Book Review: In The Shadows of Children

23199482Title: In The Shadows of Children

Author: Alan Ryker

Genre: Horror

Rating:3 stars

Purchase:Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Aaron hasn’t been home since his younger brother mysteriously disappeared without a trace from his bedroom fifteen years earlier. He thought he’d moved on with his life.

But when his mother dies suddenly, he finds himself back in his childhood hometown to attend the funeral and see to the estate. Aaron soon finds his hopes of reliving fond childhood memories evaporating as he discovers something in his old closet that shakes not only his beliefs about what happened to his brother, but his grip on reality.
In the hungry darkness, a shadow as old as time itself has been waiting for his return for a long time. And its wait is nearly over…

In The Shadows of Children is a short novella that focuses on childhood fear. Aaron, our main character, hasn’t been home since his younger brother disappeared from his bedroom fifteen years ago. But when his mother dies, he has to go see the estate and decide what to do with it. But there, he finds something in his old closet that turns his world view upside down and makes him question what happened to his kid brother all those years ago.

The book starts out slow to set the scene. The reader spends a lot of time inside Aaron’s mind, and it’s not all candy and butterflies in there. Aaron is hard to sympathize with at first, but the more you spend time with him, the more you can understand why he’s the man he is today. The book nicely blends supernatural and psychological terror.

The writing is decent, and really, my only complaints are the slow start and how the book wasn’t really scary. The book is also quite short and the story is rather straightforward.

Book Review: Castle by the Sea by J.G. Faherty

21952035Title: Castle by the Sea
Author: J.G. Faherty
Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror, Novella
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

How did they get here? Will they ever get out?

Jason and Erika are having a wonderful time at the Halloween carnival…until their swan boat in the Tunnel of Love capsizes amid heavy waves and blaring, maniacal laughter. When they come to they are no longer in a carnival in Ohio, but standing at the edge of a sea in a raging storm. In the distance, atop a high, barren hill, looms an enormous castle.

Instead of answers, Jason and Erika find only more impossibilities within the stone walls. The lavish rooms are lit only by torches and fireplaces, the decorations and furniture are a century out of date, and the mysterious host claims to not own one of those newfangled telephone inventions. Outside, in the storm and the dense mist, lurk strange, threatening figures. Inside, another couple seeking refuge think it must all be a nightmare. Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it’s something much, much worse.

In Castle by the Sea, young couple Jason and Erika go to a Halloween carnival, and seemingly have a blast. Until they decide to go into the Tunnel of Love, their swan boat capsizes, and they end up at sea during a storm. An enormous castle looms over them, and they make their way to the castle, hoping to be save there – although they have no clue what’s going on, and things seem to grow stranger by the minute. The castle host welcomes them, and turns out they’re not the only couple stranded there. But the other couple isn’t from the same time era as Jason and Erika. The castle’s owner, an eccentric man who seems to hide a lot of secrets, is less than forthcoming, and his timid maid won’t be of much help either. How can Jason and Erika escape from this castle by the sea? Is it all a nightmare, or something much worse?

The book starts out with a bang – we’re at the carnival, and boom, Jason and Erika disappear and end up near the castle. There’s not a lot of build up, so there’s not an awful lot of suspense either, at least not until we get past the halfway mark. Although the book is meant to be horror, it never really manages to be scary. It all seems a little over the top, with the characters just up and disappearing. I much preferred the parts of the book that actually took place at the castle, rather than the parts at the carnival. At least at the castle there was a genuine mystery going on, of who roamed the halls at night, why people disappeared, and what their host was upto. I found this easily the best part of the book, and very enjoyable.

The writing is entertaining, and the plot manages to surprise a few times, but the characters aren’t very likeable. I couldn’t connect to Jason and Erika, so I didn’t really feel for them as they tried to escape the castle and the nightmare unfolding around them. Had the characters been more likeable, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more. As it stands, it’s a fun read for fans of gothic horror, but it doesn’t pack much more than that.

