Book Review: Halloween Girl Book One: Promises to Keep by Richard T. Wilson

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A series full of intriguing and complex stories and characters

Book Information

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Blurb:

‘Death is a lot of damned work’, thinks 18 year old ghost, Charlotte Williams, as she braves the unsettled world of the In-Between. It’s here the rebellious teen finds the clues she so desperately needs in her battle against diabolic, secret society, The Hollow (who took her life, and just happen to be trying to end the world!). With wise-cracking, goth ghost, Poe at her side, the duo work to decipher the latest clues to thwart the evil sect at every turn. However, things get hairy when The Hollow kidnap Charlotte’s young son, Luke in retaliation. A devastated Charlotte then suffers with the guilt of screwing up his young life ‘even in death’, before forming a plan with Poe to get him back – and make The Hollow pay.

Purchase Volume 1 (affiliate link): Amazon

Check out the graphic to learn more about how you can win a copy of the short film that this graphic novel is based on!

About the Author

Emmy® Award Winner, Richard T. Wilson serves as the President /Writer-Filmmaker of RTW Productions, Inc., home to nationally recognized educational film company, OutreachArts, Inc. and its award-winning, sister company, Mad Shelley Films/Comics (‘Under the Flowers’, ‘The Halloween Girl’ film & graphic novel series). To date, he has had over 70 of his plays and films produced and seen some this same work featured on ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio, PBS and The Independent Film Channel. However, Wilson is probably best known for creating both the critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning TV/DVD series, ‘Maple Ave’ and the hit, supernatural web series, ‘Under the Flowers’.

Review (No Spoilers)

Hello all! If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you might have seen my previous review for volumes 1 and 2 of Halloween Girl that I posted back in July. I recently was gifted book one of Halloween Girl that includes volumes 1-7, so I’ll be giving my honest review of that collection here.

Before I get started, I want to preface this review by mentioning again that this book is based off of a series of short films that you can watch online for free. I don’t think it’s 100% necessary to do so (you can generally guess who the characters are without needing the full backstory), and I personally found the video shorts very confusing to understand, but here is the link to find them if you’d like to check them out.

The basic premise of Halloween Girl follows a ghost named Charlotte, who died when she was young, shortly after giving birth to her son, Luke. Since her death, she has developed a few supernatural powers in the afterlife that include the ability to take on human form when necessary. With the help of her ghost-friend Poe and an organization known as “The Resistance”, Charlotte is on a mission to stop an evil society known as “The Hollow” from taking over the world (and killing a lot of people along the way).

Overall, Halloween Girl has a very intriguing premise that will vibe with fans of dark fantasy and horror. In book one, readers are introduced to several fascinating characters whose stories range from being innocent bystanders, to vigilante ghost warriors, to servants of the Devil himself. I thought this first installment did a great job with introducing people to the story while also providing us with an ending that felt both closed and open at the same time. The main plot came to a conclusion, but it is clear that these characters’ stories are far from over. Personally, I’d recommend reading this with a buddy or a group because sometimes the plot can get a bit hard to follow and I think those little pockets of confusion could make for great discussion material.

Another thing that I do feel the need to mention is the fact that the graphic artist (as this is a graphic novel) often changes between volumes. I’ve never seen this happen before—and I’m still not sure why it did—so I was very confused as to why the art kept changing until I realized that the artists themselves were changing as well. I was a fan of literally all of the art styles, though, so I surprisingly wasn’t actually bothered by the shifts. I’ve put a gallery of page excerpts below so that you can have a little sneak peak of what I mean. Each picture is a different artist.

If you’re looking for a new graphic novel series to satisfy your spooky needs, definitely give Halloween Girl a browse! And if you’re a book reviewer interested in connecting with Richard and his team, you can find them at @MadShelleyFilms on Twitter. Whenever I’ve received one of these volumes, it’s always come with a nice personalized letter from Richard. He and his publishing crew have honestly been a huge pleasure to work with.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

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#BBNYA Semi-Finalist Spotlight: City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA website, https://www.bbnya.com/, or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

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#BBNYA Semi-Finalist Spotlight: Strangest Day So Far by GV Pearce

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA website, https://www.bbnya.com/, or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

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Blog Tour Review: Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A perfect option for your middle grade October reads!

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Laekan Zea Kemp for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Reviews: Amira & Hamza Book 1 & Book 2 by Samira Ahmed

Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds — 3.5 stars
Amira & Hamza: The Quest for the Ring of Power — 4 stars

A fun middle grade fantasy series full of good lessons and good laughs

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Samira Ahmed for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with complimentary ARCs and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A mixture of gothic historical fiction, murder mystery, and haunting supernatural elements

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Adalyn Grace for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun middle grade fantasy full of adventure and life lessons

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Reese Eschmann for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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#TheWriteReads #BlogTour: The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

An adult literary alternative history novel perfect for fans of commedia dell’arte

Thank you so much to The Write Reads, Rebellion Publishing, and Tom Beckerlegge for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

Review (First Impressions)

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

Initial Thoughts (No Spoilers)

Welcome back to my blog! Today I’m doing something a bit different and posting some initial thoughts/impressions for a tour book rather than a full review because I’m around 60% through this novel and think that I’ll actually restart it from the beginning now that I have a better idea of how to read it.

