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Book Review: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough will be available for purchase on October 3, 2017.

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

 Amazon.com – 13 Minutes: A Novel by Sarah Pinborough


Barnesandnoble.com – 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Flatiron Books, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this—it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Opinion: *Sigh*…do you feel it guys? October is coming. Oooooh the leaves are beginning to fall; the air is starting to smell like brisk air and dying trees! Girls are buying pumpkin spice lattes, and those lovely goths and wickens are patiently waiting for Halloween. So here I am, giving the gift of words to put you in the mood of October…if you haven’t yet transitioned. A story with drownings, blindsides, almost decapitation (I’m exaggerating) and skanky girls!

AH! Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit quite like attempted/actual murder and scandal! Oooooo…spirit fingers!

It was a shock to everyone when the body of Natasha Howland was found washed up on an embankment, but an even bigger shock to find her alive. With no recollection of how she ended up in the water that night, Natasha tries desperately to find out what happened to her. With the return of her former best friend Becca, they work together to try and make sense of what the police have found out thus far. But with Natasha’s best friends Jenny and Haley acting strange, she begins to think that they might have something to do with what happened to her. Only time will tell what really happened that night, and only Natasha knows the truth.

I must say Ladies and Gents, this one will keep you guessing. This read will pull you in and keep you interested, in more ways than one! The obvious is the mystery of how poor Natasha ends up in the freezing water that night, which caused her to die for 13 minutes. But little does the reader know that s**t is about to get REAL. This book has it all! Some light drug use, a reenactment of Mean Girls, psycho girlfriends, stoners, adults behaving VERY badly, manipulation at its FINEST, and a dose of that good ol’ murder! Oh! Can you feel the tingles?! I sure can. I love a bundle of characters that makes me yell and curse out loud. I found myself rooting for every character at one point, but suddenly…everything began to shift. But just when I was about to shout “AAHHHHH HAH”, it all shifts AGAIN! These b****es are sneaky guys, very sneaky.

After Natasha wakes up in the hospital, the doctors report that she can’t remember the events that led up to her accident. We start to see her best friends, Haley and Jenny, acting strange and secretive, and Natasha even asks for Becca while in the hospital. This starts to feel as if everything is being set up and made too obvious from the very beginning, but thankfully that isn’t the case AT ALL. The author made sure to have the reader suspect each character for at least a moment, and I found myself being suspicious of EVERYONE. I couldn’t help but think the worst, but even I wasn’t thinking bad enough. I was NOT expecting any of these things to happen, and I loved it!

Characters. Well, to put it simply. Natasha is Queen Barbie for a reason, Becca is acutely annoying and desperate, Aiden is just a pansy, and Haley and Jenny are interesting…especially Jenny when she goes a little nutty. There are a few other characters who have some roles that I could mention, but they just don’t really seem to matter much (sorry guys). This story flips back and forth between Becca and Natasha, obviously our lead female characters in this story. Becca and Natasha used to be best friends, but Natasha dropped Becca a few years prior. Becca is considered a bit of a loner at school, while Natasha is in the popular crowd. She seems to have a decent head on her shoulders, meaning she doesn’t seem like the typical conceited popular girl. I started out favoring Becca, but halfway through the story that changed. As soon as Becca started acting needy and psycho, I just couldn’t stand her. The girl needed to CHECK herself. Pull in those emotions sweetheart, they’re all over the place!

Overall, this book really surprised me. I was expecting a flimsy YA read with some drama and overzealous characters, but what I got was so much more! I am so impressed with how this author was able to trick me so many times, and it kept me interested and reading. These characters are all VERY twisted and insane in their own way, but strangely normal at the same time. How the book unfolds itself is truly something special. I am SO glad I requested to read and review this one. Please keep in mind that this is for an older YA group of readers, as there is a lot of adult themes and situations that happen. This is not for a preteen! This is a great story to get you into the mystery/thriller stories as we get closer to Halloween, enjoy!

4-stars

 

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Book Review: The Dream Machine

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Amazon.com – The Dream Machine: Book 6, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

~ Get the first 5 books in the series ~

Amazon.com- The Unearthed: Book One, The Eddie McCloskey Series by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Lost: Book Two, The Eddie McCloskey Series (The Unearthed 2) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Accused and the Damned: Book Three, the Eddie McCloskey Series (The Unearthed 3) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Hysteria: Book 4, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

Amazon.com – The Traveler: Book 5, The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series (The Unearthed) by Evan Ronan

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Evan Ronan, for an honest review.

