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Book Review: Quelling (The Purification Era, Book 2) by Angie Grigaliunas

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

Genre: YA

Plot: For years, Rabreah has longed to overthrow the power-abusing Hulcondans who control her city. Yet in the wake of an unauthorized rebel attack, Lord Masrekah takes over the hunt for the“terrorists” – and it’s only a matter of time until he figures out her secrets.If he hasn’t already. Resistance leader Sorek’s return is a welcome sight, but his easy infiltration of the enemy kindles Rabreah’s suspicion of where exactly his loyalties lie – and threatens her growing feelings for him.

Unaware of her sister’s double life, Ariliah continues to support the Hulcondans. But as the city spirals into violence, everything she’s ever believed starts to unravel. Afraid to confront her doubts, she clings to her splintering trust and a dangerous new connection with Lord Masrekah.

Yet as the Hulcondans bear down on the resistance and its allies, the truth becomes clear: there aren’t just two sides, the greatest enemies lurk inside the city, and even the most faithful supporter has a breaking point.

Opinion:

*Soft, yet dramatic, whimpering through an endless stream of tears*

*Incessant poking of arms and legs to check if I’m real*

*Attempts at forming words that come out as incoherent mumblings and squeaks*

This series will be the end of me.

The “terrorists” continue to move against the Hulcondan’s and to voice their propaganda by way of posters, attacks, and the most recent attempted murders of one of their most prominent Lords. But with the threats against the city showing no means of slowing, Lord Siserah decides to step aside and let decisions be made by the ruthless and brutal Lord Masrekah. With each citizen under close surveillance and forced to travel with an escort to their assignments and homes, fear is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. For Ariliah, the fear is that the Itzalin monsters will breach the wall to the city and destroy everything she loves. It is the fear of her abusive mother and the fear that the Hulcondans, who she trusts with her life, will parish trying to protect the citizens. But for Rabreah, it is a different form of fear entirely. Staying undetected as a rebel becomes increasingly difficult for Rabreah and her allies, especially when their leader, Sorek, returns to the city posing as a Hulcondan in order to get close to his enemy. Rabreah knows she must trust her leader with her life, even when her feelings for him start to change, but her distrust of men is always in the back of her mind. The truth of what they were taught as children to be right and wrong starts to blur for both of Ariliah and Rabreah, and they are forced to choose which side they want to be on when chaos hits.  

(Click here for my review of book one, Sowing, if you need a refresher haven’t read it)

*Sigh*…where to begin.

I was an Alpha and Beta reader for Angie for the second book in this amazing series, so this is my third time reading Quelling. As this is obviously the final edit, there were a few additions and changes from the copies that I read, but they only added to the splendor that these books possess.

I cannot stress enough how AMAZING this series is.

Angie has this irritating knack for ripping my soul into her characters, making me either trust them or hate them, and then completely twisting my feelings into something that I can barely grasp or fathom. I am a fiercely loyal person by nature, and Angie has made me overly protective of these characters and their lives. I feel every bit of anger and defiance that Rabreah possesses, and every act of pure innocence and uninhibited trust that Ariliah gives to those around her. Angie has put a mirror up to every woman in the world, sliced their beings into two, and thrown them into these fierce and brilliant female characters.

It is taking only the laws of physics to keep me from reaching through these pages and maiming anyone who tries to hurt these girls.

But Rabreah and Ariliah aren’t the only amazing characters in this series. The reader is introduced to several other members of the rebellion that each have heart wrenching and sorrowful stories. As Rabreah begins to meet more rebel members, she is introduced to an array of people with different jobs and backgrounds. This book holds countless eye-opening moments for Rabreah where her character is forced to question what she has been taught with what she can actually see. But of course, one of the most prominent rebel members is their fearless leader, Sorek.

Sorek returns as a Hulcondan in order to remain close to his enemy, and to act as a VERY convincing spy. Not only does this put Sorek RIGHT next to the frightening Lord Masrekah, but it tests the trust of Rabreah as she watches him immerse himself in his performance. Sorek is the epitome of a strong, upstanding and fearless male character. As the story went on I couldn’t help but love and adore him, as I think most of us will or have ended up doing. His tenderness and respect for Rabreah leaves me happily broken and weapy, and the ending to this book just about ripped my heart from my chest. In a good way.

