Free Fiction Friday #176

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is:  Mystery, Thriller & Suspense!

THE FREE

fff-1fff-2fff-3fff-4fff-5fff-6fff-7fff-9fff-8fff-10

THE BARGAINS

bar-1bar-2bar-3bar-4bar-5

Free Fiction Friday #164

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is:  Romance!

THE FREE

fff-1fff-2fff-3fff-4fff-5fff-6fff-7fff-8fff-9fff-10

THE BARGAINS

bar-1bar-2bar-3bar-4bar-5

Book Review: My Viking Vampire

review-cover-my viking vampireTitle: My Viking Vampire [Sanctuary Texas 1]

Author: Krystal Shannan

Genre: Paranormal, Dystopian, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Bailey Ross’ world is crumbling around her. Her abusive ex, a human, is closing in on her again, and to make matters worse, a new enemy, a djinn, is stalking her. This supernatural being takes great pleasure in human pain, something Bailey has in excess thanks to her ex. If she’s caught by either, she’s as good as dead!

Backed into a corner and desperate to escape, she does something she swore wouldn’t ever be possible again – trusting a man. And he’s a vampire!

Protection via the sexy vampire Erick Thorson may prove to be a little more than she bargained for. Sparks fly between them and she finds herself agreeing to more than just protection. Though he has promised not to let anyone harm her, the small west Texas town is more than it seems and he may not be able to make good on his vow no matter how hard he tries!

Will Sanctuary be the home Bailey longs for or will she have to die to find out?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to give My Viking Vampire by Krystal Shannon 4 stars, and very nearly did. Other than a few small typos, the writing was flawless; easy to read, fast-paced, and to the point.

The world-building seemed thorough from the glimpses I got of it, and I liked the characters as a whole. What didn’t sit right with me, and ultimately led to my 3-star rating, was the pace of the plot and particularly the romance. The relationship between Erick and Bailey moved at light-speed. No sooner than a few minutes after they met, they were cuddling. The next day they were in a committed relationship.

I’m not buying what the author is trying to sell me here: a girl so deeply scarred by abuse isn’t going to fall in instant-love with a scary vampire that quickly, even if you try to attribute it to “fate”. It is ludicrous to expect a reader to swallow that.

Aside from the pacing, the book was entertaining, it simply felt disingenuous. If you like instant-love stories, you may enjoy this book – it is well written, but it isn’t going to be for everyone.

Book Review: Configured

review-cover-configuredTitle: Configured [Configured 1]

Author: Jenetta Penner

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

In the future love will make you a traitor.

120 years after a virus decimated earth’s population the survivors thrive in safety, away from the death and destruction of the Outerbounds. Divided into three levels of intellect, Citizens focus solely on duty.

Due to her advanced intelligence, seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is separated from her twin brother at birth and raised by adoptive parents. She gains privilege, the ideal future. He dies. Avlyn barely knows him yet remains linked to his memory.

But following a string of rebel intrusions on the city, Avlyn receives a cryptic message and begins seeing visions of her dead twin. The mysterious radical who urges Avlyn to join their fight becomes her link to answers. Freedom.

Opportunity awaits, but if she says yes will she lose it all?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Configured by Jenetta Penner. Although it was yet another dystopian in an already saturated market, there were aspects to Avlyn’s story that were very new.

As far as the technical aspects of the book are concerned, Configured was exceedingly well written. The narrative flowed well, there were no obvious technical mistakes, and I easily got sucked into the story from beginning to end.

The characters were interesting and likable. Avlyn and her love interests were, of course, my favorites—complicated would be an understatement. The romance was one of the draws of the book for me (I’m all about that romantic tension!)

Overall, it was a good, solid start to the series, and I greatly enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of Young Adult Dystopian reads, this is definitely a book you’re going to want to pick up. I honestly don’t have anything to complain about with Configured, and I can’t wait to delve further into the series!

Book Review: Aftermath

review-cover-aftermathTitle: Aftermath [After The Fall 1]

Author: Tom Lewis

Genre: Science Fiction, Apocalyptic, Alien Invasion, Young Adult

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

The end of the world came fast. Between the time the warning had sounded on the TV, till when 16-year-old Paige O’Connor awakened sometime later, civilization had been crushed.

The attacks had come by “them” – those things in the ships in the sky that had appeared suddenly, and without warning.

