Book Tours: Starter Day Party Deltan Skies

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I’m happy to host the starter day party for fantasy novel “Deltan Skies” today. The book sounds like a great read! I’ll be reviewing the book on July 10th on my blog. Meanwhile, make sure to visit the other tour stops!

Tour Schedule

June 30th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

July 2nd: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog

July 4th: Book Excerpt @ The Book Daily

July 6th: Book Review and Author interview @ Erika Hammerschmidts’ Blog

July 8th:  Book Excerpt @ Hollow Readers

July 10th: Book Review  @ I Heart Reading

July 12th: Book Excerpt @ Forever Book Lover

July 14th: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

July 16th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

July 18th: Book Review and Excerpt @ Books, Books and More Books

July 20th: Character Interview @ The Single Librarian

July 22nd: Book Review @ Bookaholic Ramblings

July 24th: Book Excerpt @ 365 Days of Reading

July 26th: Book Review @ Forever Book Lover

July 28th:  Author Interview @ Bookaholic Ramblings

July 30th: Promo Post @  Frankie Blooding’s Bookshelf

About Deltan Skies

v1b_EBOOKTitle: Deltan Skies

Author: Noah Murphy

Genre: Fantasy / Adventure

A young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing they can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avians’ charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it.

Author Bio

_MG_2009Noah Murphy grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland which features prominently in his writing. After graduating from Goucher College with a double major in philosophy and religion, he began a pet sitting service. In his spare time Noah volunteers at a not for profit parrot rescue. His love of animals provides inspiration for many of the anthropomorphic characters in his books.

Part of the generation just before autism awareness began, Noah was diagnosed at age 26. For him, a later diagnoses was a hidden blessing. Being forced to be “normal” gave him the skills and knowledge to publish and run a business. Autism also unhinges his mind, allowing him to approach situations and characters in strange new ways, and seriously enough to make them work.

An avid writer, Noah Murphy is the author of the fantasy novel Deltan Skies,and the superhero novel Ethereal Girls. He also enjoys sharing his opinions on life, literature and popular culture with his 29,000 followers on Twitter and on his blog.

Links

twitter @murphyverse
Website: www.k23detectives.com
Amazon book page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D2B98IO

 

Release Day Party Confidante: The Escort

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We’re happy to celebrate the release day party for “Confidante: The Escort” today. Find out more about the book and read an excerpt below.

 There’s also a giveaway for a signed print copy of the book! Scroll down to the giveaway and fill in the form to participate.

About Confidante: The Escort

 Confidante escort smallerTitle: Confidante: The Escort

Author: Lilliana Anderson

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

 ‘You thought I was shocked when I found out that my mother in law used to work in a brothel! Imagine my surprise when she told me that after she got out of there she decided to return to work in the sex industry.

 But this time – she wanted to go where the money was, she wanted to be an Escort.

 Follow Angelien, a now retired Sydney sex worker, in this true story, as she breaks boundaries when she insists of becoming an escort in her mid 30s, proving to everyone that a mature lady can be a very successful and sought after woman in an industry dominated by youth.

 Story rated 18+ due to subject matter and sex scenes.’

Author Bio

2Australian born and bred, Lilliana Anderson has always loved to read and write considering it the best form of escapism that the world has to offer. Besides writing Angelien’s biographical trilogy, she also writes contemporary romance and drama all based around Aussie characters.

When she isn’t writing she is a wife, and a mother to four children. She has worked in a variety of industries and studied humanities before transferring to commerce/law at university.

She currently lives a fairly quiet life in suburban Melbourne.

http://lillianaanderson.weebly.com/
http://lillianaanderson.weebly.com/blog.html
https://twitter.com/Confidante_Lili
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilliana-Anderson-Author/444649528938470
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6533406.Lilliana_Anderson

Links

http://www.amazon.com/Lilliana-Anderson/e/B0095NRQVE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/lilliana-anderson

http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=%22Lilliana+Anderson%22&t=none&f=author&p=1&s=none&g=both

https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/lilliana-anderson/id562687294?mt=11

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from ‘the Mountain’

Even on her first night in the brothel, Angelien hadn’t felt as nervous as she did walking down the hallway of the Boulevard Hotel to meet her first client. She didn’t feel anywhere near ready for what was waiting for her on the other side of that door. It had been so long since she’d worked in the brothel, and if she was honest with herself, she was quietly worried that she might have lost her touch.