Book Review: Blood Red Roses by Russell James

21562717Title: Blood Red Roses

Author: Russell James

Genre: Ghost Stories, Horror, Dark Fiction, Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“The spirits of the dead cry for justice. ”
In the waning days of the Civil War, orphaned teen Jebediah Abernathy has been indentured to one of the most notorious plantations in Mississippi, Beechwood. Ramses, the sadistic overseer, rules completely, unchecked by owners driven mad by the loss of their only son. Cruelty and torture are commonplace. And slave boys are mysteriously vanishing. But Jebediah is not completely alone. The ghost of his father and an escaped slave sorceress will lead him to the horrific truth about the disappearances a knowledge that will probably cost him his life. “

Blood Red Roses is an entertaining ghost story set during the Civil War era. Jebediah Abernathy is left an orphan by the war, and then his family sells him to the owners of the Beechwood plantation, where he’s to work as a stable boy. Jebediah only knows little about horses, but he does the best he can. Treatment for slaves is tough, and even though he’s not a slave as such, that doesn’t seem to warrant a better treatment either. Ramses, the sadistic overseer, likes to crack the whip around at every chance he gets. And with the owners still blinded by the loss of their son during the war, Ramses’ rule is unchallenged.

Then Jebediah discovers that men have gone missing from the plantation. They’re slaves, so their disappearance goes mostly unnoticed except by the other slaves. Jebediah grows worried that one day he might be next, especially when he finds out a secret connected to the plantation. With the aid of an escape sorceress and the ghost of his father, Jebediah might stand a chance against the dark powers at work.

The author doesn’t shy away from making the characters go through horrible ordeals. A lot of emphasis is put on the harsh treatment of slaves, and on the way tragedy can cripple people and change them forever. The addition of ghosts and a sorceress was a nice though. Overall, the book is an enjoyable read, and the setting worked well. Jebediah is a solemn, grief-struck character, yet he’s also a fighter, and it’s easy to root for him.

 

Book Review: Mysticism & Myths

M&M CoverTitle: Mysticism & Myths
Genre: Paranormal Collection (Sampler)
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

A MUST READ FOR FANS OF THE MYSTERIOUS WORLDS OF GHOSTS, SEA DWELLERS & SHAPESHIFTERS!

Have you ever wondered about different myths of the world? These include the stories that so many cultures live by and the ones that of the best movies are based upon? You do know that these interesting concepts haven’t just appeared out thin air, right?

Introducing Mysticism & Myths, a sampler by six authors of varying genres. Each author has chosen a legend or culture from various regions, and embellished the details. Webs have been spun, and fantasies have been built in an effort to deliver to a collection that is sure to be entertaining.

The worlds captured in these stories are many! From ghosts and vampires to sea dwellers and shapeshifters, and even ancestral rebirths! There’s something for everyone.

For detailed synopsis, please visit: http://mythsandmysticism.wix.com/mam1

Mysticism & Myths is a paranormal sampler collection, offering samples from six books. The first is “Bound by Blood” by Margo Bond Collins. I’ve read several books by this author before, so I was excited to find a new one here. Lili, from Filipino origin has tried her entire life to adjust to the American ways When children in her area start growing ill, and nobody seems to find a cure, Lili, who has since become a doctor, tries to save them. This novella was very intriguing. The writing flowed fluently, the characters were engaging, and the ending came as a surprising twist. I also liked the inclusion of an aswang, a mythological monster not many people know about.

The second story, Isa: Gift of the Baloma by Perri Forest is a fantasy story about love, and finding it in the most unlikely of places. The chapters included here are just the start of a full-length novel. It ended rather abruptly, and I would’ve liked to read more, but as far as a start to a book goes, this was pretty interesting. The author does a good job crafting the characters and the world.

Micco, Anguta’s Reign by Dormaine G. is the story of Micco, a native American who wakes up one day at a crime scene and then laters gets chosen to work the case along with the local detective. The murders keep piling up, people start seeing wolves, and Micco’s behavior changes dramatically. A supernatural murder mystery with enough surprises to keep on being entertaining, I particularly enjoyed this one. It’s my second favorite story in the collection. Seeing Micco struggling with grasping what’s going on is intriguing.

In Cursed: A Yorkshire Ghost Story by Karen Perkins, a skeleton is dug up. The skeleton belonged to a witch, Jennet, and she’s out to get revenge. Since I’m a huge fan of ghost stories, this was my favorite story in the collection. The writing was great, the characters stood out, especially Old Ma Ramsgill.

Carnem Levare by Jaxx Summers focuses on Stefano, a man who tried to commit suicide only to find out he couldn’t die. He’s cursed, heartbroken over losing the love of his life, and now he’s forced to relive through that pain over and over again. While madness sinks in, he keeps on believing in love. The character development in this novella is the strong part of it, although the plot is original too.

