Aug 31, 2020

ARC Review--The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry

When people go missing in the sleepy town of Smith's Hollow, the only clue to their fate comes when a teenager starts having terrifying visions, in a chilling horror novel from national bestselling author Christina Henry.

When the bodies of two girls are found torn apart in the town of Smiths Hollow, Lauren is surprised, but she also expects that the police won't find the killer. After all, the year before her father's body was found with his heart missing, and since then everyone has moved on. Even her best friend, Miranda, has become more interested in boys than in spending time at the old ghost tree, the way they used to when they were kids.

So when Lauren has a vision of a monster dragging the remains of the girls through the woods, she knows she can't just do nothing. Not like the rest of her town. But as she draws closer to answers, she realizes that the foundation of her seemingly normal town might be rotten at the center. And that if nobody else stands for the missing, she will.

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

If you’re looking for a spine chilling read this fall then look no further than Christina Henry’s The Ghost Tree! This is a creeptastic mystery with murder, monster, magic, and mayhem! This is a read you will not want to put down until its very surprising ending!
I’ve pretty much been a fan of Christina since her early days and I was excited for her foray into the horror genre! Her Urban Fantasies tend to have creepy moments, but this was novel that was full on creep fest! I also want to note here, that though our cover description depicts a teenage heroine, this is still very much an adult novel due to content and the like. So don’t go into this thinking it’s a YA horror story, for it’s not! Just want that advisement to you all early.
The year is 1985, and yes, that’s the year we stick to, we follow Lauren a fifteen-year-old girl out to just have fun for the summer before she starts high school. Though things are already pretty intense for her. Her family life hasn’t been the same since her dad died last November and her best friend, Miranda, is drifting further and further away from her as she matures at lightning speed, trading fun and games for boys, boys, and more boys. This summer though will be different for a whole lot of reasons and its starts with the finding of two murdered girls.
What made this story even more intense and intriguing was how the point of view changed just about every chapter. Now don’t let this confuse you or throw you off. Christina does it in a way that makes it flow so easily. One chapter we’re reading from Lauren’s point of view then she sees her mother about town with her brother and looks away, then we’re in her mom’s point of view who goes about her day then her son starts saying a neighbor is crying, then we jump to that neighbor’s point of view. It may sound confusing, but trust me, it works, it so works! And I actually enjoyed reading from all these different perspectives because this quiet little town of Smiths Hollow is hiding some seriously dark secrets.
For you see, there’s a curse on the town and has been for centuries, cast upon by witches. Every year a girl goes missing in the town, and every year a girl is soon forgotten in this town. This is some seriously heavy juju, bad juju.
One thing that positively delighted me in a weird way was how I started to think that this mayor of the town, who knows exactly what’s going on with these missing girls, act very much like the mayor in the movie Jaws (and probably the book too, but it’s been many years since I read that) and then this mayor starts thinking about the movie and THAT mayor and understanding the mayor’s actions! It was a laugh riot to me since I love that movie and I know Christina does too! It was a great way to throw in a cameo appearance and hello, super scary creature that kills people, more coincidences!
It’s hard to get into the mystery element of this one without diving too deeply into a backstory that comes into play. Needless to say we get to know the hows and whys of this town being cursed. And why a girl gets killed every year. Why no one ever remembers this happening, year after year after year.
It’s a pretty intense story and creepy to boot. So naturally, I was eating up the pages. I was shocked that I was halfway through it only my second day into reading! The words just fly off the pages and the pacing in sooo intense that I just had to see what would happen next. The multiple points of view was a game changer that really kept you on your toes. And every now and we got inside the head of the monster who seemed to have more brain for thought than you’d expect. I was quite pleased with myself when I was able to make some accurate guesses as to the turnout of this one.
If you’re looking for a dark and chilling read this fall, I would highly recommend reading The Ghost Tree! It’s one that will have you looking at forests and old trees with a more careful eye for sure. You’ll be kept up long into the night wanting to reach the chilling and epic ending, just be sure to lock your doors before falling asleep!
Overall Rating 5/5 stars
The Ghost Tree releases September 8, 2020

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a fun meme where we gather to share what we've read last week and our reading plans for this week.

