I’m a few days late in getting this review live thanks to life getting in the way, but I promise you, the delay has nothing at all to do with the bookI’m a few days late in getting this review live thanks to life getting in the way, but I promise you, the delay has nothing at all to do with the book as it’s one of my absolute favorite reads in recent years.
The Devil’s Only Friend was my first time reading anything by Dan Wells and I was hooked from the very first page:
I’m good now. I promise.
My name is John Wayne Cleaver and I was born in a little town in the middle of nowhere called Clayton. You know those little towns on the side of the road, the ones where you drive through and you don’t notice them, or maybe you stop for gas and think, “what a dump, who would ever live here?” Well, I did, for sixteen years. And I wish I could say that it was boring, and that nothing ever happened, and that we lived in a sleepy haze of naive innocence far from the troubles of the modern world, but I can’t . I killed people. Not as many as other people, I’ll grant you, but that’s not much consolation, is it? If someone sat next to you on a bus, held out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m John, I’ve only killed a couple of people,” that wouldn’t exactly put your mind at ease. But yes, I’ve killed, and some of them were demons, true, but some of them were people. That I didn’t kill the people personally is beside the point; they are dead because of me. That changes you. You start to look at things differently, at lives and their fragility. It’s like we’re all Humpty Dumpty, held together by a tiny, cracking shell, perched up on a wall like it’s no big deal. We think we’re invincible, and then one little crack, and boom, out comes more blood and guts and screams than you’d ever thought could be inside a single body. And when that blood goes, everything else goes with it— breath, thought, movement. Existence. One minute you’re alive and then suddenly you’re not.
I used to wonder if it went somewhere. If the thing that used to be your “life” actually left your body and physically went somewhere else. Conservation of matter and energy and all that. But I’ve seen death, and life doesn’t go anywhere, and I think that’s because life doesn’t exist, not really. Life isn’t a thing, it’s a condition; we switch it on and we switch it off. For all we talk about taking a life, there’s nothing there to take. But I’m good now. I promise.
I’ve killed, and whatever bloodlust I used to have is sated . I wake up in the morning and I go to my tutor and I go to my counseling and I go to my job with the FBI, helping to track down other killers, and I say the right things and I do the right things and nobody’s afraid of me and everything is good. I watch travel shows. I cook. I do logic puzzles to keep myself occupied. And then sometimes at night I go to the butcher shop and I buy the biggest roast they have and I bring it home and I cover the room in plastic and I hack the meat to pieces with a kitchen knife, slashing and ripping and chopping and grunting until there’s nothing left but scraps. Then I roll up the plastic, meat and blood and all, and I throw it away and everything is clean and calm again.
Because I’m good now.
GO AHEAD! Just try to tell me you’re not already hooked! Good, right??!?!? I opened up the review copy of The Devil’s Only Friend, read that first page, and that was it. I was sucked in.
Here’s another great getting-to-know-you moment with John:
There wasn’t any real trick to it— I planned their deaths the same way I planned my teammates’. Spend time with them, figure out their weak spots, and then push on those weak spots until they die. I make friends with them, and then I kill them.
Being my friend is not, statistically speaking, very safe.
I fell in love with this character instantly. John Cleaver is a perfect example of the Bad Good Guy or the Good Bad Guy. There is nothing better than a writer who can take a character who, by conventional societal standards, should be locked up in a cage like Hannibal Lecter and bring you inside their head and show you enough reason for you to end up cheering the character on. I don’t think John behaves himself because he wants to. He behaves himself because he knows they will put him down like a lame horse if he crosses the line into full-on crazy.
As with any urban fantasy, this book is written in a conversational tone instead of over the audience’s head. This results in a super-fast paced read. Now, I admit, I peeked at a few other reviews before writing mine (I wanted to see how others got around some of the spoilers only to find that they didn’t even bother trying….no help) and one thing I saw was someone complain about the book being too slow at the beginning. Well, to you, unnamed reviewer, I completely disagree. As soon as I started reading, I started telling people about the book. If anything, I was amazed at how quickly the action picks up and takes off. Unnamed reviewer, I think you may have been reading a different book….