Approaching the correct door, she raised her hand to knock, but froze before she made contact. With her hand still in the air, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, feeling the shake in her legs as her knees knocked together. Silently, she stood there, willing herself to focus on her breath and calm down.

Angelien was unsure how long she stood there for – seconds? minutes? she couldn’t tell. But finally, when she felt calm enough to continue – she knocked on the door.

She’d like to say that what she felt were butterflies flying about in her stomach, but what she was feeling was more akin to a plague of locusts, beating against the walls of her stomach and threatening to spill out her mouth. As she heard movement on the other side of the door, she swallowed the thick lump in her throat, forcing those locusts back down and planting what she hoped was a sultry smile on her face.

When the door opened, it revealed one of the biggest men she had ever seen in her life. To call him roly-poly would have been an understatement. He appeared to be not much taller than her own five foot, three inches of height, about 50 years of age and was dressed in a hotel room dressing gown that didn’t even pretend it was capable of closing around his sizeable paunch.

 

Giveaway

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Book Tours: Starter Day Party From Frights to Flaws

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I’m hosting the starter day party today for MG/YA Fantasy novel “From Frights to Flaws”. The tour runs from June 27th to August 27th. I’ll be reviewing the book later on during the tour. Meanwhile, visit the other tour stops.

Tour Schedule

June 27th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

June 29th: Book Excerpt @ Hollow Readers

July 1st: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

July 2nd: Book Excerpt @ 365 Days of Reading

July 4th: Guest Blog Post @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

July 6th: Book Excerpt @ The Book Daily

July 8th: Book Review @ Books, Books and More Books

July 10th:  Book Excerpt @ Bookaholic Ramblings

July 12th: Author Interview @ The Single Librarian

July 14th: Book Excerpt @ Forever Book Lover

July 16th:  Guest Blog Post @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

July 17th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

July 19th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

July 21st: Book Review @ The Single Librarian

July 23rd: Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog

July 25th: Book Review @ Bookaholic Ramblings

About From Frights to Flaws

FromFrightsToFlaws_SC-13-05-101Title: Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 1, From Frights to Flaws

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: MG Fantasy

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy can no longer stand the toughness of her uncle and wants a better life. But one day she discovers not only the existence of magic, but also a villain hunting her down. The villain uses magic and magical technology to kidnap Alyssa to the Fiji Islands. As much as she wants to go home, she has to face some dangerous challenges first. Not only that, the villain himself must also be defeated. Can Alyssa succeed, even with the help of her mentors?

Author Bio

Sunayna Prasad has been writing stories for over thirteen years, starting at the age of six. Now nineteen, she will start her junior year of college this fall, and will study accessory design as well as continue to write for children. Aside from that, Sunayna also likes to cook, watch movies, and draw. She lives on Long Island, New York, with her family.

Links

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SunaynaPrasadBooks?ref=stream

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

5886881Title: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

Genre: Thriller, Mystery and Suspense

Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details—proof they hope may free Ben—Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club…and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members—including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Dark Places is, like the title leads to believe, a dark book. It’s also very unsettling, and halfway through reading, a frightening feeling had crawled up on me, most unexpected since I don’t usually get scared from these types of books. Gillian Flynn uses words like a poet, describing the story in great detail, sketching the scenes in a way that makes you feel inexplicably involved, and sometimes even responsible. The characters aren’t easy people to like, and normally unlikeable characters work on my nerves, but that wasn’t the case here. Libby Day, the main character, is very open and honest aout her dark side, about the parts of herself she hates. Like how she’s still stuck in that phase between being a child and an adult, both in terms of how she looks and personality. How she’s jealous of the latest girl who lived through a family tragedy, because now all the attention and charity money goes to her instead of Libby.

