Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Babysitters Coven (The Babysitters Coven #1) by Kate Williams

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*No Major Spoilers*

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately, Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitter’s club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from a seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

Since it’s the Halloween season, and this happened to catch my interest, I thought this would be a lovely book to read to get me into the spooky season. So let’s begin my review of The Babysitters Coven!

I feel like the Young Adult genre is a hit or miss, in my opinion. I’ve read some good, bad, mediocre and everything in between. I understand that it’s the same for any group of novels. However, I would place The Babysitters Coven in the four stars category.

This novel reminded me of how integrated texting lingo has become. The characters often said LOL and OMG. I found it annoying, but then I had to remind myself that even I talk that way occasionally.

Even though the characters are younger than me, I could somewhat relate to Esme. She overthinks everything and hates gym class. Seeing her gain her confidence through learning about her newfound powers made me happy.

I didn’t like Cassandra though, she abuses her powers and doesn’t seem to care how it affects her or those around her. For instance, she and Esme go to a department store and Cassandra sets small fires to distract the employees so she can steal some name-brand jeans. Esme felt guilty even though she protested what Cassandra was doing throughout her crime.

However, I am interested to see if Cassandra learns the consequences of her magical mischief, or is she becomes a “bad guy” of her own. Whatever way Ms. Williams chooses will suit me just fine.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I guessed 1/2 of the mystery. So the other half surprised me and kept me engaged in the story overall. I love how this novel ends on a good note and leaves just enough to continue the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I found the story overall to be creative, and I felt the characters were real people and not cardboard. If you are fans of Young Adult paranormal, enjoy novels about witches, or just want an entertaining read, then I’d highly recommend The Babysitters Coven.

Read other Young Adult Reviews Here

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Club Reads, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Asylum (Asylum #1) by Madeleine Roux

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*No Major Spoilers*

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

This was this month’s Book Club read. I voted for it solely from the title alone. Just to be finished with the Gone Girl clones and Stephen King novels was a major factor in my decision for voting for this novel.

“If someone tells you you’re crazy enough times, eventually it becomes true. It’s that old psychiatrist’s joke: insanity’s all in your head.” – Madeleine Roux, Asylum

From all the sleepless nights I’ve spent watching Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, to several paranormal podcasts, most asylums are preserved as historical sites. Mostly to show how the mentally ill were treated and for Zac Bagans (from Ghost Adventures) to show how “macho” he is.

The subject of psychology and mental health is something near and dear to my heart. Not only do I have an associate’s degree in psychology, but I have always wanted to learn about people and how they think, feel, and react to stressful situations.

Nevertheless, let’s move on to my review.

Besides the fact that any asylum would be converted into a dormitory for a university would be highly improbable. But hey, this is a young adult fiction novel, let’s just go with this idea. It’s not like this novel gets any more ridiculous (insert sarcasm here).

Dan is a relatable character to me. High school was the worst years of my life, but for somewhat different reasons than Dan. So I can understand his excitement at the prospect of making new friends while he’s at this new place.

As weird things start to happen, I start trying to solve the mystery. I think in another life, I could’ve been an FBI agent. Always trying to solve the mysteries that are presented to me. However, I will proudly call myself an “armchair detective”.

I found the mystery and how it affects Dan and his friends intriguing. Who can you trust? The police don’t believe you, so you have to figure it out for yourself. Dan’s grip on his sanity towards the end was understandable. The mysteries and horrors of the asylum are terrifying. Those walls hold the emotions and energies of those who lived and worked there.

This story scratched my itch for a good haunted house story. Even though it was slightly ridiculous, I still enjoyed it all the same. The ending is somewhat predictable, so that was frustrating to me. But hey, what can you do? *shrug*

Overall, I enjoyed this story. There’s horror, psychological horror, murder, and a boy who is losing his sanity the longer he stays at the university. If you’re looking for a decent horror story, then I would recommend this one.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

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*No Spoilers*

When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

“You are stronger than you think you are. You are not your thoughts. The only devil inside of you is the one you created yourself.”-Amy Lukavics, Daughters Unto Devils

I found this novel at my local library. After enjoying Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, I thought I might give the Young Adult genre another chance. Now let’s see if Daughters Unto Devils will meet my expectations.

