Welcome to Day Nine of Something Wicked Strikes! I have a creepy, gothic Southern story for you with ghosts and hoodoo and a murder mystery.....but before we get to that, I want to make sure you visit these stops on the Wicked Tour:
Gin @ Gin's Book Notes: River of Bones by Angela Townsend
Now back to your regularly scheduled Wicked Post.... as I mentioned I have a spooky, paranormal tale set down in the Deep South. This is a NA read for all of you who are tired of the same old same old in the genre, here finally, is something new. I am pleased to host author Angie Sandro today. She is the author of the Dark Paradise Trilogy.
Angie Sandro was born at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Within six weeks, she began the first of eleven relocations throughout the United States, Spain, and Guam before the age of eighteen.
Friends were left behind. The only constants in her life were her family and the books she shipped wherever she went. Traveling the world inspired her imagination and allowed her to create her own imaginary friends. Visits to her father's family in Louisiana inspired this story.
Please welcome Angie:
Hello, everyone! I’d like to thank Heidi for inviting me to participate in Something Wicked Strikes. It’s an honor to be here. Heidi asked if I would share my biggest fear. I’m pretty sure my fear is one a lot of people share—death.
My fear of death started at the age of six. My grandfather came to visit to help us celebrate Christmas. He passed away in our home on Christmas Eve. I remember watching as the paramedics tried to revive him.
He looked like a fragile husk of himself, and at that moment, the finality of death hit me. His soul, the essential spark which infused him, was gone. Only his shell remained.
My grandfather, whom I adored, left me without warning. Without giving me a hug and kiss goodbye like he always did. And I realized his departure wasn’t willing.
For months after his passing, I had nightmares about my parents dying. I’d wake up crying in a full panic. Nothing my mother said after those dreams calmed me down, because I knew her words were false.
Everything was not okay.
Death is the one thing nobody can escape. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, death will come for you in the end.
Throughout time, people have tried to find meaning in this last phase of our human existence. Yet, even for those who believe in some version of an afterlife, Death is still the creeping terror that invades your dreams and wakes you up at night wondering… What’s on the other side? What waits for me? Nothing, emptiness?
I choose to believe that death is just another amazing journey. It’s not the end, but the beginning.
In truth, this belief could be the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself.
What comes after we die is the greatest of all mysteries. The sum total of all my fears. The end game. And cross my heart, hope to not die, it is a mystery I don’t care to solve any time soon!
In hindsight, I think I wrote about spirits and the afterlife in the Dark Paradise series as a way for me to explore my fears and analyze my own beliefs. This series provided an opportunity for me to explain the unexplainable. It lessened the grip of fear on my own heart so I could fully appreciate life in all its intricacies and beauty.
I don’t dream about death anymore. Yes, it’s still my biggest fear, but it is such a tiny emotion compared to the soul-cleansing joy I derive from being alive. Life is too short to dwell on death, no matter how long you spend on earth. I know this sounds cliché, but live each moment to the fullest. Enjoy the beauty of being a unique soul in a world full of others. Love and laugh as if each day could be your last. Appreciate every single breath. Death comes to everyone, but life comes first. It’s beautiful and precious.
Don’t squander it by letting fear dictate the terms of your existence.
Thanks so much, Angie for stopping by and posting today as part of Something Wicked! What a beautiful post! Angie comes with treats today. She is offering a chance to win the entire Dark Paradise Trilogy in ebook format. There will be two lucky winners and this giveaway is open Internationally!
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter after reading the Contest Policies. Good Luck!
Here is my review:
Dark Paradise (Dark Paradise #1) by Angie Sandro
Mala LaCroix has spent her whole life trying to escape her destiny. As the last in a long line of "witch women," she rejects the notion of spirits and hoodoo and instead does her best to blend in. But when she finds a dead body floating in the bayou behind her house, Mala taps into powers she never knew she had. She's haunted by visions of the dead girl, demanding justice and vengeance.
Landry Prince has always had a crush on Mala, but when Mala discovers his sister, murdered and marked in some sort of Satanic ritual, he wonders if all the rumors about the LaCroix family are true. Yet after Mala uses her connection to the spirit world to identify his sister's killer, he starts to form his own bond to her . . . a very physical one. As they move closer to each other and closer to the truth, Mala and Landry must risk everything—their families, their love, and even their lives.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Forever Yours
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review.