Last Week I Read:

The Fairest Kind of Love by Crystal Cestari (4 stars)
Touch of Evil by Cecy Robson (ARC)--Review to come at a later date
Spring's Wolf by Alyssa Rose Ivy (ARC)--Review to come later this week

Review That Was Posted:

Greythorne by Crystal Smith (ARC) (4.5 stars)

Currently Reading:

White Fox by Sara Faring (ARC)

What I Plan to Read Next:

The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez (ARC)

Other Posts of Interest:

Aug 30, 2020

Stacking the Shelves--Totally Awesome Edition!

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! The meme is now hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality.

What a week this was! Work was a bit of a mix of being super busy and super slow. Which I suppose is a nice balance. We did just get next Friday off as an extra treat, so I'm looking forward to that long weekend! Especially since I also requested Thursday off too! I've relatives coming into town, so I won't be able to get a lot of reading done, but hopefully some on Thursday, and maybe Monday if they leave early enough!

This was quite a week for books too! Check it out!

I bought:

The Nemesis by S.J. Kincaid--keeper copy!
To Coach a Killer by Victoria Laurie--my plan is to finish the Psychic Eye series, then start this one! Luckily this is book 2 and I think I've maybe 2 books left in the previous series!
Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik--now, when I'm ready, I can binge the series!!

For review from the author I received:

Spring's Wolf by Alyssa Rose Ivy (ARC)--already read this one too! Review to come this week!

Then I won a prize off of Fresh Fiction a few months ago and due to unknown reasons it was delayed but luckily the author mailed it and I got it and it was wayyyy better than expected:

I got SIGNED copies of Crave & Storybound
an Amazon gift card
a bath bomb
a messenger bag with enamel pins
a hand-carved blasting rod

The last two I assume will tie into Storybound as the author noted in a notecard not pictured.

Crave by Tracy Wolff--SIGNED!
Storybound by Emily McKay--SIGNED!


And then I won another Amazon gift card from Holly for the Series Enders 2020 Challenge for the July Wrap-up!


Then in a trade on the hashtag I received:

The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout (ARC)--I'm a big fan of cover variants and really liked this one!

THANK YOU Shelley!

Then I got my preorder swag for The Faithless Hawk! That was pretty quick considering I'm still waiting on July released book pre-order swag!

THANK YOU Fierce Reads!!

And that was it for me this week! What all did you get?

Aug 29, 2020

Challenges Monthly Wrap-up: August

CHALLENGE 1: 2020 New Release Challenge

The Queen by Jennifer L. Armentrout (7/14/20)
Of Flame and Fury by Cecy Robson (3/24/20) 
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (10/27/20)--Review to come at a later date
Touch of Evil by Cecy Robson (10/13/20)--Review to come at a later date
Spring's Wolf by Alyssa Rose Ivy (9/3/20)--Review to come next week!

I am at 27 books! Challenge completed!!

CHALLENGE 2: Print ONLY 2020 Reading Challenge

The Queen by Jennifer L. Armentrout 
Demon's Vengeance by Jocelynn Drake
The Fairest Kind of Love by Crystal Cestari

I'm at 32/45...still a little worried about this one. And oddly, Tina's site has disappeared because I couldn't get this image to easily appear in my post. So then if I fail the challenge, do I really fail if the blog host isn't blogging exclusively anymore?

CHALLENGE 3: 2020 Discussion Challenge

I'm at 24/25 and I've a post idea on my list of things to do this weekend, so just so I don't have to worry about not having it included, it'll likely be up September 1st! Lol!