The last book in the collection, The Life Keeper by Abby L. Vandiver, is another interesting one. Jessica does whatever she can to help out her family, but when her cousin shows up looking for a strigoi – some sort of vampire – her household is turned upside down while her cousin suspects the strigoi might be one of their relatives. It’s an interesting story to wrap up the collection, and while I figured out early on how it would end, I did enjoy it.

Each story has its merits, and the writing is strong throughout. If you’re in the mood for some fantasy novellas, ranging from horror and ghost stories to murder mysteries and romance, I would recommend this collection.

Book Review: It’s Only Death by Lee Thompson

24108523Title: It’s Only Death

Author: Lee Thompson

Genre: Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Six years ago James blew town after killing his cop-father in a bank job gone bad. When his sister informs him that their mother’s health is fading fast, he returns home, wanting to make peace with her before she passes.
But James quickly finds there is little peace left for him at his childhood home.
His father’s old partner has been biding his time, waiting for a chance at retribution, and finally discovers James is back. But he’s only one of the many shady characters James must face if he is to survive the next few days.
Not only must James survive his return, he must also face the devastation he left behind, the shattered pieces of what remained of his life before he was forced to run.
Now his days on the run are over.
Upon the edge of reckoning, James’s past comes full circle to the final showdown with his personal demons and the devils that are closing in.
It’s Only Death is an explosive, gritty tale of urban crime and one man’s descent into the nightmares in the darkest recesses of our society.

In It’s Only Death, James killed his father during a bank robbery, and fled town after. His sister informed him of their mother’s failing health, and now he has returned home, trying to make peace with her before she passes away. However, home is anything unlike the childhood home he remembers. Some people are out to take revenge on James, like his dad’s old partner. Others, like his mom and sister, are broken, having no idea how they can ever forgive him for what he’s done.

The story is gripping and intriguing, and told from the POV of James. The character becomes so raw, flawed and realistic over the course of the book, I half-expected him to show up on my doorstep. While James certainly isn’t easy to empathize with, I did get a sense of understanding by the end of the book.

While this book showed little horror, it did show heartbreak, and it touched upon some difficult themes. It’s a crime book, focusing on one character’s journey, and it succeeds in what it tried to do – to give the readers a better feel of James, his background story, and who he is. The writing style was nothing short of brilliant, and makes up for the story that sometimes feels a little flat. It’s understandable everyone hates James, but the amount of violence going on in this book sometimes seemed over the top. So the book gets a lot of points for writing and character development, but not so much for plot. I did enjoy it though, and if you’re a crime fan, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

Book Review: Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz

20663898Title: Exorcist Road
Author: Jonathan Janz
Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction, Novella
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?”
Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.
A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.
But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.”

At a relentless pace, Exorcist Road introduces us to the cast of characters ready for the most haunted night of their lives. From start to finish, this book keeps up the same, speedy pace, yet although it’s fast, we do get all the things you’d come to expect from a horror novella: characterization and development, a suspenseful plot, and a sense of terror slowly seeping into your bones.

Father Crowder is a young priest who gets summoned one night to perform an exorcism. Having never done one before, Crowder is naturally worried, but he can’t say no when officer Danny Hartman knocks on his door. When the officer takes him to the house of his brother, where fourteen-year-old Casey has attacked his entire family and appears to be possessed by a demon, Crowder starts to fear this night might change his life forever.

Jack, Danny’s partner, doesn’t believe Casey is possessed by a demon. He believes the boy to be the Sweet Sixteen Killer – a murderer who targets sixteen-year-old girls and has left the police baffled so far. Crowder has no idea what to expect: a boy possessed or a murderer in disguise?

This is no subtle horror book – the horror is right in your face, from the murders to the demon throwing poor Casey’s body around or shouting in unearthly voices. Usually, that kind of horror doesn’t manage to scare me, but here the true terror is not in the demon’s actions, but in his words. The demon knows the killer’s identity, and he spills clues all night, and turns all of the cast against one another in a sick, twisted power game.

The author is obviously very talented, especially when he combines the two storylines and it still ends up being believable (well, in as far as demonic possession is believable when so extreme). The result is an entertaining, suspenseful book that manages to be creepy at times without overdoing it.

