Every Time He Dies by Tara East

Published: 5th November 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self-Published
Pages: 477
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal/Crime
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Daphne Lawrence is haunted. Two years ago, her fiancé died in a terrible accident, her mother passed away from cancer and she stopped speaking to her father. As an embalmer, Daff is used to the company of dead people, but she isn’t used to them talking back. In fact, Daff isn’t used to anything that could be considered woo-woo including, but not limited to: psychics, crystal, meditation, tarot cards, vision quests and coincidences. Too bad that’s everything she’s experiencing.

Daff is forced to confront her own long ignored grief when she discovers a haunted watch buried in the sand at Golden Beach. The problem is, her ghost has no memory of his former life or how he died.

As Daff seeks to discover the spectre’s identity, dangerous truths and hidden secrets are revealed. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of an on-going homicide investigation led by Detective Sergeant Jon Lawrence, her father. A story about grief, time and identity, Every Time He Dies will leave you wondering whether our dearly beloveds ever really depart.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

East has created a captivating and engaging story that brings together humour, love, family, and a little bit of the unknown. Told from dual perspectives we get to see Daphne’s life and the perspective of her estranged father, Detective Lawrence, on the cusp of his retirement from the force with an ongoing battle against old adversaries. Daphne on the other hand, is still coming to terms with, and in a way running from, her own grief after her fiancé Tom dies.

The structure of the story is done incredibly well because East leads us into the story providing detailed yet simple backgrounds about characters and situations, but then also throws us into the unexpected and uses these new situations to slowly pull out further detail making a well-rounded and beautifully complicated story.

I loved how we are introduced to this new phenomenon of Daphne’s and her realisation she can see a ghost. That first encounter was wonderful and the ideal draw card to get you intrigued into the supernatural aspect of this story and with a realism and humour that stays through the whole narrative. East’s descriptions are vivid and I could picture every scene as if it were playing out in front of me. From the start I fell comfortably into this narrative and it felt believable, even with the supernatural elements East anchors it in reality and possibility with a touch of the unknown but ever possible.

The characters are complicated and have deep personal issues and worries but East balances it perfectly and while there are ongoing references and emotional moments, it never felt over the top or overly dramatic. The emotions of these characters comes and goes at natural intervals, often with realistic and believable prompts and it is a great example how the death of a loved one never really leaves you no matter how much time has passed.

The dialogue is natural which was a huge plus for me. There is emotion and frustration, cheek and humour but it felt like conversations people actually had. The voices were great too because they are distinct and each character became their own person. One thing that impressed me was that East captures the detective voice so well without being stereotypical and cleverly manages to shift it between policeman and father and still make it feel like the same person. I believed Lawrence to be an aging cop, on the brink of retirement, still wanting to do his job but also able to see how much things have changed in his time on the force.

I liked Daff as a character too. She was grieving but trying to push the pain down, and East shows us the hurt is still there but she also wants to move on with her life. Even Liam who didn’t remember his own name or who had no memory of his life was a character of depth. I fell in love with him almost immediately and he and Daphne make a great pair. His personality shone through and his interactions with Daphne were some of my favourite parts of the story.

I loved this story from start to finish; East grabs your attention straight away with one storyline but then manages to pull you in further and hooks you with two others. It is most definitely a story about love and family, but it’s also about ghosts and the mystical and a fascinating police procedural with bikies and murder which becomes wonderfully and complicatedly intertwined as these things often do.

You can purchase Every Time He Dies via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Wordery | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Valley Of Secrets (#1) by Morgan Knight

Published: 9th October 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Green Rhino Media LLC
Pages: 497
Format: ebook
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Dark Romance
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

A secret past. An alluring stranger seeking to destroy her. A power she must harness and a truth she must uncover to stay alive.

Emilia never quite understood why her parents refused to talk about their past. She was just a child when they died suddenly, leaving her to wonder about who they really were and where she came from. When an attorney contacts her regarding a family estate matter in Europe, she seizes the opportunity to learn more, and ventures to an isolated village in the Tatra Mountains seeking answers.

Massimino is a sorcerer looking to use Emilia to advance his own powers and seek vengeance on those who banished him centuries ago. He knows she is the last of a powerful bloodline, so invading her dreams, he calls to her, seduces her, and makes her body respond in new, thrilling ways.

