Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost

*No Major Spoilers*

In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium-including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity-against the supernatural in order to judge mankind.

When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she’s a liar, she knows she’s a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa-a human-obsessed demon in disguise-doesn’t shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa’s exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel.

Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile-and young witch herself-Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium’s favor-only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have been discovering a lot of interesting books on TikTok, and this is another one of them. I saw this book on Arriane’s TikTok and I loved the setting and premise. So let’s cast a spell and reveal the truth of Elysium Girls.

I don’t read many books that take place in Oklahoma, and I love seeing that representation. I love how this happens during the Dust Bowl, and how we learn in the story that the rest of the world is in the middle of WWII. So being stuck in the era of the Dust Bowl and having to play to these goddesses games is interesting.

I love the characters, Sal I found to be relatable. She had her reputation torn to shreds because of no one supported her prediction of the drought ending. Even Mother Morevna shaming her and joining the rest of the town in shaming Sal was despicable to me.

Mother Morevna reminded me of the grandmother from Encanto, Abuela Alma Madrigal. Both are strong, magical women who have faced traumatic pasts and are handling things to what they think is the best way to do things, but actually aren’t.

I enjoyed getting to know the other characters such as Olivia, and the other friends they make while in exile. Although, of the new friend group, I can’t tell you who is who because of how quickly we’re introduced to the girl gang. However, that is a small complaint I have with the characters.

The ending was okay. It didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go, which is good. However, I’m feeling undecided on if I liked the way the story wrapped up. It was a solid ending overall. However I feel like I can’t delve more into it without going into spoilers and that’s no fun!

So overall, I really liked Elysium Girls. I loved the main characters, and how real the setting felt. This has small elements of steampunk, and the romance is natural and not forced into the plot. I would highly recommend if you enjoy magical realism, books that take place in Oklahoma, and historical fiction.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga, Rapid Reviews

RAPID REVIEW: The Tale of the Outcasts (The Tale of the Outcasts #1) by Makoto Hoshino

*No Major Spoilers*

This is the story of Wisteria, an orphaned girl lost in darkness, and Marbas, an immortal being who shares her loneliness. The unlikely companions met on a quiet, uneventful night, and they set off together in search of the light. What begins as a chance meeting on the edge of the late nineteenth-century British Empire soon became a full-fledged journey to find their place in the world.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I found this novel at my local library. The beautiful artwork and Beauty and the Beast-like story caught my interest. Happy to say that this is a lovely story full of heart, and the complications between found family and blood family.

I love how Marbas’ character develops over the course of this story. He is closed off emotionally a distant towards Wisteria, he doesn’t fully understand how attached to him she’s become over their time together. He is just resigned to spending all of eternity alone.

Do not worry though, the relationship between Wisteria and Marbas is strictly platonic. I don’t know how it grows and develops in the future, but I am invested in this storyline and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Overall, I loved The Tale of the Outcasts. The artwork is beautiful, and I am a bit of a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings apparently. I would recommend this manga for fans of romance, the supernatural, and found family vs blood family tropes.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman


*No Major Spoilers*

*Trigger warning for brief mentions of gore and torture*

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family’s old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.

A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols’s homecoming…


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I started this audiobook not knowing what to expect. At first it was reminding me of The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey. The main character comes into this small town and maybe not everything is as what it seems. The end result is something dark and twisted that will leave you stunned.

That was a mean thought, and not funny at all. I let it turn to sand and blow out of my head.

Christopher Buehlman; Those Across the River

I love how dark, yet beautiful this story was thematically. When Frank and Eudora were just going to the store in broad daylight, you could feel the heavy and intense atmosphere. The financial strain everyone was facing, the PTSD Frank was suffering, and the aftermath of the ending of the ritual made the world feel unnerving.

One thing I didn’t like was how hard it was to keep track of most of the townsfolk. I’m not sure if that was intentional because that seems to be a trope in the horror genre. Where everyone except the main character(s) are cardboard cutouts and monster/demon fodder. I know it’s a necessary evil to convey how full and alive this town is, but even one of the minor plot twists made me feel indifferent.

Overall, this was a beautifully written novel full of small town horror, sophisticated romance, and dark suspense. Frank’s perspective on everything made the townsfolk seem sinister, even when the pastor himself fought to keep the pig ritual reinstated. Frank learns the devil lived in Whitbrow, and the devil soon destroyed the town in the end.

