Paranormal

Review: The Hobbymen by Tim Owens

THE HOBBYMEN by Tim Owens
Image from Tim Owens; used by permission

Title: The Hobbymen

Author: Tim Owens

Genre: Paranormal

Format: Paperback

Back Cover:

Sister Liliana has not been having the best of days. Between running away from the convent and then being thrown into a desolate prison, she has started to lose hope of having a fun Wednesday. That is until she meets two strange men with a rather peculiar hobby: Amateur Monster Biology. From ancient monsters to urban legends, Geoff and Book are out to separate truth from fairytale, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that truth may be. And as they have found, there is truth in everything.

Soon Liliana is caught in a whirlwind of adventure as they show her a side of the world she never thought existed, filled with fantastic creatures hiding in plain sight. But just as it seems her life is finally turning around, the group get a foreboding message from an unexpected, sinister source. Are the three of them in over their heads this time?

Yes…the answer is yes.

Review:

This is one of those books where I can’t put my finger on exactly why I picked it up. Maybe because it sounded like a unique concept, or maybe it just sounded a little off-the-wall and fun. Either way, when the offer landed in my inbox, I said yes.

And when I got the book, Tim Owens had doodled inside the front cover:

100_1347Which was really cute and thoughtful and just made me that much more excited to read it.

The characters were fun. There was Liliana, the failed nun with an interesting past; the research-obsessed, bookish Book; and the hyper-optimistic, gregarious Geoff. At first, the characters seemed like they were going to be pretty flat – but as the book continued, there was a pleasantly surprising amount of development and back story.

The mythology was a little wonky. I expected a combination of mythology from different lore, considering the finiding-the-truths-behind-legends research of the Hobbymen. What I didn’t expect was the biblical stuff. (I think the idea of behemoth  from Job 40:15-24 was wrong, but that’s my personal interpretation.) I thought the idea of the evil deities/forces of other religions being Satan by different names was an interesting concept – and perhaps not wrong. Anyway, that’s definitely something worth further consideration.

The basic plot was pretty much laid out for you on the back cover. But there were so many other little things. A huge part of it is Liliana trying to come to terms with her past. And another is goofy Geoff and serious Book’s relationship. And another is Liliana trying to get used to the Hobbymen’s everyday craziness. Despite the deadly threat hanging over their heads, the entire book was just … fun.

This was clearly a self-published book – the formatting was a little wonky and it was in need of a good copy editor. The missing commas drove me crazy. But they weren’t extremely glaring errors, and it only detracted a little from my enjoyment of the book.

The Hobbymen had its faults (the poor-punctuation-hating part of me wished it had been copy edited better and a few of the jokes fell a little flat), but it also had a lot of things going for it. It was lighthearted and fun, had surprisingly great characters, and was even thought-provoking in spots. I would definitely recommend it.

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.
THE HOBBYMEN scored a 4.0 (A)

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Hobbymen from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

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Did Not Finish, Paranormal

Did Not Finish: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Paranormal

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself. One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.

Read to: Page 362 (chapter 51)

Reason for stopping: Lost interest

Review:

This may be the most abrupt turnaround in my opinion in reading history. If you remember (and if you don’t, click here), I loved the first book, The Raven Boys. So much that I went so far to call it my favorite book – and I don’t have favorite books.

It’s really strange – while I was reading The Dream Thieves, I was interested in the story. But at one point, I put it down and then realized I wasn’t super thrilled about picking it back up again. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the story, but it wasn’t begging me to read on. And if I hadn’t recently decided to make some changes to my reading habits, I probably would have finished it.

But anyway.

Ronan, I think, was the main character. I really enjoyed him in The Raven Boys, where he was important, but not majorly important, if that makes sense. He’s a dark, broken guy fighting a lot of demons (sometimes more literally than others). But I think he made a better slightly-less-main character. As the main character, his inner darkness was a little too much for me.

One of the hopes I had for this book was that Blue would get to be a more important character. But that really hadn’t happened by the time I put The Dream Thieves down. It still felt like her main purpose of the story was to add a threat to Gainsey’s life (if she kisses her true love, he’ll die) and to give the raven boys a connection to her psychic family.