CHALLENGE 4: Beat the Backlist 2020 Reading Challenge

Demon's Vengeance by Jocelynn Drake (6/9/15)
The Fairest Kind of Love by Crystal Cestari (3/5/19)

22/20! It's all positive notes from here! Hoping to add a few more to this challenge before the end of the year too...but not confident enough to up my challenge number! :P

CHALLENGE 5: 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge

Demon's Vengeance by Jocelynn Drake (Asylum Tales)
Of Flame and Fury by Cecy Robson (Weird Girls: Flame)
The Nemesis by S.J. Kincaid (Diabolic)
The Fairest Kind of Love by Crystal Cestari (Windy City Magic)

I'm at 18! I originally set out just to finish 3 series and I'm up to 18!!!

Aug 28, 2020

Book Blogger Hop

This meme is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict!
This week's question is: Have you ever read a book that was suggested by another blogger? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer
MY ANSWER: Yes. Though which blogger is harder to say. I remember picking up Dead Girls are Easy by Terri Garey because of a review I read at a blog, who may or may not still be around. I was able to buy the series at the multiple closing sales at Borders...excuse me while I sob! 
I still need to read this one too!
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones is another one I picked up because bloggers said how it was so good!

I feel pretty sure that Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick was another one that I read a few good reviews on and decided to pick it up myself.

There are more, lots more I'm sure, but my brain isn't able to think of more. Other books I know I was reading the author pre-blogging, some books were acquired at the now deceased Romantic Times Booklovers Convention that led to me finding favorites and sticking with them.

Oh, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo was one I decided to give a try after seeing all the rave reviews of it by other bloggers!

Aug 27, 2020

Random Thursday

All right folks, we're finally here! This is the end of Weird But True by Leslie Gilbert Elman! We've been at this book for nearly a year! Can you believe it? Let's see what last little factoids we can learn today!

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
 Magellanic penguins migrate home to Southern Chile and Argentina every winter by swimming. They return to their birthplace to mate every spring.

 I never really thought penguins liked the warmer climates. I guess I always associated Chile and Argentina as "warm" places!

 (image borrowed from Youtube)
Studies have shown that at least 60% of people have experienced a sense of deja vu. As you age your experience with deja vu tends to go down.

FUN FACT: Deja vu doesn't require visual cues, blind people have cases of deja vu just as often as people with sight.

I know I've had a few moments of deja vu somewhere in the past...but naturally, I can't remember when or what! Lol. 

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
People associate "History repeats itself" with Karl Marx, however, he didn't actually write these words and he never claimed that they were his. This idea came from a treatise that Georg Wilhelm Hegel, a German philosopher.
Friedrich Engels. a political philosopher and Marx's friend and colleague paraphrased Hegel's idea in a letter to Marx, who later paraphrased it again in the pamphlet he wrote about French politics.

So he said he said he said "History never repeats itself." Got it. Lol.

(image borrowed from The New York Times)
Much like snowflakes, no two lightning bolts are identical.

Now I'm going to say "aren't you a special little lightning bolt!" instead of snowflake! LOL!

(image borrowed from Treehugger)
Central Africa has more lightning strikes than any other place on Earth. There's almost never any lightning strikes in Antarctica or the Arctic.

FUN FACT: There's hundreds of millions of lightning strikes on Earth every year and twenty million of those are in the continental US alone. Scientists are pretty certain that lightning can strike in the same place twice.

You know I never understood why it wouldn't strike more than once in the same place.


Aug 26, 2020

Let's Discuss: Why I love Paranormal Books

All righty, since I was taking the unplanned bookstagram break by reading Sunday afternoon, I decided to hop on here and think of a discussion post to help soothe my worries of not being productive on all corners! Lol. So here we go...

Reasons Why I Love Paranormal Books

So a long, long time ago, in a time I can barely remember...I used to read contemporary books. Yes. I know. ME! I was just a reader looking for a book to read and chose whatever sounded interesting in my Borders strolls. Then one day, I read this book, you might know it by now. It was Demon in My View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and it involved VAMPIRES! I'm trying to remember if I discovered this at a book fair or Borders and even if I somehow read this book before I read the first book of the series, it's possible. I really can't remember those details as well, but this book has always cemented, for me, the start of a beautiful relationship with the paranormal world!

