Showing posts with label Book Review. Show all posts

Publication date: October 19th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads F lowers for the Sea is a dark, dazzling debut novella that reads like Ro...


Publication date: October 19th, 2021


Flowers for the Sea is a dark, dazzling debut novella that reads like Rosemary's Baby by way of Octavia E. Butler.

We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek. 

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Iraxi has reason to be angry. She's stuck on a ship in a flooded world, surrounded on all sides by those who despise her, and monsters of air and sea who are waiting to end her. She's pregnant with a child she doesn't want in a new world where no one has yet to carry to term. She's not even sure the child is human. Her hatred burns her from within, leaving no room for anything else. Her anger is like the water that filled her world, rising swiftly and submerging everything in its path. 
I am insistence personified, and the spite I draw is my sustenance...

 This is a novella that will speak to all your senses. Not only is Iraxi's rage all-consuming, but the descriptions of the ship and its people will also engulf you. Seventeen hundred forty-three days at sea. She is locked in this place surrounded by rotting wood, the sea lapping at it from all sides, mildewing in the salty air. The stink of bodies and fluids and blood all around. Unable to even escape to fresh air due to the razorfangs from the sky and tentacles from the depths. This narrative will envelop you in its depictions like a dark, oily dream from which you can't awake. 

While the eldritch creatures encircling the ship would typically be the focus of a novella, Rocklyn beckons us to sit with Iraxi in her boiling resentment and fury. We experience her loathed pregnancy, the debilitating changes to her body, and eventually the horror of her labor and what comes after. If you are looking for a dark and disturbing visceral tale, Iraxi's account will whisper bleakly to you. Flowers For The Sea is ghastly and gloriously weird and well worth the read. 


green background with woman's silhouette wrapped in tentacles


Publication date: October 31, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads J oey’s a mechanic. One night, she receives a call from her best friend, ask...

Raven with red bleeding eye on purple background


Publication date: October 31, 2021


Joey’s a mechanic. One night, she receives a call from her best friend, asking for his car to be picked up from the infamous body dumping grounds of Baltimore: Leakin Park. When she arrives, there’s little more around than a stalled-out car and a couple of ravens, so she leaves only with the car. Back at the body shop, it doesn’t take long for the smell of rot to permeate the trunk. Inside? A corpse. The cops say her friend did it. His absence is his guilt, but Joey knows better. She will find her missing friend and she will prove his innocence.

But something isn’t right in Baltimore. It’s not just the feeling that someone is always watching from the city’s abandoned buildings... Her search for her friend reveals something much worse hiding under the city. A ghost town, a reaper, regret. Suddenly, the city’s rage and the stink rising out of the dirt make much more sense. 

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Bleedmore, Bodymore is a YA fantasy horror with a very nice nod to Greek mythology. Our protagonist, Joey, is thrown immediately into the fray, showing up in the slums of Leakin Park after a call requesting a tow. Only there's a body in the trunk of the car of her friend and her friend is nowhere in sight. Who is the person in the trunk? Did her friend kill him? If he didn't, why has he disappeared? Down the rabbit hole goes Joey into a whole different world transposed on the city of Baltimore and Leakin Park.

I was all for the atmosphere of this read. It's dark and gritty showing the shadowed side of Baltimore. There's a dank and mealy vibe coating everything and you can conjure the wet asphalt and garbage smell in the air without even trying. That's where the novel excelled. The pacing worked well enough though there were some slowdowns and breakneck parts. 

Where it lost me was taking a hard right turn beyond the murder and mystery sticking us straight into mythology and the underworld. I was expecting paranormal. That wasn't the problem. Additionally, I love a good mythology/horror combination, but I was honestly confused enough to backtrack thinking I missed something. Once I reoriented myself, I loved the addition—this dark underworld filled with a ghost town, a river of regret to drown in, heart-devouring raven shifters, a reaper, and dead-but-not-dead abusive alcoholic fathers. (Tw - abuse, alcoholism, and suicide)

I didn't care so much for Joey aka Josephine. I wanted to like her and I wanted to care about her plight but it didn't happen. She never quite made it past a one-dimensional character for me. She comes across as being very immature and she makes some extremely stupid decisions for seemingly no other reason than "I'm tough and edgy". If I had to hear about her licking or sucking on her lip piercing ONE MORE TIME, I was going to lose it. As far as the secondary characters went, the most interesting ones were Charon and Val. I wanted to know more about them. This is a continued series though so surely the author will expand on that later.  