Gainsey was my absolute favorite character last book. He was the quirkiest character, and probably not exactly sane, but he had a deep love for his friends and I loved him. I still loved him in The Dream Thieves, but he didn’t get as much page time as he did last book, and that disappointed me.

I liked Adam last book, but he got on my nerves this time around. He was bitter, angry, far too proud, and did something hugely important at the end of The Raven Boys that was messing up his head (I don’t even remember what, which kind of hampered my understanding of some parts). Sometimes he seemed so “woe is me” that I just wanted to scream at him, “get over yourself! You have friends who would be there for you if you opened your eyes and saw that!”

Yeah, plot … it’s actually really similar to The Raven Boys. All these characters want to find Glendower – and this time, somebody is opposing them for unknown reasons. But the characters themselves and their interactions with each other were the main plot. This is exactly what I loved about The Raven Boys, but since I didn’t love the characters as much in The Dream Thieves, it didn’t work as well.

I had two main problems with this book. One was language – Ronan swears a lot. This fits his character really well, but as a matter of personal opinion, I don’t like swearing. The other issue was with Blue’s psychic family. I’m all for psychic powers, but Blue’s family uses tarot cards, scrying pools, and other occult-ish feeling rituals and habits.

This is one of those weird sort of books to review.  It’s not like I hated it, or even that it didn’t hold my interest. It just wasn’t fascinating. And I think a lot of the reason I didn’t like it is I’ve changed. If I’d have read it in quick succession with The Raven Boys, I would probably be singing its praises right now.

So if you loved The Raven Boys, I’m sure you’ll love this one just as much. It just wasn’t the book for me.

The Raven Cycle:

  1. The Raven Boys
  2. The Dream Thieves
  3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (October 21, 2014)
  4. Untitled (2015)

Report Card

For more on my grading system, click here.

THE DREAM THIEVES scored a 2.9 (C)

What Dreams May Come
Paranormal Romance, Romance

Review: What Dreams May Come by Beth Honeycutt

What Dreams May Come
Image from Beth Honeycutt; used by permission

Title: What Dreams May Come (In Dreams #1)

Author: Beth M. Honeycutt

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Reality is overrated. Or so Ellie Cross has always believed.

Ellie is ordinary and invisible – the kind of girl who would loan her lunch money to anyone, but not the kind of girl to get noticed. Well, except by her nagging mom and the class bully. But Ellie has someone she can turn to whenever she has a problem. Though some might call him an imaginary friend, since they’ve never actually met outside of dreams.

And, sure, Ellie knows it’s kinda weird to have a friend no one else can see. But since he isn’t real, she can tell Gabe anything without ever worrying that he’ll ditch her for someone cooler or blab her secrets. And so what if she happens to have an itsy-bitsy crush on her reality-challenged friend? Who’s it hurting, really?

But things are about to get complicated, because there’s a new guy in school. A guy with hauntingly familiar eyes. A guy who knows things about Ellie that he shouldn’t have any way of knowing…

If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you know I am really not into paranormal romance. So what convinced me to pick this up? Pretty much the first line of that description. Because honestly, half the time I think reality’s overrated. I’d rather read a book.

I liked Ellie. She’s one of those shy sweet girls who’s awesome once you get to know her, but it takes a little effort to get to know her. And I can totally relate to her liking something better than reality – dreams for Ellie, fiction for me, but it’s the same principle.

The only thing that bothered me about her was her lack of spine. I get it that not everybody is like me. But I’m the kind of person where if somebody called me fat, I’d say something like “It’s called curvy, and I’m rocking it!” So Ellie’s ignore-them-and-try-not-to-cry strategy annoyed me. But I’m positive there are plenty of bullied girls out there who can totally relate to her.

Gabe was almost too perfect. He was sweet and strong, amazingly caring, attentive, and a great listener. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him and really wish I can find a guy like him. He just seemed almost too good to be true.

I tried about five different ways to condense things happening in this book to one sentence, but they all make it sound boring. The story is Ellie trying to figure out if new-kid Gabriel is the same person as dream-kid Gabe. But there’s so much more than that. It’s a mixture of her desire for love and her struggle to realize she’s actually worth loving.

I went through a lot of the shyness and self-image issues Ellie went through when I was in junior high. Reading it now, I enjoyed it because I remembered the struggles. If I’d read this in junior high, it would have blown me away.

