The Dragon Within was a pleasant surprise. It was the first book I read by this talented author, Cindy Lyle, but it definitely won’t be the last.
For an indie published book, the interior formatting was amazing. The cover was all right, but I wasn’t too fond of the black borders on the top and bottom – if the cover got rid of those, the book would look more professional, if you ask me. Either way, the saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, so on to the content.
Our main character, Karah, has been raised by the royal family of Gareth. She was an orphan they took in, and raised as a member of their own family. Karah has no idea where she came from, but she keeps having terrible nightmares about the Dark Lord. The only one she can turn to is Fitch, one of the last remaining users of magic. With her parents being silent about the matter and even arguing about her, her Dad convinced she’s a threat to Elric -the heir to the kingdom, and her brother – it’s up to Karah herself to find out the truth, with Fitch’s help.
What she finds out, twists her entire world to its core. She’s not even human, but she’s a member of a long-forgotten race, an immortal, humanity’s last hope against the Dark Lord. She has powers, magic, even though it’s said magic had disappeared centuries ago.
The story reminded me of Harry Potter, mostly because of the use of the “Dark Lord” title. It also has the same sense of adventure and heroism as the Harry Potter series, and Karah is some sort of chosen one. However, apart from that, it couldn’t be further away from those books, so you don’t have to worry about that at all when starting the book.
The setting is high fantasy, set in a mystical kingdom with kings, queens, sword fights, magic, dragons and more. There’s a lot of background story thrown in, especially at the start, which slows down the pace and didn’t always feel necessary. Action picks up at around chapter four though.
I liked Karah. She was a little passive at first, but managed to quickly adapt to changing situations, and she turned from passive to active over the course of the book. She was very brave and kind as well. The other characters were all right too. Elric was a little too stuck on the beliefs he was raised with, and he came across as quite arrogant at the start.
All in all, an excellent fantasy read. Dragons haven’t had entirely enough time in the picture, as one of the most ignored fantasy races, and any book about dragons, deserves a shot. This one adds great storytelling, an enjoyable plat, and likeable characters into the mix, so it’s definitely worth your time.(less)
By now when you mention DarkFuse, I expect quality, and in that regard, Shattered certainly doesn’t fail. The book starts out with Liam and Stacey moving into their new appartment. Soon after they move, Stacey starts to have terrible nightmares and hallucinations. The longer she spends in the appartment, the more she suspects something terrible happened there. But what?
The reclusive old woman next door may be the only one capable of providing some answers.
The author had a rich vocabulary, endaring writing style, and a great way to portray characters. The story itself, however, wasn’t very original. Haunted appartment, couple moves in, one of them gets cold spells, hallucinations, and sees things that aren’t really there? Yeah, I’ve been there and done that about a dozen times. I was expecting some original twist thrown in here or there, but it never came. The background story as to how the appartment turned out haunted was intriguing, but it wasn’t all that original either.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book. The writing was superb, the characters were great and relatable, and I had some goosebumps while reading.
A nice read for fans of the dark fiction / horror genre, and a cool spin on the haunted house story, but not as original or refreshing as I would’ve liked.(less)
I loved Shelf Life because it took place in a world I was curious about, and definitely wanted to know more of – the lives and perils of publicists and editors in New York. Main character Kate is a publicist for a high-standing New York based firm, and she works with several editors to publish books and promote authors.
Kate was a lovely character. She was funny and quirky, but she was also determined to do the best she could for her job on a daily basis. The only downside in her life, except for a job which can be very stressful – for instance if your author needs to go on TV and gets a panic attack – is her love life. She’s torn between two guys. One of them, Mac, an editor for her firm. He’s gorgeous and one of the most well-known and best editors out there. The downside? He’s married.
Even though Kate and Mac’s relationship has been going on for a while, he has no intention of divorcing his wife – at least Kate doesn’t think so, which basically means their relationship is headed nowhere.
Then there’s Nick, another guy interested in Kate. He’s cute and endaring, willing to take care of her, no matter what, and best of all, he’s not married. He genuinely seems like a honest and caring person caught on the wrong end of a love triangle. I felt for him, but yet I kind of wanted Kate to end up with Mac because she seemed happier when she was with him.
There’s also a series of secondary characters, from authors going crazy over books they’ve yet to write, to authors involved in elaborate Amazon review schemes. I’m usually quite the fan of romance, but in this book, I actually enjoyed the parts about Kate’s professional life and her dealings with authors, more than the romance itself.
The writing was spot on. The book has very short chapters, which for some reason, pulled me into the story a lot faster than large chapters do. I never realized this until now. There was plenty going on, enough subplots to keep me entertained, and the characters were intriguing as well.
If you’re in the mood for some romance, I highly recommend “Shelf Life”.(less)
The Muse was an interesting story, at times shocking and a little disturbing, at times romantic and sweet. Our main character, Elle, has just gotten out of an emotional abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Michael. He got famous painting her, and her nickname as a model is the “Archangel”, based on a series of portraits he did featuring her. However, she’s now gotten a job offering from Hex, an artist of the macabre, whose work is a stark contrast to work she usually posed for. Hex is Michael’s arch nemesis and greatest rival, and if he found out she was working for Hex, he’d be more annoyed than ever.
Meanwhile Elle arrives at Hex’s castle, which is occupied by other models and artists Hex likes to invite. She meets his brother, Alvarez, who is the rational mind to Hex’s near-hysteria. He takes care of the business side of things, makes arrangments, and in general does what’s best f or his family – Hex and his grandmother, who dabbels in an ancient religion involving spells, herbs and sometimes even blood rituals.
When people start showing up dead in and around the castle, Alvarez wants to find out what’s going on. He is afraid that Elle, who he’s had a crush on since the moment he met her, might be in danger as well. What starts is a race against time as the bodies begin piling up.
I liked Elle. She’d stepped out of an abusive relationship, and was now truly finding herself. She became stronger and more independent with every passing page. That’s why I wasn’t so fond of her relationship with Alvarez, and their growing attraction. He was another pillar for her to support upon, someone who’d have her back, while it seemed to me the most important thing for her was to learn to have her own back. Either way, she lacked personality, especially at the start, but it wasn’t a bad thing here. It genuinely seemed like she’d based most of her personality on who she was when she was with Michael, as if she could only have a personality reflected in his personality. At the start of the novel, she was lost, trying to find herself, and the only personality trait she had was being a movie buff. But as the story progressed, she gradually found herself, and discovered her own personality.