I loved meeting vampires. I think what made this such a great book to be my first love was that the heroine was also a writer of vampire novels and it suddenly turned out what she wrote was real. If memory recalls, it was all something like chance or fate that what she wrote was true. She really had no psychic inkling that her characters were actual real vampires.

Aubrey was my first vampire crush and he was what you would call the reluctant hero or bad guy turned hero. He wasn't a hero in the official first book and he wasn't super heroic in this one either, but in the end, well, he wasn't so much villainous anymore either.

Thus began my long obsession with what goes bump in the night. I loved meeting these characters who appeared "normal" yet were hiding secret powers or just the secret that they were something other, be it vampire, werewolf, half-demon, or other another type of shapeshifter and thereon. And it's not just about supernatural people having normal problems either, they tend to be far from normal and much more magical in nature...and more or less involve needing to save the world.

Eventually it presents the issue of does the human society know about these magical beings or are they in the dark? That alone always presents a different kind of storyline.

For a time, I did try to go back and forth with paranormal books and contemporary ones, because, well, there wasn't enough paranormal ones to read. Finally, I reached the point where I couldn't handle reading the contemporary ones anymore and dove deep into paranormal lore and I haven't looked back since!

Now you might say, hey, Jessica. You've read fantasy books and thrillers and reviewed them here before. Fantasy, I stipulate branches off of paranormal, or maybe vice versa. Fantasy will usually involve magic, so far from the norm! Then with thrillers...well, yeah, that's more mystery but with seriously sinister characters who are monstrous...but are 100% homo-sapiens! 

But yes, my love of paranormal comes from its lack of 100% normalcy. I like that they sometimes have the added blend of normalcy to it to make it feel more realistic, but that's as close to contemporary I'll get these days.

So what's your favorite genre to read? Why do you love that genre?

Waiting on Wednesday

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Everything feels off―especially me. I’ve returned to Katmere Academy, but I’m haunted by fragments of days I have no recollection of living and struggling to understand who, or what, I really am.

Just when I start to feel safe again, Hudson is back with a vengeance. He insists there are secrets I don’t know about, threatening to drive a wedge between Jaxon and me forever. But far worse enemies are at our doorstep.

The Circle is caught in a power play and the Vampire Court is trying to drag me out of my world and into theirs. The only thing Hudson and Jaxon agree on is that leaving Katmere would mean my certain death.

And not only am I fighting for my life, but now everyone else’s is at stake―unless we can defeat an unspeakable evil. All I know is that saving the people I love is going to require sacrifice.

Maybe more than I’m able to give.

The Crave series is best enjoyed in order.


TITLE: Crush
AUTHOR: Tracy Wolff
PUBLISHER: Entangled Teen
GENRE: YA Paranormal
RELEASE DATE: September 29, 2020 

A tale of two sist ers against a backdrop of Night Film meets Black Mirror, this atmospheric novel will keep you guessing until the very end.

After their world-famous mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Manon and Thais left their remote Mediterranean home—sent away by their pharma tech tycoon father. Opposites in every way, the sisters drifted apart in their grief. Yet their mother's unfinished story still haunts them both, and they can't put to rest the possibility that she is still alive.

Lured home a decade later, Manon and Thais discover their mother's legendary last work, long thought lost: White Fox, a screenplay filled with enigmatic metaphors. The clues in this dark fairytale draw them deep into society's surreal underbelly, into the twisted secrets hidden by their glittering family, to reveal the truth about their mother—and themselves.

Sara won me over with her debut The Tenth Girl last year and omg, I so want to read this one!

TITLE: White Fox
AUTHOR: Sara Faring
GENRE: YA Horror
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2020 


Aug 25, 2020

Review--The Fairest Kind of Love by Crystal Cestari

"Amber! I never even thought of that! Maybe she can tell you your match."

