Tag Archives: paranormal

Book Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

hollow city


Category: Paranormal YA Fiction

Author: Ransom Riggs

Format: Hardcover,  400 pages

Publisher: Quirk Books

ISBN: 978-1-5947-4612-3

Pub Date: January 14, 2014


Summary from Publisher:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011-an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

– From Chapters-Indigo website.

Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet:

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the second installment in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series, which hit the bookshelves on January 14, is a plot-driven novel filled, yet again with a number of black and white photographs to accompany its quick narrative.

Fans of the adventures of Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children will readily enjoy this necessary continuation in the series, which not only features a number of old and favourite characters from the previous book, as in Jacob Portman and his ability to sense and see hollowgast; Emma Bloom and her ability to make fire with her hands; Millard Nullings, an invisible boy; Olive Abroholos Elephanta and her ability to float lighter than air; Brownyn Bruntley with her unusual strength; Horace Somnusson’s gift of prophecy in the form of visions and dreams; Enoch O’Connor’s ability to animate the dead for brief periods of time; Hugh Apiston who can command bees; and Fiona Frauenfeld’s ability to make plants grow—but also adds some new faces, characters, and peculiarities.

Where Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children introduced the mysterious world of time loops, peculiarity itself, the role in which Jacob Portman plays in the lives of the peculiar children, and the introduction of all peculiars’ enemies in the form of wights and hallowgasts—this sequel takes the foundation of this understanding to a busy and active plot sequencing.

There is a new dilemma, which, if left unchecked could ruin not only the protected world of peculiars, but dominate the world of the naturals, allowing the perpetual rule of a species gone physically and emotionally wrong.

Ransom Riggs’ narrative continues in its richness, a mature storytelling with its tendency to thrive on surprise and the absurd. While the novel is targeted towards a YA audience, the writing is not scarce in its ability to be well written, nor its ability to replicate the voice of children.

The world of peculiarity also opens up to include more than just children themselves, but also encompasses the secret, gifted world of animals, as well as new, revealed alliances.

The conflict, too, expands to more than just the microcosm of Miss Peregrine’s caretaking and personal loop. The livelihood of all ymbrynes, female shape-shifters usually in the transient form of birds who act as headmistress to particular loops, are endangered at the cost of the enemies’ hungry and misguided ambition for world dominance and power.

While the cast of characters have grown in number, as well as in peculiar gifts, the gifts themselves also evolve in the novel.

And the plot, while active and incessant, will cleverly surprise even its most attentive readers.

For those readers who could not wait for the publication of this sequel, they will easily devour its contents in a matter of days. Because the paranormal aspect of the novel increases its interest-level, as does its quick pacing does to help readers move quickly through the book, it is a novel that can be easily read within days.

But, as the symptoms of withdrawal are met for those readers who originally enjoyed the first book and can testify to reading the sequel, readers will yet again be put to the test in their patience while awaiting for the next volume in the Peculiar Children series. (Yes, there will be another book!)

Overall, the peculiarity in the book becomes an action-packed sequence that will propel its readers to actively and tensely turn its pages until the very end, which in the writing style of Ransom Riggs, will most likely tease and trap you into a cliffhanger that will aggravate you into waiting for the next chapter in this paranormal, evolving fantasy.


Characters: 3.5 stars

Pacing: 4 stars

Cover Design: 4.5 stars

Plot: 3.5 stars


Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to Random House of Canada on behalf of Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


You can read my review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.


If you were considered a “Peculiar,” what do you think your gift would be?

Do you think you would remain a “Peculiar” or would you most likely become a “Hallowgast?”


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Book Review: The Lost Soul by Gabriella Pierce

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Book Review: The Lost Soul by Gabriella Pierce


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

lost soul


Category: Young Adult Fiction, Paranormal Fiction

Author: Gabriella Pierce

Format: Trade Paperback, 300 pages

Publisher: Canvas (Imprint of Constable & Robinson)

ISBN: 978-1-78033-947-4

Pub Date: January 17, 2013


Summary from Publisher

Jane Boyle has long since known that her mother-in-law is a witch, but she’d never imagined Lynne Doran was actually the embodiment of a powerful, ancient, body-snatching evil! Now that Jane and her friends have uncovered Lynne and 666 Park Avenue’s dark truth, they must race against the clock to find a way to destroy the ancient witch before she finds her next unwilling host. And as Jane attempts to tap into power stronger than her enemy’s, her estranged husband Malcom arrives in time to join the fight…but can she grow to trust him before it’s too late?


Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet

The Lost Soul by Gabriella Pierce is the last book of the 666 Park Avenue series, which features the dilemma of trying to defeat an ancient evil.

The characters come together in this last installment to battle a witch of consuming power and vicious nature.

Jane Boyle is joined by her old friends, Dee, Harris, and his sister Maeve; old rivals, Andre and his protective sister Katrin; and her old love, Malcolm; as well as new figures with magical heritage, the Montagues: Emer, Charlotte, Leah, and the adept Penelope Lotuma.

Together they cast a new coven of magical families that must unite in order to challenge the death and destruction planned to obliterate what is left of the witch ancestry.

The introduction of new characters add more entertainment value to the story, giving it a little more dimension, while the depth of Harris’ character is revealed through his hardened grief.

And the pacing of the novel is indicative of the 666 Park Avenue series: quick and suspenseful filled with planning, plotting, and lurking danger, though in this book, the tension wasn’t as high as its previous counterparts.

The plot, too, wasn’t as intricate as its previous novels, perhaps because resolution is its primary goal as the last book in the series. That said, the story still included enough witchcraft to tantalize paranormal fans without the gruesome details of darker novels. “At heart,” this novel is a love story and one which professes the classic battle between good and evil.

The creativity behind the witch sub-culture genre is what I enjoyed most about the book. Whether or not “magical” details are grounded in truth or well-done research doesn’t hinder the story from keeping its readers interested, especially those who enjoy the paranormal.

The dialogue and narrative stay true to its young adult genre and rekindles romance and tenderness to evoke hope amidst loss.

While it’s a “victorious” little novel, the scars left behind after a battle especially a spiritual one is certain to leave a mark.

And though the book is meant to be the last book in the 666 Park Avenue series, it is written in such a way that another book could very easily follow it if the author and publisher should decide to do so. If so, loyal readers who have followed the books in the series, 666 Park Avenue and The Dark Glamour, would welcome more epic battles and the continuation of magical bloodlines. I know I would.


Characters: 3 stars

Pacing: 4 stars

Cover design: 3 stars

Plot: 3 stars


Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to Canvas, an imprint of Constable & Robsinson, for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an unpaid, honest review.


About the author

Gabriella Pierce is an American living in Paris with her two dogs.



666 Park Avenue Official Website

The Lost Soul from Chapters-Indigo

The Lost Soul from Amazon.com

The Lost Soul from Amazon.ca

The Lost Soul from The Book Depository

My book review of 666 Park Avenue (Book 1)

My book review of The Dark Glamour (Book 2)


What do you find most fascinating about the witch sub-culture and its magic found in fiction?

Have you read the 666 Park Avenue or The Dark Glamour books? If so, what ddo you think of its main character, Jane Boyle?

If you were a witch, what kind of powers would you most like to harbour?

What do you think might be the dangers in reading false facts about witchcraft in fiction, if any?

What do you think are the potential dangers of practicing witchcraft as a spiritual practice and faith, if any?


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Book Review: The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn


Book Review:

The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


Category: Paranormal Fiction, Erotic Fiction

Author: Lynda Hilburn

Format: Trade Paperback, 458 pages

Publisher: Silver Oak Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-85738-720-2

Pub Date: April 3, 2012


The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn is a story about a rational psychologist named Kismet Knight who, in her practice, meets and counsels a troubled teenager who renames herself, Midnight, in response to her fascination with vampires. While Kismet is a strong skeptic of the supernatural and quickly makes attempts at addressing Midnight’s potential diagnosis based on textbook symptoms, she becomes not only intrigued with the richness of Midnight’s vampire “fantasy,” but also becomes the center of its very real, warring feud.

Kismet’s assumptions are slowly dismantled in meeting the immensely powerful and passionate, 800-year-old vampire, Devereaux, who not only claims to be real, but also happens to be the leader of his vampire coven that covers its anonymity through a popular, goth nightclub called The Crypt in the town of Denver.

The plot intensifies as the book progresses and the vampire world is revealed. It’s a sharp page-turner that will compel its readers to sit for hours engrossed in its plot, romance, and dark magic.

The narrative is surprisingly mature for what I had expected to be a paranormal, YA novel, but appreciatively so. Aside from overtly clichéd, fantasy names like Kismet, Midnight, and Devereaux, the voice of the main character, Kismet,  is consistently mature for a shy, self-conscious introvert-turned-passionate and expressive, sexual prowess.

The book delves deep into dark magic, supernatural power, and demystifies the mythological stereotypes and folklore usually associated with vampires to reveal a dark, powerful, and sensuous breed—who, though may seem to have similarities with its human counterpart, is emphasized to be a very real, rare, and superior form of species.

