strong supernatural/fantasy novel; this is better suited for someone who likes mysteries that have elements of the supernatural thrown in. It was a fast-paced action-packed read with an awesome duo taking the stage, and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

Happy reading ~