And bonus: the romance is extremely sweet and completely clean.

What Dreams May Come is actually first in a series, but I think the ending was actually a pretty solid wrap-up. It’s one of those books where if you’re looking for a stand-alone, this one will work, but if you desperately want more of these characters, there’s more on the way. I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series, but I certainly don’t regret this read.

I received a free review copy of What Dreams May Come from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The In Dreams series

  1. What Dreams May Come
  2. Where Nightmares Walk

Report Card

For more on my grading system, please see my About page.

WHAT DREAMS MAY COME scored a 4.0 (A)

Paranormal

Review: Eleanor by Johnny Worthen

Eleanor book cover
Image used by permission

Title: Eleanor (The Unseen #1)

Author: Johnny Worthen

Genre: Paranormal

It was a gamble for Eleanor to rejoin humanity but she was driven to it. She’d been too successful forgetting. The last vestiges of her original family hung by a thread in her transformed brain and drove her to be reckless.

Ten years later Eleanor hides in plain sight. An average girl getting average grades in a small Wyoming town; poor but happy, lonely but loved. Her mother, Tabitha, is there for her and that’s all she’s ever needed. But now her mother is sick and David has returned. The only friend she’d ever had, the only other person who knows her secret, is back. And Eleanor again becomes reckless.

Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.

This is one of those where I liked the concept (skinwalkers of Native American mythology), but it didn’t sound great enough to drop everything and read it. So it took me a while to get around to it. I actually think that was good for my reading experience, though, because I’d forgotten all about what the concept was, so it was a whole lot of fun to wonder what exactly made Eleanor so strange.

Eleanor was interesting, and my opinion of her changed throughout the entire book. At first she was a weird loner girl. Then a weird loner girl with something else really strange and not normal about her. Then towards the end, it was like Eleanor was not really a person, but more like a fluid concept that could be anything. Size, age, gender…nothing was set in stone. It was really strange, and really different. I loved it.

David was the new boy in school that I expected in a paranormal romance – but in a totally different way. He and Eleanor were friends a while ago, then he comes back. He was friendly and sweet, but he had struggles of his own that he wasn’t really interested in sharing. I enjoyed him, but the enigma of Eleanor overshadowed him a lot.

I absolutely loved the plot (probably because I forgot the back cover before reading). It was half contemporary, with Eleanor navigating school and bullies and David and her adoptive mother dying of cancer, and half paranormal, with Eleanor doing strange things and abnormal things happening. Up until almost the end I was frantically trying to figure out what happened next and failing. It was like one great big fascinating riddle, but the last clue was at the end of the story. I was enthralled the whole way through.

So, the skinwalker/shapeshifter idea – not original, and it isn’t always that great. Eleanor‘s take on the idea – different, original, well-executed…and fabulous. It was still a paranormal thing, but there were some sciency details that made it amazingly believable. And yeah, romance is a huge part of it, but it’s nothing like a standard paranormal romance. It’s more about loving someone for who they are than an actual romance-romance.

My advice: buy this book. Let it sit on a shelf for a week or a month or however long it takes you to forget about this review. Then read it without looking at the back cover. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I received a free review copy of Eleanor from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Unseen series:

  1. Eleanor
  2. Celeste (2015)
  3. David (2015)
Paranormal

Review: Goldilocks by Patria L. Dunn

Goldilocks book cover
Image from Patria Dunn; used b permission

Title: Goldilocks

Author: Patria L. Dunn

Genre: Paranormal

At seventeen years old, Hannah Adler has already lost her mother to a brutal murder, and her father to a job that keeps him away more often than not. Then she is uprooted from the city and only home she’s ever known and deposited in the gold rich mountains of Hinsdale, Colorado. Never one to make friends easily, the only thing that keeps Hannah grounded is her star quality cross country talent. While running through the woods behind the cabin gives her solace, Hannah quickly discovers that this seemingly enchanted forest is hiding something that no one is willing to talk about. Being eaten by one of the many mutant wolves is the least of her worries. When Hannah stumbles upon a hidden cave deep in the woods, the bear that saves her life only adds more mystery to the sable eyed Jake. But there is something that Jake isn’t telling her, and Hannah is determined to find out what.  What begins as a simple curiosity will lead her into a legacy that no one will soon forget.