I am into the paranormal, I enjoy listening to ghost stories even though I scare easily. This novel is full of mystery and spooky tension. What made this better was the fact of how this reminded me somewhat of The Donner Party.

I felt like this book was hammering home the message of the spiritual war that is always going on. I felt bad for Amanda in the fact she had no control over her circumstances. She fell in love, and he abandoned her when she told him she was pregnant.

Overall, I felt like this was a good creepy historical fiction that chilled me. It not only had me question Amanda’s sanity but the whole prairies’. Once innocent things turned into demonic terrifying entities by the end.

I enjoyed this novel, I felt like the creepiness was made all the better in the fact that this was when we were still expanding west. Back then, mental illnesses were seen as demon possessions and other demonic entities.

If you enjoy HorrorHistorical Fiction, and Young Adult Novels then I think you will enjoy Daughters Unto Devils. This novel doesn’t have much action, it’s mostly tension and suspense until the climax. I hope my readers will like this novel as much as I had.

Read My Review of Rot & Ruin HERE

Check Out Other YA Novels I’ve Reviewed HERE

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

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*No Major Spoilers*

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

It has been a bit since I last reviewed a zombie apocalypse novel. I was starting to get burnt out on the genre, but now that’s in the past. I had always been interested in this series, but the Young Adult genre deters me sometimes.

I decided to try it, and I started reading a physical copy but found an audiobook. So I am considering this a hybrid of the two mediums.

This novel really drove home what the differences were between the survivors, monsters (being zombies), and the real monsters (those who prey on the weak and defenseless). Being secluded like Ben had been, I could understand why he believed the only real monsters were the zombies right outside their gated safe haven.

“Often it was the most unlikely people who found within themselves a spark of something greater. It was probably always there, but most people are never tested, and they go through their whole lives without ever knowing that when things are at their worst, they are at their best.” – Jonathan Maberry, Rot & Ruin

Watching Ben grow and learn about the world after “The First Night” was endearing and heartbreaking. I can understand how you believe one thing about how the world works, and when you actually get out in it, things that you thought you knew might be completely different.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It had a great cast of characters that grew and changed throughout the novel. And I won’t spoil the ending, but you’ll be reaching for the tissues. I would recommend this for lovers of Young Adult FictionPost Apocalyptic novels, and for those who can’t get enough of zombies. I would also recommend this novel who are looking for a good and fulfilling story.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

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*No Major Spoilers*

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with the knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

This Young Adult novel travels from Ancient Rome to a futuristic Earth where time travel is possible. I was intrigued by the plot of this story. I am familiar with Doctor Who so time travel is a genre I enjoy.

As a fan of Doctor Who when someone is born “out of time” that spells trouble. The laws of nature do not bend to our will. And when something is out of line, nature will correct itself no matter the circumstances.

I felt like the romance between Far and Priya, the ship’s doctor was natural. She and Far had a friendship before the Invictus first launched. Far would short-circuit medical droids because of his unnatural date of birth. So Priya would arrive and troubleshoot the problem, and that’s how they first met.

The other romance between Far’s cousin Imogen and the ship’s engineer Gram felt forced and awkward. They are polar opposites. Gram felt like an android from the many sci-fi movies. Stiff, robotic, genius as he plays Tetris and has a collection of solved Rubick’s Cubes. Imogen is bright, dying her hair a new neon color every day. She’s the ship’s historian, and she loves to have fun and party hard.

So for unnecessary romances, I only found one of them unnecessary. I wish they could have remained good friends and grow in that way.

