Book Review: Perpetuating The Species by Spencer Phelps

15704144Title: Perpetuating The Species
Author: Spencer Phelps
Genre: Humor, Fiction
Publisher: Book Baby
Publication Date: July 1st 2012
Goodreads | Author Website | Amazon | B&N

On one hand, Mike Lynch hates kids. He can’t stand how they scream all the time, poop themselves, everything. That probably comes from his father reminding Mike throughout his childhood that he was never wanted. On the other hand, that ice of indifference surrounding Mike’s biological clock starts to thaw after his girlfriend gives birth to someone else’s child.
Mike believes everything has a reason for existing, including our naughty bits. He now has a desperate urge to fulfill his basic human duty by using those bits to procreate. He just doesn’t want to deal with the aftermath. To get around this self-imposed dilemma, Mike takes a three-day weekend trip to Indiana, finds some women who are also looking to get laid, and tries to get them pregnant. He justifies his actions by assuming the people he encounters are going to get pregnant during one-night stands anyway. At least with his being the sperm donor, their child will be born to serve a greater purpose: Mike’s.
When he returns to Indiana a year later to see if the scheme was a success, confronting the results of his actions elicits more emotions than he knew he had. Now Mike has no idea how he’ll react when he discovers his child.

Perpetuating The Species is a humorous fiction novel that talks about a journey of self-discovery. At the start of the novel, we meet our main character, Mike. Working at a tourist agency in Marion, Ohio, Mike has a pretty normal life except for one thing – his girlfriend, Sarah, is pregnant. Mike isn’t prepared to become a Dad at all. In fact, he’s confident he’d be the worst Dad ever, following his own father’s example. But still, he loves Sarah, so he wants to give this kid thing a try. Until the baby is born and it turns out Mike isn’t the Dad at all.

Wallowing over the break-up, Mike feels depressed, until his best buddy Ben comes up with a “genius” idea. What about they go on a weekend trip, and Mike tries to impregnate three women during the weekend? Instead of seeing why this is the more horrible idea ever, Mike goes along with it. The two men end up driving all the way to Marion, Indiana where over the course of a weekend, Mike sleeps with three women – beautiful Phoebe, depressed gothic girl Dana and middle-aged Trisha who lives in a trailer park. Will the experience change Mike’s view on life, or will he still be as adversed toward children as he was at the beginning?

Perpetuating The Species is a well-written, humorous account of a man scared to become a father, and terrified of being as bad at it as his own father was. The writing is fluent, and the pace is high and consistent. Most of this novel is written from Mike’s POV, and the only problem with that was…I really didn’t like Mike. Not only is he an egotistical, superficial human being who goes on the most idiotic quest I’ve ever heard of to try and do – what exactly? Procreate? Create life? Become a Dad? Figure out if he’s Dad material after all? From an outsider’s point of view, it just looks like he wants to hurt people. Alright, maybe not intentionally, but as soon as you sit down to think about it, you realize almost instantly that nothing good can come from Ben and Mike’s quest. Also, the way Mike describes women is sometimes, well, sexist. He dotes on Phoebe because she’s beautiful, but then can’t wait to get away from Dana because she’s not.

Now, I really don’t like Mike, but I doubt it was the author’s intention to make us like his main character, especially at the beginning. That’s why the main purpose of this book is Mike’s road to self-discovery, filled with some humor and hilarious situations along the way. I definitely applaud the author for taking a chance and making his character not instantly likeable. That takes a lot of courage, and it makes it that much harder to get your audience to continue reading. I had to read this from start to end though, so that definitely wasn’t a problem.

Along the way, I began to warm up to Mike. Some men will probably recognize themselves or part of themselves in Mike. I do think this book is aimed primarily at men, and since I’m a woman, I often had more trouble with understanding Mike’s sense of humor (which is often mildly degrading toward women). I loved one particular scene with Mike and Dana, when he finally shows us a bit of another side to him, a warmer, heartier side. I was a bit dissapointed to see that side disappear that quickly, but was glad when it resurfaced.

Perpetuating The Species combines humor and an interesting story, with intriguing characters, and makes for an entertaining read.

