When Life Gives You Demons | Review

Greetings readers!

Catchy titles are really important. Titles in general are crucial to catching that readers attention. And you know what makes a great title. A pun. A play on words.

So instantly when I read this books title, I pressed request before I even read the synopsis. I mean the play on words had me giggling in the waiting room of the building I was in. Plus the cover! It’s a lemon with a devil doodle on it. I was sold sold sold.

So how did this impulsive request work out for me? Read on and find out.

When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn

When Life Gives You Demons

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pub Date: July 17th, 2018
Price: $23.50
ISBN: 9781250158239

Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.


Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

*I was sent an ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review!*

I did not expect to like this as much as I did to be honest. Like I expected some really cheesy and cliche plot, with cooky characters and supernatural elements that I like to make fun of. But nope. I mean it was a little cheesy yes. But it was also quite fun!

What I Liked:

Shelby. I liked her a lot. She was super clumsy, slightly sarcastic, but very determined. Her attitude towards her demon hunting life was pretty much what you would expect from a teenager. They don’t want to run in the family business, but they do it because they love their family. She was a fun character to journey the book with. Her inner dialogue always held a great punchline–or she did something very awkward/foolish that brightened the scene. The way she talked about crushes/romance and her reactions, was where I really connected her. It was one big #relate.

The relationship between her and her Uncle Roy was so sweet. It’s not exactly like a father-daughter relationship (nor a Father-daughter one…hehehe….get it?) They were like friends who kept discovering new things about each other, getting into silly fights and coming together to make it work in the end. It was so cute.

I have already mentioned that this book has its fair share of humour. And this is what I liked the most about the book. Going in, I thought that I would be getting all sorts of moody, broody characters. That everything would have a greying filter over it making every scene dark and heavy, but nope. This was full of fun. It was a super light read and yes there are those dark moments, for those who really need them. I personally loved the lightness of it and how easy it was to read.

Honeybourn’s writing style isn’t anything haunting or rather special, but it does it’s job and keeps you hooked. The pacing is great and it doesn’t lag in too many places. The dull moments are very few and I really enjoyed the exciting bits!

The exorcising parts were….quite interesting. Whereas I expected something super dark and horrific, I got this bloody humour. I found it all the more entertaining.

If some of you out there are afraid of this book coming off as preachy because Uncle Roy is a priest, I can put your worries to rest. Despite the book being about a couple of Catholics running around expelling demons, I don’t recall there being any lectures on virtues. (I think the characters go to Mass like once…?) But like any story, the book has its themes, and some of them cross over with Catholic beliefs.

The romance, I’ll admit, could have been more swoonier. The love interest was great, a little flat, but I liked him for the most part. What I liked more were Shelby’s reactions when she had even the slightest interaction with him. That was funny.

What I Disliked:

It had its cheesy moments. I can’t read the words “demon hunting”  without cringing a little on the inside, I’m sorry!

I would have also liked a little more complexity to the plot. The book was really short, but did that have to mean that the plot had to be super simple??? I would have liked a little more intensity and high stakes.

And don’t even get me started on the quicky chicky clean ending. I do not take those well. I need proper resolution. With underlined consequences. Thank you very much.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was a demonic, supernatural read. But it was super light, fun and hilarious at times. I think that Honeybourn created a great cast of characters and a fun adventure, should you ever need to read something quick and easy!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: For the ones who want to go on a fun demon hunt, yeah!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Did you enjoy it? What books do you love despite them being a little cheesy?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Price Guide to the Occult | Review

Greetings readers!

I am a very lucky duck! The lovely people over at Candlewick Press sent me a copy of The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton. This book caught my eye recently as I was scrolling through Goodreads and other blogs and it sounded absolutely fantastic, so I was ecstatic to find it in my mail!

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Publisher: Candlewick
Pub Date: March 13, 2018
Price: $21.99 CAD
ISBN: 9780763691103

From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it.

In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

Buy It!

Amazon | Chapters-Indigo | McNally Robinson | Book Depository

TW: Self harm

Well. This was quite a story. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this book. I knew it had something to do about witches, but other than that and the synopsis I didn’t really know where this story was headed. It had some sensitive content that I was not expecting, so if you are someone who is uncomfortable with themes of self-harm I’ll put in a fair warning here.

What I Liked:


Nor: Despite reading Not for like half the book, I really enjoyed Nor’s character. She was struggling throughout the book with inner darkness and fears that have haunted her since her childhood, especially those surrounding memories of her mother. She has always wanted to lead a quiet, almost invisible life, but when you are a witch, from a well-known witch family, invisibility is harder to attain. I really enjoyed reader her journey of growth, her fight to save herself and those she loves.