There's plenty here that worked well of though. There is loads of action and it moves the story along fairly quickly. Joey is actually pretty witty and some of the dialogue will give you a laugh. There's some great imagery as well and the atmosphere is top notch. I feel like this would be better promoted as urban fantasy versus horror, though it certainly contains horror elements. Hopefully, book two can address some of the weaknesses and give a stronger more cohesive read. 

Publication date: September 21st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads ' H umans, as is there wont, have a terrible habit of making a mess ...

Gothic house surrounded by a white fence

Publication date: September 21st, 2021


'Humans, as is there wont, have a terrible habit of making a mess of everything.'

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.

But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren't necessarily the ones you can see.

A thought-provoking, chilling and beautifully written novel, Pádraig Kenny's The Monsters of Rookhhaven, stunningly illustrated by Edward Bettison, explores difference and empathy through the eyes of characters you won't want to let go.

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The Monsters of Rookhaven is a delightful middle-grade gothic tale of a little girl named Mirabelle and her family. For centuries, the Family has lived protected in their home away from the eyes of most humans. Until one day, the veil tears and two abandoned and abused human children find their way in. They are promptly and fiercely championed by seemingly normal Mirabelle to stay. While the rest of those living at the estate are unsure, the children are quickly settled in amongst the strange and usual characters.  The rift, however, leaves the family vulnerable to those that might wish them harm and it has been out there patiently waiting. 

The world that Kenny weaves is mysterious and enchanting. The estate that the family lives on is brooding and sprawling, replete with unnatural flowers guarding the paths. Each of the family has a unique "talent". There's Uncle Betram, who can transform into a huge bear. Aunt Eliza is made up of spiders. Gideon can transport via portals. The twins, well they are their own breed. Piglet is the literal monster in the basement. We have to learn much later what their talent is, but the family keeps them behind a tremendous locked door and whispers "Piglet is dangerous." 

There are themes of friendships and found family, and how the monsters aren't always the one to be feared. It's not all love and sweetness though—the last half takes a very dark turn. There is a defined evil under the the burgeoning friendship and comfort that the family supplies. Secrets often can cause harm and there is a big ominous secret waiting in the wings for Mirabelle. It will change everything.

I was lucky enough to get The Monsters of Rookhaven on audiobook narrated by Emma Noakes. She has a gift with voices and made the listen that much more enjoyable. Her volume ebbed and flowed through all the different voices, bringing each character to life in turn. I found myself smiling while listening. I couldn't wait to get my earbuds plugged back in to this unforgettable story with its captivating narrator. 

Fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will be charmed by this story. It's fantastical and magical. Perfect for middle-grade readers or for those wanting a little more enchantment in their lives. 





Publication date: September 14th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W elcome to the decrepit Woodmoor Manor…where something in the woods is ...


Publication date: September 14th, 2021


Welcome to the decrepit Woodmoor Manor…where something in the woods is always watching. From the author of Scritch Scratch comes a chilling middle grade story about a creepy mansion and sinister creatures in the woods

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to relax. But when Ginny's father—a respected restoration expert in Chicago—surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren't staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they're staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures that escaped a mad scientist over a hundred years ago. And some say campers routinely disappear never to be seen again.

When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: there's more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren't after campers.

They're after her.

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This is my second book by Lindsay Currie and I absolutely love her style. (You can read my review of Scritch Scratch here.) Her books so far seem to follow a pretty basic formula: preteen gets to head into some spooky sites, manages to find herself mixed up in a Scooby style mystery, and does some sleuthing into the past to discover exactly why what's happening is happening. Though just because something is formulaic doesn't have to mean it's boring or predictable. There's plenty here to draw you in and get you invested. 

Ginny is a great character with relatable worries and fears. Of course, part of that is moving out to the middle of nowhere into this ginormous mansion while her father discovers what it will take to rehab the old place. Especially when she hears that there may be more to Woodmore Manor than she expected...a lot more. Ginny also happens to be very smart and curious about things that she doesn't already know about so it's not long before she's researching its history. She's a huge Agatha Christie fan so figuring out the mystery is completely her thing. She also manages to drag her brother and a newfound friend into helping solve the mystery. Family and friendship feature front and center in the relationships that Lindsay Currie creates. 