And as Paige would soon discover, the attacks had only been the beginning.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I tried to like this book. I did. I picked it up multiple times, read a little bit, put it down, re-read it again—but I just couldn’t get past the writing. The story itself was interesting at first look. It followed a girl, her friends, and family, as aliens invade earth and her hometown is wiped off the map. There was action, mystery, and from what I saw of the story, the characters were well fleshed out.

But all was not hugs and puppies. I had a serious problem with not only the logic of the character’s decisions but also the way the story itself was written. There was an obvious moment in the first four chapters of the book where the main character and her best friend witness an electrical surge, and the traffic lights and other electrical systems start to fail all over town…I mean, power poles fell. Then, she gets home to where her brother and his friends are having trouble getting the TV to work, and instead of mentioning that something weird is going on with the electrical grid – something that was still very fresh in her and her friend’s mind and should have stuck out as odd – she basically tells them “did you try unplugging it and plugging it back in?” I was mystified that the main character would completely skim over the fact that something was so obviously wrong and not mention it to anyone.

The writing itself, though, was my largest complaint. It started off okay. The characters were a little cliché, but nothing stood out too much. Then, I noticed moments where the author messed up the POV. The fourth wall was broken. Things that should have been said in dialogue, were stated in the narrative. Words were left out of sentences. At points, the narrative said one thing, and then the characters showed me something contradictory. Exclamation points were used in abundance! Everywhere!

It got to the point where the writing style just devolved into an overdramatic mess of exclamation points and declarations, and when I got to a sentence that read “It was punishing, pushing beyond any level of tolerance, and blasting their sanity.” I was just done.

The style of the narrative just wasn’t something I enjoyed, and though I tried to push past it and into the story, every time I picked the book back up to give it another chance, I’d run into another narrative problem that made me roll my eyes and kept me from wanting to read any further. I have no doubt that there is someone out there that will love this story… but they’re the type of person who’s going to have to be okay looking past the  inadequacies of the writing, and that’s just not something I’m able to do.

Book Review: A Conall Christmas

cover-review-a conall christmasTitle: A Conall Christmas [Morna’s Legacy 2.5]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel, Historical, Novella

Rating: 4 Stars

AmazonButtonGoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Christmas is quickly approaching, and Adelle is determined to make this Christmas the best one Conall Castle has ever seen, but loneliness haunts her. Love for her daughter sent her into the past, but she’d not expected the isolation she would feel. A former socialite and serial dater, she finds that her current age seems much older in the seventeenth century than it did in the twenty-first. She resigns herself to the fact that she will remain single for the rest of her days. At least until an unexpected visitor arrives at the castle.

Hew Moray has spent the last twenty years all alone, only leaving his isolated home once a year to pay homage to the wife he lost long ago. When a winter storm causes him to seek shelter at the castle where his sister lives, he meets the first lass since his beloved Mae to make his heart flutter in his chest once again. Will he be able to release himself from his past grief to allow another love to enter his life? If he does, will his love be returned?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m not the type that usually enjoys novellas. I tend to find them rushed, and too short to really enjoy, so when I do pick one up, it’s usually a miracle in and of itself. In this case, it’s a bigger one because I actually enjoyed the novella. I know, I was shocked too.

A Conall Christmas by Bethany Claire was well written, and even paced. I didn’t run into any typos, misplaced punctuation, improper grammar, or awkward sentence structures. The writing was fluid and clear, and the characters were both familiar from the series and endearing. I don’t often find myself reading romance fiction where the couple involved is of an older age, nor do I seek it out, but other than one small mental image I did not need, I didn’t have a problem with the romance between Adelle and Hew. The two were adorable together, and I was cheering them on throughout the story.

That being said, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little throwna by the author’s use of technology in the historical era. It seems almost too easy for things like stereo’s and batteries to be accepted openly by the cast of the Morna’s Legacy series, but I’ll let it slide, because it really was an endearing little story.

Overall, I enjoyed the novella, and it really would be a wonderful read for the holiday season—if I had actually read it during the holidays. If you’re looking for a quick read to enjoy a little closer to Christmas and you enjoy time travel romances, I suggest you pick this one up and give it a try. It has puppies.

Book Review: The Gracekeepers

review-cover-the gracekeepersTitle: The Gracekeepers

Author: Kirsty Logan

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult

Rating: 3 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

As a gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending water graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives—offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairy tales, The Gracekeeprs tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness but also joys and marvels of our own age.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
It’s hard to sum up how I feel about The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. The world building was both interesting and familiar—very similar to the lore behind Waterworld (of which I am a huge fan). The settings were eerie, unkind, and terrifying in a way because they are so familiar and yet nightmarishly different than our own reality.