Guest Post by author Liz Grace Davis


Hey, everyone. Today I’m hosting author Liz Grace Davis on my blog with a guest post. Liz Grace Davis is the author of YA Fantasy novel Tangi’s Teardrops.

Guest Post: The Life of an Author: Finding Balance

I don’t know if I’ve found the balance between my life as an author (which includes writing, editing, marketing etc.) and my other life (I call it my part-time life). At least not yet. I’m simply learning as I go. At the moment I only work four hours a day. This is great for me since, in addition to being a writer, I’m also doing a Masters Degree programme. When I used to work full time I ended up being so exhausted at the end of the day that, even if I wanted to, I didn’t have enough energy left to write and do university assignments.

Currently, I work in the mornings until noon, then head back home, eat something, and then take care of things which don’t necessarily require my creative brain to function. I use this time to edit (my worst nightmare) and do some marketing for my books. I often do this until around 2:30 p.m. Then I pull out my university books and study for a few hours. I’m a multi-tasker and can never do just one thing. So in between doing assignments, I take little breaks to answer emails or do some social networking. I call those moments “my breaths of fresh air” because anything I do that’s related to my writing is not work, it’s pleasure. Except editing of course. That’s hard work but it has to be done. Promoting books and creating author platforms and so on can also be a lot of hard work but it helps when one enjoys it. I do.

At around 5 p.m. I become a wife and do a few things around the house as well as run errands and prepare dinner. After hubby gets home, we eat dinner and relax for a while. Then we wash up, relax some more, maybe watch a short movie or series. Then I get back to being a writer. This is usually the time when my brain is buzzing with creative energy (after my creative bulb has been switched back on) that needs to be released. So I pull out my laptop and get to work creating stories and worlds or just jotting down ideas as they come to me. Again, since I can’t just do one thing, I also do more editing, promoting, and designing (book covers or digital scrapbooks) at the same time.

At the end of the day, I leave my corner of the couch—the only spot on the couch that’s worn-outJ—and go to bed wishing there were more hours in a day than just twenty-four.

Tangi’s Teardrops

teardropscoverTitle: Tangi’s Teardrops
Author: Liz Grace Davis
Genre: YA Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

When Tangi’s father dies, he leaves her nothing but three empty bottles. A kind uncle takes the poverty-stricken girl and her stepsisters in, and for a time life gets better on his farm. But Tangi remains a lonely outsider; her stepsisters tease her for her crippled leg, and the housekeepers use her like a servant.

Just before her thirteenth birthday, Tangi learns the truth about her father’s strange legacy: the three bottles aren’t empty any more. They’re filled with all the tears she’s cried since her father died, and her tears are enchanted. She must use them to travel to Rosevine, the world of her dead mother. Tangi not only belongs there but is necessary to keep Rosevine alive.

Tangi’s tears will save Rosevine, and Rosevine will save Tangi from a cruelty-filled life, except for one thing: Tangi’s lost the bottles.

Author Bio

Liz Grace Davis grew up in Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Germany. She now lives with her husband in Vienna, Austria.

Growing up, Liz spent most her days in libraries, diving into the world of books. In her spare time she reads a lot, travels, creates jewelry and designs digital scrapbooks. That’s of course when she’s not weaving stories. She’s in her element whenever she is doing anything that requires creativity.

Liz is the author of a young adult fantasy novel, Tangi’s Teardrops, and a romantic women’s fiction novel, Chocolate Aftertaste.

Contact: Facebook Book Page | Goodreads Author Page | Blog | Twitter
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

Book Review: Nate Rocks The Boat by Karen Pokras Toz

NateRockstheBoat_promo_printTitle: Nate Rocks The Boat
Author: Karen Pokras Toz
Genre: Humor, Adventure, MG, Children’s Books
Publisher: Grand Daisy Press
Publication Date: April 20th 2012
Goodreads | Author Website | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Tours.