Hex was actually my favorite character. I’m a fan of the tormented artist as a protagonist, and he played the role well. Plus, the name. How can you be called Hex and not be amazingly awesome? Impossible, right?
The writing was decent, and the story flowed well. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t too pleased with the relationship between Elle and Alvarez. Not only did I feel like she should get to know herself first before jumping into another relationship, I also felt like their relationship progressed way too quickly. I’m not a fan of insta-love, or even anything close to that, so maybe that’s why. A few kisses I wouldn’t have minded, but the way Elle depended on Alvarez completely, and almost right away, that bothered me a little.
The mystery was great – I only figured it out toward the end, only a few pages before it’s revealed. The characters were great, the story was strong, and in general, I’d recommend this book to all fans of mystery romance novels.(less)
Simon’s Choice is a heart-wrenching, time-stopping novel that brought me to the edge of tears. It’s drama at its finest, showing us the darkest sides of life, but doing so in a convincing way.
Simon’s daughter has been diagnosed with Leukemia. She’s been in remission for a while, but now the illness is back and more destructive than ever. He’s a doctor and blames himself for not noticing her symptons right away. When Simon and his wife get the devastating news that their daughter will not recover, and only has a few months left to live, it shatters their family.
When his daughter, Sarah, asks him if she’s going to die, she takes up the news in stride. What she can’t cope with, is being all alone in heaven. No relatives of theirs have passed away, and there’s no one there to take care of her when she dies. So when she asks, Simon gives the most illogical response ever: he’ll go with her.
For his wife, Melissa, who translates this into Simon going to kill himself, this news shows his mental instability. She distances herself from her husband, and she goes very far with this. I found it to be believable, but my feelings toward Melissa went from feeling sorry to hating her after seeing what she put him through. She only allowed him supervised visits with Sarah, told him to move out, and so on. Basically she blamed him for everything, without putting any blame on herself.
The ending was bittersweet, and had a massive emotional impact on me. The book is strong in general, but it has its ups and downs. Melissa’s reactions were exaggerated, but I kind of understand she could behave so irrationally in light of what happened.
The book also opens up our eyes to how we act around people in as much pain as Simon and Melissa are, and it’s not pretty.
Don’t expect a light read when you start this book. I ended up teary-eyed, but if I hadn’t been in the train when reading, I probably would’ve cried my eyes out. Not for the faint of heart.(less)
I had no idea what to expect when I began reading Ruler of Demons, but the book turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Sam is a small-town attorney who has been having more and more trouble from the side of supernatural as of late, since he defeated evil once before. However, Sam is still traumatized by finding a chopped-off head in his fridge, and he wants nothing more than to stay away from the supernatural. Unfortunately, his reputation proceeds him and a wealthy Chicago law firm hires him on a sensitive case.
Three nuns have been murdered – one in Paris, one in Chicago, and one in Jerusalem – in terrible circumstances. The law firm suspects that whoever is behind it, wants to unleash the apocalypse on earth. They have an ancient scroll ready to prove it, and they fear the only man capable of doing the job might be Sam. Sam isn’t so convinced about that – until he finds a cut off tongue in his fridge, another traumatizing event. He decides he’s in, and invites his best friend Bob along, mostly because Bob has proven his worth before.
Sam and Bob go to Jerusalem first, where they visit an ancient site, where the nun was murdered in search for clues. They’re visited by an evil entity with sinister intentions, and narrowly escape the city to head to Paris. As the plot thickens, the two of them may be the only ones capable of saving the world from the impending apocalypse.
What pulled me in about this novel, were the characters. Sam and Bob have a great friendship. I loved how Bob always started about food, and how Sam managed to stay calm, no matter what. Their inside jokes made me feel connected to them. Sam was a bit of an average Joe, which made him all the more intriguing when he’s thrown in the world of the supernatural. He’s just a regular guy, and now he’s dealing with all this stuff he knows next to nothing about, all because of that one time he fought evil and won. The way they manage to keep being lighthearted, even in the face of danger, made this book unique.
When the author described Jerusalem and Paris, I felt like I was really there. I liked the added touch of how Sam and Bob travel across the world to unravel clues. The descriptions and wording were great, and the book was edited well.
If I had to say one pet peeve (and the reason why it’s a four stars and not a five stars), then it would be the “telling” instead of “showing” in the narrative. The author will tell us Sam or Bob is concerned, worried, hungry, scared, etc. instead of show us. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happened often enough to stand out for me.
All in all, a great, enjoyable read. I’d love to read the first book, and I’ll keep an eye out for any follow-ups by this author.(less)
First of all, Getting Lost is the first book in The Island series, and it’s a novella. It’s been a while since I read erotica, and I forgot how enjoyable it can be. The plot is well-constructed and shows how the heroine gradually lets go of control, and of all her problems. Some parts were skipped over a little too easily though, and there’s definitely no sign of true romance, even though the main character insists being in love with one of the other characters and several secondary characters insist they’ve fallen for her.
Cicily Welling’s life was turned upside down when her parents and little brother passed away in a car accident, and her boyfriend turned out to be cheating on her. She’s been trying to find the pieces of her life back, but it’s been hard. When she gets in touch with someone saying he can help her, he talks about The Island, a place that can help those with emotional problems. Unaware of what she’s signing up for, Cicily leaves for The Island.
The Island however, is kind of like a haven for people who are into bondage, the dom/slave relationship, and all that. It’s all about letting go – of problems, of pain, of control. I was wondering how legal it would be to advertise a place like that with nothing more than saying it’s a place where you can heal and get help for your emotional problems, but either way, it actually works as some sort of catharsis for Cicily.
However, even as the book progresses, she still struggles with giving up control. What follows are some extremely hot scenes, relationships being explored, and the slow struggle for Cicily to give up control and let go of her problems.
The book was written well, and the pacing was fast, but not too fast. I’m still wondering how letting go control will help Cicily deal with her troubles, but I’ll guess we’ll learn more about that in the second book in this series.
