Review | The Summoning by J.P. Smith

When it comes to contacting the dead, it’s easy to go a step too far

Every year, as the anniversary of 9/11 inches closer on the calendar, Kit Capriol scans the memorials published in the New York Times. It’s a simple thing to look up a name and phone number, to reach out to surviving family members who might still be yearning for connection with their lost loved one… to offer assistance. After her husband went down in the north tower, Kit scraped by as an actress, barely supporting herself and her daughter. But now Zoey is in the hospital, bills are due, and the acting work has dried up. Becoming a medium is almost too easy for someone used to pretending for a living—and desperate clients aren’t hard to come by.

Now, though, something has changed. The seances Kit holds in her apartment are starting to feel unsettlingly real, and the intriguing man she met at a local bar could be more complicated than he seems. As the voices of the dead grow louder in her head and the walls of her apartment close in, Kit realizes that despite her daughter’s absence, she hasn’t been quite as alone as she thought…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I heard the synopsis of this book, an actor who is pretending to be a medium to make ends meet after losing her husband in 9/11 and having her daughter in a coma – I was immediately intrigued. Things start to change when she seems to actually be hearing from the dead. I really enjoyed this roller coaster ride of a thriller as it took me in some directions I was not expecting at all. Much of the story is spent wondering if this is psychological or supernatural and that’s one of my favorite elements when done well – and it was done really well in this book. I was left guessing almost the entire book. While the pacing is neither slow or fast, I felt the story’s natural progression and evolution flowed well. The writing style was so easy to consume and kept me engaged the entire time.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for sending me a copy of this book for review. It’s out tomorrow (9/7) so make sure to pick up a copy!

Happy reading!

Review | Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, edited by award-winning journalist Lilly Workneh with a foreword by #BlackGirlMagic originator CaShawn Thompson, is dedicated to amplifying and celebrating the stories of Black women and girls from around the world; features the work of over 60 Black female and non-binary authors, illustrators, and editors; is designed to acknowledge, applaud, and amplify the incredible stories of Black women and girls from the past and present; and celebrates Black Girl Magic around the world. 

Amongst the women featured from over 30 countries are tennis player Naomi Osaka, astronaut Jeanette Epps, author Toni Morrison, filmmaker Ava DuVernay; aviator Bessie Coleman, Empress Taytu Betul, journalist Ida B. Wells, and many other inspiring leaders, champions, innovators, and creators. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic is the fourth volume of the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series which originally launched in 2016. 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic is published by Rebel Girls, a global, multi-platform empowerment brand dedicated to helping raise the most inspired and confident global generation of girls through content, experiences, products, and community.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Rebel Girls Lead I was exciting to get them chance to read this book from the same series. I like that the original volumes in this series highlight multiple races, but that there are installments such as this one that highlight one specific race – and I felt this was a great installment to add to the already existing titles. It includes Black women of varied nationalities, time periods, careers and more. I think this could serve as great inspiration for anyone looking for role models. The art too is a wonderful accompaniment to each story, showcasing the art style of many different artists and providing vibrant images of the women represented. I also appreciated that at the end of the book it showcases other Black women who are featured in the other installments in this series.

Happy reading!

Review | The Curse of the Crystal Cavern

The rollicking Pathfinders Society treasure hunt continues as the five campers from Mystery of the Moon Tower get swept away in a new adventure. This action-packed graphic novel is full of fun, magic, and friendship–sure to appeal to fans of the Last Kids on Earth and Lumberjanes series.

Fresh from their hair-raising adventures in The Mystery of the Moon Tower, Kyle, Vic, Beth, Harry, and Nate are now hot on the trail of something big! A secret staircase leads down into the unknown, setting them on an exciting chase for clues left by the wealthy explorer Henry Merriweather, who was rumored to have hidden away a priceless treasure. Are the legends real? Where will the five friends end up? And what dangers will they encounter along the way? Because as they’ve come to learn, everything comes at a price…

In this exciting graphic novel adventure series, richly illustrated by Eisner-award-winning artist Steve Hamaker, the Pathfinders go ever deeper into the labyrinthian Merriweather mystery–and hope they’ll come out the other side!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one since I read the first book and am so glad I grabbed it! I’m not going to go too much into the story as it picks up right after book one finishes, but we are following the same group of pathfinders as they are continuing to decipher the riddles left behind as well as deal with occasional time jumps, dangers from outsiders and more. I really liked how they came together even more in this one and leaned on each other for their unique strengths. This is a great middle grade adventure story and I can’t wait for the third one to come out.