Although I am no expert in the matter, I think her plight against temptation and giving in to self-harm was well done. It’s a hard battle to fight and even a harder to embrace the scars left behind, but I think Walton did a good job of communicating that through Nor.

Savvy: A minor character and Nor’s best friend, but I had to give her a quick shout out because she was absolutely hilarious and brightened a rather dark book.

Atmosphere & Setting:

I don’t know what it is about islands, but they are totally perfect for witchy settings. The atmosphere was perfect for the book. Mysterious, dense and magical. The whole time I was reading the images in my mind appeared to be cool greys and blues with hints of green because there were so many dark things going on. And as the book progresses and things get worse for our characters, the island gets foggier and spookier. The setting just matched the story to a tee and I loved it!


Magical settings do not just make themselves. I have to hand it to Walton, her writing is quite beautiful. Lots of beautiful descriptions and passages that added to the wonder of the book. It was clear and never really confusing. I’m amazed at how much detail she was able to get in despite it being a shorter book. It was truly visual writing and I am in love!!

Magic! Beautiful and Brutal:

I really enjoyed the magic system in this book. It was “hereditary” but different each time. Each Blackburn daughter was bestowed a different burden that was unique and somehow connected to their original matriarch. I think the genealogy of the of the Blackburn Witch family was really fun to explore…though I might have been confused at times keeping track of so many witched.

But the magic in this one is intense. I mean apart from the very useful healing magic and abilities to communicate with animals that Nor and other members of her family could cast, Nor’s mother was another thing entirely. Every time she was present in a scene things got ten times darker and more bloody. It was gruesome and quite–no–VERY bloody. Mix in Walton’s ability to create such stark images with her writing…y’all I was cringing (but also kind of enjoying it!)

What I Disliked:

I Needed a Family Tree:

This book starts with a really long prologue about the original Blackburn Matriarch and the eight original families of the island. Three pages in and I already couldn’t keep track of all the family names and people that were involved in the original curse. Then throughout the book, Nor brings up past witches and I’d lose count of who was who with what powers and whom they got involved with. It was one big question of WHO? I think a family tree would have cleared up A LOT of confusion and just made the story much easier to follow.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is not quite what I expected it to be. It covered a really hard, but important topic, it got very dark until there was some light at the end and it had a bittersweet romance which kind of hurt me a little. The ending was also something that kind of threw me off…is the author going to do a sequel? I don’t think so…but that was a very rude–yet satisfying–open ending she left for readers.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars!

Recommend: Yes! I think this is the year of the witches and you definitely want to be caught up on all your wicked reads!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this yet? What are some of your favourite witchy reads? Who is your favourite fictional witch character?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


The Wicked Deep | Review

Greetings readers!

Sometimes a book’s hook-line just kind of…well…hooks you. And when the hook-line is:

Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials in this haunting story about three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.”

You throw it onto your TBR without a second thought.

I love, love, love Hocus Pocus. It is one of my favourite Halloween movies. Just enough ghost and creep factor mixed in with humour and fun. I’ve watched Practical Magic exactly once and was too freaked out to watch it again (I was young), but I do recall a well done creepy movie. And well the Salem Witch trials are haunting just thinking about them.

So when a book is a combo of all this witchy and magical goodness, I expect a lot.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep
via Goodreads

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Indigo |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

This book releases March 6th! Be sure to check it out!

*Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an ARC via Netgalley. This did not influence my opinion in any way!*

What an absolute ride this was. I do not even know exactly how to write this review. This book made me suffer, but not in the way you might think. By the end I was dizzy and even thinking about it now pulls some heart strings. I was amazed and stumped by this book.

What I Liked:

Hook-Line Delivery:

The Hocus Pocus was there. The Practical Magic was there. The Salem Witch trials were there. They were visible without being too forced, without having to scratch your head and think hard. I loved the influences they were subtle and interesting. I especially love how all three references crafted the sisters and their story. It also added to the creep-factor most definitely.

via giphy.com

Spooky and Perfectly Haunting Atmosphere:

I am amazed at Ernshaw’s writing. It was simply beautifully. Eloquently gothic and just right for this kind of story. She transported me effortlessly into the story’s setting. I was there by the sea, I could smell the salty air, feel the cold wind running in my hair and hear the deadly song playing in my ears. The island setting was perfect. I don’t know about you, but water ghosts are really creepier than land ghosts. At one point, early on, I kind of had to stop reading, things got a little too creepy for me and reading this book at one a.m. when my imagination runs wild, would have probably given me nightmares. Eerie and beautiful are what this book was.

Characters: (To be 100% honest, I have no idea how to talk about the characters without spoiling major things, but I’ll try.)

Penny: Okay….I really enjoyed Penny’s character. She was interesting and yet still very mysterious. You think you know her and yet you do not know much. She really was a tricky character to follow. Yeah….