The prose of this book was beautiful, and the uncut ARC copy I received through a giveaway had only a few noticeable typos—most notably a lack of space between two words here and there throughout the book. The writing was pretty flawless. Unfortunately, the pace of the book was excruciatingly slow. It’s hard to put my finger on the reason why the book just didn’t speak to me. The narrative lacked an engaging quality. The sentences, while well-structured, didn’t flow well. It seemed as if every page took twice as long to read through as the books I normally delve into.

The characters felt detached—almost robotic. There were several instances in the book where Callanish and North could have, and should have displayed some emotion… but everything seemed to roll right off of them. It didn’t matter that people were dying, birds were being starved to death, or that one of the characters was selling her body. Because the characters were so detached, I found it hard to relate to them. The story lacked the engaging quality I usually look for in books that makes me want to keep reading and never put the story down. I repeatedly set this book aside, reading half a chapter at a time until It was over.

Don’t get me wrong, the book wasn’t bad. I liked the story—I’m just not entirely sure what the story was about. I got this brief peek into these two girls lives (as well as the various other characters), but not a lot happened. There wasn’t a lot of action, romance, or drama to pull the story along. A lot of the plot was backstory and the day to day interactions between the characters. It just didn’t pull me in.

Overall, I had to give this book three stars. It was “meh”. I’m glad I finished the book, but had I stopped halfway through, I don’t think I’d have missed anything. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either… just mildly interesting in a “I have nothing better to do than pick up this book” sort of way.

Book Review: Wild Blue Yonder

cover-wildblueyonderTitle: Wild Blue Yonder [Ceruleans 3]

Author: Megan Tayte

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal

Rating: 5 Stars

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

When Scarlett Blake chose life-after-death as a Cerulean, she expected to grieve for all she left behind: her boyfriend, her best friend, her mother, her home. But at least Cerulea, her heaven, would be… well, heavenly. Right?

Wrong.

The world in which Scarlett awakens is very far from her idea of a utopia. Picturesque, sure, and serene. But there can be no paradise within the unforgiving walls of a prison, be they of cold, hard stone or beautifully blue water.
Now Scarlett faces her hardest decision yet: be a good, dutiful Cerulean, or be true to herself and fight for freedom.
And if she can find a way to escape, what then? Can she finally reunite with her lost sister? Can she save Sienna from the murderous Fallen? Can she evade her destiny with the Ceruleans?

Can Scarlett Blake ever reclaim her life-before-death… or must she let go of all she loves?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It was difficult for me to choose a rating for Wild Blue Yonder by Megan Tayte. After reading the first two books in the series I was practically waiting with baited breath for the third installment—and despite the fact that I had other things to do and genuinely tried to put off reading Wild Blue Yonder, I found myself picking it up to “read one chapter” late last night. Before I knew it, I had demolished the book.

Like the previous books in the series, the writing was flawless and effortless in its execution. I didn’t stumble over awkward sentence structure, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. I was immediately drawn into the story by the characters and the mystery of the plot. Like I discovered with the second book in the series, Wild Blue Yonder was both a well pieced together addition to the previous books, and yet something completely different at the same time. The first book was all about the romance and the mystery, the second book about grief, and this book? This book was about deception, betrayal, and ultimately, truth.

The reason this book was so hard to rate came down to the uncomfortable feeling that rooted in the pit of my stomach as I read. The Ceruleans, to me, went from being this vague magical race to these terrifying cult-like people who operated on blind faith and careful deception. The story was tense, and so was I. As riveted as I was by the plot, by the end of the book that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach had grown into anger. Oh, how angry I was! At Jude, the Ceruleans, Siena… I wanted to cry right alongside Scarlett. It left me unhappy.

When the book was over, I had to take a step back. My initial thought was “I didn’t like this book” because I’m not used to walking away from a book feeling as uncomfortable and angry as I did—but the more I thought about it, the higher the rating for this book went. The thing is, I didn’t like the book—I didn’t—but I’m okay with that. What this book did was powerful. For a few hours, I was put into Scarlett’s shoes and I lived in the world of the Ceruleans. No, I didn’t like their world—but that was sort of the point. I wasn’t supposed to like their world. I was supposed to empathize with Scarlett… and I did.