Happy reading!

Review | Heavy Vinyl, Vol. 1: Riot on the Radio

Film and TV director Carly Usdin (Suicide Kale) teams up with breakout artist Nina Vakueva (Lilith’s Word) for a new series that’s music to our ears! New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie. But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl… her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club! Collects the complete limited series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I didn’t know much about this one going in, but knew there were 90’s references and it was set at a record store, so I was sold. This was so fun! I loved the twist as to what happens at the record store and all the relationships that were forged and grew on the pages. The art style was fun, expressive and full of color and yes, the time frame was right up my alley. I will definitely be checking our more of this series to see where the story takes us!

Happy reading!

Review | The Haunted by Danielle Vega

Hendricks Becker-O’Malley is new in town, and she’s bringing baggage with her. With a dark and wild past, Hendricks doesn’t think the small town her parents moved her to has much to offer her in terms of excitement. She plans on laying low, but when she’s suddenly welcomed into the popular crowd at school, things don’t go as expected.

Hendricks learns from her new friends that the fixer-upper her parents are so excited about is notorious in town. Local legend says it’s haunted. Hendricks doesn’t believe it. Until she’s forced to. Blood-curdling screams erupt from the basement, her little brother wakes up covered in scratches, and something, or someone pushes her dad down the stairs. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don’t take her first.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was prepared for this book to have great atmosphere and a thrilling story, but it was only about halfway there for me. I would have liked the story of the supernatural elements to be expanded upon some more and honestly the event that drove Hendricks and her family to this town is only revealed in bits and pieces with a lot of drawing out…and then resolved quite abruptly. By that point it kind of felt like it wasn’t really a plot component, but just a device to account for her behavior and the reason they moved. For a quick spooky read that at some points will have you questioning if it is supernatural or something else it was good, but there were just some elements that didn’t really mesh with me.

Happy reading!

Review | Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.

Witchy is a comic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but saw it available in Comixology unlimited so decided to pick it up. I did enjoy the art style and the fantastical world. While I felt a good amount of back story and world building was included, I think the info page about the world itself should have been in the beginning rather at the end, as it would have better set it up. For the most part you understand the motives of characters, but there were definitely a few things that were left ambiguous, or weren’t really explained. There are definitely a lot of questions to be answered, but I’m not sure if more is going to be told or if this is meant to be a stand alone. The way a number of things were left up in the air makes me hope there will be further volumes. I would be interested in continuing the story.

Happy reading!

Review | Watering the Soul by Courtney Peppernell

Poetry and prose to encourage us to grow. Watering the Soul is a timeless reminder that everyone needs time, love, and forgiveness.

In the deepest, most enchanting part of the forest, a creature hands you a seed. Within the seed is your soul, ready to be grown again.

From internationally bestselling author Courtney Peppernell comes her new book of poetry and prose, Watering the Soul. In true Peppernell style, the book is divided into sections, this time following a step-by-step recipe, to heal your soul. Filled with themes that focus on forgiveness, gratitude, togetherness, and equality, Peppernell takes you on a journey to find a precious yet profound understanding; that a seed is not grown with haste and nor is becoming whole, that in each and every step, we find the meaning of watering the soul.

This is the story of your soul and how it can be grown again.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Having read something of Courtney’s before I was excited to pick up another of her collections. This one especially spoke to me, especially in the times we are in right now. Also, I absolutely loved the little artwork within the collection, which added to the overall theme of the collection. I really liked the way this was formatted and the subjects discussed – it’s definitely a collection about self care and healing, which is important for everyone. All in all I really enjoyed the collection and will read more from Courtney in the future.

Happy reading!

Review | The Curie Society by Heather Einhorn, Janet Harvey, Adam Staffaroni, Joan Hilty and Sonia Liao

A covert team of young women–members of the Curie society, an elite organization dedicated to women in STEM–undertake high-stakes missions to save the world.