The Adventure Continues…With fourth grade finally winding down, 10-year-old Nathan Rockledge is looking forward to a fun and relaxing summer at home with his friends. That is, until his mom decides he has to go to overnight camp with his annoying older sister. When his best friend, Tommy, decides to tag along, Nathan thinks maybe his summer won’t actually be so bad. After all, he does get to be away from his mom’s awful cooking for an entire six weeks. Amongst Color War competitions, a flaky counselor, and a bully named “No-Neck,” Nathan turns to his trusty sketchpad, transforming himself into Nate Rocks: 10-year-old extraordinaire. His speedboat ready for action, Nate saves the day time and again from the perils of floods, snakes, ghosts, and even the most wanted criminals. Join Nathan, Tommy, Abby, and a whole new cast of characters as Nate Rocks once again proves nothing can hold him back.

Nate Rocks The Boat is another book in the MG Series “Nate Rocks”. I reviewed the other book in the series, Nate Rocks The World yesterday and very much enjoyed reading and reviewing it. In this new adventure, Nate is back for some fun, hilarious situations in a new setting – namely, summer camp.

Nate is your regular, average ten-year-old except than whenever he starts daydreaming, or gets stuck in some peculiar situations, he begins draw comic books in which he doubles as Nate Rocks, a brave and intelligent superhero. Nate’s ideal summer holiday meant hanging out with his best friend Tommy and doing absolutely nothing, chilling out and relaxing all summer long. Unfortunately, his Mom has other plans. She’s convinced Nate should go with his sister Abby to overnight camp. Although that’s the last thing Nate wants, when his buddy Tommy shows up as well, he realizes overnight camp may not be as terrible as he first envisioned. Plus, at least summer camp means he won’t have to eat his Mom’s terrible food for six weeks.

Summer camp has never been this exciting before. Imaginative and creative Nate ends up from one hilarious, sometimes even dangerous situation into another. Canoeing, scavenger hunts and kickball turns from ordinary sports into true adventures as Nate Rocks saves the camp from a flood, he saves another kid from being bitten by a rattler, and a lot more! Even camp bullies aren’t safe from Nate Rocks. Like the title of the book suggests, the water often proves to be the source of the danger Nate has to overcome, and every time he does, he does so in typical Nate Rocks fashion.

This is a must-read book for all kids, especially boys, of around age ten. The Nate Rocks series shows how young reagers can use the imagination of their brain while still knowing it’s imagination – not real. The adventures happening to Nate are close to home for a lot of kids, and they’ll easily recognize themselves in the characters. I very much enjoyed reading this book, and am keeping my fingers crossed author Karen Pokras Toz decides to write more books in the Nate Rocks series.

Book Review: Nate Rocks The World by Karen Pokras Toz and Giveaway

Nate Cover Final_X.inddTitle: Nate Rocks The World
Author: Karen Pokras Toz
Genre: MG, Humor, Adventure, Children’s Books
Publisher: Self-Published, Createspace
Publication Date: 2011
Goodreads | Author Website | Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback)
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Tours.

Nate Rocks can do it all: part super-hero, part all-star athlete, part rock-star… part fourth-grader?
Ten-year-old Nathan Rockledge cannot catch a break. After all, life as a fourth-grader can be hazardous what with science projects to deal with and recess football games to avoid. Everyone, including his best friend Tommy, seems to have bad luck when hanging around Nathan. Throw in an older sister who is a royal pain, a dad who is stuck in the past, and a mom who keeps trying to poison him with her awful cooking, and poor Nathan’s life as a fourth grader appears to be completely doomed.
Armed only with his sketchpad, his imagination, and his wits, Nathan Rockledge navigates the perils of the fourth grade in style, to emerge heroic, as Nate Rocks, proving that even a ten-year-old can accomplish great things.

Nate Rocks The World is one of two stand-alone MG novels written by author Karen Pokras Toz. The other novel, Nate Rocks The Boat, features the same main character, but each can be read seperately, although connected.

