Can’t Wait Wednesday: Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings where bloggers share which upcoming releases they’re most looking forward to. Join us every Wednesday and watch your TBR list multiply.

I’ve been itching for another Courtney Alameda book ever since I finished Pitch Dark. I’m not familiar with Valynne E. Maetani, but I love to see what authors do when they collaborate. I’m always on the lookout for good fantasy novels with a bit of a horror twist and Seven Deadly Shadows sounds incredibly intriguing when it comes to world building. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

 width=Title: Seven Deadly Shadows
Author: Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: January 28, 2020

      “Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s bullied by the popular girls in school. Her family ignores her. And she’s also plagued with a secret: She can see yokai, the ghosts and demons that haunt the streets of Japan. But things accelerate from bad to worse when she learns that Shuten-doji, the demon king, will rise at the next blood moon to hunt down an ancient relic and bring the world to a catastrophic end.
      Not exactly skilled at fighting anything, much less the dead, Kira enlists the aid of seven powerful death gods to help her slay Shuten-doji. They include Shiro, a kitsune with boy-band looks who is more flirtatious than helpful, and O-bei, a regal demon courtesan with covert reasons of her own for getting involved.
      As the confrontation with Shuten-doji draws nearer by the day, the fate of Japan hangs in the balance. Can Kira save humankind? Or will the demon king succeed in bringing eternal darkness upon the world?”

Are you participating in Can’t-Wait Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday? Is this book on your TBR? Be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll visit!

The Friday 56: Pitch Dark

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.


*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

I nod, swallowing hard. My subjugator pricks my muscles. “I was just on my way to the party,” I say, trying on a smile. It doesn’t fit right with my mood, and I’ve never been an emotional chameleon like my older brother, or Faye. Mami says I wear my heart on my sleeve, and it’s usually true.

This week I’m sharing an excerpt from Courtney Alameda’s Pitch Dark which combines horror and science-fiction. To give the excerpt context: the protagonist has had a type of tech called a subjugator inserted into her person that controls some of her behavior and prevents her from telling anyone about it. You can read my mini-review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.
      Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.
      Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.
      In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.”

Mini Reviews: A Dash of Trouble + Pitch Dark

MiniToday I have two immensely different mini-reviews for you, but both are by Latina authors, so it kind of makes sense that I’ve paired them together? Yeah, let’s go with that. Anna Meriano’s A Dash of Trouble was so charming that I already have plans to purchase it for my niece come Christmas and I enjoyed Courtney Alameda’s Pitch Dark so much, I might have to buy for myself soon. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: A Dash of Trouble
Author: Anna Meriano
Series: Love Sugar Magic, #1
Pages: 320
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Release Date: January 2nd 2018 

      “Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.
      Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

      Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.
      And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?”

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“They all had sticky smiles on their faces. Leo licked cinnamon sugar off her fingers and smiled too, but her thoughts kept wandering to the recipe book under her bed. She didn’t know what was worse, the guilty feeling of a secret or the impatience of wanting to try her next spell.”

Anna Meriano’s debut middle grade novel A Dash of Trouble is sweet, magical, and an utter delight. Eleven-year-old Leonora “Leo” Lograño just wants to be treated like her older sisters. But as the youngest of five daughters, Leo is often kept out of the loop. She also struggles to feel included when she grew up without speaking Spanish and everyone else in her family is either fluent or learning. As this year’s Día de Muertos celebration is approaching, Leo is determined more than ever to not be left out, but her curiosity leads her to a family secret that changes everything. The women on her mother’s side of the family are all brujas, witches with individual gifts from conjuring objects out of thin air to communicating with the dead. Leo is ecstatic, but she must keep her new knowledge a secret because like everything else, her family thinks she’s too young to learn about magic. In secret, Leo begins working spells to help her best friend Caroline, but it all starts to fall apart when her spells don’t go quite as planned. Now Leo must figure out how to fix her out of control magic without anyone in her family finding out. Leo is such an earnest character who I could not help but love. She wants more than anything to not be treated as a child and while her decisions aren’t always wise, her motivation comes from a good place. I loved all the different dynamics between Leo and her sisters and could picture each so clearly. Meriano includes real recipes in her novel (minus the magic) that are perfect for young readers to follow (with adult supervision) and hopefully helps bring this heartfelt and funny novel to life.

Rating: 4/5


Title: Pitch Dark
Author: Courtney Alameda
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Release Date: February 20th 2018

      “Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.
      Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.
      Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.
      In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.”

swirl (2)

“He groans, and the weight of his voice hits my temple, physical as a fist. Pain explodes from the crown of my head to my cheekbone. My nose cracks. Blood faucets from my left nostril, splattering over my mouth and chin.”

Courtney Alameda’s Pitch Dark takes the intricacies of science-fiction and combines it with all the thrills of a horror story in a novel that grabs readers from page one and doesn’t let go. Alameda’s two leads, Laura Cruz and Tuck Morgan, are both capable characters on their own, but they also make an excellent team and I loved the fact that they both had room to shine despite this fact. I was really impressed by the amount of detail that went into this novel from the descriptions of spaceships like the John Muir to the world-building. One of the novel’s drawbacks, however, is the time-frame. The events of the novel occur very quickly making the development of a connection between characters feel a little hasty. Still, it was hard not to fall in love with Pitch Dark‘s characters and feel the excitement of the story. I also loved the fact that Pitch Dark is a multi-layered novel that also addresses humane nature, racism, and the politics of written history. I also want to say that if you get a chance, read Alameda’s Author’s Note at the end as it really resonated with me.

Rating: 4/5


Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Title: Shutter
Author: Courtney Alameda
Series: N/A

As a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, Micheline has spent her life being trained to exorcise ghosts and other entities. As a tetrachromat, Micheline can see the “auras” of ghosts and just happens to be the daughter of Leonard Helsing, leader of Helsing Corps, an organization dedicated to protecting civilians from the paranormal. When her team gets a call about a possession at a hospital, they are quick to respond. But this isn’t a routine exorcism and when Micheline and her team are infected with a paranormal soulchain, they must find a way to track down the ghost that cursed them before it’s too late.

“The empty corpse hit the floor, the mists roiling. The ghost extended a flickering fist toward me, opened its fingers, and dropped a handful of teeth to the ground. They tracked blood on the floor and rebounded off my boot, making pings on the linoleum that rattled in the roots of my molars.”

Courtney Alameda’s Shutter is a thrilling paranormal read that will give you chills and have you reconsidering whether lullabies really are harmless. Micheline’s life has revolved around the family business and the expectations placed on her by her father. She has experienced loss in a way that no one can truly understand and it is this tragedy that shapes her relationship with her father. Convinced he only sees a failure when he looks at her, Micheline, though she may not admit it, is constantly trying to prove herself. There is a power struggle between the two and their mutual grief sometimes expresses itself as contempt, resulting in unwise choices on both sides.

Micheline’s constants are the members of her team, three very different boys that ground her in different ways. Oliver Stoker is best with facts and has been a part of Micheline’s life forever. Ryder, an outsider trained to protect Micheline from physical attacks, feels protective of her in a way that isn’t allowed. Jude, the resident bad boy, has his own unique ability. With a single touch, he can see a person’s potential death. I found Jude to be the most interesting of the three. There is a layer of insecurity in his otherwise confident demeanor and I thought more time could have been spent exploring this along with the other boys’ secondary stories.

Shutter was a fun, ghostly adventure featuring a highly-motivated and complex protagonist. If you’re a fan of the paranormal, I recommend picking this one up.

Rating: 3/5