I love retellings, especially updated/modern ones or ones with a twist. So when an offer for a paranormal retelling of Goldilocks showed up in my inbox, I said, “I’ll read that.”

Hannah was okay. Strangely enough, I liked her better at the beginning than at the end (likely for reasons I’ll talk about in a minute). I liked her for the most part, but I was a little disappointed when she gave up cross country. Silly, I know, but she was so good at it!

Jake was also okay. He was sweet and gentle and protective. Mostly, though, he was a vulnerable teenager in a deadly world wanting to prove he can make his own decisions. I liked him more than Hannah, but only a little. My biggest problems with him came from the romance.

The romance between Hannah and Jake bugged me a bit. Sometimes it was fun and sweet and I loved it. And other times it was annoyingly insta-lovey. That was actually important to the plot, so I can’t fuss about it being there, but I think it could have been handled better.

Yeah, the plot – fabulous Goldilocks update! There’s three bears, and Goldilocks sneaks into their house…and that’s about where the similarities end. No problems with porridge here. These bears are protecting the world from the evil wolves, while the mine Hannah’s dad works for is inadvertently helping the wolves. It was all fascinating and I loved the mythology that went with it.

This is one of those books where I can’t even say, “this needs changed.” My problems with the writing and the plot are hard to pinpoint. It was close, very close, but not quite there.

Overall, Goldilocks was a good read. Not fabulous or even great, but good. It was a nice, unique update to the standard Goldilocks story. I think it just needed a little more work before publication.

I received a free review copy of Goldilocks from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Review: Dark Destiny Part 2 by Oscar Cavazos

Dark Destiny Part 2 book review
Image from Oscar Cavazos; used by permission

Title: Dark Destiny Part 2

Author: Oscar Cavazos

Genre: Paranormal

WARNING: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read Dark Destiny Part 1, I recommend not reading this review.

After tragedy shattered his perfect life, Sebastian found himself with powers over life and death, powers he couldn’t even begin to understand. Reeling from the loss of his first love, Sebastian took matters into his own hands and did something forbidden. Now, still ignorant to many of his true abilities, he’s hunted by the forces of good and evil and must struggle to understand the difference between them. As he searches the broken world of Purgatorium to find his love, will the ripples of his actions come to haunt him? Will he accept what’s truly at stake, or will he sacrifice everything to save her?

After enjoying Dark Destiny Part 1 so much, I was excited to get my hands on part 2. When Oscar Cavazos offered me the chance to beta read, I happily said yes. And after I tore it apart, he sent me back this fabulously improved review copy. Beta draft was good – the final is awesome.

Once again, I liked Sebastian, but he wasn’t exactly a jump-off-the-page kind of character. I think that’s because Reaper-dom is taking all of his time and attention and I don’t know hardly anything about his life before. He was very stubborn, sometimes hotheaded, and didn’t always wait for all the facts before jumping to a decision. I really think I’ll love him as I get to know him better in future books.

I feel like I should mention some other characters, but there really aren’t that many to mention. Jared played a small part (which I have a feeling may get bigger in the next installments), Sara was important, but she herself didn’t play a huge part. Other than that, most of the characters are more minor (although I’m positive Mr. Thompson is going to be huge next book).

For those (like me) who didn’t have time to reread part 1 before diving into this installment, there was a very handy “Previously on Dark Destiny” section that helped me to recall the details I forgot in the interim.

The plot of part 2 is basically a continuation of part 1, only with more questions raised, more weird stuff happening, and much more danger. Fights, what passes for politics in Purgatorium, evil Shades and everybody after Sara…for reasons that aren’t exactly explained. I want to keep reading because I still have so many questions!

Once again, I absolutely loved the mythology. There were angels in this one! And not only were the angels there, there was a glorious Reaper-vs-angels fight with scythes, swords, throwing each other through buildings and even the temporary destruction of Purgatorium.

I really wish these books were all one volume, because I just want to keep going. But I guess I’ll have to settle for highly anticipating part 3.

I received a free review copy of Dark Destiny Part 2 from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived book cover
Image from Read & Riot

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: Paranormal, maybe?

