Review for Starter House by Sonja Condit

starter house

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author:  Sonja Condit
Title: Starter House

Genre:  Paranormal

Background:

Amazon Description:
Promising talent Sonja Condit makes her debut with Starter House, an eerie and mesmerizing tale about a young couple whose new house holds deadly secrets from the past, sure to appeal to fans of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale.

From the moment Lacey sees the house with the beautiful wood staircase, she knows she’s found her dream home. Growing up rootless with her flighty mother, Ella Dane, a self-proclaimed psychic, Lacey is determined to give her unborn baby the stability she never had.

But shortly after she and her husband, Eric, move in, the warm and welcoming house becomes cold and dark. There is something malevolent within these walls that wants to hurt her unborn child—a terrifying presence that only she can sense. And there is Drew, a demanding and temperamental little boy who mysteriously appears when Lacey is alone.

To protect her unborn child and save her family, Lacy must discover the truth about her dream house and the troubled Drew—a decades-old mystery involving secrets, violence, and guilt—and confront an evil that has lingered in wait for years.

Opinions:

My Short Summary:
Lacey and her husband, Eric, are on hunt for a new house. With a baby on the way, Lacey can’t wait to have a place to call her own and prepare for the baby. Lacey falls in love with a certain house. Although warned not to take the house by the realtor, they buy it anyway. Lacey right away sees a little boy, Drew, around the house and around the property. She soon learns that he is a ghost and can go from being sweet to an angry child in a split second. Learning that the house has a history of murders and deaths, especially with babies and children, Lacey soon regrets moving into this “perfect” house. Unfortunately, Eric doesn’t believe in such things and is very adamant about staying there. “They can’t afford a new home.” Things start to go wrong and the marriage becomes strained. Can Lacey keep her marriage and baby while living in this house? Can she find out why Drew is stuck there, and why there are so many deaths?

 

Narration: The story is written in third person mainly following Lacey, although Eric and Lex (his client) share their perspectives, as well.

 

Character Development: Throughout the book, the reader becomes very familiar with Lacey’s love of children and Eric’s rational side of things. Over all, I don’t believe any of the characters really grow by the end of the novel – at least, not in a drastic way that would be expected. Perhaps it is how the book ended that makes me feel that. (I won’t go into details here because it would be a spoiler.) Other main characters in the book include: Lacey’s mother who is considered crazy with her crystals and herbs; Lex who is a client of Eric’s trying to gain custody of his daughter; Drew the little boy who haunts the house and the families that lived there; and Harry who is the neighbor who sells them the house and who is related to the hauntings.

 

Plot Development/Flow:
The story is what I would call slightly spooky, not a gory horror novel. The book centers on the mystery of the past murders and how they might be related today. It also focuses on trying to find out who Drew is and how he plays a part in everything that happens. The ending could have used a few more pages to at least to wrap up everything that happened. I didn’t really see the characters’ reactions to the climax which is what I was expecting. Everything fell neatly into place without any problems.

 

Standalone or Part of a Series:
This is a standalone novel.

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Review for Desperately Seeking Heaven by Jill Steeples

desperately seeking heaven

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author:  Jill Steeples
Title: Desperately Seeking Heaven

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Background:

Amazon Description:
Love always comes when you least expect it, at least that’s what PA Alice Fletcher tells herself as she looks forward to another Friday night of trash telly and wine-for-one. But what happens when the unexpected is daytime TV crush Jimmy Mack, and he’s sitting on your couch watching the news…of the accident that claimed his life? Soon, Alice finds her ordered life turned upside down by helping Jimmy right the wrongs of his life so he can cross over to the ‘other side.’ But most unexpected of all is Alice’s growing realisation that her gorgeous ghost has taken up residence in her heart as well as in her home.

Opinions:

Desperately Seeking Heaven is a story about a woman, named Alice, who stumbles upon a ghost of a famous daytime TV star, Jimmy Mack. No one else can see Jimmy but Alice, and Alice is somehow in charge of helping cross over into heaven. As Alice helps Jimmy Mack, she starts to fall in love with him. What will happen when Jimmy has to cross over? Will he cross over?