When I first began reading Nate Rocks The World, I didn’t know what to expect. This is the first ever self-published MG novel I’ve ever read. It certainly didn’t dissapoint – instead it was a new and rewaring experience. What I loved the most about this book, is Nate’s creativity. He can’t stay focused. Give him a pencil, a marker, or whatever you want, and he starts drawing comics in which he acts as the hero and solves mysteries. Unfortunately for Nate, real life isn’t a comic book. While he would like nothing more than to go see the latest captain Asteroid movie with his best friends, he’s forced to stay at home to work on a project for school with a girl he can stand, who tells her Mom everything, and whose Mom tells all of that to Nate’s Mom, because they happen to best friends. Nate is often teased by his older sister Abby, he daydreams in school and gets caught doing so, and although his parents mean well, they always tend to embarass him. Basically, he’s suffering from the same things every fourth grader suffers from, with this exception – if it all gets too much, he starts drawing comics and escapes to his fantasy world.

I really enjoyed Nate’s adventures, and his enormous amount of humor and creativity. I can only imagine how much ten-year-olds will enjoy this as well. The book is written more for boys than for girls, but I think a girl would be able to relate to Nate as well. He’s a nice kid, and the events happening to him are easily relatable. For instance, when it’s Halloween, his Mom doesn’t see why she should purchase a halloween outfit for him. Instead she sets off to make one herself. The consequences are disastrous, because as it turns out, Mom can’t even make a proper cape! When Nate’s sister Abby manages to embarrass him even more on Halloween, Nate and his buddies decide it’s payback time. And Abby’s birthday sounds like the best place and location to get even.

The humor in this book is amazing, the characters are believable and relatable for parents and childrens alike, and the events are close to home, but Nate’s way to deal with them is original, fun and very enjoyable. A must-read for all MG book fans. I’m looking forward to getting started on the next book in this series. Nate Rocks The World deserves a spot in your book closet right now.


We’re giving away an eBook copy of Nate Rocks The World. This is international. To participate, please fill in the Rafflecopter widget below.

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In My Mailbox (41) / Mailbox Monday (50) / Stacking The Shelves (6)


The purpose of this meme is to share the books that came into our house last week with our readers. These can be ARCs, books we purchased ourselves, books requested for review by authors and publishers, eBooks, free reads we stumbled upon and audiobooks. The only thing that doesn’t count are library books.

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Cindy’s Love of Books.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Click HERE to view all my ‘In My Mailbox’ posts.





All these books were purchased by me. What’s in your mailbox this week?

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer and its purpose is to recap the events of the last week.

Since I didn’t post last week, we have a lot of posts to look back upon. I hosted a cover reveal for The Watcher by Lisa Voisin, an InkSpell Publishing title. I also hosted a Starter Day Party for the Nate Rocks Tour, a Release Day Party for The Carny, and a Stater Day Party for Tangi’s Teardrops by Liz Grace Davis.

I wrote a bunch of reviews:

  1. Halfway by Stephanie Void – 3/5 stars
  2. Running From Secrets by Stephanie Void – 3.5/5 stars
  3. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel – 4/5 stars
  4. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – 2/5 stars
  5. The Benson (Experiment in Terror #2.5) by Karina Halle – 4/5 stars
  6. Lying Season (Experiment in Terror #4) by Karina Halle – 4/5 stars
  7. 1222 by Anne Holt – 3/5 stars
  8. Buried (A Goth Girl Mystery #1) by Linda Joy Singleton

And I also hosted an interview with author Hillary E. Peak.
What have you been up to?
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to participate in the grand Summer Holiday Giveaway on I Heart Reading. There will be three lucky winners. First place gets to choose four of the books listed below, and second and third place each get to choose one book. All books are paperback copies. The contest is international!

Go here to participate.

Book Tours: Starter Day Party Tangi’s Teardrops


Today I’m hosting the starter day party for Tangi’s Teardrops on I Heart Reading. This is the full tour schedule!

