Review: Chasing Ghosts by Marc Hartzman

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural
Author: Marc Hartzman
Genre: Nonfiction/Paranormal
Audience: Adult/All Ages
Format: Paperback
Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Source: Publisher
Recommended for fans of: ghost stories and paranormal podcasts

SYNOPSIS

Take a spirited tour through the supernatural history of America, from its haunted sites to its famous ghosts to its ghost-obsessed pop culture.

Ghosts are everywhere—whether you believe in them or not. Every town has its local legends, and countless books, movies, and TV shows are haunted by their presence. But our obsession with ghosts runs deeper than we know—and is embedded in the very fabric of American history.

Writer and historian Marc Hartzman dons the mantle of tour guide, taking readers on a fascinating journey through supernatural history, including:

• The Fox Sisters and the rise of Spiritualism
• The supernatural obsessions of famous figures like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
• Famous haunted sites like the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and the LaLaurie House in New Orleans
• Famous ghosts like the Bell Witch of Tennessee and the Greenbrier Ghost of West Virginia
• Paranormal investigators like Ed and Lorraine Warren

Deeply researched and highly entertaining, with archival images and black and white illustrations, Chasing Ghosts will satisfy believers and skeptics alike.

MY THOUGHTS

This is a really fun book for anyone interested in ghosts, real or fictional. It includes full-color photographs, illustrations, newspaper clippings, and other artifacts. It is divided into four sections: ancient & historical beliefs, Spiritualism, famous hauntings, and modern ghost investigations.

I was most fascinated by the first section, comparing different cultural beliefs about ghosts. The Spiritualism section definitely dragged, and I wish some of those pages had been devoted to other sections. I had already heard all the famous hauntings included on various paranormal podcasts, but this has a nice collection of tales all in one place. The last section about the science and technology of paranormal investigations was truly fascinating, showing how different natural phenomena can explain some paranormal encounters, but there is no one size fits all explanation.

This is the kind of book you can easily skip around and just read the parts that interest you.

Thank you to the publisher for the gifted finished copy.

Review: Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: Break Your Glass Slippers
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: You Are Your Own Fairy Tale #1
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: child abuse, toxic relationships, sexual harassment, eating disorders, fatphobia, suicide, trauma

SYNOPSIS

more forgetting time.
more midnight dances with yourself
.”

amanda lovelace, the bestselling & award-winning author of the “women are some kind of magic” poetry series, presents a new companion series, “you are your own fairy tale” the first installment, break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don’t see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. in the epic tale of your life, you are the most important character while everyone is but a forgotten footnote. even the prince.

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoy poetry inspired by fairy tales, and I liked how Amanda Lovelace used personal experiences to retell Cinderella. I also appreciated the powder blue illustrations that enhanced some of the poems.

However, the format of “fairy godmother says” didn’t work for me. It felt too much like explaining to the reader how they should interpret the previous poems with generic platitudes like I see on motivational Instagram posts.

Review: Shine Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆.5
Title: Shine Your Icy Crown
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: You Are Your Own Fairy Tale #2
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release Date: March 16, 2021
Source: Personal collection
Content Warnings: child abuse, toxic relationships, sexual assault, eating disorders, mental illness, self-harm, sexism, suicide, trauma

SYNOPSIS

“Make them rue the day they underestimated you.”

This is a story about not letting society dictate the limits of your potential. it’s time to take back your power & realize that you don’t need a king in order to be a queen.

MY THOUGHTS

This is my least favorite collection I’ve read from this author so far. It features the same format I disliked in the first book in this series (this time it’s “big sister says”); however, while the previous book modernizes Cinderella, this one draws inspiration from a variety of tales “to be an entirely new fairy tale of its own,” but that just made it feel more vague to me. In general, Amanda Lovelace’s poems are inconsistent in quality. There were some poems that really spoke to me, but I thought most of these in particular lacked true depth and creative use of language.

Review: Evershore by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Evershore
Author: Brandon Sanderson, Janci Patterson
Series: Skyward #3.1
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Length: 7 hours (234 pages)
Publisher: Delacorte Press; Audible Studios
Release Date: December 28, 2021
Source: Audible subscription
Recommended for fans of: Skyward
Content Warnings: death of parent

SYNOPSIS

From #1 bestselling author Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson comes the final of three Skyward series novellas, each told from the perspective of a different member of the team back on Detritus. Listen to Jorgen’s story along with Cytonic.

With the government of Detritus in disarray because of Superiority treachery, and with Spensa still away on her mission in the Nowhere, Jorgen must work together with the alien Alanik to pick up the pieces. They intercept a strange transmission from the planet Evershore and its Kitsen inhabitants, who say they have some of Jorgen’s people and want to return them—but can the Kitsen be trusted? And can Jorgen learn to master his increasingly erratic cytonic powers before they spiral out of control and destroy all hope of forming an alliance against the Superiority?

MY THOUGHTS

FINALLY JORGEN GETS HIS MOMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT! I absolutely loved getting his perspective on the war against the Superiority, cytonic powers, and of course Spensa! Like the other Skyward novellas, this is full of action, plot, and important discoveries. I got so spoiled binging this entire series, I don’t know how I can wait for book 4!

Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Obsidio
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 618 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: The Aurora Cycle
Content Warnings: death, gore, gun violence, war, genocide, child death, death of a parent, abuse

SYNOPSIS

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

From bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes the exciting finale in the trilogy that broke the mold and has been called “stylistically mesmerizing” and “out-of-this-world-awesome.”