It’s obvious from the get-go with her somewhat detached, distant personality, that Libby Day would be a hard character to like. The author does little in terms of making us like her, and yet somehow, I couldn’t help but rooting for Libby. Even though I loathed her personality, her greediness, how she used the tragedy in her advantage, it was obvious that most of this could be brought back to what happened that faithful night of January 2nd, 1985, when Libby’s mother and two sisters Michelle and Debby were murdered. That night, Libby escaped, but she didn’t escape unharmed. There’s some physical damage, but the largest part of it is emotional damage. Even after so many years, Libby can’t stand to look at memorabilia of her mom and sisters.

Ben Day, the one charged with hte murders, Libby’s older brother who she pointed an accusing finger to after the murders happened, is even more unlikeable. Back in 1985, he was your typical teenager, rebelling against everyone, who hated his mom and her habits even though she did everything she could to help her family, who hated his little sisters – except Libby who he kind of liked for some reason – and who hung out with the drug-addict crowd interested in scary, strange stuff. Ben was even more unlikeable than Libby, mostly because his unlikeableness started way before the murders. He was an ignorant, idiotic teenager so far away from the right path that I doubt he could’ve been helped. On top of that, his behavior after the murders is stupid as well. I didn’t like the way he treated Libby when she came to visit him at all. I understand being angry because she gave a false testimony – but she was seven, and it wasn’t like he ever tried to clear his own name. No, Ben definitely didn’t make it on my like list.

But then again, neither did any of the secondary characters. This book left me feeling drained because it showed all the negativity in the world. Lyle, a guy who runs the “Killer Club” and helps Libby find out more about the murders, borders between despicable and meh. I wasn’t sure what his angle was, and never fully understood him either. Runner, Libby’s father, is flat out unlikeable. Patty is probably the most likeable of all the characters. The more I found out about her, the more I liked her and I started feeling really bad about how she died. Patty is Libby’s mom, by the way. She wasn’t very good at providing for her family, but at least she tried, giving it everything she could, and she kept going on no matter how tough life was on her. She loved her children, which is ovbious from all her actions. I liked her the most of all characters.

Then, halfway through the book, I realized I didn’t care that I disliked the main characters, and even most of the secondary ones. The novel gives a very nihilist experience in that way, almost like reading Les Misérables. There’s nothing fun or joyful about reading this book, instead it drains your emotions and leaves you feeling haggard, empty. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad reading experience – it’s rare that a novel succeeds in giving us barely any pleasure while reading, not from the plot, which grows more grim with every turned page, nor from the characters. I thought it was an interesting, thought-provoking, dark book to read, but also depressing, but in a somewhat-good way. It showed me a darker side of humanity, and kept me interested in the plot while providing unlikeable characters.

The plot itself was intriguing and from the moment I started reading, I wanted to find out what happened that night Libby’s family was murdered. The occassional flashbacks were good, even though I thought the ones from Ben’s POV seemed a bit exaggerated, like how he got accused of being a paedophile even though he kissed a girl only four years younger than him (Ben being 15, the girl 11). And how the accusations spread so quickly without any real evidence. The book tied up neatly at the end, revealing a shocking twist of events I had only somewhat-seen coming.

The writing was beautiful, the descriptions spot-on, and the plot was intriguing. An excellent read, but a depressing one, and a book probably better not read if one is feeling down, or when the weather is gloomy.

Book Review: Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1) by Intisar Khanani

sunbolt_coverFNL_toshareTitle: Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1)

Author: Intisar Khanani

Genre: Fantasy, Serial Novella

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon (Paperback), Amazon (Kindle), B&N

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Sunbolt reminded me of Assassin’s Creed (the video game). There’s a lot of imagination and power behind the story. Author Intisar Khahani succeeds in bringing to life a magical, extraordinary world where magic is real, but remains hidden, where an underground Shadow League tries to keep order in the middle of chaos, and where evil has more than one face. This fast-paced, well-written novella is the first in a new series, and what a start it is. If all books in this series have a pace as relentless as this one, then I’ll be absolutely hooked.