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop to the Archive when she was 12 years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with keeping the often violent Histories – the life stories of dead people – from waking up and getting out. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

I liked the idea of this book – a library that stored dead people instead of books – but I’d passed it up in the library before because of my crazy schedule and a backlog of other books to read. But I finally got around to it when I started looking for vacation reads.

I enjoyed Mackenzie. She could fight and sneak around and was a dang good liar. But she felt bad about it (sometimes), and had a whole heck of a lot of emotions to deal with. The most surprising (and the best) part about her was that besides the Archive, she was oddly normal.

Wesley, Mac’s friend who always seems to be hanging out around her apartment building, was fun and very unique. (The guy wears eyeliner, for goodness sakes.) But despite his distinctly Goth appearance, he was really enjoyable. And dang, did he have a great sense of humor!

I think the back cover gave away way too much. It wasn’t until about the one-third mark that sabotage comes up. The first part was me getting acclimated to Mac’s world (both her home life and the Archive, which I don’t think I ever figured out all of) and Mac being confused by a bunch of weird things happening with escaped Histories. It was original and brilliant and I didn’t want the book to end.

At about the halfway point, I had the saboteur narrowed down to two. I hadn’t even considered who really did it. So the ending caught me completely by surprise – and then I realized I should have seen all the clues.

I absolutely loved the Archive. It was like a cross between a library and a crypt, but full of secrets and dangerous stuff. It’s a library where the books can wake up and kill you. Plus the books are really the memories of dead people. It’s really creepy and really awesome at the same time.

Maybe it’s because I read this right after the unremarkable Teardrop, but The Archived seemed brilliant and fascinating and utterly unique. It’s definitely the most unique concept I’ve come across in a while.

I’m not sure a sequel would be the greatest thing (The Archived wrapped up solidly, plus there’s the drag-a-good-book-on-too-long risk), but if Victoria Schwab did happen to write one, I’d be interested.

UPDATE: There is a sequel, The Unbound, coming out in January 2014.

The Archive series:

  1. The Archived
  2. The Unbound (January 2014)
Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Review: Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Teardrop book cover
Image from Lauren Kate

Title: Teardrop (Teardrop #1)

Author: Lauren Kate

Genre: Paranormal

Released: October 22, 2013

Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux’s mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale boy who seems to know things he shouldn’t, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before. But Ander doesn’t know Eureka’s darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined.

I actually hadn’t planned on reading this book. I wasn’t interested in Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, and I honestly didn’t think Teardrop looked that great. But it came in an ARC bundle with Steelheart and The Eye of Minds, and since I wanted those two, I figured what the heck.

I didn’t particularly like Eureka (or her name, but that’s beside the point). Sometimes I could relate to her, and sometimes I felt bad for her, but most of the time I wanted her to stop throwing a pity party for herself. Okay, her mom’s dead and her stepmom’s a brat, I get it. Grieving is dramatic – pity parties are melodramatic. One makes great characters, the other makes me want to slap them.

Ander had the YA Paranormal Male Lead thing down. Mysterious, sweet, knows more than he’s telling and really loves the female lead. I didn’t hate him, and he wasn’t annoying, but I feel like you could plop him in just about any paranormal and he’d fit right in.

Me being the plot psychic that I am, I had the basic ideas of the ending figured out about halfway through. Half of it was waiting for Eureka to get with the picture, and half of it was watching little details iron themselves out. Like a standard paranormal, the plot was main-character-tries-to-figure-out-what’s-going-on, with a heaping dollop of love triangle mixed in for good measure.

Atlantis isn’t a common mythology in YA paranormal, so I was hoping that might turn out to be interesting. But there really wasn’t that much mythology in the book. The mythology didn’t figure much into Eureka’s life, and based on the explanation at the end (the part where what’s happening gets explained for all the normal people that don’t guess the ending by page 75), I don’t think it’ll factor much into the rest of the series, either.

Teardrop reminded me of two things – one, why I don’t like mainstream paranormals, and two, why I’ve never been interested in Lauren Kate’s books. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was thoroughly unremarkable.