And it’s as graphic as it is as sultry where love scenes are detailed, graphic forms of lust, passion, and erotica not intended for readers under the age of 18.

It’s a culmination of murder, evil, vampire fascination and sub-culture, romance and rivalry, dark magic and the inexplicable forces of the supernatural, and the culpable, emotional, and physical explosion that is inevitable when two opposing forces—human and vampire—are bound.

If you’re a vampire enthusiast, you’ll appreciate this sinister and sexy, fast-paced, but intense novel of the ever endearing and frightful nightwalker.


Zara’s Rating



The next book in this series is Blood Therapy and is expected to release February 5, 2013 by Silver Oak Publishing.


What do you find most fascinating about vampires and its sub-culture in fiction?

What do you think has been over-done?

What do you think Bram Stoker would say to the evolution of his original character, Dracula?


Summer Wrap-Up Paranormal Challenge! 08.12.2012

Summer Wrap-Up Read-a-Thon Paranormal Challenge!


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Thanks to Steph at A Dream within a Dream for hosting this Paranormal Challenge! She’s asked that participants choose a paranormal creature that they would like to be for one summer night and share what they would like to do! Sounds simple, huh? Except I’M FASCINATED with PARANORMAL CREATURES!

Mmm…let’s see…I’d have to narrow it down to a couple of things that I’m most interested in…

Perhaps I could be an….



or a…


“Ophelia” by J.W. Waterhouse.


…or a…



…or a…



…or a…




I’d shape-shift into each creature and visit each world in which my form resides and learn the language of each species.

I would bow before the face of God as an angel, fly between heaven and earth, and perhaps act as a guardian angel to a loved one with the ability to read his or mind—in this case, my husband’s!

Then, on account that I have diverted all danger from my husband’s life for a day, I’d lounge the lakes as a water nymph, beautifying my body and my hair with earth’s nature, seducing men’s imagination with a glance.

After a little poetry and sunbathing, I’d return to the depths of the ocean and travel around the world once as a mermaid and take with me an ancient water song and silk pearls.

After I tire from that, I’d transform into fae, enjoying the lush and magic of the forest, practicing my flight on lit wings, using my power to speak with animals.

As soon as dawn breaks, I’d transform into light…and then wake up again into my original form.

How’s that for some summer fun, paranormal style?


For more posts on the Summer Wrap-Up Read-a-Thon, you can visit here.


What paranormal creature would you choose to be for a day?


Zara Alexis

Book Review: 666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

Book Review:

666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


Category: Young Adult Paranormal Fiction

Author: Gabriella Pierce

Format: Trade Paperback, 294 pages

Publisher: Canvas, imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd.

ISBN: 978-1-78033-697-8

Pub Date: July 19, 2012



666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce is about a young woman and aspiring architect named Jane Boyle who is seduced into marrying Malcolm Doran and into one of the most financially and socially powerful families in New York: the Doran Clan.

Besides being one of the most feared and revered families in Manhattan, Jane Boyle soon discovers her soon-to-be-mother-in-law is a witch—and that both her life and her newfound magical powers are at risk.

Lauren Hutton comes to mind as a wonderful casting role as “Lynne Doran,” a woman with a beautiful and powerful presence.


Though the title,  666 Park Avenue, seems to be a somewhat superficial title, this young adult paranormal fiction is nothing to scoff at. Aside from a few introductory clichés, the narrative will compel you to turn the page and continue to do so throughout in anticipation of what might happen next. I literally did not want to put the book down and in doing so, allowed me to finish it in only two sittings.

The characters are as archetypal as they are entertaining, from Lynne Doran’s matriarchal power and poise to her ability at extreme self-control, deception, and manipulation. She is as cold as she is vindictive and at the core, a dark and evil source of power.

Malcolm Doran exudes an expected sensuality, and an almost overbearing libido, and in the early parts of the book’s plot can play a confusing and elusive role.

Male model, Luca Ribezzo seems like the right fit physically for the character, “Malcolm Doran.”

Maeve Montague, a beautiful co-worker at the MoMA evolves into an important, potential confidant and friend.

Her brother, Harris Montague, too, becomes an unexpected ally, a handsome man with a long history with the Doran Clan.

And Jane Boyle is depicted as an attractive woman whose internal dialogue both holds a real tension in worry and anxiety that answers the plot, as well as a surprising sense of humour that will encourage the reader to not only like her, but empathize with her and her bewitching predicament.