There was one thing that annoyed me though. The declarations of love. Cicily falls in love with one of the other characters on the island. He supposedly falls in love with her as well, but so do certain others. It all seems too easily, like “I love you” really means “I’m attracted to you”. The latter would’ve worked great for me, or maybe even “I want you”, or something along those lines, but “I love you?” Doesn’t really fit the bill of what they’re trying to say.
Apart from that, this was an excellent read. I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Cicily.(less)
DayDreamer was an interesting, quick but intriguing read. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it at first, because the first scene involves our heroine already swooning over a guy who’s never even talked to her before, the school hottie, Hale. However, as the book progressed, I actually started to like it. Kayla is a loveable, relatable, and most of all, hilarious character. She’s a bit clumsy, a bit crazy and just plain fun to be around.
I liked the addition of supernatural creatures, Lyzicc. It was new and refreshing, and a good change from the overload of vampires and angels we’ve seen as of late.
Most of all, it’s about self-discovery. Kayla finds out her parents are ancient mythological creatures, Lyzicc, who’ve been hiding out on earth, but she has no idea who they are, or how to find them. As soon as she finds out her true heritage, she searches for the truth about herself. Her quest for the truth was reminiscent of every quest each teen goes through to find their true self, except that, well, we’re not all descendants from supernatural beings.
I’m usually not that fond of love triangles, but I enjoyed the love triangle here. Collin was my favorite though, and I kept rooting for him.
All in all, a good read if you’re a fan of YA paranormal romance. The heroine is witty and fun, and the plot is all right as well.(less)
Breaking Möbius combines the story of three very different people in a tale of betrayal, deceit, love and lust. The book was written really well, the plot flows nicely, and there was plenty of romance mixed with suspense and mystery. The story is told from first-person POV for all three characters, but at the start of each chapter it’s mentioned whose POV we’re in.
Mali is the first character we meet. She’s left behind an abusive father and a mother too used to the abuse to do anything about, to start her life anew at college, where she’s taking a major in dancing. She loves to dance and she’s really good about it. She becomes fast friends with her roommate, but apart from that, she doesn’t make a lot of friends. That is, until Justice, a star football player, has to take dance classes with her. They train together once a week, and Mali finds herself slowly falling for Justice – but he’s a more complicated person than she thought at first.
Justice is suffering from a break-up with his long-time girlfriend Nicole, and he’s wary of starting a new relationship with anyone. He was actually a nice guy, and I thought he had a more endaring personality than Mali had. He was sweet, always keeping his word to anyone, and he was a good friend as well.
Nicole is the third character we follow and she’s actually the most interesting character, because the mystery happens in this story arc. Nicole is a dancer in music videos, and she’s drop dead gorgeous, a fact she uses to her advantage to lure a successful DJ named Webby, into her web. When she meets a girl named Joy who provides an interesting challenge, and has a movie idea Nicole thinks might work out, she must consider what she’s willing to do and what she’s willing to give up for her dream – will it be money or real love for her?
Nicole was the most intriguing character because she was complex. She had a lot to win or lose, and her story wasn’t predictable at all. For Mali and Justice however, I quickly predicted they’d end up together. But Nicole’s story was a mystery to me, I had no idea how it was going to end.
This was a great book, with plenty of suspense, interesting characters and some very hot romance scenes.(less)
In When Dreamers Wake, the apocalypse happened, and the world is left in ruins. Leon is one of the few survivors, and he has to adapt to this new, changing world. It’s not that difficult for him though in this new world. He’s a simple man, with simple needs, and he has his own plan to survive. He wants to start a colony, a new society, and be the ruler with a harem of women beneath him.
The novel is filled with sexual encounters, one even happens in the first ten-or-so pages. Leon doesn’t feel much for these women except desire, with the exception of perhaps Tia. But he’s not afraid to sleep with Tia’s sister, or even have sex with multiple women a day.
That all changes when he meets Adrianna though. He starts developing strong feelings for her, feelings he can barely explain.
I wasn’t that fond of Leon. Maybe because I’m a woman, and the story is rather male-centric, but I didn’t like the way he moved from woman to woman without much commitment. I did like Tia, and I even liked Celia, but Leon…I didn’t really get to know him either. I know how he looks like, what he wants, but his personality remained a mystery for most of the novel. Less sexual counquests, more emotions would’ve worked better for me.
As for the women, Adrianna was by far my favorite character. She had spine, spunk, and wasn’t afraid to say no.
Nevertheless, looking at this book for what it is, the sexual conquests were enjoyable, and the writing is good. It was a pleasant read that even made me laugh at times.(less)
Fire on Ice was a pleasant, at times even sensual read. The book is marketed for a new adult audience, and granted, the main characters fit the target age, yet I think it is more suitable for the adult market. There are various 18+ scenes and since sometimes kids as young as sixteen start reading new adult books, I’ll keep to saying this book is definitely 18+. The main characters are both college-age as well.
We meet Kian Kavanagh, a hockey player and star player of his team, Firestorm. Kian is rather popular with the girls, called “puck bunnies”, and they’d do anything to get into his pants. Kian usually enjoys the attention, but on this particular night out, his interest is piqued by a gorgeous girl studying at the bar. Who the heck studies at a bar? When he tries to strike up conversation, the girl, Taylor, tells him she’s not dating any hockey players, like ever. Kian is more intrigued than ever before, and he swears he won’t rest until she goes on a date with him.
For Taylor, giving Kian a chance is the toughest thing she’s ever done after a terrible experience with her ex-boyfriend, Austin, who also happened to be a hockey player. Even though she feels a strong pull toward Kian, she’ll have to let go of the past before she can move on. And then there’s also her best friend Kyle, who’s supported her through everything that happened, and who may have started developing feelings for her as well….
What I liked the most here was how different Kian and Taylor are. Kian comes from a lower-class family, and he’s been struggling his entire life, with a Dad sent to prison and a Mom addicted to drugs. Basically it’s always been him against the world. Taylor has had a much more priviledged upbringing, with loving parents who’d do whatever it takes to protect her.
The characters had sparks flying all over the pages. They’re an unlikely couple, but they make it work. There’s also plenty of subplots going on to make the book intriguing, like a stalker following Taylor, her dealing with her past, and even another girl expressing interest in Kian.