I recieved a free ARC of Teardrop from the publisher. Their generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Teardrop series:

  1. Teardrop
  2. Book two, which doesn’t seem to exist online yet
Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Review: Uninvited by Kevin Richey

Uninvited book cover
Image from Kevin Richey; used by permission

Title: Uninvited (Unloved Ones prequel #2)

Author: Kevin Richey

Genre: Paranormal

After her boyfriend dumps her, perfectionist and overachiever Jacqueline White obsessively compares herself to his new girlfriend, the sloppy and irresponsible Becka. But when she wakes up in Becka’s body to find they have switched places, she has a choice to make—should she take this opportunity to destroy her opponent’s life from the inside-out? Or should she instead find a way to keep this new body, and her old boyfriend, for herself?

After the awesomeness of Unpretty (or, more accurately, the awesomeness of Katherine in Unpretty), I was really looking forward to reading Uninvited. I knew it followed a completely different character, but I really didn’t care, because Kevin Richey can write.

I loved Jackie. I could relate to her desire to be smart and do her best in school and be perfect. And I really wanted her to learn the lesson I’ve learned – perfection is boring to everybody else. I didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Katherine – perhaps because Jackie’s issue is one I’ve conquered, while I’m still struggling with Katherine’s – but I still loved her.

The plot is pretty straightforward – Jackie’s boyfriend dumps her, she wakes up in the body of his new girlfriend. She has to navigate the day as Becka, and decide whether or not to destroy her rival. This novella is so short, I feel like anything else I say will be a spoiler, but suffice it to say that I didn’t see the ending coming. And I totally enjoyed it.

Uninvited took me 23 minutes to read – I timed it. But for the most part, it seemed to be the perfect length, and it left a whole lot of open ends that I suspect will be tied up in the actual Unloved Ones series. The only thing I think it could have done better was show Jackie’s home life a little better. That it’s not great is mentioned in passing, but I think I would have liked her better if I’d have known more.

I didn’t love Jackie quite as much as Katherine, but I still really enjoyed Uninvited. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the third prequel, Unpopular.

I received a free review copy of Uninvited from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Unloved Ones prequels:

  1. Unpretty
  2. Uninvited
  3. Unpopular
Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink book cover
Image from Inklings

Title: Ink (Paper Gods #1)

Author: Amanda Sun

Genre: Paranormal

On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off when she enters a building. When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life. Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

I really didn’t pick this up for the romance (which seemed like it might be the main plot). I picked it up for the idea of ink coming alive – because let’s face it, that sounds really cool.

I was also hoping that reading Ink would help me get a better handle on Shadow, the Paper Gods prequel.

Katie was…”multi-dimensional” is kind of a cop-out, but no one adjective works. There was Katie-who-sucks-at-Japanese, Katie-who-misses-her-mom, Katie-who-wants-to-fit-in and stubborn Katie. Once she crossed paths with Tomohiro, she was not going to give up until she figured him out. She was interesting, enjoyable, and sweet.

Tomohiro was fantastic. He had the YA-Male-Lead dark-and-brooding thing going on, but he also had a fun, quirky side. He had secrets and a brilliantly multi-faceted personality. I loved his conversations with Katie – they never went anywhere normal, but they were completely logical and very fun to read.

I was three-quarters right – the romance is a huge part of the plot, but it’s not the entire plot. There’s questions about why certain weirder-than-normal things are happening, and a healthy amount of danger. (I don’t want to spoil anything, because most of that stuff doesn’t come in until later. The first half is Katie trying to get some answers.) But yeah, the romance is huge.

I’m not a fan of sappy, mushy romances, insta-love, or anything erotic, so I was pleasantly surprised by Katie and Tomohiro’s romance. It was light and sweet – more witty-banter-over-ice-cream than anything. There were plenty of awkward moments and a healthy dose of fun, plus those weird things and danger I mentioned. (I’m beginning to think that if I could find more romances like this, I wouldn’t be so opposed to romance novels.)

The setting isn’t my absolute favorite part of the story, but it comes close. It’s exotic in that I know very little about modern Japan, and it’s so realistic. Even little details like slippers makes it seem so real. I want to visit Japan now.

Ink was great. Fun characters, amazing plot, surprisingly good romance…and so many unanswered questions at the end! I can’t believe I have to wait until March to read the next book, Rain.

The Paper Gods series:

Shadow (prequel novella)

  1. Ink
  2. Rain (March 2014)
  3. Currently untitled