Model, Vanessa Cruz, especially in this photograph would make a fierce-looking “Jane Boyle.”


The plot itself is driven to a few welcome surprises that continues to compel the reader to bite his or her lips in anticipation as well as cheer Jane Boyle on in her personal fight against evil and for her own survival.

The most intriguing parts of the book are the source of magical history, spells, and power. How grounded they are in truth is difficult to decipher, but just as entertaining to read.

From: http://dark.pozadia.org/wallpaper/Magic-eye


Though the book ends with a mild cliffhanger, it only further induced my excitement to read, The Dark Glamour, the second book in the three-book series, which is expected to come off press by Canvas Publications in October.

Until then, I must bide my time in hopes that Jane Boyle not only harnesses her power and her confidence, but that the month of October comes sooner than expected.


Zara’s Rating


A special thank you to Canvas Publications, an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd. for providing me with a media copy in exchange for an unpaid and honest review.


If you had inherent powers as a witch, what kind of powers would you like to have?

What do you find most fascinating about witchcraft and the dark arts?

What do you find most frightening about it?


A Review: The Gathering (Book One of the Darkness Rising Series)


A Review:

The Gathering (Book One of the Darkness Rising Series)


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis


Category: Young Adult (YA) Fiction

Author:Kelley Armstrong

Format: Hardcover, 359 pages

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 978-0-385-66851-4

Pub Date: February 7, 2012 (Trade Paperback)


The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong is the first of the Darkness Rising series, a supernatural young adult (YA) trilogy about 16-year-old Maya who lives in a small medical-research town called Salmon Creek on Vancouver Island.

The small populated and isolated town not only has less than 200 people, but also a slew of secrets that slowly unravel as the novel progresses.

Since I prefer reading literary fiction, I tend not to read a large amount of YA fiction in comparison. And of those that I have read in the past, most have been a tad disappointing in their narrative and character development, which would most often, more than not, be filled with cliché and superficial and self-indulgent characters who made it difficult for me to empathize with.

Reading YA fiction!

But with The Gathering, this is not the case. The Gathering is one of the best YA fiction reads I’ve read in a long time, which explains why Kelley Armstrong is one of the number one bestselling authors according to the New York Times!

Kelley Armstrong, author of THE GATHERING.

The main character, Maya, a 16-year-old popular and athletic teenager is not only likeable by her peers, but will be most likely be “liked” by the readers of this book. I did. She has a strong relationship with her parents without losing herself in identity or rebellion; she’s fiercely loyal to her friends without being dependent; she has a natural agility that gives her grace and strength, and a wit that is refreshing, entertaining, and endearing without being abrasive. Above all, she’s a natural animal lover, comfortable in their midst and gifted in sensing their needs.



Hers friends, too, as secondary characters are likeable:

Daniel, also a popular teen in the school, is loyal, strong, and protective, gifted in sensing negativity and danger in others.

Rafe as in Rafael, the new boy, is sensual and attractive with an outward rebellious streak, but an inner sensitivity that leaves most girls in the book swooning.

The characters in themselves and their entangled relationships are interesting enough on their own for the book to be a success, but surprisingly, it’s the book’s plot-centred speed, tension, and mystery that will draw readers in to continually turn its pages.

I finished the book in a few days (and only because I stopped to pick up something else that needed to be finished). If I had read it straight through, it probably would have taken me only a day to read—it’s that enjoyable!

Though you are left to guess the true nature of characters in the story, you are bound by unanswered questions that will certainly make you yearn for further explanation. But, that’s not because it’s not well written. It’s because Armstrong gives you just enough information to nibble on until the very end, where you are left wishing you could open, The Calling, the next book in this exotic paranormal YA series and then The Rising, the finale in the trilogy.

THE CALLING, Book Two of the Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong.

(I know. I just visited the library and found not much to my surprise a list of 54 patrons in line ahead of me to reserve the book. Oy! Looks like I’ll be spending some money again on The Book Depository.)

The Gathering is a light read, but not insignificant. It explores Native spirituality and folklore, paranormal mysticism, and lightly touches upon issues affecting teenage character development such as date rape, peer pressure, exclusivity, even assumptions about gender.

And at most, it’s a paranormal, entertaining read. And transformative, exploring the boundaries of folklore and fantasy. I pawed the book with affection and look forward to reading book two of the Darkness Rising series. If you’re an avid YA fiction fan of paranormal power, I doubt you’ll disagree with me.


Zara’s Rating


I read this book as part of my participation in the 2012 Random Reader Challenge for YA Fiction from March to April.