The story of Kian and Taylor continues in The Playmaker, the second book in the Fire on Ice series. Kian has moved into premier league hockey, and is more popular than ever in the world of hockey. While things are looking up for him career-wise, this also means spending less time with Taylor, and more time away from home.
Meanwhile Taylor is still studying for her degree and her chance to go to graduate school. But with a stalker still on the look out for her, something may happen that’ll turn her entire world upside down.
Kian has a lot of identity issues during this book, which actually bothered me. Why does he keep insisting he’s not good enough for Taylor? It’s like all his insecurities about his childhood, about not being the person he wants to be, all come leaping out in this installment. I don’t mind character development, but it seemed like Kian actually put a step backward instead of forward.
Back to Taylor. She has a lot of insecurities to spread around as well, but hers are at least founded upon solid reasons, or upon things that happened to her recently. I liked her more than in the last book. She’s more independent, less eager to rely on Kian for everything, and she’s a more complex, rounded character than she was before.
The story was actually even better than in the previous book, because now we already knew the characters, and we could jump straight into the story itself.
As before, I really enjoyed the down-to-earth writing style, the character interactions, the secondary characters and the story itself. It was a pleasant, light read.(less)
After losing their baby, Meg and Harry move to a remote cottage on the northeast coast of England. This marks the start of Lurker, a novel that gets progressively darker and more threatening with every turned page.
Meg starts to explore the nearby area, and she stumbles onto a deserted eighteenth-century quarry mine where she hears eerie noises. With her husband often not getting home until late, Meg spends countless hours on her own in the cottage, which is fine at first, but when she starts feeling like something followed her from those mines, she wishes Harry would come home more often.
Muddy handprints appear on the side of the cottage, with no explanation. Strange noises keep Meg from sleeping through the night. And the real question is: what is real, and what only exists inside her mind?
We don’t really get to know Harry. He’s in and out of the picture so often that he doesn’t get the time to develop a full personality. Meg however, we get to know really well and it soon becomes clear her sanity may not always be crystal clear. That’s what makes this book intriguing. The monsters are unique and original, and their descriptions made my heart pound in my chest. The author definitely has a way with words, and with describing things vividly. However, the real question “is it real or is it all in her mind” is what really brings out the best of this book.
The final event can be interpreted in different ways, each way equally horrific. What was the author’s true intention, or how should it all play out according to the author? I’m not sure I want to know – I thought the different possibilities ending was quite satisfying as it is.
A delightful, spine-chilling, quick read, ideal for a dreary winter night.(less)
Engines of the Broken World is definitely chilling. It starts out with Merciful Truth and her brother Gospel, who’ve just stowed their dead mother under the table. It’s not that they don’t love her, it’s simply too cold outside to bury her. They live too far away from civilization to ask anyone about it – there’s only the widow and Jenna living over the hill, and they can’t exactly go out in this cold to ask them either. Besides, mother isn’t the only thing dying. Everything is dying all around them.
The only one left to guide them is The Minister, a talking squirrel who preaches the word of God. But when the world is about to die, with an unforgiving fog that sweeps up everything in its path, climbing the steep mountains toward their home, the word of God is only a slight comfort.
When mother’s corpse starts running about, Merciful thinks she’s lost it. But when the corpse begins to see a lullaby in her mother’s voice, fear and curiosity mix. Is her mother still alive, or has something else taken up her mother’s body?
Boy, was this book a different experience. I could never expect what was going to happen next. Every page was an adventure, every plot twist unexpected. The prose is very strong and powerful, and the main character’s uneducated dialect immediately pulled me into the somber atmosphere of the story. Some sentences are short, almost like a knife cutting through. There’s this hurried, disillusioned feel about the novel.
There’s a feeling of dread from page one, but the dread only continues to grow as the book moves on. There’s no reprise, no moment to take a breath, no time to put the book away. The narrative is relentless, the story won’t stop, the end is inevitable. This is no zombie apocalypse you can fight, no virus you can find a cure against, no aliens attacking from outer space. This is God taking vengeance upon the greedy, the sinners, humanity itself. It’s the last hours of humanity, and it’s as dark and bleak as it can get, and by the end, you’re almost going out of your mind as much as the main characters are.
The main characters, Merciful and her brother Gospel, are polar opposites in most aspects, but they do love each other. To see their bond weaken, and to see it grow, were intriguings part of the novel. To see their choices reflect not only upon themselves, but also upon others, was really great.
In the end, the book left me with a claustrophobic feeling. I could feel the characters’ pain and desperation. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of those masterpieces of books, the ones your library can’t do without. It’s disturbing, weird, creepy, emotional, dark, and utterly fascinating. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely loved it.(less)
The Vincent Boys was a mediocre read for me. I liked Ashton sort of, I liked Beau, and together they formed a nice couple, but some things bothered me. I’ll explain them later in this review. Overall, the book was a nice summer read though.
Ashton’s boyfriend, Sawyer, is on holiday during the summer, and she’s stuck at home, taking care of his cousin, Beau, when he gets drunk and needs a ride home. The encounter makes their old friendship resurface. When they were kids, they were best friends, always teasing each other, always joking around, but ever since they started growing up, they’ve grown apart. In a matter of weeks, they get as close as they once were, and a whole lot closer than that.
What didn’t make sense for me? Well, I read the adult version (I hope) and the way Ashton and Beau almost have sex the first time made me cringe. They’re in a field (I don’t think they moved away from the field), Ashton’s grandma just passed away, she needs a shoulder to cry on, and Beau completely takes advantage of her. Ugh. Then there’s the awkward sex scene later on. It wasn’t hot, it was just awkward.
Then there was Ashton’s silly behavior toward the end. I don’t want to spoil things, but at some point she goes to a gathering of kids her age, and she’s afraid of what’ll happen because Sawyer isn’t there to protect her. Uhm? Right? And then a little later, when Sawyer is mad at her, she’s scared of going to school because she’s picked on and Sawyer won’t help her.
Grow up. Put your chin up, and start being brave, Ashton. You don’t need a guy to protect you, you can take care of yourself. Stop relying on Sawyer and Beau for everything. Seriously.