The story is written in first person following, Alice. Alice is kind of a loner, in that she doesn’t get out much. After a break up about three years ago, she has put a hold on her love life. Her only close friend is her sister who thinks she needs to go out and meet people. One day, coming home from work, she does meet someone. The only problem is that he’s dead. Jimmy Mack is popular television star – well, was. After a fatal car accident, he finds the only person that can see him is Alice. Taking up residence with her, he starts to fall in love as they try to solve the problem of why he is still on earth. Jimmy is a nice guy—chivalrous. Although not exactly sure why he is a ghost, he is making the best of the situation and having a little fun as well. I think I would have liked to see a few more characters/interactions in the story, especially when dealing with Alice’s work life, since her social life was limited.

The plot centers around Alice helping Jimmy find his way to heaven and why he didn’t move on. Jimmy is not your typical ghost but can appear solid to Alice only. He also needs eat and sleep, which is something new with ghost stories for me. He does have the ghostly ability of going to difference places within a blink of an eye.

Overall, I liked the book. If you like romantic ghost stories, then you might want to give this book a try.

 

Review for Forevermore by Cindy Miles

forevermore

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Cindy Miles
Title: Forevermore

Genre:  Young Adult/Paranormal

Background:

Amazon Description:
On a misty cliffside, mystery and romance await. . . .

Ivy Calhoun’s life has been turned upside down. Her new stepdad has uprooted Ivy and her mom, bringing them to live in an actual castle in the misty Scottish countryside. There are stone-faced servants and shadowy corridors, and the ancient walls seem full of secrets. Ivy is at once frightened and intrigued.

Especially when she meets Logan, a gorgeous, elusive ghost who has haunted the castle grounds for decades. Ivy is immediately drawn to him . . . but Logan is not the only spirit around. Something dark and deadly is afoot, and soon Ivy finds herself in mortal danger.

Is Logan exactly what he seems? Could his mysterious past be tied to Ivy’s present? And can Ivy stop herself from falling in love with him?

 Opinions:

Forevermore is a young adult book about a young sixteen year old girl, Ivy, who moves to Scotland with her mom and step-dad (who is a laird.) She gets to live in a castle that ends up being haunted. There is an evil spirit, but also a good spirit, Logan, who wonders the grounds. Logan is a ghost from 200 years ago whom Ivy befriends and falls in love with. Together they try to solve Logan’s death to free him from his ghostly fate, all the while battling with an evil spirit in the house.  The story is written in a sweet, clean matter, which might appeal to younger teens. Still, anyone who loves ghosts and Scottish settings might want to make this a light read.

The story is written in first person through Ivy’s perspective. Ivy’s dad died a little while back and since then, she has slowly withdrawn from her friends in the US. When her mom (a nurse) meets Niall (a laird from Scotland), they fall in love, marry, and move to Scotland – this is where the story begins. Ivy’s new home is different from her Carolina home. The servants are very nice, but Niall’s grandmother, Lady Elizabeth is not very welcoming. Despite Elizabeth’s cold reception, Ivy finds some good friends at school, especially with Emma who helps her with the ghost situation. Logan is an eighteen year old spirit from 200 years ago. He knows there is something evil on the grounds and tries to get Ivy to leave. Obviously, she can’t really leave, so they work together to try to solve the evil spirit and how he died.

One thing I liked about the story is the Scottish brogue in the dialogue (with explanations for newbies reading such things.) I love reading Scottish accents, so this was a plus in a young adult novel that I wasn’t expecting. The story was interesting. Although I have read similar ideas of a young girl falling for a ghost, I liked the Scottish setting. (Yes, I am a sucker for Scotland.) I am an adult reading a young adult book – which I like to do as light reading. If I were reading the book as a younger version of myself, I would have given it 5 stars. All loose ends are tied up by the ends. I would have liked to see a little more time spent on the explanation of how the curse was placed in the book, but I won’t say much more due to spoilers.

If you like young adult books and ghosts with a nice clean storyline, then you should try this book.

 

Review for Rebel Spirit by Lois Ruby

Reb Sp

My Rating: 4/5

Author: Lois Ruby
Title: Rebel Spirit

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

Background:

Amazon Description:
Haunted by history. Bound by mystery.

Lori Chase doesn’t know what to think about ghosts. She may have seen a few in the past, but those were just childish imaginings . . . right? Only now that she is living in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, spirits seem to be on everyone’s mind. The town is obsessed with its bloody Civil War history, and the old inn that Lori’s parent run is supposedly haunted by the souls of dead soldiers.

Then Lori meets one such soldier — the devastatingly handsome Nathaniel Pierce. Nathaniel’s soul cannot rest, and he desperately needs Lori’s help. Because Nathaniel was not killed in the famous battle. He was murdered. Lori begins to investigate the age-old mystery, stumbling upon shocking clues and secrets.