July 14th: Starter Day Party
@ I Heart Reading

July 16th: Guest Post
@ Brenda McCreight’s Blog

July 18th: Review
@ All Sorts of Books

July 20th: Book Excerpt
@ Megan Talks Books

July 21st: Interview
@ Mocha Girls Read

July 24th: Interview
@ Suzanne van Rooyen’s Blog

July 25th: Review and excerpt
@ Aliaa El Nashar’s Blog

July 26th: Guest Post
@ I Heart Reading

July 27th: Book Excerpt
@ Bengal Reads

July 28th: Interview and Excerpt
@ Law Reigns

Book Cover and Synopsis

teardropscoverTitle: Tangi’s Teardrops
Author: LIz Grace Davis
Genre: YA Fantasy

When Tangi’s father dies, he leaves her nothing but three empty bottles. A kind uncle takes the poverty-stricken girl and her stepsisters in, and for a time life gets better on his farm. But Tangi remains a lonely outsider; her stepsisters tease her for her crippled leg, and the housekeepers use her like a servant.

Just before her thirteenth birthday, Tangi learns the truth about her father’s strange legacy: the three bottles aren’t empty any more. They’re filled with all the tears she’s cried since her father died, and her tears are enchanted. She must use them to travel to Rosevine, the world of her dead mother. Tangi not only belongs there but is necessary to keep Rosevine alive.

Tangi’s tears will save Rosevine, and Rosevine will save Tangi from a cruelty-filled life, except for one thing: Tangi’s lost the bottles.

Author Bio

Liz Grace Davis grew up in Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Germany. She now lives with her husband in Vienna, Austria.

Growing up, Liz spent most her days in libraries, diving into the world of books. In her spare time she reads a lot, travels, creates jewelry and designs digital scrapbooks. That’s of course when she’s not weaving stories. She’s in her element whenever she is doing anything that requires creativity.

Liz is the author of a young adult fantasy novel, Tangi’s Teardrops, and a romantic women’s fiction novel, Chocolate Aftertaste.

Contact: Facebook Book Page | Goodreads Author Page | Blog | Twitter

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

Author Interview with Hillary E. Peak


Hey everyone! Today I’m hosting an interview with author Hillary E. Peak, the author of literary novel Wings of Hope. Hillary is going on tour with Wings of Hope! You can find the full tour schedule here.

Author Interview

1) When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

I had this really crazy two day job where my office was covered in crumbs and had giant body parts all over it. I wrote the story down because it was so funny. I enjoyed doing it so much that I decided I wanted to be a writer.

2) What was the title of the first manuscript you ever finished, and what was it about?

That story morphed into my first novel, Cappuccino is the Answer for Job Dissatisfaction, which was a chick lit story about searching for the perfect job.

3) How do you find time for writing in your daily life?

I try to find one hour a day to write—whether it is lunch time or first thing in the morning or when I’ve finished my work for the day. I don’t write late at night because I find it isn’t very good stuff by then.

4) What author inspired you the most?

I have season tickets to the Pen/Faulkner reading series. I have been inspired by so many authors, it is impossible to decide who was the most. I loved hearing Max Brooks describe overcoming his dyslexia to write World War Z. I laughed when I saw Elizabeth Gilbert tell about her travels in Eat, Pray, Love. I cried when Emma Donoghue told about the inspiration for Room

5) Where do you write? Do you have a separate office to write in, or do you work in the kitchen/living room/various places all throughout the house?

I write wherever I am when I have the time to write.

6) Why did you choose this particular genre, literary fiction?

Honestly, it just worked best for this story. I’ve done chick lit and now I’m working on a thriller.

7) What is your favorite book?

I LOVE books. I don’t have a real favorite, although the Harry Potter series are the only books I’ve read more than once.

8) Do you use any special software to help with writing, like Scrivener, or editing software?

Nope, but I should!

9) How long did it take you to write this book?

About four months, but then the rewrite process begins, which can take me a lot longer.

10) Can you tell us a little about your book?

This is the story of a father who is dying and asks his grown daughter to come be with him until the end. It is the stories he shares with her, and the things she learns about herself along the way.

11) Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route?

I just wanted to get my story out there and see what happened to it.

12) Would you choose to self-publish again, if you could do it all over again?

Probably not because I’d like the support of a publisher.

13) What steps have you taken to market your book and gain an audience?

I do goodreads ads, facebook ads, a facebook page, book tours and reading at libraries.

14) What did you enjoy the most about the entire process: from writing the book from scratch to editing, getting it out there, and promoting it?