Hitomi is a Promise, a magical talent who was secretely trained by her parents but who tries to keep her powers hidden from the outside world. Her parents passed away years ago, and ever since, Hitomi has been on her own to fend for herself. There’s plenty of danger in Hitomi’s world, sometimes as mundane as being attacked by soldiers wanting to know if she’s a mutt or a half-breed, and sometimes it comes in the shape of the evil archmage Blackflame, who the Shadow League tries to undermine. Hitomi is a strong but compassionate young woman who isn’t afraid to put her own life at risk to safe the lives of others. Her courage is admirable, her intentions always on the right side, but she’s definitely no Mary Sue. In fact, I dare argue that at times, Hitomi’s best qualities tend to bring her the most trouble, like her courage, or the way she keeps on risking everything, even for those who betrayed her.

What impressed me the most is Intisar Khahani’s ability to combine well-known elements of fantasy with newer, fresher elements and to craft it into something remarkably beautiful. The setting of Hitomi’s world, the vibrant, mysterious city of Karolene, is so detailed and well-described it almost comes to life on the pages. The side characters have their own personalities, quirks and sense of humor, crafting them into three-dimensional characters, no matter how small their part to play.

Sunbolt was a fast-paced, intriguing, well-written story that’s left me wanting more. I don’t want to wait for the second installment, but alas, I’ll have to. Fortunately these are novellas, so they probably don’t take as long to write as full-length novels, which hopefully translates into faster releases. Either way, I can’t wait for the next novella in this series!

Book Review: Tidal (Watersong #3) by Amanda Hocking

17932393Title: Tidal (Watersong #3)

Author: Amanda Hocking

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Paranormal Romance

Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

Her only hope lies with her greatest enemies
Gemma is facing the fight of her life. Cursed by beautiful but deadly sirens, her extraordinary powers have a terrifyingly dark side, and becoming human once more is proving her greatest challenge yet. As she struggles to break the curse, the sirens, Penn Lexi and Thea are determined to kill her before she can set herself free.
Gemma’s only allies are her sister, Harper, and Harper’s boyfriend, Daniel. Together they must delve into their enemies’ mythical pasts – to discover their darkest secrets. But Penn has also set her sights on Daniel. Soon, the sirens threaten everything Gemma holds dear: her family, her friends, her life, and her relationship with Alex – the only guy she’s ever loved. Can she save herself and those she cares about before it is too late.

Tidal is the third installment in the Watersong series by indie author Amanda Hocking. I enjoyed the first two books in the Watersong series, so I was eager to get started on this one. In Tidal, things start to get together, and the suspense starts to rise to a new level in this third book. Gemma is struggling with coming to terms about being a siren, while the other sirens still hang around in town, proving a great risk. Harper and Daniel are struggling to find time for each other and their new relationship while Harper balances packing for college and Daniel tries to keep Penn off his back, who’s expressed an uncanny interest in him. Alex is suffering from the aftermath of Gemma’s siren song, which left him not only hating Gemma, but practically hating life itself.

I liked this book the most of all three. Why? Because Harper is awesome, and she plays an even bigger part here than in the previous books. What I really like about this series, except for the cannibalistic, bat-shit crazy sirens is the main characters. This is the only book I know of that features two sisters as main characters, and it’s awesome. I didn’t like Gemma that much at first, but the more the story progresses, the more I start to like her as well. She’s grown up, willing to take responsibility for her actions, and stronger than she looks like. From the start, I’ve been the biggest fan of Daniel, and he shines even more in this book, although he made a crazy decision about Penn at the end. No good.

I also like Penn and Thea. Lexi is still annoying as well, and Penn is murderous, but at least there’s more personality and reasoning behind her attitude. Thea has started to become friends with Gemma, and I liked that development.

The plot was great, and Amanda Hocking added some interesting lore about how monsters were made, with curses by the gods and ancient scrolls and such. Loved that! As usual, the pacing was fast, the romance spot-on and the characters had some great, funny replies here and there.

Watersong is an awesome series, and one of the best YA series currently out there. I liked it more than the Switched trilogy. It’s obvious Amanda has evolved as an author. I can’t wait to read the fourth book!

Book Review: 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

11166890Title: 77 Shadow Street

Author: Dean Koontz

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Supernatural Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon (Paperback), Amazon (Hardcover)

I am the One, the all and the only. I live in the Pendleton as surely as I live everywhere. I am the Pendleton’s history and its destiny. The building is my place of conception, my monument, my killing ground. . . .