If you think middle grade can't be spooky, there are plenty of chills in this haunted house story. The author starts slowly with a few unnerving encounters that could easily be brushed off, but as the story proceeds, those moments become more and more startling. As with Scritch Scratch, there are some pretty terrifying moments that our protagonist Ginny encounters. One in particular probably would have pre-teen me sleeping with the lights on. I love that she doesn't hold back with the scares. However, by the end of the book, she also manages to make it all okay or at least manages to make it all make sense. Sometimes just knowing why something is happening makes it less scary. 

This is one of those books that keeps you turning pages until the very end. The pacing is fantastic and once it starts rolling, this story doesn't slow down. I couldn't wait for Ginny and the crew to figure things out. While there are some things that might seem a little predictable, it's almost in that yell-at-the-characters-on-tv way. You might have figured it out watching from the outside in, but they haven't and you can't wait until it all clicks for everyone. What Lives in the Woods was a treat and I can't wait to read whatever comes next. 




Publication date: May 4th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads O ne of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life wit...


Publication date: May 4th, 2021

One of the most popular role-playing properties in the world gets new life with this trio of horror novellas set in Vampire: The Masquerade's World of Darkness by three brilliant talents: Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, and Caitlin Starling

The subtle horror and infernal politics of the World of Darkness are shown in a new light in Vampire: The Masquerade: Walk Among Us, an audio-first collection of three novellas that show the terror, hunger, and power of the Kindred as you've never seen them before.

In Genevieve Gornichec's A SHEEP AMONG WOLVES, depression and radicalization go hand-in-hand as a young woman finds companionship in the darkness...

In Cassandra Khaw's FINE PRINT, an arrogant tech bro learns the importance of reading the fine print in the contract for immortality...

And in Caitlin Starling's THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, ideals and ethics bump heads with appetite on a blood farm.

Three very different stories from three amazing, distinct voices, but all with one thing in common: the hunger never stops, and for someone to experience power, many others are going to have to feel pain.

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Walk Among Us is a collection of three novellas set in the world of Vampire: The Masquerade. For those of you unfamiliar with Vampire: The Masquerade, it's a gothic tabletop RPG that rose to popularity in the 1990s.  Set in the "World of Darkness", players play vampires, complete with the struggle to maintain some humanity as well as navigating treacherous political machinations of both vampire and human alike. True to the vampires of that world, these stories are dark and broody. The vampires within these tales have diverse backgrounds and ideologies. 

"A Sheep Among Wolves" is the first foray into the world of White Wolf. This story by Genevieve Gornichec was the weakest of the bunch for me. In it, a college student dealing with depression and loneliness finds herself realizing a whole other world has been right in front of her. I struggled with this story the most. The pacing was incredibly slow and I really had to push myself to get through it. The main character felt very insipid and reserved. Any supporting characters went the reverse direction and were absurdly stereotypical. While I certainly appreciated the overall mental health theme, this one just felt like something I'd read before. 

The second story, Cassandra Khaw's "Fine Print", certainly elevates the collection. Bringing a modern-day touch, the main character here is someone that you love to see get what he deserves. Khaw brings this detestable character to life in hi-def and lets us take a seat to watch his undoing. Arrogant and overbearing, this rather tedious specimen of manhood thinks that he's getting the better deal when in all actuality he's getting played by vampires way older and smarter than he is. This one truly shows that vampires are inexhaustible masters of manipulative and cunning. 

"The Land of Milk and Honey" by Caitlin Starling brings up the rear in this collection. This unique story combines ethics and vampirism with this setting of sustenance and sustainable farming. Out of all the stories, I enjoyed this one the most. The strange quandary of needing blood to survive but to do so without killing is one that has been touched on before in vampire fiction but never quite in this way. It brings up some interesting parallels to our own struggles. This story has a bit of everything, some romance, a little treachery, and a lot of manipulation. 

For a collection that only holds three stories, it took a while to get through this one. I enjoyed the variety of themes presented by each story. Vampire fiction has been around for a long time so getting something that feels fresh is a unique experience in itself. 

Publication:  August 17th, 2021  by Harper Voyager Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T he incredible finale of the page-turning, high-octane Sand...



Publication: August 17th, 2021 
by Harper Voyager

The incredible finale of the page-turning, high-octane Sandman Slim series filled with an explosive ending and intense kick-ass action from New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey.

It’s been three months since Stark stopped a death cult and a potential ghost apocalypse, and he’s at loose ends. His personal life is a mess. His professional life isn’t much better. And the world…well, the world is going to shit. L.A. is gripped by a viral epidemic that has everyone wearing masks and keeping their distance from each other. But what’s even more frightening is the Shoggot gang and their leader, King Bullet, who revels in the city’s collapse.