Either way, apart from that, I actually liked the story. I love friendships-turn-to-romance books, and this was definitely one of the better ones. Ashton and Beau’s love was heartbreaking, and it sounded real. I thought Ashton was way too dependent on Sawyer and Beau to make her an intriguing character. She wasn’t very complex either – a good girl who really wanted to become a bad girl. Beau was a lot more intriguing. He was flawed, broken, human. Sawyer was Mr. Perfect, until the end, when his true colors showed, and which made him more interesting than in the entire first half of the book.
Overall, a nice, quick read, but the characters could’ve been more three-dimensional, and Ashton could’ve been less of a crybaby.(less)
I was pleasantly surprised by The Goddess and The Great Beast. The setting is Baghdad in the middle of World War II, at least that’s where the story starts. Vivian, the hero of this story, is bored and spends most of his time hanging out with Farouk, a smuggler who also happens to be a member of a secret cult, which intrigues Vivian endlessly. He begs Farouk to take him to one of the cult meetings, and what he sees there, changes his life forever.
He takes a secret drug no one should know about it, and enters a hallucination about an ancient Babylonian Goddess. Afterward, he nags Farouk to bring him along again, and he does so, even if it’s against custom. But the further Vivian gets trapped into the world of ancient rites and customs, the more he feels the rituals may be dangerous. Until the goddess attacks him with a knife, then he decides it’s time to quit.
The goddess, Ishtar, continues to torment him though, while he travels through the Middle East. After the war, he settles down in London, convinced the Goddess has finally left him alone. He gets a girlfriend, JJ, and starts to enjoy life again. That is, until he meets Ishtar once again, this time as a singer in a London bar.
The story is unique and intriguing, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. The author has a way with words that is definitely intriguing to read. He knows his vocabulary well. The characters were also very interesting, especially Vivian. They’re not your standard cardboard cut-out characters. They’re three-dimensional, with enough qualities and flaws to make them stand out.
An excellent read, and one I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys supernatural thrillers.(less)
Jack Lewis is captain of a charter boat. He’s always had trouble trusting people, and his current relationship is a great example of his trust issues. He and Emerson, the man he’s with, are mostly interested in a physical relationship, and not in anything actually meaningful. For Jack, that’s just the way he wants it – until he meets David.
David is everything Jack hoped for, and never realized he was waiting for. Even after just a few hours, the two of them connect in a way Jack never thought possible. David is mysterious, charming, well-travelled, and intriguing, a refreshing change from the people Jack is used to. But while he opens up to David, he never suspected to actually feel something more than desire.
Jack was rather down-to-earth, but also quite determined in getting what he wanted once he had his eyes set on something. He had a strong, interesting personality. David was more frivolous, free, wild. But once they got to know each other and opened up toward each other, it was amazing. There was so much chemistry between these two characters, and their personalities really matched together. I liked each of them as a person, but as two people in a relationship, they were absolutely great.
This was a great read, with lovely, relatable characters, an interesting plot, and a fitting writing style. If you’re in the mood for some romance to lift up your spirits during these dark autumn days, Changing Tide would be a great choice.(less)
A Breach in Death was an imaginative, thought-provoking story. As a downside, sometimes the characters acted a little out of character, some things weren’t explained well enough, and the narrative dragged a little at the start. The novel definitely had good and bad parts, and I’ll go into more detail about that later. First, the story.
After he dies, Arc turns into a Grim Reaper. He doesn’t know why, and no one seems keen on telling him either. His mentor, Lucy, has to guide him through the perils of the job, but unfortunately, his first day doesn’t go as planned at all. A reaper Lucy used to know, even used to be close with, wants to overthrow the balance between life and death. He’s tired of being a reaper, and of finding no way to pass on to the afterlife, so he chooses to disrupt the balance in order to come alive again. It’s up to Lucy and Arc to stop him, but with Arc not knowing the full extend of his new Reaper powers, and the entire Reaper city in great peril, it’ll be one hell of a task.
I liked Arc. He didn’t panic when he found out he was a Reaper, and for a newbie, he handled himself rather well. He was courageous, even if he often thought he wasn’t, intelligent, witty and all in all, admirable. Lucy however, not as much so, but it wasn’t a bad thing. I don’t need to like all the characters to like a book, and I actually liked not really liking Lucy. She definitely had personality, even if it was a personality I didn’t find all that likeable. She could be quite tough and angry toward Arc, even when it was unnecessary, and she acted a little stuck up every now and then. I didn’t get how the two of them came friends so quickly – all in about a day’s time – especially since she didn’t have the easiest personality. She kind of grew on me though, and toward the end, I actually liked her.
The plot was amazing. From the Reapers, to the city, to the disrupting of the balance between life and death, everything was sparkling with imagination, creativity and originality. The world-building was great, and it wasn’t overly complicated either. I quickly grasped the rules of Arc’s world, and the settings were described well. The world after death, the Reaper’s world, really came to life from the pages.
Now on to the not-so-good stuff. Arc and Lucy acted really out of character at some point. They tumbled from acquintances who’d just met to friends to perhaps even more, all without real cause, and all in an extremely short amount of time. I’d rather wish they kept it at friends and that’s that. Or maybe that Arc wasn’t new, and he’d been a Reaper for some time, and would’ve known her for some time as well. Then there was the lack of explanation as to why certain things happened, like why certain Reapers died and others didn’t. Everything after the attack on the city felt a little confusing, like it happened too fast to really grasp.
And while the narrative dragged a little at the start, it picked up after the attack to an almost relentless pace. I had to reread some paragraphs to understand what was going on, and even then, I was lost sometimes because too much seemed to happen at once, and without proper explanation.
All in all, I liked this story. The author has a great writing style, good world-building skills, and refreshing ideas. While the story had some lesser points, it did impress me enough to consider reading more by this author, and to recommend the book to fans of the genre.(less)
Mr. Midnight is a thrilling, suspense, dark fiction novel about good vs. evil, family, and the supernatural. It’s another great published by DarkFuse, a publisher quickly establishing their name and fame in the dark fiction market. This book is another great quality read with a stunning cover and an even more stunning narrative.
Cait has always had bizarre visions, which she likes to call “flickers”. These flickers come and go unannounced, and usually they only show her marginal facts about other people’s lives, like where they left their wallet, or how their cat ran away this morning. Without any real family, Cait has always felt like she got left out somehow, like she didn’t belong anywhere. She’s been looking for her real family for years, but their whereabouts are a well-kept secret she can’t find out. Her boyfriend Kevin has hired a private investigator to find out more about her family though, and he has some stunning answers.
