ARC REVIEW: Stake-out – by Lily Luchesi

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Title: Stake-out
(Paranormal Detectives #1)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: January 25th 2017
Pages: 128
Rating 3,5qqq

“Who would’ve guessed that, in this world, there were vampires, werewolves and specters lurking around every corner; that evil witches who lived for centuries were being burned to to death a few miles away?”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess I’m normally not a fan of vampire stories and tend to stay away from them, especially since I seem to dislike about 99% of them. But when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read the Paranormal Detectives series, something about the description caught my attention and I decided to give it a go. And even though I’m normally allergic to fanged characters, I enjoyed Stake-out a lot better than I thought I would. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the vampire element didn’t seem to bother me, which can probably explained by the fact that the vampires are properly scary without all the ‘sparkling’ and cheesiness. I found Stake-out quite a refreshing story and I liked that it had other supernatural creatures; the vampire/creature hunting is a very interesting angle as well. The story was both easy and entertaining to read, although I do have to admit the amount of question marks used can get a bit annoying. The plot and characters make up for it though, and I loved the flashbacks/past life subplot. If you like a good paranormal fantasy story that isn’t fluffy or overly romantic, Stake-out is without doubt a great choice. I will be reading and reviewing both sequels soon!

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When Detective Danny Mancini finds out the murder suspect he is following is actually a 200 year old rogue vampire, nobody actually believes him. The department put him on early retirement despite his many years of service, and things are getting worse from there. Then, two years later, the beautiful Detective Angelica Cross shows up at his doorstep and offers him to join a secret branch of the FBI. She wants him to track down Vincent, the vampire that ended is career two years ago. But Danny’s new life will need some time getting used to…

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Stake-out isn’t just another vampire story. Sure, vampires play a big role, but the plot is more about hunting supernatural creatures and following the main character Danny as he slowly comes to terms with his new world working for the secret branch of the FBI. I especially enjoyed the flashbacks and past life elements and I will be looking forward to find out how the story continues.


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BOOK REVIEW: Catacomb – by Madeleine Roux

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Title: Catacomb
(Asylum #3)
Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: YA, Horror, Paranormal
First published: September 1st 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Finished reading: December 9th 2016
Pages: 352
Rating 4qqq

“Just because someone seems okay up close doesn’t mean they’re innocent.”

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I started reading this trilogy by Madeleine Roux last Halloween, and after reading the sequel this October I didn’t want to wait another year before reading the final book Catacomb. Combine that with the fact that I still had to finish my fifth and final series for a challenge, and it was the perfect excuse to dive back into Dan, Abby and Jordan’s world. And this third book is without doubt a solid ending to what has been a very entertaining horror/paranormal series! The photos that are used are a nice twist as always, although they are yet again not as strong as the first book. They are definitely creepy enough though, as well as the plot of this final adventure of the three main characters. Catacomb is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining horror read that isn’t too scary and perfect for the Halloween and/or winter season. I don’t think I will read the novellas myself, but I can definitely recommend the three books of this trilogy to anyone who is looking for a creepy and entertaing read.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Dan, Abby and Jordan decided to have one last road trip together after senior year is over. They don’t want to think about what will happen after summer yet, and just want to spend a normal summer together. But as they are on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, they notice that they are being followed. And not only that, Dan is starting to receive messages on his phone from someone that is no longer alive. What is really happening and are the three friends in danger again?

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The Asylum trilogy is without doubt a fast-paced and entertaining horror/paranormal read in general and I really like how Madeleine Roux incorporates a bunch of creepy photos into her stories. Catacomb was yet another solid read and a great ending to this series. It’s easy to read with just the right amount of creepy and intrigue to make you want to keep on reading. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: Sanctum – by Madeleine Roux

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Title: Sanctum
(Asylum #2)
Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: YA, Horror, Paranormal
First published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Finished reading: October 29th 2016
Pages: 343
Rating 4qqq

“Dan wasn’t sure which was worse – the idea that he was actually being haunted or possessed or whatever, or the idea that this was all in his head.”

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I actually read the first book Asylum back in 2015 and I remember planning to read the sequel soon after that. But other books got in the way, and somehow I soon completely forgot how good this series actually was. I’m regretting this now, because I really enjoyed reading Sanctum. While I don’t think it’s actually as good as the first book, it was still without doubt a solid sequel. It basically has everything I look for in a YA paranormal/horror read: almost no romance, a fast pace, well written, interesting plot and lots of creepy scenes. I’m not completely sure about the character development and some characters can come over as a bit whiney, but the new plot with the carnaval elements is without doubt excellent. There are a few photos included again this time as well, although I wish there would have been more or at least a bit more scary. I guess you can’t have it all… But if you are looking for an entertaining paranormal read that actually focuses on the creepy elements for once, definitely give this series a try.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book of this series yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Dan, Abby and Jordan are still traumatized by the summer they spent together during the summer program in the Brookline asylum. They would love to move on, but someone seems to be determined to keep the terror alive, sending them photos of an old-timey carnival without further note. They decide to return to New Hampshire College to find out what is going on, even though they promised each other to never go back… Under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, they start their hunt for the truth. Will they be able to figure out who sent those photos and what’s going on? And is it safe for them to be there again in the first place?