Who is King Bullet? No one knows. He seemingly came from nowhere with nothing but a taste for mayhem and an army of crazed killers who follow his every command. What king wants seems simple on it face: Chaos. Destruction. A city in flames. But there’s more to the king and his plans for L.A. and what Stark discovers will change Heaven, Earth, and Stark himself forever.

It's hard to believe that this is the final book of the Sandman Slim series. The series finale finds Stark in the midst of a viral pandemic where everyone is wearing masks. LA is in chaos. And in the midst is gang leader King Bullet, who seems to have a vendetta for Stark. Hold on to your hats because the train is barreling into the station and there's no one at the helm. 

This is a welcome change as the last book in the series, Ballistic Kiss, definitely felt like one of the slower books. Kadrey put a lot more emotion into Stark, with more introspection than the kick-ass action that I have come to know and love from him. King Bullet takes us back to everything that the Sandman Slim series has been. Once again, there is a very eccentric villain (King Bullet) that Stark has been tasked with taking care of. He's questioning why exactly he was tasked with it, lending credence to the idea that Abbott has not been on the up and up with him. 

This pandemic is no COVID, as terrible as that has been. This one causes autophagia, the consumption of your own body. Yes, these people are chewing their lips and fingers, and...ugh. Disgusting.  In a lot of ways, it's a parallel of a lot of what's happened since COVID. Businesses are shuttered, masks have to be worn everywhere, and for other reasons, riots have happened. Honestly, I read to escape the real world, so reading a story about a novel pandemic in the midst of a novel pandemic wasn't really my cup of tea.

Kadrey certainly wraps up all the loose ends with this finale. All the character arcs are settled without feeling like they were quickly tied up for the sake of completion. I think most fans will be happy with the fulfillment of the Sandman Slim series. Don't think we can completely count Stark out though. That ending might just leave the tiniest bit of wiggle room. 






Publication: November 30th 2020  by Beneath Hell Publishing Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads " W e’d been in the house two weeks when Tommy...



Publication: November 30th 2020 
by Beneath Hell Publishing

"
We’d been in the house two weeks when Tommy pulled the first bones from the garden.”

When Cassie Baker buys the house on Cedar Street, it’s partly because it reminds her of the house she grew up in in the ‘80s. It reminds her of happier times, when her Mom was still alive, before the cancer had taken her. It seems like the perfect place to raise her baby boy, Sam.

That is, until a friend unearths the remains of a dog, buried in a shallow grave in the backyard.

After the bones come the cockroaches…

The Cockroach King is a new novella written by Andrew Cull, the award-winning author of Remains and Bones.

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Cockroaches are one of those bugs that most people hate and of which even more have a phobia, with good reason. They hide in the walls proliferating unseen, scattering when exposed to the light, invading our spaces. The Cockroach King not only plays with our innate revulsion of these scuttling six-legged pests, it quickly escalates it. At only 65 pages, this is one novella that excels at tending a feeling of dread and then coaxing it into an inferno of unease. 

Cassie is a single mother, intent on raising her little boy Sam and creating a life. Told from the first-person view, we quickly feel for her. She's just poured everything she has into their very first home after the death of her mother. She's so well written. She's relatable and her grief is familiar. There's a strength to her that you find yourself quickly cheering for. You want her to succeed and something is standing in the way of her hopes and dreams as Cassie soon finds that their house isn't quite the home-sweet-home that she'd hoped it would be. 

From the very first line—“We’d been in the house two weeks when Tommy pulled the first bones from the garden.”—Cull sets the scene for something foreboding and insidious. This is such a creepy little read. The characters are intimate and the pacing is excellent. The writing is deliberate and invokes such great visceral reactions while reading. The tension builds as the reader is given more questions than answers until it all comes down in a culmination of exposed horrific secrets. 

Interestingly enough, while I was writing this review, my husband came in from outside with an odd discovery: a tiny skull in his hand that he found lying next to the driveway.  We've had numerous pet rats throughout the years and they are all buried in the flower garden. I went outside expecting to find the rock pile set on top disturbed and the burial hole open; It was not. I don't know how the skull got where it was but I find any roaches in my house, you can bet I will bug-bomb this sucker to kingdom come. 



Publication date: April 27th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads "M essy divorce? Check. Emotional stability of the involved parties? Qu...