The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill at the highest point of an old heartland city, a Gilded Age palace built in the late 1800s as a tycoon’s dream home. Almost from the beginning, its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide, mass murder, and whispers of things far worse. But since its rechristening in the 1970s as a luxury apartment building, the Pendleton has been at peace. For its fortunate residents—among them a successful songwriter and her young son, a disgraced ex-senator, a widowed attorney, and a driven money manager—the Pendleton’s magnificent quarters are a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten.

But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite-human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. With each passing hour, a terrifying certainty grows: Whatever drove the Pendleton’s past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. Soon, all those within its boundaries will be engulfed by a dark tide from which few have escaped.

Dean Koontz transcends all expectations as he takes readers on a gripping journey to a place where nightmare visions become real—and where a group of singular individuals hold the key to humanity’s destiny. Welcome to 77 Shadow Street

 Everybody seems to love Dean Koontz, and I was feeling a little left out, so when I saw this book for a cheap price in my local book store, I knew I had to read it. So I got myself a copy, and got started. 77 Shadow Street started out interestingly enough. The author starts by introducing us to a cast of characters living in the Pendleton, a strange and old apartment building standing on the summit of Shadow Hill. It was once the home of a late 1800s tycoon, but has since been renovated to host several apartments. There’s an ex-senator who’s fallen from grace ages ago, a songwriter and her young son who has some odd tendencies and the desire to be a hero, an attorney who has the feeling something more is going on in the building, a man who sees conspiracy theories everywhere, a hitman, and much more, residing within the building. But most noteworthy of all is an ancient evil crawling up the walls of The Pendleton, festering deep inside its basement, waiting for the perfect opportunity to set in motion a horrific event of cosmic proportions. Because the Pendleton is the only building left standing in a desolate earth in the future, and when the time comes, it will be devoured by monsters…

All right, so this book is anything but subtle. It starts out great, with the introduction to the many divers characters, a view in the daily life of these people, and what seems like the basis of a haunted house story. But after about a hundred pages, the subtleness has vanished and been replaced by straight-on monster horror with strange creatures invading the Pendleton. It’s like a haunted house story without the ghosts but on steroids. The story is completely out of the box, like Mr. Koontz wanted to take the ancient ‘haunted house’ trope and turn it upside down, mix in a bit of science-fiction and time travel and some kind of alien species. And that’s all great. I mean, the ideas are good. The execution however leaves much to be desired. You can compare this book to Joss Whedon’s latest movie, “Cabin in the Woods”, except that where Dean Koontz failed, “Cabin in the Woods” succeeded (if you ask me). But books that mix up well-known tropes to this degree, as well as movies trying to do the same thing, will no doubt be subject to lots of criticism.

And I have my fair share of criticism for 77 Shadow Street. Let’s start with the monsters, the so-called “Pogroms”. While the idea behind them is quite genius, and they certainly rank high on the originality scale, the descriptions for these monsters are over-the-top almost to the degree that they lose all their credibility. Secondly, Mr. Koontz is apparently addicted to describing every single thing he comes across. The Pendleton and its interior are described in such detail it leaves little to the imagination, and it drags this book on for a good hundred pages more than it should’ve lasted. The endless rows of descriptions slow down the action up to the point that I had to take frequent breaks in order to continue reading. While I enjoyed the story for the most part, the sheer amount of details included made it hard for me to get through this book.

Then there’s also the way Koontz describes children. He has two kids characters playing important rules in this book – Winnie and Iris. Iris is authistic, and Winnie dreams to be a hero. All good and well, but the trouble starts as soon as mayhem happens in the Pendleton. Neither one of the kids act like real children would’ve acted. Iris is one cliché piled on another, and the way her authism is played out in nearly every scene borders on offensive. Winnie has more courage than a seasoned war veteran, and more wit and intelligence than the rest of the main cast – which makes absolutely zero sense. He’s a kid. If anyone out to be afraid of hideous spider-monster crawling on the floor, it should be him. Lots of authors make the mistake of turning kids into main characters when they play alongside adults, but it just doesn’t work. It’s unlikely that, when you have a group of adults and children, the children would take on the role of leader and become the hero. They may do small acts of heroism, but an adult will always take charge. This works in middle grade books, or even young adult novels, because most of the cast are children and the books are aimed at children, but this fails completely in adult books.