I really love putting the story on paper. I’d love to have someone else edit. Promoting is REALLY hard work!

15) Are you currently working on something? If so, can you tell us a little about it?

My new thriller, Justice Scorned, is a story about a black world project and the revenge of a woman.

Book Cover and Synopsis

PP Cover.3685529.inddTitle: Wings of Hope
Author: Hillary Peak
Genre: Literary Fiction

The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father. She goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life. Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself. While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams. Her journey teacher her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.

Author Bio

Hillary Peak is a recovering idealist. She became a lawyer to change the world and is still somewhat shocked that didn’t occur. Now, her goal is to retire from practicing law and write novels that people love. She is currently a practicing attorney in the District of Columbia. She lives with her family in Alexandria, VA.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Purchase from Amazon

Book Review: Buried (A Goth Girl Mystery #1) by Linda Joy Singleton

12026878Title: Buried (A Goth Girl Mystery #1)
Author: Linda Joy Singleton
Genre: Dark Paranormal Mystery, Romance, YA
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: March 28th 2012
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A new, darker paranormal mystery series from award-winning author Linda Joy Singleton—Featuring popular goth girl Thorn from The Seer series
Thorn Matthews is a Finder, a person with the psychic ability to find things just by touching an object. The visions she gets from objects—events and memories—are what guide her to the things that need to be found.
When Thorn locates a mysterious locket, it leads to a shocking and grim discovery. Now she’s implicated in a crime and surrounded by people she’s just met at her new school, any one of whom could be hiding a terrible secret. To clear her name, Thorn reluctantly uses her music skills to enter a school talent competition, which she suspects is part of the killer’s cover. Could one of her new friends be a murderer?

Buried (A Goth Girl Mystery #1) features Thorn, one of the side characters in the Seer series, another series by Linda Joy Singleton. I’ve never read the Seer series, so it took some time before I got used to Thorn, but this novel can be read well enough as a stand-alone. Thorn is an intriguing character because she’s different from most of the main characters I’m used to reading about. She’s a Finder, which means that when she touches an object, she can find the owner of the object. One day this ability leads her to a heart-shaped locket hung on a shoelace, and that’s where the mystery starts. The necklace brings her to a remote area where she finds the body of a baby.

The murder mystery at the core of this book is great. I loved it from start to finish. What I didn’t enjoy that much however, were the countless subplots that sometimes did and sometimes didn’t have anything to do with the mystery. But that’s the only downside about this novel. There’s a lot going on – the over-crowded family with only scarcely present father figure, an upcoming talent show, Thorn’s new-found friendship with another local goth girl named Rune, and so on.

What I loved, was everything except the numerous subplots. Thorn isn’t your typical goth girl. In fact, if you throw away her spikes, black clothing and outrageous hair color, you find out that she’s just a regular girl who likes to define herself by being different. She is outspoken and easy-going, and surprisingly social. Her personality actually felt very real to me, and more easily to relate to than the stereotypes we usually see in YA novels. She felt like a real person, and that’s great. I also really liked Rune. Bonus points for being an awesome best friend. The mystery at the heart of this book was very intriguing as well, as were the many plot twists and turns that kept this book going and made me read it in one single sitting. Another something I enjoyed is that there’s definitely no missing parent syndrome in this book. Thorn has six brothers and sisters, and plenty of family life going on, and I thought that was awesome.

Buried is one of my favorite paranormal mystery books of the year. If you’re on a cheap budget and you have only one book to choose from, and you enjoy paranormal mysteries, go for this one. It won’t let you down. With an intriguing and unique main character, a well-developed storyline and some humorous and snarky comments that made me laugh out loud, this book ranks high on my favorites-list. This was the first book I read by Linda Joy Singleton, but it defintely won’t be my last.

Book Review: 1222 by Anne Holt

13547835Title: 1222
Author: Anne Holt
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Scribner, S&S
Publication Date: December 27th 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley.