Publication date: April 27th, 2021


"Messy divorce? Check.

Emotional stability of the involved parties? Questionable.

Possibility of bloodshed? High.

Yep; it was definitely starting to sound like one of my cases."

​In addition to being San Diego's supernatural mediator, John Smith is the city's least successful private investigator. Those two careers collide when what was supposed to be a simple infidelity case draws the attention of the local werewolf pack. John soon finds himself pressed into service mediating a separation between the pack's married leaders.

Even under normal circumstances, divorce is hell. But when werewolves are involved? It's murder.

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Blood is Thicker Than Lots of Stuff is book two in The Many Travails of John Smith, following Investigation, Mediation, Vindication. We pick up in John's life after his first mediation for the paranormal community went...well, he survived anyway, mostly unscathed. He's back in the PI business and even has a date! He did anyway until the vampires had to show up and ruin it for him. Truth be told, they didn't need to show up for it to be ruined; he's entirely capable of doing that himself. Something about still living in your parent's basement at 25 doesn't exactly lend itself to having a phenomenal dating life. He still has his PI business going for him and it's thriving—until werewolves start trying to kill him. 

John has truly made some interesting life choices along the way. He always manages to end up right in the middle of the mess. Not that he's trying, mind you. It's truly a matter of happenstance and some drunken advertising that has landed him where he is. This time he's been hired by a husband to find out if the wife is cheating. He's still out there giving it everything he's got and it turns out he's actually a pretty decent mediator despite getting in way over his head all the time. 

Humor is still a big draw in this series. We've continued with the truly fun chapter titles "In Which ___". For example: Chapter 12, "In Which People Are Strange When You're a Stranger". The vegetable demigod Bill, who is so strangely charming, is absent but he has tasked John with the care of his ward, Jee Sun aka Tiny Flower, who manages to be both adorable and a diminutive terror. John's inner voice is still as quirky as ever and his outside voice is still spewing things that would much be better kept inside. Tullbane's casual writing style hasn't changed but Blood is Thicker Than Lots of Stuff gets darker than the previous book. John is still the average guy trying to feel his way through but the action kicks up a bit more leaning more towards typical UF fare while still avoiding second book syndrome.

I judge a lot of UF by whether you could pick up a book in the middle of a series and still understand what the heck is going on. The Many Travails of John Smith #2 passes muster. A good chunk of the opening is reintroducing characters and bringing the reader up to speed. That being said, the reader would get more enjoyment out of knowing the characters a bit more intimately and immersing in the worldbuilding gradually.  This is a series that is going to go the distance so do yourself a favor and start from the beginning. 









Publication date: March 19th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T he stakes are real. The mediator isn't. An exiled vampire queen. A vege...




Publication date: March 19th 2021

The stakes are real. The mediator isn't.

An exiled vampire queen.

A vegetable demigod.

A magic Nintendo.

When supernatural forces collide, it will take a skilled mediator to keep their conflict from destroying San Diego.

Unfortunately, all they have is John Smith.

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Investigation, Mediation, Vindication (I'm already tired of typing that) is comedic urban fantasy gold. The story follows private investigator hopeful John Smith, who has an unfortunate genealogy of a long line of John Smiths. Let's be honest; there's a lot of unfortunates about John Smith. He still lives with his parents, he hasn't had a girlfriend in years (might be due to #1), and he's just found himself caught up in a potential war between a noble vampire House and the demigod of nightmares. He's casually enjoying a local Comicon when he's attacked by crab people and kidnapped by vampires for his own good. As it turns out, in one night of drunken bad choices, John posted an ad stating that he was in the business of investigation, mediation, and vindication, and after a hit on all the mediators in San Diego, he's the only mediator left. 

John is a fantastic character. He's nerdy, witty, twenty pounds out of shape, and way over his head. John has absolutely no magic or really any job skills for that matter.  One moment he's trying to survive paying the rent on his business in the not-so-great side of town, the next he's trying not to be killed by the vampires and prevent San Diego from being sucked into a Hell dimension. Pretty much the only thing is he's got going for him is a big mouth that doesn't know when to shut up. He does, however, seem to have an innate ability to avoid vampire whammies, to the displeasure of the vampires. 