Bo: He felt a little one-dimensional. I never felt a super close attraction to him and he is also a mystery for most of the novel. Then the end comes and I just don’t know if I liked him as much…but I also sympathize with him…..???

confused big brother GIF by Big Brother After Dark
via giphy.com

*Thanks for being vague, Rendz*

The Legend Snippets:

They were perfectly placed and well balanced. They gave just enough context without giving away too much or becoming confusing. They often revealed a lot of details that made the story the characters were living in make more sense. Still, they wouldn’t give everything away and sometimes brought in more mystery to the story that led to more revelations and secrets being kept by characters.

The Twist and Then Some:

Right at the beginning of the book, I guessed one possible twist and doubted myself the whole way. The author wrote it out in a way that made me forget my theory quite often and then it hits you with a full force. I was shocked and yet proud that I had been right. I was whisper yelling in my room at midnight. At just when you think that it is all the author has to reveal, more and more revelations follow and my heart could not take it…I was beyond stressed.

What I Disliked:

One thing that really messed me up, The Romance:

1. It was Insta-love. I never really understood exactly why Penny and Bo fell for each other. Other than that they were following the same mystery, what did they have in common? And as for getting to know each other, they each kept their secrets…so what exactly was the basis of this deep love for one another?

2. I am conflicted beyond belief. I am stuck, stuck, stuck. The twists really messed up how I saw this ship. I want to believe that the ship is true, but I don’t. I do not think that either had sincere feelings for each other. By the very end, I pitied Penny because I felt like she got the short end of the stick and I felt that Bo didn’t really have genuine feelings for her. And I don’t like this “he eventually learned to love her” nonsense. That does not work for me. No, thank you.

Should you guys read this, I think some of you would disagree with my view. But I cannot help but think that this ship is not genuine.

via tenor.com

Overall, like the song a siren, this book captivated me. It hardly had any dull moments and I was reading it for long periods of time, completely focused on nothing but this book and the going-ons in it. Shea Ernshaw did a wonderful job with her debut! I know I had that one issue that I cannot get over, but I think a lot of you would still enjoy this book despite that bump.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars (It’s a “good” 4)
Recommend: Uh, yeah. I need to talk to people about this now.

Let me know what you think! What are some of your favourite paranormal reads? Which books definitely delivered their hook-lines? Are you thinking of picking this up?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


Black Birds of the Gallows | Review

Greetings readers!

There are lots of reasons books attract me. There is the pretty cover. The promising synopsis. The one little element that has me going: YAS! This one had all three. I mean just look at that cover! The synopsis, oh my! Harbingers of death! And that “YAS” element: Black birds. I don’t know why, but Rendz was instantly intrigued by that ominous title!

Black Birds of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Black Bird of the Gallows
via Goodreads

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

*I was provided a free digital copy from Entangled Teen via Netgalley, which in no way affects my opinion!*

Um…yes! That synopsis just spells intrigue all over it! Harbingers of death!! This novel was very fun. It had a lot of ominous and spooky elements that payed homage to the death themes, the characters were funny and quirky and the overall story moved quite well! It was also a very quick read, which I appreciated!

What I liked:


Angie: Angie was a very interesting character. She was the shy, meek girl who stayed in the shadows, she was also a girl with a difficult past and a girl with an opportunistic future. She had an alter-ego and everything! I liked her character a lot, she was quirky and curious. I mean that opening scene had me laughing out loud. Her curiosity gets her into some trouble, but when does curiosity ever lead to anything but trouble?

Reece: Reece is your typical YA kind of guy. Hot? Check. Broody? Check. Swoony? Double check (He is from Spain, hello!…..well “from Spain”) Has a difficult past that he can only share with the female main character? Check. Bonus: He can shape-shift. He’s not an unlikable kind of guy, but he just wasn’t very outstanding! I needed a little more meat to his character to really cement some feelings. But definitely Boy Toy material.

There several other characters in this book like Angie’s friends, who brought a lot of comedy! Angie’s relationship with her father was absolutely precious. It wasn’t distant or distraught, but very strong and fortified! So kudos to Kassel for skipping that absent-parental YA trope!

The Birds & the Bees: No not that kind of birds and bees, I literally mean the birds and the bees. Two beings that coexist in this book in order to bring death. It’s not exactly team-building kind of work and it’s not a pleasant symbiotic relationship but wherever one is the other will be! And it was creepy as hell. I will never look at bees the same, or crows for that matter. Neither of which have a prominent presence where I live. However, I did like how these two creatures held their own little mythology and magic. It was a great way to stir up trouble in the town, without it being obvious.

