Review: Grave Witch (Alex Craft #1)

Hello all! Michelle is back! 😀 The last five four months of 2012 was busy for me indeed I started working full time and I had hardly no time for myself but I made a new years resolution to get back into blogging and reading even if it its something I do part time.

What is it about?

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself, nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high-profile murder when she’s attacked by the ghost she is raising – which should be impossible. Then, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, thwarted only by Death’s intervention. You know you’re having a bad day when Death is saving your life

To solve this case, Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Andrews seems to be hiding something, although it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex. Despite all that, Alex is going to need his help to navigate the tangled webs of real-world and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex not just her life, but also her soul . . .

Thoughts

So the first book of the year I decided to go for an adult book, sticking with the normal theme of the paranormal. First of all we are introduced to the books primary character from the get-go who goes by the name Alexis. My first impression of Alex was that she was a strong-minded and head-strong character. Throughout the book we see Alex go through strong character development as she tackles many problems to get towards her main goal. The main love interest for Alex I was not keen on to be honest, he reminded me of an ex boyfriend that I used to date and towards the end of the story he just pissed me off so much I found my self wanting to pull my hair out.  The book also takes a insight into Fae folklore which I really enjoyed. The writers overall writing style was fascinating which kept me hooked throughout. The story overall certainly provided me with entertainment with the mystery throughout.

Overall rating: 4/5

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Review: The Water Children by Anne Berry

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What’s It About?

In London 1976, four totally different become entwined and all have to face up to the realities of their pasts – all involving water –  if they are to cope with the present.  Catherine nearly drowned in an icy lake; Owen lost his little sister to the sea; Sean was outcast for his love of the river of his hometown in Ireland; and Naomi’s past is as much a mystery as her present is.  Through lies and deception, they all become endangered as problems and issues are passed around between them, climaxing in a dramatic ending.

My Thoughts:

I did appreciate this novel mostly being in present tense; but unless you wish to learn how to (and how not to) pull this off, I didn’t find many other reasons to read this book.

The blurb for this book (not the one above, as I write my own ‘What’s It About?’ section), implies that it is a story of three people with tragic pasts involving water who all become trapped and endangered by meeting Naomi who revels in the “sea’s cruel power”.  As you can tell from my round-up, this is not the story I was presented.  I felt I wasn’t reading what I had been promised and I realise that this has probably had an impact on my negative experience of reading this book.  Personally I found it was about two people with terrible memories of their past regarding water, and two people who find comfort and solace within water.

This novel is written from four points of view.  I agree that different viewpoints don’t always need to be given the same amount of words but, for me, I felt that this novel became very unbalanced for large sections – it would have been better to tell this particular story through an omniscient ‘narrator’ rather than through one character at a time.   For me it felt more Owen’s story for the majority; and it was his story I became interested in and felt wrong-footed when it was wrenched out from beneath me, to be replaced by another character’s point of view.  It made it difficult to completely immerse myself into the events as, just as I started to it would become disrupted by the change of view.

Anne Berry deals with some very complicated and extreme situations in ‘The Water Children’.  Unfortunately I feel that the chopping and changing of stories, past and present, made it impossible for me to empathize with any of them.  As a reader I want to become entrenched in the story and characters, to blot out real life and allow myself to follow the events and connect with the emotions as if it were happening to me.  Without this it becomes difficult to care what happens or to want to spend any time within that world; I know for me that this book took longer to read than most simply because I didn’t really give a damn about what was happening.

Despite all this negativity, I do have the reference the incredible beauty of Berry’s descriptions.  As a writer I certainly feel that there is a lot to learn from this book.  The visions painted are at times breath-taking and have a high impact, it is just a shame that the story itself doesn’t have much to offer the reader.

I wouldn’t really recommend this book to anyone other than fellow writers in need of a clear example of what works and what doesn’t within writing and storytelling.  However, if you enjoy stories told from multiple viewpoints and regarding very intense situations, then you may find you will enjoy it.

Overall rating: 1.5/5

Review: The Ghost of Sadie Kimber by Pat Moon

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What’s It About?

Laura is not happy about moving away from her best friend, but her parents drag her with them regardless.  It is bad enough that the house is in desperate need of repair, but things get worse when her sister, Sarah, introduces her new friend, Sadie, that no one else can see.  The rest of the family are happy to play along with the imaginary girl, but strange things start happening and Laura is convinced that it is Sadie.  Her parents start blaming Laura and she knows that no one will believe her; but she has to do something before it’s too late and Sarah disappears completely as Sadie takes over.