Uses the Fibonacci sequence to manage his issues. If you’re not familiar, this is a string of numbers in which the next number is the sum of the two preceding it. 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 and so on…. Instead of just counting to 10, he uses a sequence that requires brain work. It’s his way of not only calming himself down, but also a way to bring his focus back in line. I didn’t read the books prior to The Devil’s Only Friend, so, I don’t know what led to him using the sequence to calm his urges, but I saw it an instantly smiled (I’m a nerd…). For someone with a metal disorder, such as….oh, I don’t know….fantasizing about violent murder, this is a genius way to reign in focus. Well done, Mr. Wells. Well done.
On a technical front, the writing is tight. Nothing feels unnecessary or forced. The flow of the story is perfectly tuned. The rehashing of what you need to know from the previous books is conversationally brought into the story making the book work as a standalone. When the publisher told me this was the fourth book for the character, I was a little apprehensive. However, I assure you all, if this is where you want to pick up, you certainly can and I don’t feel there is anything you’d get hung up on due to lack of information.
Another thing I loved is this is urban fantasy written by a guy! The reason this excites me so much is the content. Dont get me wrong, I write paranormal romance myself, but I love love LOVE true urban fantasy, and finding true urban fantasy is getting harder and harder. Lately, a lot of people believe the two genres seem to have become synonymous with one another, and they’re not. Just because a book is urban fantasy does not mean it’s also paranormal romance, and vice versa. The thing I adore about male UF writers is they really get that. The focus of this book has nothing at all to do with romantic tension and the next sex scene. It’s all about the characters and an action-packed story. I really love that. I miss “old school” urban fantasy and wish there was a lot more of it on the market.
Overall, this was an excellent read and I am officially a fan. I will be going back to read the first three books because I enjoyed this one so much. I am very curious to see the story of how John ended up where this one picked up. Mr. Wells has landed himself a new fan....more
This is the third book I have read by Taylor and the first I didn’t do as an audio book. Since I receivedOnce again, Corey Taylor does not disappoint!
This is the third book I have read by Taylor and the first I didn’t do as an audio book. Since I received an early copy through NetGalley, listening to Taylor rant at the top of his lungs was not an option.
But it would have been funny as hell.
You’re Making Me Hate You takes a cranky look at the state of the world and the human race. Taylor rants on everything from the music industry to the behavior of children. From travelling in airports to fashion disasters of the highest degree. He not only offers commentary, but some insight on why he thinks the way he does. For instance, his chapter on kids was one I almost died laughing while reading. This one quote echoes the same thing I’ve been saying, almost word-for-word, most of my life:
“Let me tell you something really quick: I love my children. I do. However, I am really not fond of other people’s children, including some of my closest friends’ kids. Really, I just hate them. I’m a decent enough guy not to say it to their faces, but it’s true.” I don’t like kids. I love my kids, but I don’t generally like children. Tiny humans bug me. I don’t have the village mentality. I had two children. It’s my job to get those two children to 18 years old without killing them or turning them into assholes. I have my two and I don’t need to chill with any others. I’m probably the only chick in existence that doesn’t gush over babies and I get looked at like I have twelve heads when I say I don’t want to hold it.
Don’t look at me like that. They’re little puke factories!
Taylor’s take on fashion was one I was very much looking forward to seeing simply because of some of his outfits of awards shows gone by.
You have to admit, he rocks the shit out of those suits, especially the green one. Love it! Regardless of what he’s chosen for award show attire in the past, Taylor admits that even his fashion choices have been many steps above some of the crap passing for fashion these days. And his commentary on it will have you shooting coffee out of your nose.
“But even compared to my fashion disasters, this guy looked like a douche pickle soaked in toilet water.” Also, don’t let him fool you. Taylor can wear the shit out of a nice suit when he wants to.
