Review: Portraits of Celina by Sue Whiting

Publisher: Switch Press
Release Date: April 1st, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Horror, Mystery, Paranormal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay.

“It’s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won’t hurt.”

Celina O’Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina’s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it?

A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

my rambles

Special thanks to Switch Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review!

I went into Portraits of Celina looking for a book that would thrill and chill me. Although that wasn’t exactly what I got, I still really enjoyed this book.

The only real problems I had with the book were: a) the pacing of the beginning of the book, and b) the main character and her mom. The first 150-ish pages moved slow for me, and I found them to be a bit boring. But, they do set up the story’s paranormal aspects well. The main character Bayley was my biggest problem. She was a little…eccentric. That’s totally fine, but I was a little weirded our by her obsession to wear Celina’s clothes. Being obsessed with Celina for some unknown reason though? THAT made the story creepy! Also, she randomly changed moods and had very public outbursts that made me cringe when she was talking to Oliver, the love interest. Lastly her mother annoyed me a bit. An event in the book that happens early on (and should have totally freaked her mom out for Bayley’s safety) didn’t even phase her. Her mom is unstable but her actions throughout the book bugged me.

But as for the overall plot and story, I really liked it! It was somewhat predictable, and not very scary — more of a mystery I’d say. For someone that doesn’t like TOO scary, this book was perfect to get my fix. I liked the paranormal relationship between Celina and Bayley, and loved the ending scenes. The story really comes to a wonderful climax toward the end of the book.

All in all, there were a few little things that bugged me, but they didn’t hurt my overall enjoyment of the book as a whole much. Portraits of Celina is a great story to ease into the horror or mystery genre, or for younger YA readers!

3.5 hearts  


Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Mystery, Paranormal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

my rambles

Special thanks to Algonquin YR for providing me with an advance copy for review!

I’m not quite sure where to begin with writing this review, so I’m just going to dive right into it. The Walls Around Us was a book that I was hotly anticipating, but for the first 3/4ths of the book nothing about the story made it stand out to me as something new and unique from other books in this genre. It was somewhat easy for me to forget about and easily left my mind when I wasn’t reading it. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries and The Walls Around Us just wasn’t singling itself out. But then you get to a point where you finally start to really really understand what’s going on and put the puzzle pieces together, and this changed my entire feelings about the book.

The last parts of the book I couldn’t read fast enough. The story builds up to the exciting end with flashbacks and memories told from two POVs: Amber and Vee. When these parts from the past are finally done (they are completely essential, and don’t drag, but just aren’t as exciting as that ending!) the pacing of the book completely changes, things are revealed and I’m sure that this ending will shock you. I was completely caught off guard with this ending, and IT WAS AWESOME!!!

Nova Ren Suma’s writing was beautiful and ghostly, just like the synopsis says. Somehow she has the ability to make such a gruesome and harsh reality of a story sound so poetic.

All in all, the majority of The Walls Around Us didn’t blow me away, but this book is definitely worth reading for the amazing writing and ending. It’s definitely a psychological book that will leave you dumbstruck!


Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Pages: 583
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Series: The Diviners, #1
Genre(s): Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Horror
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us?
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurled in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened….
Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray opens a brand-new historical series with The Diviners, where the glittering surface of the Roaring Twenties hides a mystical horror creeping across the country. 

my ramblesWhat do you get when you add a group of wild, paranormal teens and a psycho-ghost killer in the roaring 20s? That would be The Diviners! The perfect twist of history, paranormal, and horror, The Diviners delivers a thrillingly creepy story that will haunt you long after the final page is read.

I must admit that both the size and the content of the story was very intimidating to me before I started. A 500+ page horror book? Not normally something I would be jumping out of my seat to read. But, this Halloween, I decided to go for it because I have yet to read a negative review for this one, and I’m so glad I did!

Due to the length, the story isn’t extremely fast-paced. In fact, things are pretty slow moving straight up until the very end. BUT, the way that this book is written doesn’t leave us wanting anything more than what we’re given from the story at the time. Told from multiple perspectives, we get to see the story come together from all angles. Reading from Naughty John’s POV was quite disturbing, and creepy in all senses of the word, but extremely fascinating nonetheless. And all of the other characters were so unique to each other, with such detailed and developed backstories! When there are so many characters in a book some of them tend to get left out, but not in The Diviners, which I really loved.