At the same time, she can’t help falling for Nathaniel, just as he is falling for her . . . .

Opinions:

Rebel Spirit is a young adult paranormal story about a girl, Lori, who can see ghosts. She moves to Gettysburg with her parents where she meets a ghost claiming he was murdered during the Civil War. With only a few days, Lori must find out who his murderer was while stumbling through a mystery happening at the inn now. Although reading this book as an adult, I find it enjoyable and appropriate during the 150 year anniversary of Gettysburg this summer.  For those afraid of ghost stories because they are too scary, don’t be with this one. If you like a little mystery with your stories, then try this book. The Civil War and its era is touched upon by a few stories through the characters, but not overwhelmingly educational (as in – this is not textbook writing.) I would probably have seen myself reading this book during junior high or early high school.

Characters:
The story is written in first person through the eyes of Lori. Lori and her parents move to Gettysburg because of their recently bought bed and breakfast. Lori had previous experiences with spirits but nothing as the extent she experiences in Gettysburg. Lori is a spunky girl who loves baseball, her dog, and her friends/family. She overcomes her skittishness of her abilities when she meets Nathaniel – a union soldier who was murdered during the Battle of Gettysburg. Nathaniel needs Lori to solve his murder before midnight on July 3rd. If not, he cannot come back until the next year’s battle anniversary. Although moving away from her best friend, Jocelyn, Lori meets some new friends who help her with this mystery: Charlotte, who works at her inn, can also see ghosts. Evan, who does the yard work, gets on board by providing interesting information on the war and the people at the inn. There are also some weird characters who may or may not be up to no good. I think Lori is relatable to other teenagers with her interests and attitude. One out of character moment for me was with Lori’s parents and the cemetery – near the end of the book. I won’t go in detail due to spoilers, but it went against a scene prior to that one with Lori and her parents.

Plot:
The plot moved along well and centered around discovery who Nathaniel’s murderer could be. Along this course, Lori discovers some suspicious behavior happening right then and there at the inn. Could things be connected? Will she discover the murderer before Nathaniel disappears for another year? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. All I’ll say is that there is a slight twist at the end. One thing that I would have liked to see was a little more conversation between Lori and Charlotte near the end.

The Bottom Line:
Overall I enjoyed this book. It was a nice young adult read that had ghosts, mystery, and Civil War aspects. If you like these things, then you might want to try this book.

 

Review for Dark Whispers by Krista D Ball

Dark Whispers

My Rating: 3.5/5

Author:  Krista D Ball
Title: Dark Whispers (Spirit Caller Series)

Genre:  Paranormal/Novella

Background: “A rash of teen suicides shakes the remote Newfoundland village that Rachel Mills calls home. As Rachel helps the school investigate, painful memories from her past – events she’s worked very hard to forget – resurface and won’t go back into the grave where they belong.
As if she didn’t have enough problems with her personal life!
Her beloved 93-year-old neighbor falls ill. The man Rachel’s in love with moves into her house-along with his girlfriend, the most perfect woman in creation. And a strung-out wreck of a woman claiming to be Rachel’s biological mother shows up on her doorstep.
But it isn’t until a local boy with a talent for spell work is attacked by a mysterious stranger that Rachel asks the question she’s avoided her whole life: how powerful can a Spirit Caller like herself become?”

Opinions:

This is the second novella to the Spirit Caller Series. I did not read the first book, but received this copy to be reviewed by the author. For the 117 page story, the reader follows Rachel through her trials as a spirit caller and attacks not only on her but other characters of the story.

Characters:
This novella is written in first person—through Rachel. She has the ability to talk to spirits but this ability does not function as it once did. Rachel is a complex character with a hard past. Many of these sufferings resurface.

Plot:
Although a short read, the plot centers around Rachel dealing with her past, trying to cope with her biological mother showing up out of nowhere, teenage suicides, and unrequited love. The story—although part of an ongoing series—wraps up nicely but obviously not everything is fully solved. I consider it like watching a TV series and this novella could be one episode.

The Bottom Line:
The way the story was written reminded me of a transition from young adult to adult books. The contexts have young adult themes (such as paranormal)/length and some more adult themes (the grittier side – such as the suicides and violence.) The “voice” of the story sounded geared towards young adults in its manner (sometime sarcastic and a voice that “spoke” rather than “described.”) Overall, the book kept my interest and was read within one day. If you like paranormal and a fast read you might enjoy this book.