There are a lot of secondary characters but they still manage to be unique for such a large cast. The snarky, vampire Juliette who wears Ramones t-shirts and nicknames John "little bird", thanks to his shower singing, is fantastic. However, the real character not to miss is the demigod of nightmares and terrors, Lord Beel-Kasan—who just happens to be a seven-foot-tall asparagus with coal for eyes, a carrot for a nose, and a magic marker drawn mouth—and goes by Bill. Yes, Bill (as if that's the weirdest thing about that sentence).  Thanks to John's immunity to supernatural mumbo jumbo, that's how Bill appears to him. Apparently, to others, he's enormously more frightening. Even without arms or legs, asparagus demigod Bill somehow steals the show.  

From the chapter titles like "In Which Hell is Being Stuck Somewhere With the Wrong Person", to the fact that the war might be started over a classic Nintendo, humor is obviously the main driving force in this urban fantasy.  Ridiculous and irreverent, it still manages funny without quickly nosediving into annoying. John is a huge nerd though so a lot of the dialogue is low brow. For example, after being kidnapped by the vampires, his inner dialogue is trying to decide on names to call the vampires. He settles on "manpire" and "femmepire" and he's really proud of himself for coming up with the second. Sometimes the banter takes a bit too long for the sake of the joke, which drags the novel down a bit, but it definitely gets better the further into the plot it goes. 

It's nice to have an urban fantasy series where the MC truly has no idea what he is doing. There are no magical abilities or black belts in martial arts. No weaponry expert or military background. Just a dorky smart-mouthed guy named John who has stumbled into the paranormal world. 








Publication date: April 2nd 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads I ’m Sam Quinn, the werewolf book nerd owner of the Slaughtered Lamb Bookstore...



Publication date: April 2nd 2021

I’m Sam Quinn, the werewolf book nerd owner of the Slaughtered Lamb Bookstore and Bar. Things have been busy lately. While the near-constant attempts on my life have ceased, I now have a vampire gentleman caller. I’ve been living with Clive and the rest of his vampires for a few weeks while the Slaughtered Lamb is being rebuilt. It’s going about as well as you’d expect.

My mother was a wicche and long dormant abilities are starting to make themselves known. If I’d had a choice, necromancy wouldn’t have been my top pick, but it’s starting to come in handy. A ghost warns me someone is coming to kill Clive. When I rush back to the nocturne, I find vamps from New Orleans readying an attack. One of the benefits of vampires looking down on werewolves is no one expects much of me. They don’t expect it right up until I take their heads.

Now, Clive and I are setting out for New Orleans to take the fight back to the source. Vampires are masters of the long game. Revenge plots are often decades, if not centuries, in the making. We came expecting one enemy, but quickly learn we have darker forces scheming against us. Good thing I’m the secret weapon they never see coming.


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The Dead Don't Drink at Lafitte's is the second book in the Sam Quinn series. Sam is the werewolf girlfriend of San Francisco's Master of the City and is living in the nocturne with his vamps while her place is under construction. As I, too, like to live on the edge, I did not read book one, The Slaughtered Lamb Bookstore and Bar, before picking this one up. 

At first, this was a frustratingly slow read for me. While the author does a good job of giving you the backstory, it was challenging to be invested in the story. Sam simply was not a character that I felt strongly about and there wasn't enough action to keep my interest. Vampire politics take up a big chunk of the novel to start. It appears that vampires are bigots and begrudge that a smelly dog is now the girlfriend of their leader. There's enough unrest that the Master of New Orleans is attempting a coup on the nocturne. It is only after they go to New Orleans to answer that insult head-on, that the story really starts rolling. 

Once there was a change in scenery, the entire feeling of the book shifts. I've never been to New Orleans, so I enjoyed experiencing it through Sam's eyes. It didn't feel like the tourist's view that you get a lot when a book is set there. More back alleys than Marti Gras.  There's a whole new cast that enters into play in the Big Easy; ghosts and gorgons and alpha werewolves. Sam begins exploring her own talents as a necromancer, which includes influencing the dead. Clive even disappears in New Orleans for a while and can I just say I liked it better when he was gone! I might have even found myself rooting for a certain werewolf. 

There's plenty of snarky dialogue, hilarious banter with Stheno, the gorgon, and lots of "off with their heads" moments. In spite of the supernaturally enhanced abilities, Sam isn't the typical urban fantasy badass. She isn't filled with confidence and using her powers has an unfortunate downside. There are also some dark moments that include torture, slavery, and sexual assault. Yes, there's romance but as it's already established, it wasn't necessarily the main focus. The Wicche Glass Tavern—book three coming in October 2021—has a lot of potential if it can continue with the world building and character growth. 