From Norway’s bestselling female crime writer comes a suspenseful locked-room mystery set in an isolated hotel in Norway, where guests stranded during a monumental snowstorm start turning up dead. A TRAIN ON ITS WAY to the northern reaches of Norway derails during a massive blizzard, 1,222 meters above sea level. The passengers abandon the train for a nearby hotel, centuries-old and practically empty, except for the staff. With plenty of food and shelter from the storm, the passengers think they are safe, until one of them is found dead the next morning. With no sign of rescue, and the storm continuing to rage, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. Paralysed by a bullet lodged in her spine, Hanne has no desire to get involved. But she is slowly coaxed back into her old habits as her curiosity and natural talent for observation force her to take an interest in the passengers and their secrets. When another body turns up, Hanne realizes that time is running out, and she must act fast before panic takes over. Complicating things is the presence of a mysterious guest, who had travelled in a private rail car at the end of the train and was evacuated first to the top floor of the hotel. No one knows who the guest is, or why armed guards are needed, but it is making everyone uneasy. Hanne has her suspicions, but she keeps them to herself. Trapped in her wheelchair, trapped by the storm, and now trapped with a killer, Hanne must fit the pieces of the puzzle together before the killer strikes again.

1222 is a novel written by Anne Holt, one of the most prolific and bestselling crime writers from Norway. While I had never heard of Anne Holt of her series about Hanne Wilhelmsen before, this book had me intrigued enough to check on her impressive backlist and credentials. While I won’t rule out reading more of her books, I’m not all too hyped. I can see why people enjoy her writing, I’m just not sure if it’s for me.

The book features protagonist Hanne Wilhelmsen, who isn’t your typical main character. She’s bound to a wheelchair because she’s paralyzed from the waist down, something which happened during a shooting approximately four years ago. On top of that, she uses her paralyzis to keep other people at a distance. While it was hard to like Hanne from the start, she gradually grew on me. She befriends a loner boy who reminds her of herself when she was younger, indicating she’s been a loner her entire life. She also befriends a doctor with dwarfism, but tends to stay away from “regular” people which I thought was strange. Why does she purposely go seek out people who are “different” as well? Notice how I use these terms here, I’m not trying to imply anything, but I find it odd the author chooses to stick those who are “different” together based solely on the fact they’re different. I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself well, but it seems like the only reason why Hanne befriended the doctor with dwarfism is just that – because he has dwarfism. Not because she likes his personality, thinks he’s a nice person or all that, but because he has dwarfism. I thought that was strangely judgemental and perhaps not a good call.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the setting. The descriptions add to the story without being overwhelming. I also liked Hanne’s personality simply because it was different, and she wasn’t a generic character. The plot itself is pretty straight-forward though. A train crashes and survivors are brought to a nearby hotel, where they stay the night. A snow storms comes and they’re stuck in there a little longer. A person is found murdered. Former inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen starts an investigation, helped by some of the people also on board of the train. Another murder happens.

The story is pretty straightforward for the first half of the book, but the author uses so many clichés that I had to keep myself from rolling my eyes at times. I had solved the murders way before the main character did, which isn’t a good sign. There’s also an additional mystery involving trained security who were present on the train and now keep the upper floor of the hotel to themselves. Who are they? Why were they on the train? The explanation at the end is confusing and far-fetched to say the least, and doesn’t add to the story.

I’ve heard some people rave about this book, while others are less than impressed. I like to keep the ball in the middle. The writing itself is solid, if not for the plot flaws and some of the obvious plot twists. The author knows her protagonist well, but fails to include much plot otherwise. The ending was a bit cheesy and difficult to understand, and I felt like it fell short. This book is the eight book in a series about detective Hanne Wilhelmsen, but reads well enough as a stand-alone. Perhaps if I’d read the previous books, I would’ve started to like the main character sooner, but to me, Hanne Wilhelmsen and her lonely, anti-hero personality never seemed the problem – the plot was. It was too obvious and see-through and let me feeling a tad bit disappointed. Good for a long road trip, or to read on a plane to Norway, or on a cold winter evening, but nothing world-changing.

1222 is a nice book for locked-room mysteries like “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie, except that it pales in comparison to this classic mystery novel. It’s a decent book with an interesting protagonist, but the plot is unconvincing. Read at your own risk.