The Atmosphere: It’s cold, it’s chilly, it’s darn right creepy! The isolated town in the mountain where supernatural things are bound to happen was the perfect  setting to this novel! Kassel did a great job of setting up all those mysterious tones and the mood was always paranoia. What was going to happen next? A perfect, perfect setting!

Not to mention the “villain”, who can also be argued as a “victim” was super odd. He was borderline stalker creepy! With faces that changed and bees that literally pour out of his mouth! EW! But his reasoning for his intentions was great. It is something you want to sympathize with, but at the same time negate because he is doing horrible things!

What I Disliked:

Backstory Could’ve Been Stronger: Backstory was a huge element in this book. HUGE! And it totally fell for me. 😦 I felt like Angie’s and Reece’s stories needed to be focused on more, to really understand how they came to be who they are. Although Angie did have her story touched upon various times in the book, I felt like it needed just a little more. As for Reece, there wasn’t really any of that broody backstory to reference.

Origins of the magic that dwells in the bird and bees also could have been further explained. There was no clear story as to where these beings came from other than that there was a curse and more powerful beings controlling them!

Resolution: It was just too squeaky clean. Kassel does this thing (which I don’t always appreciate) where a vast amount of time passes between the end of the conflict and now the characters are back to their regular lives, but it’s not an epilogue. There is no post-struggle drama…everybody is just cool with what passed. And though I don’t want to spoil, Reece’s resolution to his little bird problem was in no way satisfying. I had a lot of “whys” and “hows” by the end of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was fun and creepilicious. It has some of those typical paranormal tropes and it’s rather predictable here and there. Still, I liked it. It grabbed my attention and it was a solid story!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! For my lovers of Autumn who want a deliciously creepy read!

Let me know what you think! What elements of a book really make you want to pick it up? What’s your favourite tropey paranormal read?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


The Ninth Circle Mini Review

Greetings readers,

On one of my Net Galley splurges, I stumbled upon this book and requested it because it sounded really cool and magical! I thought the cover was intriguing to, so it was an instant Rendz-magnet! It turned out to be okay and not all that magical!

The Ninth Circle by C.A. Harland

The Ninth Circle, Book 1: Fire (The Ninth Circle #1)
via Goodreads

Tala Morgenstern lives for the hunt, embracing her heritage as a demon hunter. When her younger sister, Hartley, disappears while on the trail of her long-lost father, Tala must seek the help of her other sister Aiva, who has turned her back on the underworld of magic and hunting. Suspecting demonic involvement, Tala and Aiva race to find Hartley before she can be claimed by hell.

Their search takes them deeper into the bowels of Dublin’s criminal underground, where the gangs are led by demons, and the currency is souls. With each Circle of hell bringing new dangers, and new revelations about their own place in the demon hunting world, Tala and Aiva have to rely on each other if they are to stand a chance of fighting their way to the Ninth Circle, and the demon lord who is waiting for them.

*I was provided a free digital copy via Net Galley and the publisher.*

I just could not get into this book. There were intriguing moments, but nothing that made me go “Wow” or do a dramatic intake of breath. Nope. Just, meh. I did giggle sometimes but mostly I just stared at the screen blank-faced with no emotion.

The Likes

  • The whole exploration of the nine levels of Hell. Each level was distinguished from the other, One being the weakest and Nine being the top dog.
  • The different types of demons. There were specific mythological names used in the book, which I really liked. They each had their own specific power and appearance.
  • There was some humour so that was at least helping me get through some scenes.
  • The Irish setting, with mentions of Canada (Classic Patriotic Rendz)
  • Conner and he was in the book for two seconds.

The Dislikes

  • Boring. I’m sorry, but this book was just not as entertaining as I hoped it would be. All Tala and Aiva did was fight, get injured, rest, repeat for the first half of the book!
  • The main characters both bothered me, they were just kind of there. o-o
  • Why does Tala call Aiva, Ivy? Like explain this to me please! I don’t get why she is called by another name. There is a reason, it was just never explained!
  • Hartley is actually a b*t*h.
  • Romance involved Tala flirting with a bartender (then killing him) and having a one-night stand with a single father. Nothing concrete ever happened.
  • The Morrigan legend could have used further explanation and exploration. There was no substance to it, I didn’t understand the whole point of it!
  • Who is Aiva’s dad then? Like we figured out the other two and now you are just going to leave me hanging???
  • There were constant dull moments! Lots of them.

Overall, I really don’t have much to say on this book, other than I didn’t like it. I didn’t hate it because I found the demon hunting and nine levels of hell to be cool but nothing stuck out to me. The characters didn’t grab my attention. This book was just a lot of meh.

Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Recommend: I don’t recommend under three stars, but if you like demon hunting here you are!

I think next time, I will do a tad more investigating before judging books by their covers!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


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