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While not as good as the first book, Sanctum is still quite a satisfying sequel to this paranormal horror series. The included photos are a nice touch, although they are not as creepy or numerous as in Asylum (or at least I remember it that way). The fact that it has almost no romance is a huge bonus though, and I really liked both the plot, carnaval and historical elements and the prose itself. Recommended if you like the genre! I will definitely move the third book right to the top of my TBR pile.

BOOK REVIEW: Bad Girls Don’t Die – by Katie Alender

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Title: Bad Girls Don’t Die
(Bad Girls Don’t Die #1)
Author: Katie Alender

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: April 21st 2009
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: October 28th 2016
Pages: 346
Rating 4qqq

“Just say something real. Everyone just always tries so hard, and it all comes out the same. I just want someone to say something real.”

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I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for a long time… In fact, it was on last year’s Halloween list as well, but somehow I managed to neglect this book until now. I’m glad I finally decided to pick Bad Girls Don’t Die up though, because it is without doubt both a fast-paced and entertaining read. It’s not the first Katie Alender book I’ve read, and I have to say I really enjoy reading her prose. Both character development and plot are well done and it had just the right dose of creepy. The paranormal horror is mixed with contemporary romance and has its share of high school drama, but it didn’t distract too much from the main plot. I liked the horror element and Alexis is a great character as well. In short, Bad Girls Don’t Die is without doubt the perfect and entertainingly creepy read for both the October month and the rest of the year as well. I will definitely be continuing this series soon!

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Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence, but dysfunction is threatening to turn into danger. Her parents’ marriage is not really working, her twelve-year-old sister Kasey is doll-crazy and Alexis is not really social herself… But after a family fight and a night out taking photos, things are starting to get weird. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes and she doesn’t always talk likes she normally does… And on top of that, she doesn’t seem to remember everything about her day. Their old house is changing too, and Alexis soon realizes it’s too dangerous to keep thinking it’s all in her head. Will she find a way to fix things before it’s too late? And what is happening to Kasey?

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If you are looking for a fast-paced, well written, slightly creepy and entertaining story, Bad Girls Don’t Die is without doubt an excellent choice. Paranormal horror is mixed with contemporary romance and even though there is quite a lot of high school drama, the creepy scenes make up for it. The writing is excellent as well as the character development, and I liked the history behind the old house. Recommended!

ARC REVIEW: The Good Sisters – by Helen Phifer

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Title: The Good Sisters
Author: Helen Phifer

Genre: Horror, Paranormal, Thriller
First published: October 31st 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Finished reading: October 26th 2016
Pages: ?
Rating 4,5qqq

“It was once a house of God, but not after  that terrible night. It changed; they let that woman in and it changed their lives for ever.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Carina UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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During my hunt for creepy Halloween read last year I came across The Good Sisters at Netgalley. The cover looked perfectly spooky and after reading the blurb I was convinced this one would be just right to get into the Halloween mood. And I was right. I’m not saying it’s a full-blown horror read and part of the plot was a bit predictable, but I personally had a blast reading this story by Helen Phifer. The Good Sisters has just the right dose of creepy and mixes historical chapters and horror with romance scenes to lighten up the mood. Perfect for those who don’t like heartstopping and bloodchilling horror! This novel is well written with great descriptions that set the right creepy atmosphere, complete with haunted convent and everything. My favorite chapters would be those set in the past; it was great learning more about what happened when things first started to go wrong. The chapters switch between past and present, but it is done in a way that doesn’t slow down the pace and it’s without doubt an excellent read. Recommended!

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In 1931, Mother Superior Agnes offers sanctuary to a desperate young woman fleeing for her life. They take her in, but there seems to be more to her than meets the eye. The next morning, one of the Sisters is found dead under brutal circumstances in a room locked from the inside. Nobody understands what happened, but Agnes has a feeling she did wrong when she let the woman enter the convent… And she has no idea how far the consequences will reach. Over 80 years later, Kate Parker moves into the old convent with the dream of turning it into a bed and breakfast after renovation. She just came out of a bad marriage and is looking to change her life. She doesn’t know about the convent’s dark history and is determined to stay while the renovations take place, but she soon starts to suspect she is not entirely alone in her new home.