Meanwhile, a serial killer is holding court in Boston. He kidnaps young, innocent-looking prostitutes or drug addicts from the streets, tortures them for days, and then cuts them up until they die. The killer, nicknamed “Mr. Midnight” is the second protagonist of the story. His narrative picks up when he meets a young girl and takes her home for some fun – which would be fun for him, and terrible for her. Strangely enough, Mr. Midnight is being tormented by the same bizarre visions Cait has whenever he meets random people, and these visions only make him even more hateful toward humanity.
There’s a sinister connection between Mr. Midnight and Cait, and she’ll have to find out what, because the moment Mr. Midnight gets a vision of her, he wants nothing more than to completely and utterly destroy her. If Cait doesn’t find a way to stop him, she’ll become his next victim.
I loved the overlapping narratives, the way the stories worked together, the switching perspectives. Even without mentioning, or without the move of setting, it’s easy to recognize when Cait is doing the talking or when it’s Mr. Midnight doing so. What I didn’t like that much however, was how linear the contrast was between good and evil. Cait is good, without question, and Mr. Midnight is evil, without question. It’s portrayed as if they cannot choose whether they’re good and evil. This sort of works because of their background story, but still, the book could’ve been stronger had the distinction not been that big. I don’t believe people are inherently good or evil, but that there’s something as free choice. While Cait chose to be good, chose to love, chose to make the flickers part of her life, Mr. Midnight chose to hate, chose to be afraid of the flickers, or chose to use them for bad things. However, at some points, the novel seems like it wants you to believe neither of them had a choice, that Mr. Midnight would always be evil, no matter what.
That’s surprising considering how well the author portrays the tortured killer, the one uncapable of feeling remorse, love, or any emotion except hate, but actually feeling a tad sorry for doing so. It’s not like Mr. Midnight didn’t want to be loved, at some point, it’s just that he wasn’t, or that he couldn’t love in return.
The sharp, intriguing portrait of Mr. Midnight actually makes Cait come across as a bit dull, but in a good way. She’s had the most normal life you can imagine, never doing anything remotely evil, like most of us. Which makes her a great opponent for Mr. Midnight.
The flickers were a nice touch, but even without those, the novel would’ve been strong. The author has a way to make really intriguing characters, and the way the two stories connected was simply sublime. Mr. Midnight never slips from his role, and Cait gradually becomes a stronger character. The final chapters, when the storylines collide, are downright amazing. This is definitely movie material.
An excellent, thought-provoking read. If only it wouldn’t have been so black and white, this would’ve been outstanding, hence why the 4.5 stars instead of 5.(less)
Matt Monroe and The Secret Society is a pleasant read for middle grade kids, especially boys. Matt Monroe is your average fourteen year old boy. He likes hanging out with his brother Josh, and with his friends. He also enjoys helping out at his parents’ farm, and dreaming up make-belief stories. When mysterious light flicker at the horizon, all the neighborhood kids are convinced it’s either aliens, demons, or something else. But while their parents start acting stranger and stranger, Josh and Matt get to the bottom of the mystery. They find an old box belonging to their great-grandfather, and inside the box is a ring and wooden tablets no one can decipher.
When their parents come clear about their secret society, and an ancient prophecy, the boys are reluctant to beleive it at first. After all, it sounds a little crazy. But when the local recluse helps transport them to a mystical dimension where they meet the librarian, discover they have powers and must help defeat an evil elf who wants to destroy the entire world, Matt and his friends are in for the adventure of a lifetime.
I loved all the references to dentistry. I didn’t always understand them, but they were quirky, and original. I’ve never read of a fantasy world so connected to dentistry before, heh. It was a great experience, and the author is obviously highly imaginative.
The main characters were rounded and complex enough to be entertaining, but there was a large cast of side characters, and not all of them were equally rounded. Since this is the first book in a series however, we might see more of them in other installments.
Another bonus is how well Matt got along with his parents. Most MG or YA books quickly push the parents out of the way to make sure the adventure can take place, but here the parents were in on the whole thing, and they played a large role in every part of the book.
Imaginative, original, refreshing, I only wish the novel would’ve been a little shorter. It took the kids a little too long to get to the other dimension, and since that’s where the action really started, I hoped they’d get there sooner.(less)
Liberty’s Torch is the third book in a series, but I didn’t have too much trouble jumping right in. The plot is quite similar to other dystopian novels, but then again, the series is called “Dystopia”, so that’s probably the idea behind all of it. One of the most prominent settings in the book is actually called Dystopia.
Dana is an intriguing, interesting and most of all, relatable, character. She’s not afraid to fight for what she wants, and she’s very brave. What I liked about her the most was her yearning for freedom. It was inspiring, and how much she was willing to sacrifice to gain that freedom was inspiring as well.
I couldn’t connect with all characters in the same way though. Some of the secondary characters were just there, and didn’t have any personality traits that made them stand out from the others.
The writing was great. It wasn’t overly descriptive, but rather suiting for a YA novel.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I may go back and read the first two at some point, but this one is rather satisfactory even when read on its own.(less)
Just a Curtain is definitely different, and in a good way, if you ask me. I’ll start by saying it probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The book starts out reading like a contemporary novel, but then it quickly switches into scifi bordering on fantasy, with alien races and intergalactic communications.
Main character Dashiel Drummond has been left to fend for himself after his parents have passed away. He works on his parents’ ranch, and builds out an empire. When we first meet him, he’s about sixteen years old. I really liked this part of the book, even if it was a bit slow at times, but it showed an idealistic, charming youth who had plenty of dreams and an entire life to fulfill them. He has a best friend, Reggie, short for Regina, who he hangs out with a lot. He’s actually attracted to her, but they both agree they don’t have time for love in their life now, for it would make everything even more complicated than it already is.
Dash sets out to build a boat, a project he and his mom talked about. There are pictures of the boat in various stages of being finished, included in the book.
Dash goes to university, where he majors in engineering and minors in business. When his aunt and uncle come to visit him and ask him to take on a job, he immediately accepts, and that is the beginning of a rollercoaster adventure for this young entrepreneur. He meets various people, like Becka, who he falls in love with, and Nellie, who becomes his personal assistant and the one person he can always count on.