Book Review: The Last Mile by Tim Waggoner

22877673Title: The Last Mile

Author: Tim Waggoner

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

All Dan wanted was to be a good husband and father, to provide for his wife and daughter, to keep them fed, warm, and safe. But then the malevolent godlike beings called the Masters arrived, and their darkness spread across the world, reshaping it into a twisted realm of savagery and madness. In exchange for his family’s protection, Dan now serves one of these alien gods, obtaining human sacrifices to feed his Master’s eternal hunger.
Like so many people since the world changed, Alice has had to do unspeakable things to survive. Unfortunately for her, she’s Dan’s choice for his next sacrifice. Now Dan drives along the shattered remnants of an old-world highway, headed for his Master’s lair, Alice bound hand and foot in the backseat of his car. Dan may not like what he’s become, but he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones. Alice doesn’t intend to relinquish her life so easily, though, and she plans to escape, no matter the cost.
But in the World After, everything—animals, plants, even the land itself—has become a predator, and the journey to the Master’s lair is an almost guaranteed suicide run. But Dan won’t give up, and he won’t stop fighting. Not until he makes it through the Last Mile.

In The Last Mile, we get a macabre, disturbing story set in a post-apocalyptic earth, ruled by the Masters, some sort of aliens that have descended from the sky and now wage a war of terror on the remaining humans. Dan is such a human – he works for one of the Masters, obtaining human sacrifices to feed his Master’s hunger, and thus protecting his wife and child. If he doesn’t obey the Master’s rules, his family suffers. He has little choice in the matter, but free will seems to have been nearly obliterated after the alien attack, so he’s not the only one in such position.

The story starts with Dan driving, bringing the newest sacrifice to his master. Her name is Alice, before the Arrival she used to work as a waitress, and she isn’t particularly keen on dying, but escaping the thrall proves near impossible. As the two struggle on their laster mile to meet Dan’s master, we learn more about them, and about their past.

The high-quality writing with top-notch descriptions manages to deliver the settings well. The post-apocalyptic world has some original elements, like the way the Masters demand sacrifices, for example. The characterization is decent as well. The book offers a solid mix of gore and suspense.

However, it didn’t click with me. I found myself skipping some paragraphs, struggling to read on, because I could not sympathize with either of the characters. The setting is so amazing I wanted to spend more time in there, but for a novel, it felt like a lot of build up for a climax that never really came. The ending was predictable, and left many things unanswered.

Book Tours: Starter Day Party for Miss Predictable

misspredictablebanner
I’m hosting a starter day party today for the book tour for paranormal romance novella “Miss Predictable”. The tour runs from October 17 to October 23. I hope you enjoy visiting the tour stops!

Tour Schedule

October 17th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

October 19th: Book Excerpt @ Sunshine Book Promotions

October 19th: Promo Post @ Undercover Book Reviews

October 20th: Author Interview @ Inspired Writers

October 21st: Guest Post @ Editor Charlene’s Blog

October 23th: Book Excerpt @ Underneath the Cover

About The Book

23017845Title: Miss Predictable

Author: Kelly Ethan

Genre: Paranormal Romance Novella

This is book one in the Vegas Mythbehaving series.

What’s the next step when a girl is forced to tell the truth and deal with crazy Greek gods? Have mind-blowing sex with a hunky god, of course.

Cassandra Troy comes from a long line of fortune-tellers and her mother is no exception. But having sworn off the business when her mother goes missing, Cassandra’s not impressed.

She has to track her mother down before the family business drives her round the bend.

But with strange accidents, an inability to tell a lie, a hunky hotel manager named Hermes and a host of people who swear they’re gods of mythology, the task might be harder than she thought.

It’s time for a girl to lay down the law.

Author Bio

Kelly Ethan-300x400Kelly Ethan enjoys writing paranormal and urban fantasy both adult and young adult. She has had both paranormal romances and a non fiction book contracted to various publishers. No matter the genre, Kelly loves kick-ass and sarcastic heroines who like to save the day and the hero.

Writing is her outlet for madness. She has worked as a library assistant and reviewed category romance novels. She moves regularly around Australia every few years and is a supernatural/paranormal TV junkie.  She inhales paranormal, erotica, urban fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, middle grade, young adult, and military spy thrillers.