Publication date: February 11th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodre ads A rash of strange and horrifying births sweeps through London in the new...




Publication date: February 11th 2021

A rash of strange and horrifying births sweeps through London in the new horror thriller from master of the genre Graham Masterton.

A SERIES OF STRANGE BIRTHS
A young woman is rushed to the hospital with stabbing pains. The chief surgeon performs a C-section, and delivers a catastrophically malformed foetus that is somehow alive...

A DEVASTATING ATTACK
Sewage engineer Gemma is plunged into a ghostly darkness in the tunnel where she works. She escapes, but her boss goes missing in the chaos. He is later found alive... but his legs have been severed and his eyes pulled out.

A SUPERNATURAL THREAT
DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel of the supernatural squad must team up once more to solve the mystery and save the city. But, if they are to succeed, first they must delve into the dark arts of witchcraft...

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It's been a long time since a book has gotten under my skin but reading The Children God Forgot, I truly had a moment where I thought "This book is going to give me nightmares." This was a very strange book: deformed fetuses roaming for new wombs to call home, a fatberg blocking the sewer with glowing malformed children taking replacement body parts, and last, but certainly not least, a reanimated witch formed of smoke and vengeance. All of those things individually would be enough of a plotline to carry any horror novel, but together are the things that nightmares are made of. 

Told in varying points of view, the plot on this one jumps around. You get just enough action to draw you in and wonder exactly what the hell is going on when it switches to another POV to pick up where it left off before. Typically, I hate this style of writing, but I will say in spite of that it kept my interest, especially when you have the scenes set as they are. There are occult vibes, as well as police procedural, heavy body horror, and of course, the paranormal. 

I do have to wonder though, as a woman, if this book weighs as heavily on male readers; I would imagine it doesn't. There's a particular horror in simply being a woman and having fears that are unique to the female persuasion alone. The fear of reproduction, of growing a life that is abominable instead of the perfect being it should be, and the fear of being violated. I struggle with that last word because what truly happens here, under other descriptions is rape. Not in the usual sense, but by one of the aborted creatures crawling or attempting to crawl inside another woman's uterus to continue to incubate. See what I mean by horrifying?  

There are also some sociopolitical themes here that are played a bit heavy-handed. The entire novel could be a statement on abortion. Not only do you have the many-limbed but cherub-faced fetus being terminated before term, but there's the woman showing up to punish those who participated in the terminations stating that all life is sacred. I feel like this book should have been written decades ago when racism and homophobia were casual and women were written based on the size of their breasts.

I ended up very conflicted about this novel. In the beginning, it was extremely effective horror. It's definitely a horror that relies on the reader's revulsion over scares. Somewhere in the middle though, the momentum of the plot starting lagging. Then it was a rush to the ending, curt and to the point, without a lot of explanation. This is one of those novels that is either going to leave you checking the sheets before getting in the bed or leave you apathetic. However, one thing is for certain, some of these scenes will continue to play in your head long after you've closed the book.




Publication date: October 28th 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Ever wondered what it would be like if hunted animals were able to fight ba...



Publication date: October 28th 2020


Ever wondered what it would be like if hunted animals were able to fight back?

The Lodge unveils the mystery of a hunting lodge in the remote hills of the Scottish Highlands during the Christmas holidays. After the report of an accidental death at the lodge, Andrew, a young constable from the nearest town, drives up through a growing blizzard.

Snowbound, Andrew and the guests take cover at the lodge as the terrifying ordeal unfolds. These animals have souls. Souls that won’t rest until they’ve had revenge...

But will the hunters become the hunted?

 

 
I love "when animals attack" eco-horror. It's one of those genres that I do tend to get a bit giddy about simply because I enjoy the concept of animals taking their revenge. The Lodge essentially follows that pattern. A guest at a hunting lodge in the remote Scottish Highlands experiences a harsh end, choking during dinner. Andrew, the constable sent to make sure there was no foul play at hand, then gets snowed in at the lodge with its owners and guests. 
 
There's no wait to get into the action as the guest dies in the first few pages. It's not long after that the weird stuff starts happening and there is plenty of weird. Eco-horror either plays itself completely straight or on the campy side. The Lodge is a strange mix of the two. On one hand, you have a horde of intelligent rats dismantling the vehicles so there is no escape and on the other, you have some Evil Dead taxidermy waling on the wall. There's absolutely some great imagery here though. 