Genre: Paranormal/Mystery/Horror/Adult/Thriller

Plot: They’re watching her dreams…and seeing the future

At a remote federal facility, researchers are watching—literally watching—test subjects’ dreams on computer screens. Alison, a teenage patient, is of particular interest because her dreams seemingly come true.

Eddie McCloskey, paranormal expert, versed in the occult and in debunking bad science, doesn’t put much stock in dreams. He’s studied the paranormal literature as much as anybody, and he’s convinced there’s a perfectly good explanation for all dreams.

But when Alison dreams about a catastrophic accident and a terrible crime, the shadowy federal agents Eddie worked with in Oregon come calling again. Eddie and the feds are racing against the clock. Are the dreams predictions, or merely intimations of what might happen? Can the future be altered?

This is no ghost hunt, but they need Eddie McCloskey’s lateral thinking if they’re going to get the job done here. Because they’ll soon discover there’s something else, something even more sinister, about Alison’s dreams…
Opinion: Check it out guys, he’s baaaccccckkkk! It has been quite some time since I have had the pleasure of diving into the world of paranormal ghost hunter Eddie McCloskey. Oh, how I have missed these twisted and frightening tales! This is number SIX in The Eddie McCloskey Paranormal Mystery Series. I am LOVING the basis of this installment of the series, because author Evan Ronan has centered it around dreams and how they can be controlled. This my readers, is SO up my alley.

Eddie McCloskey finally feels like things are setting into place in his personal life. He is able to spend more time with his befriends Stan and Moira, and things couldn’t be better between Eddie and his girlfriend Sumiko. But when the Federal Agents that Eddie worked with (and almost died with) in Oregon start calling him about another job, his life starts to shift yet again. Eddie travels with Agent Manetti to a secluded base where patients’ dreams are being monitored, especially those of a girl name Allison.  Allison is suspected to be some sort of an oracle. She has had vivid dreams of natural disasters and shootings, and so far, each one has come true. When Eddie arrives, he is shown the most recent of Allison’s dreams, a horrifying car accident and a sexual assault. Now Eddie and Agent Manetti are against the clock to stop these events from taking place, and to prove that this young girl isn’t an all-powerful God.

I cannot express how quickly I got through this book, it captivated me THAT much. When I read the blurb for this installment of this paranormal series, I knew I was going to be hooked. Anything centering around dreams instantly pulls me in, and the fact that author Evan Ronan decided to base one of his paranormal/mystery stories on them got me crazy excited. The Dream Machine basically centers around this top-secret base where these patients are undergoing dream studies. The doctors are able to WATCH the patients dreams on monitors, and run tests on them to see what influences or effects their dreams.

There are two special cases in this high-tech “dreaming facility”, Allison and an inmate named White. White is a career criminal and was able to complete part of his sentence by assisting these doctors in their dream study, mostly because White is able to lucid dream (where a person is aware they are dreaming and can control the dream). Allison is quite a different case, in that she is a young teenage girl who is thought to be having premonitions of the future. When Eddie enters the scene, Allison has already had two dreams come true, a storm and a shooting, and two more that are waiting to happen, a huge car accident and a sexual assault.

Now if you have read the precious books in this series, you will know that Eddie is a paranormal investigator. Most of the time when Eddie is called onto a case, it isn’t a ghost or paranormal entity disturbing someone, it’s usually something more plausible. But in Eddie’s previous investigations, he has learned that some things truly just can’t be explained. When Eddie begins watching the tapes of Allison’s dreams, his first instinct is to debunk the idea that Allison is an oracle or some type of god that can see into the future. I personally found this idea to be really different, especially in a series that focuses more on the reality aspect rather than fantasy.

I of course don’t want to give anything away, but WOAH. I was NOT expecting the story to go in the direction that it did. I am kicking myself for not seeing the connection between these characters, but I like that it surprised me…that is ALWAYS a welcome trait in a book. All in all, I was pretty impressed with The Dream Machine. I loved that it centered around lucid dreaming and the idea that predicting future events may be possible. Plus, there was an epic shoot out at the end of the book that would keep anyone hooked, as well as some great characters that return to the story. Once again guys, you NEED try this series out! You will be hooked on Eddie McCloskey and his travels, trust me on that.