Three and a half stars: A gothic, atmospheric tale with ghosts and big secrets.
Mala traverses through the murky swamp, looking for her trap. Gators and all kinds of creatures inhabit this swamp, but Mala is undeterred. She has grown up in the bayou and gators don't frighten her easily. Unfortunately, today isn't Mala's day. When she reaches for the trap, her rope breaks. She can either leave it or go hunting for it. Mala despite the alarm bells going off in her head, decides to go after the trap. Her foot squelches down in the mud, sinking so deep she can't move, and then she sees large ripples moving across the pond. Her heart skitters in fear, but what she sees next is even more terrifying than a hungry gator. A dead body floats on the water before her. Terrified, Mala pulls out the corpse and runs for help, not knowing that accusatory fingers will be pointed at her because of her heritage. Can Mala help track down the real killer?
What I Liked:
- Finally, a New Adult book that isn't the same old same old. This is a NA with a gothic Southern backdrop, eerie mystery, ghosts and hoodoo. If you are looking for a NA paranormal this is a good one to try. I was thrilled to finally get a NA book that I liked.
- Mala or Malaise St. Crouix is a character that I couldn't help but to get behind and root for. Mala's mother, Jasmine, is rumored to be a witch, and she makes no attempts to hide her profession as the town whore. Mala has endured years of looks and whispers, but she doesn't let it get to her. She continues to hold her head high, work hard and reach for her goal of being a deputy. She is resourceful and unafraid to tackle her problems head on, whether it be a gator in the swamp or the town mean girl. I am always a fan of underdog characters, and Mala fits the mold perfectly.
- Mala's mother, Jasmine, was a character who took me by surprise. At first meeting, she stumbles home drunk, puking in the flowers. Not the most impressive introduction. She spends her days as a prostitute and the rest of the time drunk. She and Mala may not always see eye to eye but when it matters, Jasmine loves her daughter. As the story moves forward, I learned more about Jasmine, and I actually got to the point where I liked her. She has plenty of secrets for sure. I will be interested to see if she makes appearances in the next books.
- I liked the solid murder mystery. After Mala finds the body floating in the swamp, strange things begin to happen. Mala and Landry are haunted by the dead girl, Lainey. It seems Lainey has a score to settle and it is up to Mala and her brother, Landry, to catch her killer. I had no clue as to who the murderer was, and I was shocked at the final revelations. I didn't see that coming.
- This book is told through dual perspectives, Mala and Landry. I like when a book uses two voices because I enjoy seeing things through both character's eyes.
- Even though this is the first in the series, the book wraps up nicely at the end. Most of the main story lines are completed, while a few niggling questions are left unanswered. I appreciated that there wasn't an annoying cliffhanger, and I was satisfied with the conclusion.
And The Not So Much:
- I struggled with the romance in this one. There is almost a love triangle, but not really, if that makes sense. In the beginning, Mala has a long time cruse on one boy, and she is wary of the other. Then suddenly, Mala is attracted to the second boy whom she used to fear, and her long time crush is relegated to friend status. I just never felt a strong connection to the romance because I don't think it solidified. Mala seems hesitant and uncertain of her feelings, and I am not convinced that she really has feelings for either suitor. The romance for me is still in the development stage, and I am interested to see how it will go from here, and who she will pick.
- I struggled a bit with the pacing. The first part of the story is eerie and exciting, but then toward the middle, it lagged a bit. Then the end hits fast and furious, so fast that I almost felt like it was moving too quickly in comparison to the previous section. Still the book definitely ends with a bag and it is worth the wait.
- I was disappointed that after all the buildup regarding the missing diary that it is forgotten in the mayhem. I wanted to know after all the searching what was in that diary.
- I was hoping for a bit more hoodoo and manifestation of witchy powers, but that didn't happen. However, the book ends after it sets up the next book, which from what I gather will be filled with dark magic and hoodoo.
Dark Paradise was an creepy, mysterious NA read. Finally, a NA book that takes a new direction. This is a book with ghosts, hoodoo, murder and secrets in a small Southern town. If you like gothic, atmospheric reads this is one to check out.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
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