Depending on where you look up information about The Carnival of Ash, you’ll get different impressions of what the novel is exactly. Goodreads and several blurbs available online (such as via Amazon and Simon and Schuster) have this tagged as an adult fantasy novel, but in reality it’s more of a literary historical fiction book with some fantasy elements. As many of my fellow reviewers have pointed out, the genre that best encapsulates what The Carnival of Ash is would probably be commedia dell’arte. It reminded me a lot of The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros.

The writing of this book is beautiful, and the overall plot is one that could be read as several short stories that intertwine with each other, rather than one singular plot. As you make your way through the novel, you’ll get to meet several characters, all with different (often over-the-top) personalities and dramatized story arcs. Depending on how good you are with keeping up with people’s names, I might suggest that you keep a handy character/plot guide next to you as you read for easy reference. I’m extremely bad at remembering which character is who so it’s always useful for me to have something like that, especially for 600 page novels like this one.

The tour has over a week left! If you’d like to follow along with the rest you can find the tour schedule here.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Book Review: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A feminist retelling/remix of Sleeping Beauty that captured my heart.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

I read this book as part of Trope-ical Readathon and I was definitely not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. A Spindle Splintered is a novella that is a multi-dimensional feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I’ve actually never watched Sleeping Beauty and I always get a bit confused between how the basic story premise differs from Snow White. A girl goes to sleep because of a curse and is woken up by a prince’s kiss. That’s the same for both right?

The thing that A Spindle Splintered did so well was that it incorporated several different versions of what Sleeping Beauty‘s tale might look like, all while actively pushing back against the fact that at it’s center, Sleeping Beauty is basically the tale of sexual assault. After all, a sleeping person is not actually capable of giving consent.

On top of that, the book also does an amazing job at portraying a healthy relationship. The main characters in A Spindle Splintered are basically constantly flirting between platonic and a romantic relationships. There’s even a kind of complete-circuit love triangle thing going on at certain points that I was actually enjoying quite a bit despite hating the love triangle trope. There was absolutely no way I was going to get upset at all these women caring about each other so wholesomely. These characters managed to be relatable and realistic while also being unfailingly supportive of one another. It was incredible to witness.

A Spindle Splintered is the first book in Alix E. Harrow’s Fractured Fables series, and I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

#TheWriteReads #BBNYA #BlogTour Review: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The adult fantasy/romance that my adult self was looking for.

Thank you so much to The Write Reads and Josie Jaffrey for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

Josie is the author of multiple novels and short stories. Most of those are set in the Silverse, a pre- and post-apocalyptic world filled with vampires and zombies.

She is currently working on a range of fantasy and historical fiction projects (both adult and YA). Ultimately, she hopes to be a hybrid author, both traditionally- and self-published.

After finishing her degree in Literae Humaniores (Classics) at the University of Oxford, Josie wasn’t sure what to do with her life.

She slogged through a brief stint working for an investment bank in London during the 2008 credit crunch, then converted to law and qualified as a solicitor specialising in intellectual property. She worked at a law firm for five years before moving to a UK-based international publisher in 2016. Whilst she loved law, in the end she didn’t love it quite as much as writing, which she now does almost full time.

Josie lives in Oxford with her husband and two cats (Sparky and Gussie), who graciously permit human cohabitation in return for regular feeding and cuddles. The resulting cat fluff makes it difficult for Josie to wear black, which is largely why she gave up being a goth. Although the cats are definitely worth it, she still misses her old wardrobe.

Review

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.

It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.

When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.

To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.
Body bags on standby.

May Day is the first book in Josie Jaffrey’s Seekers series, an urban fantasy series set in Oxford, England. 

Review (No Spoilers)

I was so excited to get a chance to read May Day because I missed the first tour that TheWriteReads hosted for it. I’m not sure why I didn’t sign up the first time around because this novel was perfect for my vampire-obsessed self.

My obsession with vampires probably started when I was in middle school and my sister introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Following that, I read and watched many vampire stories including Angel, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, Being Human, and Dracula. I was always a sucker for a good vampire romance. On top of that, I also grew up watching and reading many detective/police/mysteries. So when I saw that May Day is not only a story about vampires but a story about vampire detectives, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

May Day follows the story of a queer female vampire detective named Jack Valentine (amazing name btw). Jack and her colleagues are investigating the murder of a human that appears to be supernatural in origin. Instead of having a straightforward investigation however, what Jack gets is a twist and tangle of dark secrets, hidden societies, and dangerous men.

I enjoyed reading this novel a lot, even despite the inclusion of the despised love triangle trope that always manages to pop up in vampire fantasies. The pacing and plot keep you hooked until the very end and the world that Josie Jaffrey has built is well-thought out and interesting. She also did a great job in making the characters relatable and realistic, despite their undead and otherworldly nature. I’m excited to see where this story takes us, especially since the temperature on the hate-to-love romance brewing in this novel seems to slowly be edging its way towards flaming hot.

This tour includes reviews of both book 1 (May Day) and book 2 (Judgement Day) in the Seekers series, so be sure to keep an eye out for all of the amazing reviews being shared! If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.


I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.

BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website http://www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official. 

The sign-ups are now open for BBNYA 2022 for authors and panelists. 

Click here to enter your book.
Click here to sign up to be a panelist.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.