4-stars

 

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Book Review: Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

Goodreads.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

BarnesandNoble.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/Mature Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Plot:We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Opinion: WHEW! What a whirlwind that story was! After becoming introduced to The Girl on the Train, I have been in a frenzy trying to find similar books. I came across Ill Will on Netgalley and HAD to give it a go. Let me tell you readers, I have so many STRONG and INSANE emotions rushing through me right now…I barely know where to start! This book is like a bad mushroom trip that feels WAY too real.

Thirty years ago, Dustin and his cousins woke up to find their parents brutally murdered in their home. Already flushed with loss at a young age, a life sentence is handed down on Dustin’s adopted brother Rusty who is blamed for the crimes. Now years later with children of his own, Dustin works as a psychologist in Cleveland. Soon a call from Dustin’s cousin brings panic into his life, as he is told that Rusty’s sentence has been thrown out and he is being released. Now Dustin begins to reflect back on the night that changed his life forever, and whether he and his cousins were right about testifying against Rusty and blaming him for the murders. All the while, a staggering number of male college students being found dead is making headlines. Though the police call the strange occurrences “accidental drownings”, Dustin’s new patient feels otherwise and suspects foul play. Could there be a link to this madness, or is Dustin slowly falling down a rabbit hole?

This is a truly interesting and dark story. There are tons of misleading twists and shocking occurrences, and the characters are truly gritty. Dustin is our main character and the reader follows him as he relives moments from his past, while also dealing with his present. One day Dustin gets a call from his cousin who tells him that Rusty, his adopted brother and the person who took the fall for the murders, is being released from prison. He is told that new DNA results were discovered which proves that Rusty couldn’t have murdered his new family. This brings a panic into Dustin’s life because now he is unsure if Rusty was the culprit of the crime, or if he was just blamed because of the things he had done in his past.

As Dustin reflects on his past growing up with Rusty, I was…how should I say this…COMPLETELY f***ing disturbed. There is some SERIOUSLY dark and grimy things that go on between these boys. Rusty can be described as a tough and hardheaded boy at an early age, and grows into a metal loving hooligan that likes talking about satanic rituals and even goes as far as sacrificing small rabbits. Dustin is a young an impressionable boy, and sees Rusty as his knight in shining armor. He proves to be a more than gullible child, and will allow his mind to be overturned by suggestions and hints by his older cousins and Rusty. In each flashback that these characters take the reader in, we are given glimpses of each characters flaws as a child and reasons why they could or couldn’t have been the ones to murder their family.

Another huge part of this story is Dustin and his patient Aqil. Aqil is a former police officer who has more than an obsessive and compulsive personality. He becomes fascinated by the mass amounts of local drownings of college males, and brings it upon himself to start investigating. As Aqil attends sessions with Dustin, Dustin starts to get wrapped up in the ideas and theories that Aqil presents him. Soon he finds himself spending all of his time with Aqil and latched onto the idea that there is a murderer on the loose killing these boys. The end result for these murders is truly…SHOCKING. I was so blindsided when this portion of the story was SOMEWHAT answered. Yes, in this book you will find that the author likes to leave you guessing.

For me though, I think the ending is where this story really shines. At first I wasn’t too keen on the fact that the ending didn’t completely tie everything together. I ended the book and thought to myself WAIT, what happened?? As it has now been a few days since I have finished the book, I have a different feeling towards the ending. I actually enjoy the fact of where the author took it, because there are so many actual cases where things end up in that fashion. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what could have happened, and I think you guys will too if you give this read a go. But honestly, the best part is knowing that you have no idea what actually happened. So touché Dan Chaon, touché. All in all, I am only giving this 3 stars because this book took me a LONG time to get through and because I was rather uncomfortable for most of the read. I prefer a thriller that THRILLS me, not a story that makes my skin crawl and forces me to put it down. It is an interesting story, but I could have done without all the in-depth sexual scenes.

3-stars

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Book Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Goodreads.com – The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Barnesandnoble.com – The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Genre: Young Adult/Teen/Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal

Plot: Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

Opinion:

This book sings to my dark and wistful little soul, and I just can’t get enough of it.

It is always so hard to find a YA story that has a little bit of everything in it. I love a story that touches on fantasy and paranormal aspects, but is packed with sorrowful pain and whispered little secrets. This story has everything I crave tucked into its beautiful pages. This story needs to be read, trust me.