Part of the book is told from Nellie’s POV – it makes it sound as if Nellie and Dash wrote the book together. However, it’s still mostly centered around Dash.
There’s a lot of business stuff going on as Dash manages to turn his company into a multi-million dollar cooperation. He flies around the world in private jets, sets up humanitarian projects, leads meetings, and does all the other stuff one would expect a boss to do. They work on a mission to send ambassadors to another planet, Rutin, and Nellie and Reggie end up going.
Then the book makes a complicated time jump and suddenly we meet Emma Hammer. It wasn’t clear at first how much time had passed (time indicators are just set in the middle of the text, I’d suggest either starting with them, or putting them in bold or something, so they stand out more) but it turns out it’s about ten years later. Then we’re introduced to Melanie Armitrage, a date analyst who Dash hires for his company. Melanie begins a relationship with Elias, another person who works for Dash, who is actually reduced to secondary character status for this part of the novel.
The time jump was difficult to follow. All of the sudden, Dash is married to a woman from Rutin, whereas I’d half and half expected he’d be married to Nellie or Reggie. No such luck though. The perspective jumps again, this time to Naota, who is actually a Rutatois woman (as in, a woman from the planet Rutin). Then it jumps back to Emma, who will be send off-planet for the first time in her life. The rest of the book involves mostly around Naota and Emma, and Dash only makes a sparse appearance here and there.
The book is written fluently. It didn’t read very literary at the start, but the book seemed to ease into its genre halfway through. The characters were interesting, unique, and almost all of them had enough different personality traits to keep me entertained, even the secondary characters. The book is a tad bit on the longer side though, and it was difficult to keep all the secondary characters apart. There are so many of them that even remembering who is who was difficult.
All in all, an enjoyable, unique read. If you’re in the mood for something different, then give this book a shot.(less)
The Mortician’s Wife is a haunting tale about abuse, evil and love, and how hatred can destroy even the most caring of people. The setting is a real, existing house in Dunsmuir, North California, that is reportedly haunted. The narrator, Emily, has grown up not too far away from the house, and has always been intrigued by the strange woman living within its walls. When a Halloween prank goes wrong, and she notices the old woman standing behind a window, she grows more and more obsessed with the house and its inhabitant. When she hears music coming from inside, she takes that as a sign.
Turns out the old woman, Ada, has been as intrigued by Emily as is the case the other way around. For years, the two of them hang out together, playing the piano. But then Emily’s parents divorce, and she moves away. When she returns, years later, she’s relieved to find out Ada is still alive. She signs up to help the old woman, and Ada accepts. The friendship between the two of them is stronger than ever, and Ada decides to share her life story with the younger girl. A story filled with hatred, abuse and betrayal, and something dark that still lurks in the corner of her home.
I first thought this was going to be genuine horror, but it isn’t. It’s more like a gothic story, with evil creeping up on you when you least expect it. The cruelty of mankind is the most prominent evil-factor here. Ada’s story is deeply unsettling, but it’s also fascinating, and I had to keep reading, I couldn’t stop until I figured out what happened.
The relationship between Ada and Emily was rather amazing. It touched me deeply, and reminded me of my nextdoor neighbor. She was an old lady when I was a kid, and we got along great. She had all these amazing stories. I still miss her sometimes, and Ada reminded me of her, except that Ada’s life story is a lot sadder.
The book is the first in a series. The second book will be about the evil living in the funeral home, and it promises to be a lot scarier. In that way, this book kind of reads like a prequel. Either way, I didn’t mind, because it was an enjoyable, if not sometimes depressing, read. The writing was great, the pacing was okay, and I really liked the characters.(less)
Novellas are usually a hit or miss. Ruby Hill was a definite miss. It’s the first story I read from the Entangled Ever After line, and I’d kind of expected it to be better.
The story is all over the place. Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Asylum for as long as she can remember. It’s an abandoned institute, once home of cruel experiments, torture and doctors who prefered hurting their patients over helping them. She works in a ghost hunting show, and as a gifted medium, has let tons of cases and ghost hunts.
She’s not prepared to meet Corbin Malone however. Corbin is a cop, a born skeptic, and he’s reluctant about letting ghost hunters on the scene, even though the rest of the force thinks it’s their only chance, given how many people have died in Ruby Hill Asylum over the last few years, including Corbin’s own brother.
Corbin and Ashley used to date, and that brings forth more complications than either of them can handle on the most stressful night of their lives.
From the plot, you can probably gather that this book set up to be a complicated, intriguing read, and that it’s almost impossible to cover so much subject matter in a novella. You’d be right. It doesn’t work. Too much is thrown in, too many subplots are never investigated, and the story goes nowhere. The characters are as one-dimensional as they can get. Ashley is just there. If we get any emotions from here, than they’re told, not shown. Corbin has a little more emotional reaction, but even he remains dull and boring.
It’s never explained why the asylum is haunted, or why these ghosts suddenly have the ability to actually kill people. There’s no atmosphere because the story is rushed, which makes this book about as scary as watching a Disney movie. The romance is unbelievable, and it’s incredibly rushed as well.
I felt no connection to the story or characters, which was double dissapointing. First, because the story had a lot of potential – insane asylum, murders, ghost hunters, what could possibly go wrong? – and because this sounded like it would be right up my alley. I love gothic horror, and from the description, that’s what it would be.
It ended up being a dull and boring read, and it was way too rushed to be intriguing. If they’d made this into a full-length novel, it probably would’ve been a lot better. As it stands now, I wouldn’t recommend it.(less)
What I liked most about This House is Haunted, is how it combines elements from a lot of classics from The Turn of The Screw to Rebecca, and mixes them in a new, original book that is reminiscent of old gothic horror reads but has an unique element added. The story is gothic horror, my favorite genre, but unfortunately it doesn’t stir away enough from the well-known elements to turn into something completely unique and original.
After her father’s dead, Eliza Caine moves to Norfolk to become a governess at Gaudlin Hall. She finds no parents, but just a young boy and girl in the large mansion, Isabella and Eustace. While she finds it strange, she suspects to meet the parents in the morning. At night, a strange occurence terrifies her, but she’s determined not to be scared off by it. However, when by morning there’s no sign of any parents, she decides to dig deeper into the mystery and find out what’s going on.