With all the negativity in this book, I honestly expected to quickly grow bored with it, but that was not at all the case. Taylor’s prior books all had a focal point and YMMHY is a kind of free-form stream of consciousness. I don’t say that to discourage readers. Just the opposite. This style, although he gets off track here and there, works for Taylor. He’s obviously a guy with a lot to say, and sometimes verbal vomit is the best course of action. Especially when you’re saying all the things that you know everyone is thinking but is too afraid to utter out loud.
Like me and my dislike of children.
Fret not! He’s got little love notes for the readers sprinkled throughout the book, too. I was about half way through the first chapter when I was starting to grow concerned that I was about to embark on a journey in which the writer spends several hundred pages bashing the very people buying the book. And then he said nice things and made me feel all warm and fuzzy again. lol
“Oh, but not you exceptional observers of taste and vision! I’m not lumping you into that bacterial pot of oatmeal. No, I have other plans for you. You are going to become my army. You are going to form my Legion of Doom to fight the Regions of Dumb.” Overall, this was a fantastic book. Another great addition to his book shelf. As much as I adore Corey as a musician, he’s fast become one of my favorites writers as well. I just hope YMMHY isn’t going to be Taylor’s last dip into the publishing pool. I really look forward to each new release and it’s a little heart breaking that this one might be the last. Stay tuned, party people! I will keep you updated on any news I hear. Promise.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THE BOOK
“Sometimes it just really sucks to be America, especially when I know just how much potential this country has for greatness and acceptance. But I don’t dwell; I just make voodoo dolls.” “Plus, with all the booze they’re chugging down there’s a very good chance they’ll wake up in a Build-A-Bear Workshop, naked and balls deep in a container full of cotton and tony bear panties. Yep. That’s my people… God, I fuckin’ hate people.” “Justin: between your massive sense of self-importance, your terrible attitude problem, and the way you treat your fans, you don’t deserve your fame.” “We’ll never be able to get out of our own ways long enough to see the other’s point of view because we’re all so fucking busy paying more attention to the sounds of our own voices than to what the other person is saying.” “Shit happens—just don’t let it happen all over you.” “Listen to some music that doesn’t just repeat the word “Baby” 23,457 times.” “I’ve never used the term “YOLO” seriously. Whenever I hear someone say that and mean it, my skin crawls and I get very stabby.”...more
I have never read a Cat Adams book, but we used to have a reviewer on the PT team who LOVED the writing duo. So, when I saw that one half of the duo,I have never read a Cat Adams book, but we used to have a reviewer on the PT team who LOVED the writing duo. So, when I saw that one half of the duo, C.T. Adams, had written her first solo book, I decided to give it a try. And I was not disappointed! I have no frame of reference for comparison, so I cant tell you if The Exile was anything like the writing style of Cat Adams, though.
From a technicality front, The Exile was very well written. The story line was thought out in great detail and woven together perfectly. The main character is strong while still maintaining femininity. The supporting cast consists of many different characters who all have great personalities. With the exception of a minor hiccup in the beginning (which I will get into in a minute), the pacing is perfect. All around, the writing was tight. I was very impressed!
The only thing I had trouble with was the start of the book felt a little choppy. That being said, I find that with a LOT of series first installments, to the point that I kind of expect it. First installments require a lot of world building for the readers. Once that world building is done, the story is free to just flow. I think in a lot of cases, that takes away from the story a bit, but I dont feel it did in this case. Even with the building of the background, C.T. Adams still managed to move the story forward at the same time. It just has a couple of rough spots at the beginning. Once the story really starts to flow, it takes right off.
Overall, I felt The Exile was an excellent start to a new series! I am really looking forward to reading more of Brianna and seeing where the story takes her....more
Dead Spots was my first time reading a Rhiannon Frater book and I have to say, I was quite impressed. I cracked it open and was hooked from the prologDead Spots was my first time reading a Rhiannon Frater book and I have to say, I was quite impressed. I cracked it open and was hooked from the prologue. That doesn’t happen for me very often. Most books require at least a few chapters to grab me.
Right out of the gate, this book starts out with a heartbreaking series of events. As it states in the blurb, our main girl Mackenzie ends up giving birth to a stillborn child. The fallout of her son’s death consists of her marriage coming to an abrupt end and her being forced to move back to her home state of Texas. On the road, she encounters what is known as a dead spot – a place between. Between the living and the dead.