MY THOUGHTS

Such an epic conclusion to this series! Obsidio introduces a new couple to follow IN ADDITION to the previous protagonists we know and love, who are part of the story from the beginning. It was great seeing everything come together. This was so suspenseful and emotional. It had the series’ trademark humor, creativity, fast pace, high stakes, twists and turns. The previous books had a bit of a build, but this was almost nonstop action. I grew to really love these characters, but this is the kind of series where no one is safe. Absolutely worth the read!

Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Length: 659 pages
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Personal collection
Recommended for fans of: science-y science fiction, epistolary novels
Content Warnings: death, violence, gore, guns, drug use, animal death, death of a parent, body horror

SYNOPSIS

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

MY THOUGHTS

This series is so entertaining, and I am in awe of how much time it must have taken to plan this epistolary novel, comprised of documents, message conversations, journal entries, illustrations, surveillance footage, etc. Don’t be intimidated by the size of these books! The unique writing style makes for very fast reads.

I didn’t immediately love the new characters, but they definitely grew on me once the action kicked in and these seemingly regular teens had to rise to the occasion in a life-or-death situation.

This is fast-paced, full of action, humor, and sarcasm. The violence is a bit gory. There are some light horror elements, and it gets very science-y compared to other YA sci-fi towards the end (a twist I absolutely LOVED and totally blew my mind).

Review: Revenge Body by Rachel Wiley

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Revenge Body
Author: Rachel Wiley
Genre: Poetry
Audience: Adult
Format: eARC
Length: 72 pages
Publisher: Button Poetry
Release Date: January 18, 2022
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Content Warnings:

SYNOPSIS

Revenge Body is a poetry collection that explores anger (righteous and not), black identity, body image, loss, want, and mental health.

MY THOUGHTS

In this poetry collection, the author explores personal experiences relating to body image and fat shaming, race and being biracial, queer relationships, mental health, her relationship with her estranged mother, and other deeply personal topics.

I appreciated the openness and honesty revealed through these poems, as well as the creative use of language and poetic devices that many popular contemporary poets lack. Some poems also featured creative graphical arrangement of lines on the page, which further enhanced the reading experience.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC.

Review: The Singles Table by Sara Desai

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: The Singles Table
Author: Sara Desai
Series: The Marriage Game #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Length: 11 hours (322 pages)
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 16, 2021
Source: Library
Content Warnings: panic attacks, car accident

SYNOPSIS

Opposites attract in this romantic comedy about a free-spirited lawyer who is determined to find the perfect match for the grumpy bachelor at her friend’s wedding

After a devastating break-up, celebrity-obsessed lawyer Zara Patel is determined never to open her heart again. She puts her energy into building her career and helping her friends find romance through the wedding season. She’s never faced a guest at the singles table she couldn’t match, until she crosses paths with the sinfully sexy Jay Donovan.

Former military security specialist Jay has no time for love. His life is about working hard, staying focused, and winning at all costs. When charismatic Zara crashes into his life, he’s thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of chaos he wants to avoid. Worse, they’re stuck together for the entire wedding season.

So they make a deal. She’ll find his special someone if he introduces her to his celebrity clients. But when their arrangement brings them together in ways they never expected, they realize that the perfect match might just be their own.

MY THOUGHTS

I love how Sara Desai displays different sides of Indian culture and families in each book in this series. They are all very fun romcoms with laugh out loud moments, serious topics, emotional relationships, and plenty of steam.

I love how Zara is so unapologetically herself. She and Jay have such great chemistry and angst with their enemies-to-lovers, grumpy sunshine vibes.

However, sometimes the hijinks crossed a bit too far to the wrong side of ridiculous, and by the end I was tired of all the predictable romcom beats.

Review: The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: The Marriage Game
Author: Sara Desai
Series: The Marriage Game #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
Length: 12 hours (338 pages)
Publisher: Berkley; Penguin Audio
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Source: Library
Content Warnings: domestic abuse, emotional abuse, infidelity, toxic relationship, medical trauma

SYNOPSIS

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he’s forced to share his space with the owner’s beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

MY THOUGHTS

This is a very enjoyable rom com. The enemies to lovers angst is top notch, and Layla and Sam had amazing chemistry. I love how central Indian culture and family dynamics are to this story. I also appreciate how this rom com doesn’t shy away from serious topics like medical trauma and domestic abuse.

My biggest complaint is that sometimes the comedy seemed *too* over the top. Most of the blind dates and “villains” in the story had all the depth of a cartoon character… I kept waiting for Sam’s business partner to start twirling his mustache. I also thought the ending dragged a bit.

I didn’t like this as much as The Dating Plan, but I had fun listening to this audiobook!

Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Trevor Noah
Length: 9 hours (289 pages)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Source: Audible subscription
Content Warnings: domestic abuse, racism, gun violence, alcoholism, animal cruelty and death

SYNOPSIS

The memoir of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

MY THOUGHTS

I knew this would not be a typical celebrity memoir, but WOW. I did not expect to feel so utterly horrified, yet hilariously entertained, and ultimately learn so much. Trevor Noah describes his experiences growing up in South Africa during and after apartheid. Noah faced unique challenges as a mixed-race kid raised by a Black family because he did not neatly fit into the racially divided society. His mother was a strong, complicated, ahead-of-her-time woman.

I need to read more books like this, that help me understand cultures, societies, and family dynamics that are so different from my own experiences. My only complaint is that the timeline jumped around a lot, so I’m quite clear on the overall sequence of events in Trevor Noah’s life. I also would’ve liked to know more about how he got into a comedy career (it was barely touched upon).

Highly recommend the audiobook if you have Audible!

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started