For as long as they can remember, Cara and her family have been falling into unexplained accidents at a certain time of the year. Most seasons result in deep cuts and countless bruises, but some seasons end in the death of loved ones. As another accident season comes near, Cara starts to notice the disappearance of a girl from school, Elsie. When Cara begins to question her teachers and classmates about the quiet girl, nobody seems to remember her or know anything about her. But what is even stranger, is that Cara starts to notice that Elsie is in every single one of her pictures. As Cara, her sister Alice, her stepbrother Sam, and her best friend Bea begin to search for Elsie, they also start to realize that each one of them has deep and hidden secrets that they keep from one another. As the season moves forward they start to learn that the accident season isn’t all that it seems, and that their secrets are about to come forward.

This book has been compared to We Were Liars, and I definitely see a resemblance. A group of teenagers who are lost and angst-ridden, and who have countless secrets drowning them. This story follows Cara, but also her family members and her best friend. They are subjected to countless accidents during the accident season, and it keeps the reader on edge. I found it interesting that these characters take such precautions during the accident season, in that they wear protective clothing and have padded their entire home. Though Cara and her siblings are meant to be extra careful during October, the reader will still find them doing reckless things which I loved. It lets the reader know that these characters are extremely human and still seek thrills and trouble, and I found myself smirking at the ridiculous things they would do.

There are two specific elements of this story that I am infatuated with. The first being the way the author has entwined such creative fantastical and paranormal themes into the pages. The entire book has a dark and spooky theme, which makes it a perfect read for around the Halloween season. These characters are constantly running into each other’s imaginations, where they get lost in magic and beasts. Cara has visions of seeing the four of them looking as they truly should: Bea as a mermaid, Alice as the Earth, Sam as character from a silent film, and herself as a fairy. Bea sees herself as a witch and looks to her tarot cards for answers, and speaks of ghosts and witches and werewolves. These aspects of the story gives the actual events that happen a dreamlike feel for the reader, almost as if to say “Is what you think is real, actually happening? Or is it all in your imagination?” Can you say WOAH?

The second thing that I adore about this book is how the author has played with secrets. Instead of it being known from the beginning that these characters are keeping secrets, the idea of secrets is presented to the reader in a poetic way. At their school, there is a typewriter and a box where students may come and type secrets anonymously. At the end of the year, these secrets are strung up on clotheslines around the school, for everyone to see and share. The author throws the idea of secrets into the readers face so quickly, that they become blinded by the fact that the main characters will have severe secrets of their own that they are hiding. All I kept thinking about was WHY the accident season was happening and WHO Elise was.

Although some things were not fully answered in black in white in this story, I think it is one of those reads that can be left for interpretation. I was pleasantly blindsided by a HUGE secret that came forward at the end of this read. In NO WAY did I see that coming, and I am so happy that this author could shock me in such a way! All in all, I am in love with this book. These characters felt real and flawed, almost as if they were real kids that I had spent time with. The imagination and poetic nature of the story is what pulled me in and kept me reading, and I had SO much trouble putting this story down. I highly recommend this to anyone that wants a DIFFERENT YA story that will get them thinking. This is definitely going to be a book that I reread for years.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Goodreads.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Barnesandnoble.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Bookdepository.com – Gardenia by Kelsey Sutton

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Diversion Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Teen/YA/Mystery/Thriller

Plot: Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was murdered in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives, and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

Opinion:

AHHHHH! THIS book! THIS FREAKING BOOK!

You are probably thinking to yourself Wow, WHAT about this book. WELL, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK! I have been searching high and low for a specific genre of story to read for WEEKS now. A story that will make my heart hurt and my stomach flip due to eloquent and depressing sentences. You know the kind of story I am talking about. The sort of tale that doesn’t just make you sorrowful, but a story that makes you MAKE yourself sorrowful because you don’t want to stop feeling what the characters feel.

Well, this story comes pretty close to that.

Call it a gift or a curse, but ever since Ivy was a child she knew when the people around her were going to die. The ability to see a countdown of each person’s remaining time over their heads has proved to be most difficult for Ivy, especially when her own death has been approaching quickly over the past few months. After the murder of her best friend, Ivy falls into a downward spiral as she realizes that she can’t save the people she loves. But the need to find out the truth about what happened begins to consume her, and soon Ivy finds herself on the trail to figuring out who the murderer is. As Ivy’s last weeks begin to draw near, she fights to live her final days instead of just watching them tick by.

I can’t express enough how much I loved the concept for this story. Ivy is forced to watch the people around her die as their life clock comes to an end, while feeling helpless the entire time because she has no way to save them. I felt like I had a truly strong connection to this character. She is a loner at school and made to feel like an outcast because of events from her past, but she has a snarky attitude and is quick to fire off amazing zingers. When first introduced to Ivy, the reader quickly learns that there is a sense that she has already given up in life. With the death of her best friend being so recent and her own clock only being a few months before ending, Ivy has an overwhelming sense of despair and sorrow engulfing her. She has nobody close to her that she can talk to, and her family is very distant and wrapped up in their own lives.