As unhappy as I was with certain aspects of the book, this was a phenomenal read. I’m glad I read it, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series—but I think I’m going to need a little while to recover. It may be time for a fluffy, HEA next. If you enjoy complex mystery-oriented YA fantasy, you need to give this series a try. The series has been exceptional so far, and I’m happy to recommend it.

Cellphones, PC’s, and Dependencies

message-for-you-2I have a bit of an odd confession, made odder still by my gender and age. I am 31, Female, and I’ve never owned a cellphone. Yes, it’s true, I live in the United States of America. You could hand me one this very minute and I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to even turn it on. Believe me, I can imagine the look of confusion, maybe even disbelief on your face right now—I’ve seen it a million times.

On a weekly basis people ask me for my cellphone number, or if they can text me something, or they ask if I can text them something… and this leads to the awkward conversation where I have to grin and say “I don’t own a cellphone.” This is then followed up by an even more awkward statement: “No, it’s not broken. No, I’m not waiting to get a new one… I’ve never owned a cellphone.” and then finally “No, I don’t plan to own one, either.”

I’ve had people look at me like I was crazy. I’ve had them look at me as if to say “You have to be lying.”… but I’m not. I’d like to say that it’s easy living without a cellphone—and sometimes it is. Considering how addicted I am to my personal computer, I can only imagine how dependent I would become on a cellphone if I owned one. I’d probably never turn it off. Being a bit of an artist, I’d probably spend my entire day spamming up Facebook with photos of everything—and I mean everything—we’re talking family photos on down to artistically framed blades of grass.

Most of the time, I’m proud to say that I don’t own a cellphone. We all know they’re germ magnets. The CDC admits that cellphones have been proven to emit forms of radiation that are known to be harmful. Cellphone use causes 1 out of every 4 car accidents. That’s a huge number! However, none of these is the reason I don’t own a cellphone. “So why don’t you?” you may ask. The answer is simple: I don’t need one—and that seems to blow some people’s minds.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I work from home and I homeschool. I rarely go anywhere that isn’t with my family. I’ll admit it, I’m one of those people who’s perfectly fine staying home in the evenings and on weekends to read a book, write a blog post, or even catch up on chores. I don’t feel the need to be busy outside my home for the sake of not being here. I’m an introvert, and my list of friends is small and close, and I don’t feel the need to text them, or anyone… ever. There’s nothing in my life that is so immediate that I need a phone on my person 24/7. In the end, I simply can’t justify paying a lot of money to have a little electronic time-sucker stuck in my pocket when I don’t really need one.

That isn’t to say that having a cellphone wouldn’t be useful. There are some things in life that are made difficult by not owning a cellphone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across a sign-up form on a website that won’t let me join because they require a cellphone number as a way to create a secondary authentication for login. It would be useful to have a cellphone for those emergency moments you can’t plan for. I do sometimes get tired of justifying the fact that I don’t own a cellphone. Like I said, people sometimes look at me like I’m crazy or a liar.

Think about how absurd that is for a moment.

There are people all over the world who don’t own cellphones. They are –everywhere-. Yet, because I live in America, I am female, and I am of a generation that generally uses cellphones, I’m considered odd because I don’t own a piece of technology. Cellphones have become so prevalent in our society that telling someone you don’t have one gets a similar reaction to saying “I’m homeless.” People look at me, a young, female American, and think “how is that possible?” I don’t look like someone who shuns technology, and I don’t particularly look destitute… so what particular reason could there be for me to avoid this one piece of technology that so many people take for granted? It bothers me. The fact that the idea of not owning a cellphone has become so shocking to so many people makes me seriously question where our priorities lie as a society… and yet I know that I give the same look of disbelief to people who tell me “I don’t own a computer.”

Now, there’s no real purpose behind this article. I’m not here to convince anyone to put down their cellphone. I’m not here to make people question why we feel so dependent on our technology. I’m just musing aloud. Earlier today my husband told me he was talking with the company who recently built our new gaming PCs to see if we could –not- send in my malfunctioning PC for repairs and instead have someone come to our house to fix it, because I am ashamed to say, I didn’t want to live 2-4 weeks without my PC while they attempt to fix it.

It was a humbling moment when I sat back and thought about what I’d just said. Could I live without my PC for 4 weeks? Sure. PC’s didn’t even exist when I was a kid. The world wouldn’t end. It’d be inconvenient, sure. I have a blog to run, and I pay my bills online. Was it impossible to deal with? No. We even have a backup laptop I could use. 