She has many influences but loves Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Weber, Matthew Reilly, Jennifer Estep, Kelley Armstrong, Cassandra Clare, Ally Carter, Gini Koch, Rick Riordan and Illona Andrews to name a few.

Awards



2007 EPPIE award finalist for The Beast Within. The Eppie Awards recognize outstanding achievement in electronic publishing. The awards have been given out annually since the first EPIC conference in 1999.

 Links

https://www.totallybound.com/author/kelly-ethan

http://www.kellyethan.com
https://twitter.com/Kellyethan
https://www.facebook.com/kelly.ethan.777

Giveaway

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Book Review: Conduits by Jennifer Loring

22744876Title: Conduits

Author: Jennifer Loring

Genre: Horror, Supernatural Horror, Novella, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mara is a Japanese-American girl with a history of personal tragedy. Though she still cuts herself to quell the pain, she thought the worst was behind her. But her boyfriend’s sudden death, and a visit to one of the most haunted places in Washington State, sends her into a spiral of madness, landing her in a psychiatric ward.

Already suffering from dreams of a strange, ghost-infested house in the woods, Mara begins to question the very existence of reality. She is forced to confront the truth about her older sister’s death and the reason the ghosts have chosen her as their conduit.

“An evocative journey into the darkest realms of a troubled psyche. Part ghost story, part psychological suspense, Conduits is an astonishing debut from a bold new voice in horror. Don’t miss it!” —Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of all Flesh

Conduits is a tale of Japanse horror, mixed with outstanding writing and an atmospheric, haunting setting. One of the best works on Darkfuse’s list this year, if you ask me.

Mara is a Japanese-American girl struggling with a dark past. She tries to stop the pain by cutitng herself, but ever since her boyfriend passed away, the pain hasn’t subsided, even when she cuts herself. Then she visits the most haunted place in Washington State, and what follows is a spiral of madness that lands her in a psychiatric ward. Her dreams are haunted by a strange house in the woods, inhabited by ghosts.

As Mara’s vision of reality crumbles, she’s forced to confront what happened to her older sister, and why the ghosts have chosen her as a counduit.

As I mentioned, the writing is great. However, the book would’ve been better if it had been slightly longer. A lot of things happen, and not everything is explored with the same level of detail. Overall, the story is great though, dark, hypnotic almost. It reminded me of “A Tale of Two Sisters”, a Japanese horror move that I absolutely loved, and that was creepy without adding gore, or anything of the sort.

Anyone who is a fan of Japanese horror, should definitely check out Conduits. Excellent writing, atmospheric story – I can’t wait to read more books by this author.

Book Review: Bloodeye by Craig Saunders

22677643Title: Bloodeye

Author: Craig Saunders

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Keane Reid is tired of living. He’s bored with his very existence following the suspicious death of his wife seven years earlier. He’s not interested in TV, reading, dating or a social life.

But when he is called on a routine plumbing job at a local pub, he discovers the corpse of a young girl crucified and nailed to a wall, her eyes torn out and a third eye carved into her forehead. Keane has seen this mark before, and soon his life is thrust between the present and past, reality and fantasy, darkness and light.

As Keane loses his grip on sanity, a long-forgotten shadow begins whispering to him once again, ushering him toward the void, where the ghosts of his past reside, waiting to show him what truly lies behind the veil.

Bloodeye started out as a straightforward book, but as the story progressed, it got increasingly complicated. Keane Reid, our protagonist, is tired of living after the death of his wife seven years ago. He struggles with depression, and every task feels too difficult.

Then he gets called to a routine plumbing job, where he discovers the corpse of a young girl crucified and nailed to a wall, her eyes torn out, a third one carved into her forehead. Keane has seen this mark before, and the last time, things ended disastrous. Will this time be any different?

We get two seperate storylines, past (seven years ago, focusing on Keane and his wife) and the present. Keane is a complicated man, struggling with reality and fantasy, walking the border of insanity and sometimes plunging in. The descent into madness from the main character was impressive, and although I struggled to figure out what was real or delusion, it was an interesting struggle, and I didn’t mind having to guess.

However, at times, there’s just too little information, and I was confused every now and then. The book could’ve been better if we’d been giving a handful of clues as to what was going on, as opposed to almost no clues. The writing was of exceptional quality though, and reading this book worked almost like shifting through a hallucination.