As the story progresses, Ivy starts to become obsessed with finding out who killed her friend and why. In regards to the mystery aspect of this story, I was pretty surprised to figure out who it was. I had about one or two main suspects that I thought had definitely done it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have been wrong. The point where this story starts to get truly heart wrenching, apart from the already depressing events, is when the reader learns about Myers. Myers is the ex-boyfriend of Ivy, and let’s just say that relationship ended horribly on a night when everything else shattered Ivy’s world. I found that this author EXCELS when she is describing a sorrowful or dark moment. Not many authors know how to capture a feeling in words, and I thought Kelsey Sutton did a great job of it. This story is riddled with amazing descriptions of sadness and regret, and I adored every single minute of it.

Even after he’s gone I let my fingers linger on the glass, until the cold creeps under my skin and into my bones. Maybe if it goes deep enough, it will numb everything.

As numb as death.”

-Ivy

Overall, this was a TRULY wonderful read. I was hooked the entire time and felt connected to the characters and the story throughout the read. I am excited to see what else this author has done. If her writing is as good as this in all of her stories, then she is going to become a favorite of mine quickly. I recommend his to all ages, but primarily Teen and YA readers. It has a strong message of finding acceptance and living your life to the fullest, which I think anyone can relate to.

4-5-stars

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Book Review: Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

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Devil in the Countryside is available for Pre-order, and will be available on February 15, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Devil in the Countryside (Of Witches and Werewolves) by Cory Barcaly

Goodreads.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Barnesandnoble.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Bookdepository.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural

Plot: Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Opinion: Once again, I am PLEASANTLY surprised with a book that is completely out of the genre that I usually read. This story was AMAZING! I found myself having immense trouble putting it down and doing adult things such as going to work, or sleeping. The writing is perfection. It gives the reader the necessary balance of description and detail, while also eloquently weaving a tale of fantasy and realism.

Based loosely on actual events that took place in Germany over a 20 year span, Devil in the Countryside transports the reader to 1588 as murders in Bedburg start to rise. Fear spreads quickly through the town as gruesome and mangled bodies are found in the countryside, and threats against protestant reform begin to plague the Christian ruled town. As Investigator Heinrich Franz looks into the murders, he enlists the help of a hunter by the name of Georg Stieghart who has a past of being quite vicious. This story also follows Father Nicholas Dieter of the church in Bedburg, and young Sybil Griswold who is the daughter of a wealthy farmer. While the investigator tries to hunt down the Werewolf of Bedburg, the church tries to fight off Protestants from overtaking the town and the minds of their people.

Though I gave you guys a little description up there, I’m going to explain a little bit more about these characters/events so that you really get the idea. Probably the COOLEST thing about this book is the fact that it is based on true events. In 1589 a trial was held for a man that was presumed to be the famous Werewolf of Bedburg, who was accused of murder and cannibalism. Shocked? Me too. The fact that these people actually thought that a man was turning into a werewolf and slashing bodies to pieces is just…beyond me. The again, this was also a time when everyone thought witches were casting spells and dealing in dark magic…and here I thought my generation was cuckoo.

Heinrich Franz is the investigator that is put in charge of finding out who/what the Werewolf of Bedburg is, and he seems to go to any lengths to make someone responsible. I really can’t pinpoint my feelings for this character. He is an evil and emotionally unattached man, but I quite like his ruthlessness and cunning behavior. He is the type of person that will do ANYTHING to close a case, especially if that means framing someone in the process. Georg Stieghart is truly my favorite character in this story. He comes off as a drunken idiot most of the time, but he proves to be a very strong-willed and intelligent person. As Georg seeks revenge for the death of his family, who he assumes is the Werewolf, he assists the investigator and helps him hunt the killer down. The relationship between these two characters is fairly comical. They both act friendly towards one another and share news that they have, but they also don’t trust each other and have their own agendas. I enjoyed how the story turned out for Georg and how his character makes a complete 180. He loses some of his savagery and turns into a truly upstanding person.