Review: Lying Season (Experiment in Terror #4) by Karina Halle

13061289Title: Lying Season (Experiment in Terror #4)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Ghosts, Romance, Horror
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Publication Date: December 13th 2011
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a review.

Ama­teur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has bat­tled ghosts, fought off skin­walk­ers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she sur­vive bunk­ing down in Seat­tle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girl­friend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tor­mented by a mali­cious spirit from Dex’s increas­ingly shady past? With love and life in the bal­ance, Perry must dis­cover the truth among the lies or risk los­ing every­thing she’s ever cared about.

Lying Season (Experiment in Terror #4) by Karina Halle is the fourth book in the Experiment in Terror series, one of my favorite paranormal mystery series ever. I’ve previously reviewed Darkhouse, Red Fox, Dead Sky Morning and a short story, The Benson.

Perry and Dex, the main characters of the Experiment in Terror series, are back for another round of ghostly apparitions, intense and scary scenes, and some sexual tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat in the fourth installment in the series. A lot of reviewers have named Lying Season as the best book in the series so far, but I tend to disagree. While I enjoyed the book thoroughly, I’m a bit disappointed that the increasing chemistry between Perry and Dex reached a climax this soon. I won’t get into detail as not to spoil anything, but there’s a turning point in their relationship in this book, and while I’ve been cheering for them from the start, it feels a bit anti-climax to get here this soon.

While the previous books in the series were very action-driven, with things happening every two seconds, Lying Season is more character-driven. I enjoyed getting to know more about Dex and Perry through their interactions with the people close to them. But unfortunately this also meant losing some of the action, and I wasn’t entirely prepared to let it go yet. I feel like at parts this book focused too much on the relationship between Perry and Dex and not enough on the events happening, like the ghost investigation for instance. Here we have the perfect, PERFECT setting for a ghost hunter show and for a novel – a haunted asylum. Is there anything even remotely scarier than a haunted asylum? We meet some of the ghosts of the asylum, but then it’s like the novel takes another direction and just forgets all about it. While I see the logic behind this, I’m a bit disappointed I couldn’t have seen more of Perry and Dex while entering the asylum and facing the ghosts. I think now it was handled in a few chapters. The setting was perfect – haunted mental insitution – and the tension was there, but I feel like it has been overlooked too fast. I was pretty scared, but it didn’t last long.

As for people interested in Jenn, Dex’ long-time girlfriend, well, be prepared to get annoyed. In this book, we finally meet Jenn, and let me tell you, if you were like me, hoping to find a reason why Dex fell in love with her and started dating her, you’re in for a surprise. There is none. I’m still flabbergasted at how these characters could end up together. Jenn is superficial and boring, mean and always eager to pick a fight with Dex. They couldn’t be more different. I wasn’t a big fan of Jenn in the beginning of the Experiment in Terror series, and I’m even less right now.

Perry is the star of this show. Her determination is astonishing. She never gives up, no matter what life throws at her. I loved her before this book, but I love her even more now. She’s also the perfect match for Dex and he’s moron for not finding out sooner. They understand each other on every level, and each have a haunting, traumatic past. That said, I loved how their relationship developed in this book. Their interactions are more attuned to each other than ever, and the stakes are higher than ever before as well. The title, Lying Season is very suiting to the plot. There are more secrets revealed in this book, and more lies uncovered than in an episode of Pretty Little Liars. It’s time for Dex and Perry to tell the truth – but can they, and what will it mean to them?

I must applaud author Karina Halle for starting out with a killer book, Darkhouse, but managing to upt those stakes with every sequel. The characters of Perry and Dex are written like living and breathing human beings, real and honest, with flaws and errors, judgements and fears. Tension is high, and this book has some scary scenes. It’s a great addition to the Experiment in Terror series, and I can’t wait to read the next book. If you’ve enjoyed this series so far, you will definitely enjoy Lying Season as well. It wasn’t my personal favorite, but it was for a lot of other people. I for one, can’t wait to read On Demon Wings and find out what happens next to Perry and Dex, one of my all-time favorite fiction couples.