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Sure, the plot is a bit predictable at times and the ending isn’t really a surprise, but personally it didn’t bother me it all. It’s a fast-paced, well written and delightfully creepy story with great descriptions that set the right atmosphere from the beginning. I personally wasn’t blown away by the romantic elements, but they do create a balance with the horror that people who don’t like ‘too creepy’ reads will appreciate. The Good Sisters is without doubt a very entertaining read and and excellent choice if you are looking for your next paranormal horror story.

BOOK REVIEW: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown – by Holly Black

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Title: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown
Author: Holly Black

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
First published: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Finished reading: October 15th 2016 
Pages: 419
Rating 4qqq

“Even from the beginning, that was the problem. People liked pretty things. People even liked pretty things that wanted to kill and eat them.”

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I’m ashamed to admit I’ve had this book collecting dust on my shelves for ages, and it was actually on last year’s Halloween TBR as well. Oops?! I’m glad I finally gave in though, because The Coldest Girl In Coldtown turned out to be a perfect Halloween read. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find out that I enjoyed this story that much, because I normally detest vampire stories. Kudos to Holly Black for showing me there are also decent vampire stories out there! Because it doesn’t happen often that I give a so-called ‘bloodsucker’ story such a high rating. Why is The Coldest Girl In Coldtown an exception? First of all, the vampires are actually dangerous like they should be. Their world is still a bit too glamorous to my taste, but I like the background story behind it all. The Coldest Girl In Coldtown is also fast-paced, well written, has a lot of action, not too many romance scenes and the right dose of creepy. In short, a very entertaining Halloween read that has convinced me I will definitely need to read more of Holly Black‘s work in the future.

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Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. There are monsters in the world and they can infect humans with the Cold. If either infected humans or monsters are found, they are quarantined inside those cities, living in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. And once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave… One morning after a party, Tana wakes up surrounded by the corpses of her friends and classmates including her ex-boyfriend. She wasn’t infected somehow, but he is, now tied up in a bedroom together with a mysterious boy with a terrible secret. Tana shouldn’t help the two and just save herself, but she cannot just leave them there. She now enters a race against the clock to save the three of them by facing danger straight on…

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I honestly wasn’t too sure about this book, but The Coldest Girl In Coldtown turned out to be one of the few vampire stories I actually enjoyed reading. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that there is almost no romance involved and the vampires are actually dangerous. I liked the worldbuilding and the story is without doubt well written with a lot of action scenes. It also has just the right dose of creepy and it is definitely entertaining to read. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: Empire Of Storms – by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Empire Of Storms
(Throne Of Glass #5)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Finished reading: October 7th 2016
Pages: 704
Rating 3qqq

“The fear of loss . . . it can destroy you as much as the loss itself.”

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WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead. Those who follow my blog will probably already know that I really enjoyed the first four books of the Throne Of Glass series in the past. The first book had it flaws, but the other three definitely made up for those little things that bothered me. And then I read Empire Of Storms, and I’m not sure what to think about this series anymore. I kept asking myself what on earth happened to the awesomeness I had grown used to… Because this fifth book has turned out to be a mayor disappointment. The story is overlong and most characters are basically a bunch of horny teenagers that want to sleep with each other all the time. What’s with all the romance?!?! It’s almost like Empire Of Storms is written by a different person, because the change is pretty drastic. I used to love Aelin and Manon as a character, but especially Aelin has lost my respect with all the blah romance scenes and Manon was absent for way too long. Sure, there are some pretty mindblowing action scenes and the general plot is interesting enough, but I felt like it missed the spark of the previous books. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that book 6 will be a huge improvement and that it will make up for Empire Of Storms; less romance and more epic battles and magic please! It’s going to be a long wait though, especially after that cliffhanger ending… Sigh.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first four books yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius… The kingdoms of Erilea are fracturing around her and enemies will have to become allies if Aelin is to protect those she loves from the dark forces that want to claim her world. War is looming everywhere and the only chance for survival lies in a desperate quest that might just destory it all. Will Aelin and her friends be able to find a way to stop the dark power on time?

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I’m not lying: I was expecting another mindblowing sequel when I picked up my copy of Empire Of Storms. Instead, I was faced with an overlong and romance-infested story that just didn’t meet the high standard of the previous sequels. The many many cliche romance scenes made me want to vomit and were basically a huge distraction from the otherwise quite interesting plot. I don’t mind long descriptions (especially since Sarah J. Maas always has excellent prose), but I kept having the feeling the story could have been a lot shorter. I will definitely still read the book 6 when it comes out next year, but I will be keeping my expectations low just to be safe…