None of the adults, including the attorney or the war veteran or even the hitman, seem to be able to take charge when need arises. Sure, I get that almost-unkillable intergalactic monsters are different to fight than regular soldiers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least give it a shot. On top of that, the main characters were one cliché dumped onto another.

All in all, a mediocre read, which is a bit disappointing since this is my first Koontz book, and now I suspect all his books will be this level. Ugh. Either way, the plot itself was decent. I’m not much of a fan of dystopian sci-fi, and I was hoping for a ghost story, but it was an original, somewhat pleasant surprise. The characters were boring clichés, the children were absolutely unbelievable, and the descriptions were long and too detailed, slowing down the pace significantly. Give this a try if you’re a fan of sci-fi horror, but if you’re looking for a haunted house story that stays more true to the known tropes, then stay away from this one.

In My Mailbox (47) / Mailbox Monday (54) / Stacking the Shelves (12)

mailbox

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.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

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

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

In My Mailbox

   

Thanks to Llewellyn and Flux for the review copies.

   

Thanks to the publishers for the review copies.
What’s in your mailbox this week?

Book Review: The Four Last Things by Andrew Taylor

1257531Title: The Four Last Things (The Roth Trilogy #1)
Author: Andrew Taylor
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

Little Lucy Appleyard is snatched from her child minder’s on a cold winter afternoon, and the nightmare begins. When Eddie takes her home to beautiful, child-loving Angel, he knows he’s done the right thing. But Lucy’s not like their other visitors, and unwittingly she strikes through Angel’s defences to something both vulnerable and volatile at the core.

To the outside world Lucy has disappeared into a black hole with no clues to her whereabouts… until the first grisly discovery in a London graveyard. More such finds are to follow, all at religious sites, and, in a city haunted by religion, what do these offerings signify?

All that stands now between Lucy and the final sacrifice are a CID sergeant on the verge of disgrace and a woman cleric – Lucy’s parents – but how can they hope to halt the evil forces that are gathering around their innocent daughter?

Set in the late 1990s, THE FOUR LAST THINGS explores the terrible vulnerability of children.

I have contradictory feelings toward this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it, especially the passages where we could get into Eddie’s mind. Eddie is a disturbed individual, but the woman he lives with, Angel, who manipulates him and everyone around her, is a lot worse. It’s basically like getting to choose between two evils. I liked the set-up of that, although some passages made me want to throw up. Either way, plot-wise, this book was great. Character-wise, not that much. I’ll get into further detail later on in the review, but I’ll start by quickly sketching the plot.

Lucy’s parents don’t really get along. They barely communicate, and all of that gets a lot worse when Lucy vanishes from her caretaker’s home and the police discovers a trail of body parts belonging to young children around Lucy’s age. Lucy’s mom, Revered Sally Applegate, is one of the main characters in this novel. Her husband wanted her to quit her job the moment Lucy was born – which made me instantly dislike him – and has never quite forgiven her that she didn’t do that (in which case, I’d tell him, quit your own job and stop nagging). Either way, Sally feels guilty about abandoning Lucy, especially after the kidnapping. When the body parts found are all linked to something religious, Sally’s guilt grows overwhelming. A lot of people are set against her, being a woman cleric, and she feels this may be an act of vengeance on her personally.

Then there’s Michael, Lucy’s dad, and well, I didn’t like him from the start. He keeps secrets from Sally, secrets that could very well destroy their relationship. He nags about everything under the sun, even though he has zero reason to do so. All in all, he’s plain annoying and I wanted to slap him across the head on more than one occassion.

A lot more interesting than Sally and Michael’s ordeal however was the relationship between Eddie and Angel, and the passages told from Eddie’s POV. More interesting because, at least to me, they came across as quite unique. I’ve read a bazillion novels about couples arguing after their children disappear, and trying to find their lost child. Nothing new there. But this is the first time I’ve read a book told half from the POV of the victims and half from the POV of the villains. It was interesting to see into Eddie’s mind, to find out how his attraction toward children grew, and how he met the woman who’d become his downfall.