Her quest for the truth leads her to the revelation that several governesses have died before her in freak accident. When strange things happen all around her, and her life gets threatened, Eliza must make a choice: stay and get to the bottom of the mystery, even if it means she may end up dead, or flee back to London.
So we got a bunch of known tropes: the hidden presence in the house, the madwoman, the governess, the scary children, the large mansion, ghosts, a town refusing to speak about a town secret, dreary atmosphere.
The lack of original elements bothered me a bit, and brought the rating down for me. I wanted something original, not just a blatant rip-off of the old classics. Not to saying this is just a rip-off – it has a great premise, the writing is excellent, and the children were deliciously scary – but it felt too much like something I’d already read to be truly intriguing. In that context it reminded me of The Secrets of Crickley Hall by James Herbert, except that the latter had a lot more original elements woven in, which made it more entertaining for me.
A great read if you’re a fan of ghost stories, like I am.(less)
The idea behind Sacrifice Island is a pretty well-known trope. Jemma and Alex are paranormal investigators, writing about hauntings all across the globe. They travel to a secluded place in the Philippines where, apparently, lots of people have gone missing on a haunted island nearby. On the island, Jemma finds a diary of a young woman who committed suicide there ages ago, and she begins reading all about the woman’s day-to-day life. The longer she spends there, the more she is drawn to the island, and the terrible secrets it holds.
Jemma was an interesting character, especially since she refused to get close to anyone. At first I thought she was just shy, or she’d gone through something terrible in the past, but the more the story evolved, the more I thought it had to be something more sinister than that. When it is finally revealed, I was amazed at the originality of the author.
Same goes for the haunted island. The author managed to incorporate a little-known myth with well-known horror elements and turn it into a refreshing, breathtaking story. The writing was excellent, the setting atmospheric and haunting, and the monster on the island was very intriguing.
I absolutely loved this book, and would recommend it to all fans of the genre. It’s a perfect Halloween read.(less)
When I started reading, I was immediately pulled into the story. The Ghost House offers a relatable heroine, Annie, who unwillingly gets thrown in the middle of a horror movie when she promises to take care of her brother’s farmhouse, near a dilipidated, crumbling old mansion. The mansion calls for her, but the moment she walks inside, strange things happen. She finds the diary of a former resident of the house, Alice, which she brings along to the farmhouse. She starts reading the diary and discovers more and more horrific clues about the mansion’s troubled past…
But in the present day, the mansion isn’t safe from perils either. A serial killer out to destroy young women has made the mansion his working area. The ghost of the mansion has found a tool to do his bidding…And now he’s seen Annie, he has got his eyes set on her. He will destroy her, no matter what it takes.
I loved the premise, the idea of the past interacting with the present, of reincarnation, of vengeance. I kind of wished that the guy who Alice fell for would’ve sort of loved her back, even if it was in some twisted, weird way. I thought so at first, what with him taunting her – this could be some strange way of showing he actually liked her – but when it was revealed it was money he was after all along, that was a bit of a let-down for me. Sick, twisted love is more intriguing and unique than money issues.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story, the characters and the plot. Unfortunately, there seemed to be some plotholes. Like: what really happened to Alice? Maybe we’re not meant to find out, but I would’ve wanted to know.
Apart from that, I liked the book. It was an atmospheric, spooky read, ideal for the season. I could’ve done with a bit more ghosts and a bit less crime novel though.(less)
When Ann meets Cody and his band in a local club, she agrees the band has some weird attraction, but she’s not interested, having just broken up with her boyfriend. Her best friend Kim, however, is more than willing to dive head over heels into a relationship with lead singer Cody. But the more Kim hangs out with him, the more she starts to change, and Ann suspects something may be wrong.
Ann does some research into Cody, and his odd resemblance with Bobby Winters, a musician who passed away ages ago. She finds out what happened to Bobby and his band, the Reapers, and the story is more than a little terrifying. If Cody is completely obsessed with the singer, than he may even be dangerous.
But what if it goes even further? The more Ann finds out about Cody, the more she grows convinced something supernatural and eerie is going on…
By the third-or-so chapter, I was so sucked into the story that I couldn’t finish reading. The book pulled me in. The characters were intriguing, and I wanted to find out who Cody was and what exactly he was upto.
But then, the appeal greatly diminished. Halfway through, the book gets a little jumpy, moving from one scene to the next, and characters lack consistency. On top of that, the “big reveal” is kind of anticlimatic. I’d expected horror, since the book was labeled as such, but instead I got something closer to paranormal romance. Not bad, just not what I’d expected.
I did like Ann though. She doesn’t give up, she’s stubborn when needs be, and she’s brave, even in the face of real danger.
The author has a great writing style, and the plot was decent, I was just a little disappointed it’s not actually horror. The book had a lot of potential to throw in some original elements, but it stayed too close to well-known tropes for me.(less)
What impressed me the most about Corrosion is the bleak, lifeless world author Jon Bassoff creates in his novel. The world is made of small, run-down, damaged towns filled with the most despicable of characters: the low-lifes, people without goals or imagination, the ones destroyed by society. In a few descriptive sentences, Mr. Bassoff makes this world come to life, giving his book a very depressing setting, and positioning an even more depressing characters in the middle of it.
The first part focuses on a mysterious Iraq war veteran, Joseph Downs. His face is horribly scared, and he falls head over heels for a girl who saved from her abusive husband in a local pub. They begin an affair, and the veteran falls for her. But the girl may be more than she seems like, and betrayal lurks around every corner…
The second part talks about a young boy, who’s father has travelled deep down the alley of mental illness. His mother has become ill, and her father hides her for the outside world, and for the boy as well, until they make a horrific discovery. The young boy, Benton, slowsly descends into madness, like his father before him, and falls for an older woman who wants nothing to do with him.
I figured out what was going on about halfway through, but nevertheless, it was an amazing experience to see how it all played out. In some ways, this book is a masterpiece. It’s well-crafted, has an amazing plot, and offers a bleak yet fascinating world.
The writing is relentless, fast-paced, and simply beautiful. There’s horror behind the horror, like a silent spectator behind the events, and who will only reveal the real, full story in bits and pieces, torturing the reader a little along the way.
A most impressive novel. I can’t wait to read more from this author.(less)