The atmosphere Frater builds is positively creeptastic. She wastes no time dragging you from the dreary world where Mackenzie has to say goodbye to the life she could have had to the dead spot where that life haunts her at her every turn. She even thoroughly grossed me out at one point. It was pretty awesome.
The premise behind Dead Spots is what attracted me to the title. I am a big fan of horror and the idea of being trapped in a place like that is a little terrifying. A place where if you can imagine it in your fears, it can come to life and kill you. It’s an intriguing plot design and the tone of the book kind of reminded me of John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness.
Overall, Dead Spots is an incredibly well-written book and I am so glad I gave it a try. Now I have to go through the authors catalog and pick up some other reads of her. I loved the style and pacing of this story and I am hoping to find it’s a common thread in her writing. If you’re a fan of Stephen King (think circa Gerald’s Game or Dolan’s Cadillac) or even the more tame pieces in Dean Koontz’s catalog, I think you’d like Dead Spots. It creepy but still touches your heart, which is a hard balancing act to pull off. Brava, Ms, Frater!...more
I have been waiting a long time for this particular book. When I first started reading the Wanderer series, I absolutely fell head over heels in loveI have been waiting a long time for this particular book. When I first started reading the Wanderer series, I absolutely fell head over heels in love with one of the side characters. Z, or Zafir if you want to be all formal about it. Z is the epitome of the cave man mentality, but when you scratch the surface, he's just a big mushy teddy bear underneath. I loved his character so much, I messaged the author and told her I needed more.
Now, I'm not saying I'm the reason we now have a Z novel, but I'm not saying I'm not. lol
This book picks up with a substantial jump through time from the end of book two. It took me a minute to catch up to that fact, enough so that I went back and pulled up the second book thinking I missed something. If you've read the series, fear not, the details all fall into place pretty quickly. You just have to stick with it.
Within My Grasp brings back the entire cast we’ve grown to know and love, but this time, the book is from Z’s point of view. Z’s circumstances have changed a bit in life, and he now has a slightly different role than what we readers have become accustomed to. He’s still a badass with a bit of a snarky attitude, but he’s also got responsibilities now that he’s never had before. The author illustrates this in so many different ways and I found my little obsession with Z morphing from “I wish he was a real person so I could track him down and do dirty things to him” to “I wish he was a real person so I could track him down and give him a big hug. The Z you know from Out of Reach and A Step Away is not the same guy you’re going to encounter in this book.
And that’s probably the only thing you could kind of say I didn’t like about this book. Well, not didn't like, but didn't expect.
The reason I fell so hard in love with Z is he was a live wire. He was a deadly soldier, passionate about their cause, but who also happened to be a little bit of a loose cannon. A little. In Within My Grasp, he's still Z, but he's also changed a LOT. There's really, really, really, really, really good reason for it, though. You'll just love him for a whole new reason, that's all. *wink wink*
As with the rest of the series, Stover has written another great tale. I dont want to give away too much for fear of blowing the story (I have already edited what I have, like, twelve times just to make sure I have no spoilers). I will tell you it's got a little bit of everything and lots of feels. On the urban fantasy front, once again, the action and mystery side of the story are well woven and perfectly executed. This is a series I will definitely be re-reading....more
GAWDDAMMIT, NATUSCH! I officially trust NO ONE in this series. lol No one, I tell you!!!
UNSEEN is the second installment in the new Unborn series by AGAWDDAMMIT, NATUSCH! I officially trust NO ONE in this series. lol No one, I tell you!!!
UNSEEN is the second installment in the new Unborn series by Amber Lynn Natusch. I recently reviewed the first book in the series and fell in love with it. Although it’s a spin-off of the Caged series, it couldn’t possibly be more different. It’s gritty. It’s dark. It has a bad habit of pissing me off.
I dont say that as a bad thing. Quite the contrary. Natusch is rather famous for her 1 question answered/5 questions added method of laying out a series and UNSEEN is no exception.