Can Emilia uncover her origins and the influence her ancestors once held over a hidden world of mystical forces? They kept the past from Emilia for a reason, but Massimino has found her anyway. Once he has made her fall in love, will she die for him?

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

I was wary when I saw this was a 500 page story, especially for what I thought was a fantasy but Knight has actually concocted an engaging story that keeps you turning the page. What it actually is is a contemporary new adult story that has elements of mystery and paranormal elements. There’s manipulation and magic, the dark romance is there too but Knight has done a good job making sure it isn’t too explicit or crude and every moment is there as part of the story and not only there for shock. The sex scenes are described tastefully as they can given the context, but even then there are strange relationship of acceptance, reluctance, and persuasion.

The mystery of this story follows Emilia’s past and her family she knows almost nothing about. When Emilia is given a chance to find out where she comes from she jumps at the chance which takes her on an unexpected journey. The details of the mystery are gradually uncovered and enough information is given to keep you engaged without being left in the dark with countless obscurities and vague answers.

The introduction to this world is good, something I’d expect from a story being this length, but there’s plenty to expand into more books without straining for additional narrative. The move from the contemporary to the paranormal felt natural and the gradual introduction meant there was a natural cross over and no sudden shifts. There is real world magic but I liked that there was a connection to the old world with castles and curses. The mix of the modern and the old was a great contrast and it was interesting to see how to two worlds lived side by side.

I believed the sister relationship between Amanda and Emilia, from best friends to adopted sisters it is a great demonstration of their friendship, especially one that has been long established. I also loved that the girls were in their early 20s and therefore not in the teenage category, which also makes the events in this story acceptable and believable.

Emilia’s strength and her intellect are a great combatant for what she comes up against in this narrative and Knight brings it out at the right moments when you think these girls are lost in an environment they may otherwise be out of their depth. Emilia is an adult and smart and you cans ee both girls’ personalities coming through in their interactions with one another and those around them.

Without spoilers I will say that the way Knight has made a contemporary story feel like one that has fantasy and magical elements was wonderful. Even a touch of the historical as well. At times I had to remind myself that this was still a contemporary story with internet and planes and modern evil but it was believable that there were magical ties as well. Knight has left plenty to move into the next story and I look forward to seeing where this series is heading.

You can purchase Valley of Secrets via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Published: 1st December 2001 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 David R. Godine Publisher
Pages: 138
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classic/Paranormal Gothic
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller–one that chills the body, but warms the soul with plot, perception, and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story written by Jane Austen?

Alas, we cannot give you Austen, but Susan Hill’s remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as our era can provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully–and for Kipps most tragically–The Woman In Black.

I read this expecting to be unnerved and unsettled but it didn’t quite reach that point. Overall it was enjoyable, but I found it a bit boring and slow at times. I understood the haunting, creepy nature but it didn’t grab me like it probably should. For the most part it was an ok story and I was curious about it, but that was as far as I got.

Reflecting the stories of centuries past this isn’t a horror story to frighten you, it’s meant to put you ill at ease with stories of ghosts and a mysterious woman lurking in graveyards. Small towns on moors with constant fog with secrets and unwilling to trust strangers.

You have to wait for the story to kick off and once that happens the plot unfolds properly and you get a few explanations and events that keep you intrigued. One thing I wasn’t expecting was how much the ending affected me. After reading about Kipps and his life, his experience with this old house and what he finds there I was anticipating the ending, but when it came to read about it I was quite moved. It’s that I remember most from this book, for that I give Hill credit for her writing. It burrows in when you think you aren’t paying attention and then turns your emotions on you in unexpected ways.

This is a relatively short book and it was better than the film, though both tell the story well. I think I missed that ending from the film which to me made this book all the better.

You can purchase The Woman in Black via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon | Audible

The Name of the Star (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Published: 29th September 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 372
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

Upon finishing this book I was experiencing a myriad of emotions and feelings that the first draft of this review was, for the majority, unhelpful gushing and exuberant praise. I was on a high of delight and amazement at what I had just read. Nothing wrong with that, but rather unhelpful for a review.

I cannot ignore though that a full 330 words were devoted entirely to going on about just how wonderful this book was. I experienced so many feelings and emotions throughout this book, especially during the final chapters, that I was on the edge of my seat and unsure where it could possibly lead, excited and impatient and nervous of what was going to happen.