The end of the book was a bit disappointing. Felt like deus ex machina to me. On top of that, there are a lot of things left unsolved that I’d like to get solved, especially about Angel. She was by far the most intriguing character, albeit in a disturbing way. I hope the next book in the trilogy focuses on her as well – and I hope I can find it somewhere soon. I want to read more and find out what happens next.

Book Review: Awakening by S.J. Bolton

6116750Title: Awakening
Author: S.J. Bolton
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Mystery and Suspense
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon, Goodreads, B&N

Clara Benning, a veterinary surgeon in charge of a wildlife hospital in a small English village, is young and intelligent, but nearly a recluse. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she generally prefers the company of animals to people. But when a local man dies following a supposed snakebite, Clara’s expertise is needed. She’s chilled to learn that the victim’s postmortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in a single snake—and that therefore the killer must be human.

Assisted by a soft-spoken neighbor and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara unravels sinister links to an abandoned house, an ancient ritual, and a fifty-year-old tragedy that has left the survivors secretive. But for someone the truth must remain buried in the past—even if they have to kill to keep it there.

Awakening is a disturbing tale of dark secrets and insidious rituals that will have readers unable to stop for a breath until they’ve reach the stunning climax of this extraordinary read from the author of the acclaimed debut novel Sacrifice.

Awakening is a deeply disturbing story about a small town mysteriously infested by snakes – and not the garden variety, but dangerous killers brought here from Papoea New Guinea. When veterinary surgeon Clara, a recluse by her own making, gets summoned to help when a hysterical mother finds a snake in her baby’s crib, that’s only the beginning of the madness. Later on, a man dies from a seemingly innocent snake bite, and 39 snakes are found in one of the neighboring houses. Is it just a random occurence, or is someone behind it?

At first Clara wants to stay out of this as much as possible. She’s a recluse by choice, preferring to stay away from company ever since she was harmed when she was a baby, leaving her with terrible scars on her face. But she can’t help but get involved in this case, as every occurence requires the help and assistance of a veterinary. On top of that, old man Witcher, a man she somewhat got along with, has returned from the death and is now stalking her every move, even appearing in her home. So maybe Witcher isn’t dead at all, and he’s the culprit behind the snake attacks, or maybe someone who looks a lot like the old man she used to know has returned to town…

With Clara’s life and reputation at stake as more and more fingers begin to point in her direction, she must take matters into her own hands and find out what is going on. Her search leads her back to the town’s history, to a church that burned down decades ago, to the Witcher family…

I actually really liked Clara, which is strange because she avoids all human contact if possible and prefers to stay on her own. I liked that – it was new, it was fresh. We don’t offer get a protagonist who’s scarred for life and too afraid to talk to people, and it was an original asset to the story. The novel actually had a very gothic feel, both because of the descriptions of the town, and because of the protagonist, who acts like she just ran away from a gothic novel. I also liked the hint of romance in the book, and how Clara learns, along the way, that looks aren’t everything. People might start to care for her, even though she has a disfigured face. People might treat her like an ordinary human being and look past those scars if she gives them the opportunity. So in that sense, this novel is a bit like a coming-of-age story, although Clara is already in her thirties. The protagonist goes through an almost insane amount of character development here, which was great.

The story itself was intriguing as well, although it was also a bit awkward here and there. I liked the setting – the old town, the abandoned house, the snakes – but some things were a bit too random for me to ignore. Like when at some point Clara is chased by some other village people, I was continuously wondering “why”. I mean, these people are stupid and ignorant, sure. But is it just because she’s scarred that they’d chase her down and call her names? I doubt that, unless they were highly intoxicated or something. Either way,that was just one of the few things that didn’t make sense to me. I also thought the story of what happened in the past was a bit over the top.

All in all, the book was a great read, even if some parts of the story made me frown. It had intriguing characters, especially the protagonist, and a mysterious setting to match the extraordinary plot. I wouldn’t mind seeing more books by this author, especially if she brings me another one featuring the same protagonist.