Not only did the format of the book offset it’s length, but also the writing style. This is the first book that I’ve read of Libba Bray’s, but I absolutely loved her rich style and how well it portrayed the time period. I learned lots of new 20s slang, which I was pos-i-tutely jake with!

All in all, The Diviners was everything that I was hoping for and definitely lived up to all of the marvellous reviews that made me want to read it in the first place! The ending was satisfying, but left me eager to know what is next for these characters in book #2, Lair of Dreams!


If you want more… PARANORMAL & HORROR: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
If you want more… ROARING 20S: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen


Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Release Date: January 21st, 2011
Pages: 452
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Series: Mara Dyer, #1
Genre(s): Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

my rambles

I knew that I was going to love The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Everything about it screamed “Psychological thriller! Read me!” I have a weakness for sometimes dark, often twisty, books. They’re about as close to the horror genre as I get, and I love walking that line like it’s a tightrope. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer will thrill you, confuse you, and sometimes creep you out. You may have to reread passages because you’ll find yourself thinking, “Wait — what?!”

From before the book even starts, before chapter one of the story, I was already drawn in. Michelle Hodkin writes the book from two different points in time: Before and After. Although most of the time we are reading from After, the chapters that flip back to Before are chilling, and of course, make the overall mystery that much more intriguing. And the best part yet: Mara Dyer is the epitome of an unreliable narrator. We never really know what is real and what a dream, hallucination, or memory.

The general story alone would have kept me completely immersed, but add Noah Shaw and it just got somehow even more immersive. Here are three reasons why Noah Shaw made this book even better:

  1. He’s British. Yes, I’m one of those girls that is all for slapping on a British accent and falling in love immediately. 
  2. He’s sexy with a bad boy reputation.
  3. He’s really not that bad of a guy and has a flawless personality.


Oh and the sexual tension between Mara and Noah made me want to blush sometimes…

But all in all, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was everything I was hoping for. It was exciting, mysterious, eerie, and sexy all at once. And that ending! Well, let me just tell you I plan to read book two ASAP.


Review: Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Jamie @ Fic Fare via LBBA Program
Series: N/A
Genre(s): Horror, Mystery, Paranormal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A pacy, chilling ghost story from the creator of the internationally acclaimed Moorehawke Trilogy.
I think the fire changed us – me and Dom. I think that’s how the boy was able to see us. Though he’d been there for every summer of our childhood, we’d only been stupid boys until then. Stupid, happy, ignorant boys. And what in hell would he have had in common with two stupid boys? But after the fire we were different. We were maybe a little bit like him. And so he saw us, at last, and he thought he’d found a home…

Special thanks to Jamie @ Fic Fare and the Little Blogger Big Ambitions program for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review!

The only words I can think to describe Into the Grey are strange and odd, which at first I was unsure as to whether that was a good or a bad thing. I like weird, eerie, and unique books, but Into the Grey was a little too far-fetched and different for my liking.

The idea for this book was so intriguing, but unfortunately instead of being the “heart-pounding, atmospheric ghost story,” or a “taut psychological thriller,” that the book description on the ARC says it is, I found it was quite the opposite. I was really bored, throughout the entire book, not just certain parts. I lost pretty much complete interest when I hit the 3/4 mark. I found myself skimming longer passages to dialogue.

Not only was the pacing slow and completely unexciting, I thought the characters were extremely immature for their age. The two boys, Pat and Dom are 15 going on 16, but still play games that involve “swordfighting” with found sticks against each other and making false gunshot noises in “war games.” Sorry, but no matter how immature the boys at my school are, they don’t do that. At least I’m not aware that they do. So I think 11 or 12 would have been a more suitable age for the boys, but that was one small probably that really got to me for some reason.

One thing that I did enjoy was the relationship between Francis and Pat. I liked how the two of them came to the realization that they were in similar situations and should work together to get their brothers back. There were also flashback scenes to the set of characters from Francis’ lifetime, which I liked. It made the story come full circle when some information was revealed toward the end of the book.

But overall, the bad outweighed the good in my opinion. Into the Grey had the potential to be what the description describes it as, a fast paced and exciting ghost story that chills readers. Unfortunately, the execution of the story and the fact that it was written in a boring manner left me very disappointed. Into the Grey disappointed me, and for that reason I’d pass on it.