Unborn left off with a LOT of questions unanswered and Unseen wasted no time in diving right into the thick of things to try to solve a few of the many mysteries we were left holding. Oh, and answers you will get, my friends. Lots of them. A few that will blow your frikkin mind.
As mentioned in my review of Unborn, the series, much more so than the Caged series, intermingles urban fantasy with ancient Greek mythos. The cast you will meet in UNSEEN is unlike anything she’s every written. I wont get into who you’re going to meet because spoilers and all that. I don’t want to ruin the book for you and I think the trip through Greek mythology is half the fun of this series.
In my review of Unborn, I had stressed how different this series is from Caged and UNSEEN really seemed like it set out to prove that point. UNSEEN takes us on a journey through the Underworld, and with the exception of Sean’s name thrown out a few times and the obvious involvement of the Detroit PC boys, you’ll go through UNSEEN with just the tiniest of notions that this book is somehow related to the Caged series. UNSEEN is the book that will make you forget about it’s parent series.
Where Unborn was the hot new guy at school, UNSEEN was the tattoo-covered bad boy who would drag you into the janitor’s closet, have his way with you, and slap you on the ass with a wink on his way out. We are now familiar with the cast, so rather than having to spend a lot of time getting to know the main players, the story really had room to unfold and breathe. Not only does your hangover from Unborn ease a bit, but the author has taken the story, tied it up in an unrecognizable knot, and somehow, at the end of the day, the tangles come undone and reveal a perfectly woven story.
The stunner moments in UNSEEN are…ummm….many. One in particular resulted in my emailing the author with a message along the lines of “If ________ is still ______ at the end of this book, you and I are going to have some serious words.” Lucky for her, my fears were put to rest. Well…..sort of. It’s not all unicorns pooping rainbows, but it took a step in a direction toward the sunny side of the street. You know, right before the tornado hit and fucked everything up again.
The mystery of exactly what Khara is goes straight bananas in UNSEEN. If you thought shit was weird with her in Unborn, hold on to your fedoras, my friends, because you’ve got a long bumpy ass road ahead. And, of course, by the end of the book, you’re going to have more questions. I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s true. Prepare for yet another book hangover.
I did see something in this book that was unexpected of our girl Khara. Maybe I just didn’t pick up on it in Unborn, or maybe she was still just too new to the whole emotion thing to bring it to light, but our girl isn’t afraid to use her hot ass to move toward her goals. She dabbles in wielding her sexuality as a weapon in UNSEEN and reveals that she’s no stranger to using her assets as a means to an end. As I said, it was unexpected, but also not unconvincing. The way it is written in and further explained, it works for the story in a way that it wouldn’t have in Unborn, and it shows the reader that we’ve just barely scratched the surface of this girl.
Oz. Oz is a bit of a conundrum. He takes “bad boy” to a whole new level and I spent the majority of this story saying “what in the name of all that is unholy is he up to?!?!?!” Still not entirely sure, but I have a sinking suspicion he’s one of very few actually concerned with Khara’s well-being. I have no clue what is brewing between Khara and Oz, but I can tell you that if those two ever pull the trigger and bones, it’s going to be HOT. Like, really hot. If they ever get pelvic, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be explosive. The tension with these two! Hot, hot, hot.
Deimos. He’s such a dick. I know this is not what he looks like, but I dislike this character so much, every time he has a scene, all I can picture is Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog:
And I kind of adore Aery. She’s a fantastic supporting character and I am really hoping to see her become more involved in the main story. She’s spunky and mischievous and she totally reminds me of Alice Cullen from the Twilight books. Not the movies. The books.
Overall, I loved UNSEEN. It’s an excellent sophomore effort and I cant wait to see where the story takes us. The writing is tight. The story is captivating. The characters are beyond fantastic. Truly a great addition to the story.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“I wish Casey were here right now,” he murmured. “Why is that?” “Because I do love it when he calls you batshit crazy, and that is precisely what that idea is. Bat. Shit. Crazy.”
“Be careful whose doorstep you lay your loyalty upon.”