What it came down to is: My PC is my security blanket. I’m comfortable with its settings. It has the programs I like to use. It has my internet bookmarks. I simply didn’t want to be inconvenienced. I can only imagine that for some, their cellphone serves a similar function. Am I proud that I don’t own a cellphone? Yah. A Bit. Should I be? Probably not—not when my PC fills that same gap of dependence.

Book Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

review-cover-the haunting of sunshine girlTitle: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

Author: Paige McKenzie & Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary

Rating: 4 Stars (4.5)

AmazonButton

GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this book since it was first announced. Let’s be clear—I’ve maybe watched every single episode of the Haunting of Sunshine Girl web series since its inception. I know. I’m an adult, it’s not really scary, but it’s something I can’t help but enjoy as a paranormal fan. If anything, my prior predisposition for the story of Sunshine made me both cautious and excited for the first book in the series. Excited, because I wanted to re-live the adventure of Season One in text form (and okay, I’ll admit it, I desperately wanted Nolan to make an appearance—he’s one of my favorite characters). Cautious, because I was terribly worried that I wouldn’t like the book. I didn’t know if Paige McKenzie could write, and I’ve never read anything by Alyssa B. Sheinmel. I was terrified that the YA-geared voice of the narrative would be irritating and ruin the story I enjoyed so much.

Luckily, that wasn’t so.

First off, let’s cover the well, cover. It’s gorgeous, and it’s great to see Paige herself on the cover (aka Sunshine)—but to be honest, the cover, as pretty as it is, has nothing to do with the story. Not once does Sunshine wear a beautiful white dress, put on heels, or fall sideways through a room.

Technically speaking, the book was decently written. There were a number of errors in the copy I received—mostly formatting errors, missing spaces, missing commas and misspelled words—but given that my copy was an ARC from NetGalley, that’s to be expected. I can only hope the final copy of the book will have the aforementioned issues resolved. As many errors as there were (and there were many) they weren’t too distracting for the most part and only cause a few stumbles along the way.

As one might expect, the book did a pretty decent job of sticking to the source material (the web show). There were some deviations from the original story, but if you’re a die-hard fan of the original, I don’t think you’ll find this one too far off. The changes were made mostly to the origin stories of Nolan and Victoria and the method in how Anna died—and honestly, I think the changes were for the better; the story seemed a little more cohesive overall.

As for the characters, they stuck true to form. Victoria was wonderfully creepy and a little off-kilter. Nolan was charming and geeky and the most adorable way and Sunshine was her usual quirky fun-loving self. The humor in this book was spot-on and goofy in a lovable sort of way. It made the narrative charming and engaging, and fun to read along with.

The relationship between Sunshine and her mother especially was filled with humor and quirky quips, and it really shone through how much the two characters got along—but of course, my favorite duo were Sunshine and Nolan. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say this: if you enjoyed Sunshine and Nolan in the web series, you’re going to love them in the book. Their moments together were by far the most endearing and interesting moments for me, and I may have squealed with glee a few times.

Not all was puppies and rainbows however—and this is why I’m giving this book a four star rating. The book wasn’t that creepy or scary. That being said, I am an adult obsessed with the horror and haunting genres, and I’ve previously watched the entirety of the web show—so the fact that I didn’t find the story scary, creepy, or surprising… well, it’s to be expected.

More so than that, I wish more depth had been presented to some of the characters. Sunshine was, of course, the forefront of the story, but things were a little hazy when it came to Nolan and Victoria. The way they came into the story, the strange little clues about their personalities… it was a little too obvious. A little too manufactured. Even had I not watched the web series, I wouldn’t have been in the least bit surprised that Victoria was going to end up having something to do with the haunting. She was purposefully gothic to the point of being a bit of a cliché. Nolan was a little too charming, a little too eager to believe Sunshine and help. He kind of fell into her lap from the very beginning of the story, and no one ever questioned it—and that’s admitting a lot coming from a die-hard Nolan groupie like myself.

Overall, I did really enjoy the book. I think it was well written despite the errors I ran into, the narrative was engaging and easy to follow, the story was interesting, and I loved the characters. I think the book was perfectly voiced for the YA genre, and I think sunshine’s quirky humor was charming. I’d have no problem handing this book over to my 11-year-old—it was clean for the most part minus a few moments of graphicness (blood, the intentional cutting of flesh), and I’m glad I read it. I’d be happy to recommend it to any middle-grade or YA readers who enjoy spooky ghost stories. I’m excited to see this series expand further.