This novel is fairly well-paced. Action-packed, and keeps you on your toes by trying to figure out what’s going on with the mystery of the unusual girl Elliot and her secrets she was keeping from the Invictus crew.

This novel is 400+ pages. If you prefer shorter novels, then you’re out of luck with this one. However, if you enjoy audiobooks, the flow of the novel made the over 400 pages go quickly.

Overall, I thought this novel was good. It was action-packed with plenty of time travel and world building. My only downside was the one unnecessary romance, and a few nitpicks. Other than that, I felt like this was a good, well written, Young Adult novel for any age to enjoy.

Posted in Book Club Reads, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Summer’s End by Kristy Brown

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*No Major Spoilers*

Alex Doone, a man trained to fight and kill anything in his path. Summer, a young woman who woke up after a coma that took away her memories. The wolf and the rabbit do their dance, but what happens when the hunting instincts turn into love?

I was given this ebook by the author, so thanks! I volunteered to review this book, the cover looked interesting and I was intrigued by the premise.

The first half of this novel was boring and drama filled. I felt a good chunk of it could’ve been left out, and it would’ve read just fine. For example, we don’t need a cardboard cutout “bad guy” just to show that Alex is slowly growing feelings for Summer. You could do these many other ways without making it read like the love triangle in Twilight.

Once you get to the meat and potatoes of this novel, it was entertaining and exciting. I felt like the explanations and motives were explained very well. I was able to follow along, and it turned out to be a good last half.

The inspiration from other popular Young Adult series is blatantly obvious. So if you’re looking for a Twilight fan fiction, this is your book.

 Elisha’sBookReview: Are you a fan of the Twilight series? Your newest book [Summer’s End] reminds me a lot of the series so far.

Kristy Brown: Certainly am. More so when it came out. But yes I’m inspired by it. Also The Immortal Instruments, Hush Hush, Fallen, Star Crossed, I could go on!

Overall, I thought this book was alright, the first half was dull and boring, but the last half was exciting and intense! The last half was well written and made reading this novel worth it.

Buy “Summer’s End” by Kristy Brown

Posted in Book Club Reads, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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*No Major Spoilers*

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her best friend was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

In this month’s book club read, I was interested in the premise of this novel. A unique twist on the zombie/paranormal genre. Teen Wiccans or “witches” as society calls the group. Solving a possible murder case with no help from friends or family.

“A scoop of dried rosemary goes into the bag, followed by salt. Sometimes, magic looks a lot like how my mom prepares chicken”- Undead Girl Gang

When I found out that this was a young adult novel, I was hesitant. With my book readings, I find most young adult fiction to be immature and drama that is unnecessary to the plot. This novel does have patches of teen drama, but it’s not too much to break the immersion. I groaned and complained when I felt like the drama was going on for too long. But overall, it sticks with the main story fairly well.

I know a lot of adolescents go through with body image issues, but it still bothered me how the main character kept saying that she was a “fat witch” or paints herself in a negative light.

One of my favorite parts that I found to be clever in the storytelling was how the girls couldn’t be further than 100 paces apart without the undead girls to turn into actual-looking zombies.

The only character I found to be likable was Xander, who is Riley’s older brother. Over the course of the book, Mila and Xander become close as they both mourn the loss of their friends and his sister. He seems to be a likable guy who I can relate to somewhat from real life experience.

This book’s plot twist blew me away in that I didn’t see it coming! I won’t spoil who the killer is, but if it’s someone I didn’t guess then you won’t see it coming either.

The bad guy’s motives I found to be realistic and relatable. I was worried about how the author was going to explain the motive for doing the evil deeds. Sometimes authors try and pull a huge plot twist, and they make a weak motive or don’t explain the motive very well.

“Most magic is just telling the universe that you’re thankful to be here”- Undead Girl Gang

Overall, I found this book to be a good read if you want a fun read that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you like paranormal, zombies, high school crushes, and a good mystery, this is the book for you!