Whoa. Now that's interesting.

Amber Sand has spent half her life solidifying other people's happily-ever-afters. As a matchmaker, she has the ability to look into anyone's eyes and see their perfect match. But lately, her powers have been on the fritz, and not only is she totally unsure whether her matches are true, she can't see anyone in the eyes of her boyfriend Charlie Blitzman. With Amber and her friends graduating high school and about to take off for various colleges, Amber is hoping to have one last carefree summer-but she's also dying to find a way to fix her powers, and learn, for better or worse, if she and Charlie are truly meant to be.

So when an online matchmaker named Madame Lamour comes to Chicago, Amber sets out to talk to her and find out who her match is once and for all. Of course, when it comes to the magical community, nothing's ever that easy, and Amber soon finds herself caught up in a breathless showdown that involves a fairy family feud and a magical-creature auction--and requires teaming up with a certain siren nemesis. Can Amber and her friends save the day one more time before setting off for their new lives? And will Amber ever learn whether Charlie is her one true love?

With tons of laugh-out-loud moments, appearances by all your favorite characters, and one totally tearful reveal, you won't want to miss a single swoony moment of this romantic conclusion to the Windy City Magic trilogy.

Crystal Cestari’s charming trilogy Windy City Magic comes to a delightful end with The Fairest Kind of Love. Here the story follows matchmaker Amber as she tries to gain back her matchmaking powers and will do whatever it takes to see her own happy ending come true.

Amber and her friends just graduated high school and plan to have the best summer ever before they go off to their respective colleges. Amber and Amani discover that there’s another matchmaker in the woodwork and her name is Madame L’Amour. She televises her visions through streaming services and when they hear she’s coming to Chicago for a rare, in-person visit, they are all over it. Amber particularly wants to meet another matchmaker like herself and to see if she knows anything about dwindling powers.

Though they receive a shock over how Madam L’Armour really operates and it’s not at all what Amber was expecting. Before she knows it though the event is over and she finds herself on a road trip to save the one and only Ivy. Ivy is still severely ill from having given up her powers to save her sister. In fact, Ivy might be dying. Not wanting to lose an almost friend, Amber and Amani travel with Ivy to a fairy farm where fairy dust is harvested in hopes of getting a wish granted that will heal Ivy…and perhaps Amber might be able to solve her own problems too.

This was quite the whirlwind of a story! From secrets to surprises to dashing rescues this book pretty much had it all. Including delectable treats that I envy Amber for getting! If you’re looking for a book with a sweet tooth, this is it! This whole series is it!

What I’ve enjoyed about this series was how it was a truly magical series from the getgo. I believe they call it “magical realism” so not quite your modern day fantasy (or a lighter version of Urban Fantasy) but something more in between. There’s no dark edges to this one, although the villains can be pretty nefarious.

Other things I enjoyed were how completely likable Amber is. She’s a very genuine person and kind-hearted. She’s got her sass though with a side of snark. Maybe not has heavy as some of our other YA heroines in the paranormal genre, but Amber is very relatable. I positively love her friendship with Amani and her relationship with Charlie is just straight on adorable! This is definitely the kind of read I’d recommend if you like paranormals that are on the lighter side because that is just what this trilogy is!

The ending was absolutely the sweetest too. It might be mushy gushy, but after you’ve read the first two books, you kind of expect it. It’s an ending where you can be happy and content knowing that everyone you cared about had a happy ending in some way. It’s an ending filled with hope and happiness for the characters’ futures…even if those futures weren’t what they thought they originally wanted.

I will leave you with this…if you’re looking for that paranormal read to help ease you into the genre without leaving the contemporary realms too far behind, I highly recommend starting with the Windy City Magic trilogy! The Fairest Kind of Love gives us all that delightful and hopeful ending we all hope to see for ourselves in the future and it’s the sweetest kind of ending you’d hope for!

Overall Rating 4/5 stars