An action-adventure original graphic novel, The Curie Society follows a team of young women recruited by an elite secret society–originally founded by Marie Curie–with the mission of supporting the most brilliant female scientists in the world. The heroines of the Curie Society use their smarts, gumption, and cutting-edge technology to protect the world from rogue scientists with nefarious plans. Readers can follow recruits Simone, Taj, and Maya as they decipher secret codes, clone extinct animals, develop autonomous robots, and go on high-stakes missions.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Anything promoting females in more STEM roles makes me happy, so this one was an intriguing concept to me – then you add in a secret society and I’m sold. I really enjoyed this story and the way the three girls interacted and learned to work together. Building a team is never easy and that was definitely represented, but seeing how they were able to combine their strengths and work together, as well as the adventure they were on, was really nice. I also really enjoyed all the materials in the back such as a glossary and prominent figures.

Happy reading!

Blog Tour | Such a Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass

From the author of Someone’s Listening comes another thriller that will leave you breathless, about a housewife implicated in a murder investigation, perfect for fans of The Last House Guest and Someone We Know.

Melanie Hale has the perfect life. Her husband, Collin, is a loving and supportive partner and she loves their small-town home just outside of New Orleans. She doesn’t mind (too much) that she’s given up her career dreams to care for her two beautiful children. It’s all worth it.

So why, when she joins a writers’ group for fledgling novelists, does she embark on a steamy affair with Luke, a local bestselling author who gives a talk during the group? Why does she go back to Luke again and again, when she knows it’s wrong?

And then Luke is found dead, and Mel knows she was the last person to see him alive. Now, she not only has to keep the affair a secret, but somehow avoid being implicated in Luke’s death. But who would want to kill him? And if Mel finds the truth, will she be next? What follows is a sinister cat-and-mouse game that will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

Buy Links | BookShop.org | Harlequin  | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect going into this book but after reading the synopsis I was intrigued and wanted to pick it up. While slow burn isn’t always my favorite thing, the level of suspense and twists and turns made it an exciting slow burn. I really enjoyed the amount of character development we got as the story unfolded as well as all the psychological aspects to it. Melanie is a really relatable character that is definitely someone who can resonate with readers. If there is one thing that will immediately draw me in it is a story that goes includes psychological elements. The ending I felt was perfect and this is definitely a suspense filled story that I would recommend for anyone who likes thrillers. While this is my first read by this author, I will definitely be checking out her other works in the future.

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and playwright-in-residence at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches film studies and playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and she’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Seraphina has traveled the world using theatre and film as a teaching tool, living in South Africa, Guam and Kenya as a volunteer teacher, AIDS relief worker, and documentary filmmaker.

Social Links | Author Website | Twitter: @SeraphinaNova |
Facebook: Seraphina Nova Glass: Author | Goodreads

Happy reading!

Review | Historic Haunts of Savannah by Michael Harris & Linda Sickler

As one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia, has a long list of stories of the supernatural, such as the story of the first two people hanged in colonial Savannah for the murder of their abusive master. Or James Stark, a tempestuous planter, and Dr. Philip Minis, who settled their dispute with a duel and still hang around the old building at Moon River Brewing Co. Or the terrifying “boy-giant,” Rene Rhondolia, who preys on young girls and
animals. Join authors Michael Harris and Linda Sickler as they navigate the chilling world of those who refuse to leave their Savannah homes.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Savannah is one of those places I haven’t yet visited, but definitely wanted to – so I was excited to pick this title up. I did enjoy the way the authors imagined how the stories leading to the ghost stories went and that they got versions of the legends from people in Savannah – but felt there may have been a little too much fiction. The researching of different aspects of each story and examining how possible it was that they transpired the way the stories are told was really interesting. I also really liked the talk about how life was at the time each of these stories happened, but because so much of it was this examination of history – there was very little description of what people are actually experiencing in these locations, which is something I always appreciate. Since there was so little about that it felt more like an examination of history rather than ghost stories – that being said it was still a pretty quick read and I did enjoy it.

Happy reading!