I have been a long time fan of Johnson through her guest vlogging, her books, and following her hilarity on Twitter, but only recently have I been able to snag a copy of her Shades of London series which I have been dying to read for years. And can I just say I am so glad I finally got to read this because it is the greatest book ever! It is such a Maureen Johnson book as well. Her personality and own quirkiness shine off the pages and through her characters.

I strongly recommend you read this book, it really is all kinds of amazing. It’s a Jack the Ripper story like no other and it sucks you in and holds you while it simultaneously messes with your mind and makes you amazed and wide-eyed at the cleverness of it all.

The story follows Rory, a girl from southern USA who is sent to boarding school in London. She soon becomes embroiled in a series of murders eerily similar to that of Jack the Ripper. From there it becomes a story about murder and mystery, with a unique and clever paranormal element as well. Johnson’s writing is light and funny but also manages to be delightfully creepy in all the best ways.

The characters are unique and have their own stories to tell. I liked Rory’s charm in that she was a bit odd but she was who she was and wasn’t ashamed. I loved the differences between the UK and the US and the cultural clashes that are evident. I also loved that the story was slowly revealed. I revelled in the shocks, the surprises, and the delights. I made so many gasps and various other noises while I read this I’m sure people nearby were looking at me weird.

Other characters like Jerome and Stephen are wonderful. Jerome, in particular, is all kinds of adorable and while it took some time to warm to Rory, I loved Jerome immediately. I liked each character’s quirky nature and that they brought their own strengths to any situation. There is a wonderful sense of UK boarding school culture as well as a nice look at the streets of London through the eyes of a newcomer as well as its citizens. You get a taste of the culture and the mystery the old city has to offer and it is easy to fall under the spell through Rory and her own fascination.

When you read this book I suggest you keep the second in the series nearby because the moment you finish that last page you will want to dive into the next book right away. It is a wonderful story and it is a ghost story like no other.

You can purchase The Name of the Star via the following

Wordery | Book Depository | Fishpond

Dymocks | Amazon USA | Author Website

Barnes and Noble | Readings | Amazon Aust

Moonstruck by Nikki Rae

Published: 30 November 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self Published
Pages: 315
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Myles Lott left this town ten years ago. He never wanted to come back unless he had to. Now he has to. Sophie Jean, the girl he was supposed to protect from monsters of his world, has finally grown up. She’s familiar with monsters, just not vampires like him. Hers are harder to defeat; they’re in her own mind. Myles has returned to protect her and nothing more, but his feelings for Sophie develop quicker than he ever could have imagined. Torn between their worlds, Myles must fight for the girl he’s loved all along without causing any more damage. Unfortunately, a past enemy has other plans.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author

I read Sunshine year ago when Rae first released it, so reading Moonstruck it was easy to see elements of Sunshine in there. But having said that, it isn’t the same story. Retelling Sunshine from the perspective of Myles has opened up the story to have new insight and allow readers to see the characters they know in a new light. With this rewrite Rae opens us up to Myles’ life, away from Sophie’s, but also his thoughts and emotions surrounding her to be told too.

Even when he is with Sophie, being shown his intentions and justifications adds another element. It was interesting reading the story from a new perspective; even the scenes that were familiar had a different feel about them because we were inside Myles’ head and not Sophie’s. Seeing Sophie’s life from the outside changes her character a lot. Having gotten to know her from Sunshine, it was interesting not having the full emotional thought and feelings from her, instead only seeing what Myles’ sees and what she allows him to see. Who she is alters slightly as we are shown her through new eyes. I think I would see her differently if I didn’t already know her story. It would be interesting if you read this without having read Sophie’s POV how it would read differently.

It didn’t feel like I was rereading the original story, and yet it was comfortable and familiar at the same time, with a few new surprises as we saw more of Myles’ life. What I also loved, even though it was brief, was seeing Jade and Stevie again. Since this wasn’t Sophie’s POV we don’t see the awesome sibling relationship between her and Jade, but just having them there reminded me of how much I love them. Even when the story isn’t about them I will latch onto them.

Rae has done a great job in keeping the same story structure while adding new and interesting scenes, filling in the gaps as it were when Myles is away from Sophie. Moonstruck is a story that can easily stand alone, it isn’t just a switch of POV of Sunshine, Rae makes it its own story and she does so very well.

You can purchase Moonstruck via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

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