I would recommend this novel to fans of horror, historical fiction, and for fans of The Curse of Crow Hollow and Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics. This story is a great read and would encourage anyone thinking about either getting a fresh take on horror, or just looking for some early Halloween vibes, then I would definitely recommend this book.


Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Stoker’s Wilde (Fiction Without Frontiers #1) By Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

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*No Major Spoilers*

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop, a mysterious madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will. With the help of a European vampire expert, a spirited actress and an American businessman, our heroes fight werewolves, vampires and the chains of Victorian morality. The fight will take them through dark forests in Ireland, the upper-class London theater world and Stonehenge, where Bram and Oscar must stop a vampire cult from opening the gates of Hell.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have read about the supernatural and paranormal in the past, but Stoker’s Wilde comes with a twist. A story about two historical writers coming together and battle the world of the supernatural. I knew I had to read this as soon as I discovered the sequel to this novel has Teddy Roosevelt joining the duo. So let’s dive into Stoker’s Wilde

First off, I love how Bram Stoker was just a friend of Oscar Wilde’s brother in this story. He didn’t want to go on this wild goose chase to hunt a werewolf. Werewolves don’t exist. However, with the help of Stoker’s curse, they soon find the werewolf was the captain on one of the ships in the harbor. Afterward, the duo set off into the world of the supernatural, willingly or not.

One thing I liked was how the story progressed through journal entries and letters to loved ones and friends. However, I was getting confused because I started getting minor characters mixed up. I’m not sure if I would still be confused if I read the ebook or not. However, this was a small complaint I had as I was listening through the audiobook. 

Stoker’s Wilde was a tale full of twists and turns. I couldn’t put this book down until I found out who was the leader of London’s vampires as well as what a member of royalty had to do in all of this puzzle. The conclusion will leave you breathless and ready for more! 

I would highly recommend Stoker’s Wilde for fans of horror, historical fiction, and alternative history. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel of this novel and reuniting with these lovable characters again.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Doctor Who: Bloodtide by Jonathan Morris

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*No Major Spoilers*

The prehistoric Earth is dying. Thunderclouds roll across the skies, cloaking the land in darkness. The seas crash and boil as the rain turns to acid. The remnants of the Silurian race place themselves in suspended animation, deep below the surface.

One day they will awaken and reclaim their world…

The TARDIS has landed on the Galapagos Islands, a desolate outcrop of rocks shrouded in mist and fear. In the settlement of Baquerizo Moreno, there are rumors that prisoners have been mysteriously disappearing from the gaolhouse. A fisherman has been driven insane by something he saw in the caves. And the Doctor and Evelyn are not the only new arrivals; there is also a young natural philosopher by the name of Charles Darwin.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

I have been a fan of Doctor Who for several years. I don’t remember exactly when I first started watching the show, but it was back when Doctor Who was still on Netflix. I fell in love with its quirky humor and characters you can’t help but love.

I have been reviewing the Doctor Who “expanded universe” books and audio dramas since I started writing this blog. I have been using these stories as a way to dip into something familiar. I have to restrain myself from just turning this into a Doctor Who blog sometimes. Even too much of a good thing can make it toxic and unhealthy.

Bloodtide follows traditional Doctor Who formula. Since this is a historical novel, we get to meet Charles Darwin on his historic trip to the Galapagos Islands. When the sister of one of the prisoners on the island asks the Doctor for help, they soon discover things aren’t as they seem.

Overall, I enjoyed this audio drama. The actress who played the sister of the prisoner I found to be annoying and irritating. I love how throughout the story, we see Charles Darwin’s inner battle with what he’s discovered versus what the Christian church has taught.

Even in modern times, the discussion of evolution is controversial in more conservative and religious areas. The idea that species change to fit the needs of their environment is generally acceptable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we came from primates. You can easily fall into the rabbit hole about “the missing link” and how that may or may not be related to Sasquatch or Bigfoot.

The Christian belief says that God created the Earth as it is, and nothing has changed since He created it. The fact that you have the same species of finches with different sized and shaped bills can cause deep thinkers like Darwin to question everything he’s thought up to that point to be true.

I won’t spoil the “big reveal,” but it was a shocking surprise. I think anyone listening to this will be pleased with the plot twist and how the story ends.

Overall, I think any Doctor Who fan will enjoy Bloodtide. The thing I love about the show as a whole is how comforting it is. If you are having Doctor Who withdrawals or just craving something familiar, then I would highly recommend Doctor Who: Bloodtide.