The Lodge has a lot of flashback-style, character backstories, which honestly, didn't really further the book for me and distracted me from the here and now.  Taking the reader out of the story to a backstory blocked the flow of the novel as the flashbacks didn't always feel organic. While show vs. tell has always been a debated writing tool, the info dump chosen often here instead made them feel flat. 

I grew up in a hunting family and my husband hunts. None of my family, even the most enthusiastic of hunters, were ever like the ridiculous caricatures of hunters that are in the book. There are probably hunters out there like this, but I've not met them. On top of that, the actions of the characters just didn't make sense. They all seemed to be stereotypical ideals of what they should be, even the vegans. 

The Lodge seemed to have the perfect formula for a great read. There were multiple storylines that converged in the end, but there really weren't any surprises. It was intriguing enough to be a fast read but the plot seemed to get more convoluted as it went. I liked the idea but found the execution bland. 





Publication date: July 20 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads F or as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember the village of Oakvale has b...



Publication date: July 20 2021

For as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember the village of Oakvale has been surrounding by the dark woods—a forest filled with terrible monsters that light cannot penetrate. Like every person who grows up in Oakvale she has been told to steer clear of the woods unless absolutely necessary.

But unlike her neighbors in Oakvale, Adele has a very good reason for going into the woods. Adele is one of a long line of guardians, women who are able to change into wolves and who are tasked with the job of protecting their village while never letting any of the villagers know of their existence.

But when following her calling means abandoning the person she loves, the future she imagined for herself, and her values she must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her neighbors safe.

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl who walked through the dark woods to grandmother's house. Oh, you've heard this story before? I guarantee you haven't heard this version of the story, for you see—in this story, the little girl is the wolf.

This was such a lush and spellbinding version of Little Red Riding Hood. A dark, deep wood encompasses the village, barely kept at bay by those who live there. Only the careful eye of the watch who stand guard with torches keep the threatening woods from encroaching further, or so they believe. There's another watcher in the woods, however. Adele thought she has her life all planned out until she discovers her true fate and everything she thought she knew changes overnight. Thrilling, pulse-pounding danger awaits Adele in the woods and she is uniquely equipped to meet it. Risks and uncertainly await Adele every day and she's forced to make decisions that change her destiny and those of the villagers. 

Blood and savagery are about and it's not only the wood's monsters who are fearfully made.  Rachel Vincent has crafted an environment where deviating from the norm is dangerous, and where secrets must be kept to survive. This is witch-burning territory and it only takes a word to incite the villagers viciously into action. Like the dark woods, Vincent's world is perilous and full of wonder. This is a tale of fur and teeth, haunting and harrowing. 
 


Publication date: Feb 2nd 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN TH...



Publication date: Feb 2nd 2020
Links: Amazon Goodreads



MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL'S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.


Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid's boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather's tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. "I read this in the cards," her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn't see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

  
Boy, that's a tagline for high expectations, isn't it? This just sounded too unusual to pass by. 

From the start, Eleanor seems to be the most normal of the bunch. After being sent away to boarding school for years and running away from said school, she's looking for love and acceptance. Now that she's home, she's trying to scrape out a place to belong, but like as it was at school, she's on the outskirts again. It's no surprise after not attaining a huge warm welcome from her immediate family and the unexpected death of her grandmother, she reaches out to the only other family she has. Eleanor is ignorant of the world and somewhat bossy in the name of responsibility. While I didn't actively dislike her, I found myself extremely apathetic towards her. Again, this is YA so she fits the naive typecasting that I expected going in. 

Her family, on the other hand, would fit well in with the Adams' family. Her mother is covered in barnacles and spends her time sitting in a washtub full of water. Her grandfather is a shifter who has trouble keeping it reeled in as are her sister and cousin. Her grandmother is a witch. Everyone is very odd, yet seems normal to each other. The characters are definitely one of the best parts of the story. The family dynamics are strange and unusual yet interesting. The gothic atmosphere is incredibly well done here. The run-down house in the woods with the kooky uninviting family; Everything is dark and dreary. 

What Big Teeth is a veritable overload of bizarre, weird, and eccentric people and happenings. Things just happen without explanation and are never touched on again. It's all very vague and initially, the mystery of it all kept me turning the pages, but the novelty of it soon wore off. Just when you think you are finally going to get some answers, there's a very weird romantic arc with Arthur, who we know nothing about other than multiple family members seem to be in love with him. It's a new level of creepy, but an uncomfortable one this time. In the end, it did come together, but I had to push through to get there.