 

My Thoughts:

This is a fairly short Middle-Grade read, that I loved as a child, and still enjoy now.  While there is nothing truly incredible about it, it makes a nice change of pace from the horror-filled ghost stories we are used to.  I see this charm as a bonus, but of course, it also means that others will find it too simple to bother with; it has to be remembered that it is a children’s story, and it does not try to guise itself as anything other than this.

I found the character of Laura, whose point of view the story is told from, very easy to relate to.  She thinks that her family are treating her unfairly, as no matter what she does she somehow ends in trouble.  I think that everyone, at some point or another, has felt misunderstood or alone and therefore it is easy to put yourself in her place, even when we understand that it isn’t strictly true.  I found it very interesting that the character of Sadie and her actions are what this story is based around, and yet we never really meet her, due to her being a ghost that Laura can’t see or hear.  We only see fragments of Sadie, which I felt could have been expanded on, but overall the story isn’t actually about her – it is about Laura and her relationship with her sister, Sarah, and brother, Nick, and how they learn to trust one another.

There is a twist at the end of the book (so I won’t reveal it here), which offers explanations and ties everything up in a fairly neat bow.  The ending does imply more stories to come, which would be wonderful as I always like to spend more time with characters, however this is a stand-alone book.

I would classify this as a sweet, charming story about the importance of family and believe that it will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like a misfit in their own family, or wants to remember/feel how it can be with siblings.  I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone looking for horror, death and gore as, while this is a ghost story, it is much more character-orientated than trying to survive or solve a mystery (though admittedly, there are very light threads of these within ‘The Ghost of Sadie Kimber’.

Overall: 4/5

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Review: If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

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What’s It About?

Usually referred to as an invisible friend, Ivan is anything but.  Ivan has a very special job – befriending people, mainly children.  He takes pride in injecting fun and hope into his friend’s lives.  It doesn’t matter that the grown-ups don’t believe in him because he knows he is making a difference.  But it all gets complicated when he befriends Luke.

Luke is just a regular kid, even if his family aren’t particularly ‘normal’, so Ivan is unsure at first why Luke is his next job.  Then the possibility that it is actually Elizabeth, Luke’s aunt and guardian, who needs Ivan’s help emerges.  To begin with Elizabeth is just like all the other parents, moaning and grumbling about Luke’s new imaginary friend, until she and Ivan become friends.  Elizabeth doesn’t realise that Ivan is invisible to everyone else, and Ivan doesn’t realise that perhaps it’s himself that needs the help this time.

 

My Thoughts:

Cecelia Ahern is my favourite author due to the completely unique stories she tells and ‘If You Could See Me Now’ is no exception.  The story is told from both Ivan’s and Elizabeth’s point of view so the reader is always aware of the entire picture, yet able to understand how both characters feel about the situation.  As the book is (mainly) written in third person, I never had any problems with knowing who’s thoughts I am following; however, I sometimes found it difficult to know whether Elizabeth’s side of the story was her remembering events from her childhood, or if it was happening in the moment, though this confusion never made the book hard to understand.

There aren’t that many important characters throughout the book, and I felt that this made the story more complete as I could see a clear picture of each person and their importance in either Elizabeth’s or Ivan’s life.  It also means that there is much more focus on Ivan and Elizabeth’s relationship, so I found I could easily identify and connect with them.

This book, like so many of Ahern’s stories, is a bizarre mix of reality and fantasy, yet it is seamlessly written so you are completely absorbed in the world Ahern has presented.  At no point did I feel that the fantasy element disrupted my reading and enjoyment.

There are also many themes touched upon within the story told, and I feel that everyone will be able to relate so some of them, whether it be the slightly unusual family, using work as a distraction, or loneliness.  These are only some of the themes and the ones that jumped out at me, but I didn’t feel that the author was trying to send me a message, I was just being told a story about people and situations I could relate to.

I would recommend this book to anyone (but bear in mind that I would recommend any of Ahern’s books to anyone as I love all those I have read); but especially to anyone looking for a fairly easy read without the predictability of any specific genre.  Unless you don’t like stories about fully-rounded characters, with the opportunity to be thought-provoking, or simply an intriguing read, I truly believe that you will enjoy this book.

Overall rating: 4/5

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