Sybil Griswold is the daughter of wealthy farmer Peter Griswold. Sybil goes through a lot of dark events in this story, and I commend her character for taking everything in stride. Not only does a dear friend of hers come up dead, but her father begins to force her into a marriage with a nobleman’s son who proves to be vile and pretentious. Sybil finds solace in her time spent with Father Nicholas Dieter, who is a priest at the church in Bedburg. Father Dieter seems to be the most developed character, and for me, the most interesting. He starts out being a very faithful and dutiful servant to the religion that he preaches for, but soon starts to open his eyes to what is going on in the world around him. The relationship between these two characters brings the romance factor into this story, and gives the reader a little light in this otherwise dark and gritty tale.

This story overall was fantastic! The events that took place were gruesome and unnerving, and I kept picturing a less theatrical Tim Burton setting of gray buildings and woeful expressions. Though I am not a big fan of reading a story with religion being such a central theme, it was obviously necessary to this story but it didn’t overtake the actual plot and events that the author was focusing on. I highly recommend this story to any reader that likes thriller/mystery, or to anyone who wants to dabble in a different type of story. I am REALLY looking forward to see what happens in book 2, hopefully it will come out soon!

5-stars

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Book Review: Deny the Father by M. Duda

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: The first story in this collection, “A Sarjeta,” follows an impoverished Portuguese with one simple dream. He wants to taste meat. Although Leandro also has larger goals of becoming a famous artist, his hunger and poverty are always at the front of his mind. When he forms a relationship with the wrong person, Leandro will realize that incredible evil exists just across the street.

The middle story, “Good-bye, Sweet Mercury” takes a turn away from the horrific and focuses on a father’s love for his daughter. In this short, simple tale, the father stands at a precipice in his life. He doesn’t want to leave his little girl and will have to make a big decision about his future.

The last story, “Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today,” furthers M. Duda’s theme of metamorphosis and introduces an indentured farmer who is trying to make up for his criminal past. In a future civilization, the farmer faces harsh truths about himself.

Through these glimpses into different worlds, M. Duda tells three intricate, compelling tales of transformation.

Opinion: Readers! I bring you yet another collection of short stories by the highly imaginative author M. Duda. This is the third book I have received from this author, and might I just say these stories just keep getting better and better. What I love about this author is that he isn’t afraid to create stories that reflect on the darkness and savagery that exists in the world. I love any story that is able to make me slightly nauseous at the truths that I am seeing, but a story that also excites the ravenous reader that I am.

Deny the Father has a total of three short stories. The first story A Sarjeta (The Gutter) follows a poor young man that has the sole desire to earn enough money to taste meat for the first time. While living with his sister and her children only eating beans day after day, Leandro finds himself caught up in a dangerous game on his path to riches. In the second story, Good-bye, Sweet Mercury, Tim struggles with saying goodbye to his daughter and moving on after his death. The third and final story, Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today, is set on another planet called Menhir-X. Jax and his wife, Delna, live on this planet as sugar cane farmers along with other alien life forms called Allohms. This story documents as Jax struggles to keep his farmer, while also confronting his past and present mistakes.

I think my favorite story in this collection would have to be Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today. The overall theme focuses on the struggles to provide for oneself and their family, while also putting a spotlight on the mistakes that one makes and how they can cost you dearly in the end. This story shows the wrinkles and imperfections that can scar a person in time, and I think it was an interesting tale of a man seeking redemption. A Sarjeta (The Gutter) is a truly gritty and grimy story. It captures the idea that innocence can be stolen rather than lost, and it gives the reader a sad feeling of hopelessness and despair. It made my heart squirm in my chest and left me feeling uneasy. To me A Sarjeta (The Gutter) and Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today are two stories that test the evil inside oneself and others, and it makes the reader question their conscience or morals.

Good-bye, Sweet Mercury is a very VERY short story that lasts only three pages. I have noticed that the author, M. Duda, touches on life after death at least once in each of his books. In this story, like his other paranormal tales, we are greeted with a character who struggles with the idea of moving on and leaving a loved one behind. Good-bye, Sweet Mercury instills a moment of hope for the reader while they read this story. It was a welcome moment that brought me out of the darkness that usually embodies these shadow books and restored my faith in humanity…if only for a moment.

When it comes to reading an M. Duda collection of short stories, I am always very pleased with the imaginative and poetic tales that I read. As much as I adore reading my overly fluffed YA/Fantasy stories, I will always be seeking a story like this that evokes deep thoughts long after I have finished reading. As always, I HIGHLY recommend reading these shadow books! I hope this author NEVER stops writing these eerie stories, they are truly special and amazing.

5-stars

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