Review of The Medium by C. J. Archer

The Medium
Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Book 1
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Fantasy
Number of Pages: 261

Date Started: July 13, 2016
Date Finished: July 18, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)TheMedium_Huge
Seventeen year-old spirit medium Emily Chambers has a problem. Actually, she has several. As if seeing dead people isn’t a big enough social disadvantage, she also has to contend with an escaped demon and a handsome ghost with a secret past. And then there’s the question of her parentage. Being born an entire year after her father’s death (yes, a year) and without the pale skin of other respectable English ladies, Emily is as much a mystery as the dead boy assigned to her.

Jacob Beaufort’s spirit has been unable to crossover since his death. It might have something to do with the fact he was murdered. Or it might not. All he knows is, he has been assigned by the Otherworld’s administrators to a girl named Emily. A girl who can see and touch him. A girl who released a shape-shifting demon into the mortal realm. Together they must send the demon back before it wreaks havoc on London. It should be a simple assignment, but they soon learn there’s nothing simple when a live girl and a dead boy fall in love.

I wasn’t sure if I’d find this book to my taste after having fallen so very hard for The Ministry of Curiosities book series by C. J. Archer but I certainly wasn’t disappointed!  Emily has a very peculiar talent– she can talk to ghosts.  Archer did an amazing job of showing the very different reactions of society in regards to Emily’s abilities, some asking for her help to talk to deceased loved ones while others are adamant that she is a fraud, no matter what type of personal information from a past loved one she can relate.  While not everyone’s thoughts and feelings can be seen from Emily’s limited point of view, I found that Emily’s reactions were quite genuine for an inexperienced young adult.  Emily is a daring and thoughtful girl, despite knowing she doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about herself, but she doesn’t let being different keep her from doing things, which is a situation most people can relate to being in at one point or another.

I enjoyed this novel and the ending, which leaves the reader with a resolution to the overall problem while leaving questions to wonder about.  Though some say that this isn’t a good tactic, I find that many book series are intertwined, with bits of mystery in the first book that might not be fully explained until the last in the series.  I definitely recommend this book, and look forward to reading the second and third in the series.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

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Review of Tangled Beauty by K. L. Middleton

Tangled Beauty
Tangled, Book 1
By Charlie N. Holmberg

Star Rating: 
Genre: Romance
Number of Pages: 220

Date Started: July 6, 2016
Date Finished: July 6, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)tangled
Sinclair Jeffries thought she knew what she was getting into when her zany, gay friend, Jesse Eddington, talked her into portraying his girlfriend during his parent’s anniversary party on Huntington Beach. That is, until she met Reed, Jesse’s sexy as hell older brother, and ends up getting much more than what she’d bargained for.

Reed Eddington assumed his future was settled until he met Sinclair, his brother’s so-called “girlfriend”, but the raw, sexual tension between them is hard to ignore. As he watches their ruse from the sidelines, he finds himself wanting to uncover more than just their amusing little facade.

Due to sexual content and heavy subject matter, this book is recommended for ages 18+. This book has dark humor, romance, and suspense.

I am still trying to fill the void in me that not being able to instantly continue with The Ministry of Curiosities left.  Unfortunately, I seem to be looking in all the wrong places.  I was really psyched to start this novel.  The premise sounds like it could be quite intriguing but the writing itself is atrocious.

Not only do the characters talk in a way that seems unnatural and odd, but a lot of the novel is filled with clichés, idioms, stereotypes, and unrealistic scenarios that it was almost instantly a book I knew I’d dislike.  Some of these include, but are not limited to: someone outright having a conversation with her “boyfriend’s” mother about how she was adopted, models having bad tempers and only eating vegetables, people in the show business being cheaters and into drugs, and several bits of advice such as “you only have to please yourself” and “women are predictable but most are unpredictable.”  On top of that, there also seems to be no relevant plot, with a villain thrown in seemingly so he can later be in the next book which I will NOT be reading.  A lot is told to the author from the narrator without showing the reader anything, which gets monotonous, boring, and dry.  Even the ending left much to be desired, with the supposedly strong and in charge female protagonist letting go of why she was upset without ever confronting Reed about it.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
K.L. Middleton is from the Midwest. She is also the author of the popular Zombie Games (series) and Night Roamers (series). Visit her website at

Review of Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet
By Charlie N. Holmberg

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 304

Date Started: June 28, 2016
Date Finished: July 3, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)51odUtgGCTL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

I was quite happy when this book appeared on my kindle through the power of pre-order.  I’d just finished all of the books that are out in The Ministry of Curiosities book series, and I had previously been hooked on The Paper Magician series (though I didn’t care as much for the last book).  I had also read Followed By Frost, Holmberg’s first YA book.  Unfortunately, this book was a huge let down.

There was quite a bit of originality with Maire’s baking and what Fyel is, and the banter between them was rather enjoyable.  There were some interesting fairy tale tie ins, that didn’t make sense until near to the very end.  Towards the last fourth of the book the novel shifted and the focus of Maire remembering who she is becomes overshadowed by a desire that had briefly been suggested a few times previously, but hadn’t seemed like a large focus of what Maire wanted in her life.  Given the supposed intense desire Maire has, it makes me a bit apprehensive about claiming this is a book specifically geared towards teens.  Since the characters in this book are in their 20s, this should NOT be considered a teen book.

Although Maire has a special baking ability, she lacks personality and deeper characterization, only focusing on three things: remembering her past, escaping her captor, and baking.  The moral of facing up to your actions and having redemption is great, but the novel suffers from too little time focused on what Maire did and more importantly, not enough of Maire exploring why it was wrong.

holmbergAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Charlie Nicholes Holmberg was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to two parents who sacrificed a great deal to give their very lazy daughter a good education. As a result, Charlie learned to hate uniforms, memorized all English prepositions in alphabetical order, and t mastered the art of Reed-Kellogg diagramming a sentence at age seven. She entered several writing contests in her elementary years and never placed.

Being a nerd, Charlie started writing fan-fiction as a teenager in between episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She became a full-fledged band geek with mediocre talent in high school, where she met her husband Jordan Holmberg. While she strove to win his attention by baking him cookies and throwing ramen noodles at his house, he didn’t actually ask her out until six years later.

Charlie began taking writing seriously during her undergrad at Brigham Young University, where she majored in English and minored in editing. She finally won a few writing contests. She graduated with her BA in 2010 and got hitched three months later. Shortly afterwards, her darling husband dragged her to Moscow, Idaho, where he subsequently impregnated her.

In summer 2013, after collecting many rejection letters and making a quilt out of them, Charlie sold her ninth novel, The Paper Magician, and its sequel to 47North with the help of her wonderful agent, Marlene Stringer. Someday she will own a dog.

(Did she mention her third book, The Master Magician, totally made the WSJ bestseller list? Because it totally made the WSJ bestseller list.)

Charlie is also a board member for the Deep Magic ezine of science fiction and fantasy. Learn more at