Now on the other side of the fence we have the sweet and delicate Ariliah. Book two is where Ariliah shines, and where readers will REALLY begin to latch onto her. In Sowing Ariliah was a very timid girl who trusted and obeyed the hulcondan’s without question, never stood up for herself, and who seemed to be a shadow of who she could be. But in Quelling, she transforms into a woman who can and will stand up for herself. She is the little sister that we have always wanted, and you can’t help but want to standby her side and root her on.

But what I really can’t get over with this book, is that Angie has done the unthinkable.

She has made me question ALL of my previous opinions of this series,made me rethink one or two of my morals and beliefs, and even lessened a slight part of the man hater buried DEEP in my soul.

Brace yourselves.

I have a SLIGHT liking towards Masrekah now.

So it turns out that this horrible, ruthless, disgusting pig of a man just MIGHT not be the evil scum that he was perceived to be. Sneaky Angie, very sneaky. Lord Masrekah, to my utter shock, has become somewhat of a human being in book two. He has begun to show an interest in Ariliah, and even goes as far as to act almost protective over her but without making it seem beyond creepy…?! Trust me when I say, I am shocked at my changed feelings.Mostly because it took me three times of reading Quelling to have even ONE positive thought toward this guy.  But to make things stranger, I even sort of see the appeal of him now.

You know, like how a really attractive serial killer could be somewhat appealing. -_-

Characters aside, the overall story building in this series is really remarkable. These books keep me tense and hooked the entire time. It feels almost PAINFUL to put these books down and go to work! The countless attacks and threats, the gruesome moments, the literal “what in the actual f**k” moments in Quelling are what really put this series over the edge from great to AMAZING. There is SO much going on in this book and I can’t utter one word of it without revealing everything! This is a series that will force the reader to THINK and QUESTION their own feelings. I am blown away with the detail the Angie puts forth in her writing and the cruel yet beautiful world that she has created.

This is not a request for you to read this series.

This is a demand. Do it. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

 

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

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Amazon.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

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Goodreads.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

Bookdepository.com – Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by JKS Communications on behalf of the author, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Crime Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

Plot: “I never thought my life would turn out like this. My best friend Richard Brown is dead. Parts of his brain still paint the wall where he shot himself. Eighteen years ago, he and Barbara entrusted me with curing their adopted son, Harold. I was so sure of myself. After all, I had cured his half-brother at the orphanage. I thought I knew what I was doing, but now I’m not sure of anything.

Richard left me a note telling me to help Harold find the men responsible. Richard claims if we fail to solve his suicide that his company and everyone working there will be lost. What does that mean, and does it matter? How can I help? I am a psychiatrist, not a detective. If I fail, what will become of Barbara? Will Harold’s grief unleash the beast living inside him? The berserker is controlled, but he is not contained.”

Join childhood development psychiatrist Doctor Joshua Zeev as he attempts to find the answers to his best friend’s death and help the family through their grief. Can Joshua survive his insufficiencies? Does Maria’s patient love give him the focus that he needs to discover the truth, or will she be a distraction? Does his challenge of a lifetime, bring answers and closure, or even more perilous dangers?

Opinion:

A suspenseful thriller JUST in time for the holiday season!

Put on those trench coats and grab those magnifying glasses boys and girls, there’s a conspiracy afoot!

Joshua has spent many diligent years working with countless young boys at an orphanage in North Carolina. Two of his most memorable cases were that of two half brothers who were both left at an orphanage by their mother. Both boys were diagnosed by Joshua with “Berserker Syndrome”, a condition that makes the person fly into a blind rage so bizarre that it can be described as being possessed. After curing the youngest of the brothers, Bill, Joshua is enlisted by the adoptive parents of the oldest boy, Harold, in hopes that he may also be cured. Years later in California, Harold is a grown man and Joshua is still living with the family and working with Harold on his blind rage. But when the sudden suicide of Harold’s father Richard Brown occurs, Joshua’s concern for the young man is at an all time high. As he tries to find the reason for his friend’s sudden death, while also keeping Harold under control, Joshua finds himself with more questions than answers.

This story has just about everything I could ask for in a suspense thriller; a man with a dangerous blind rage, blackmail, countless deaths, and even a little bit of romance. Did somebody say swoon?! Though I was expecting a story that focused on the slightly disturbed inner workings of a young man who starts beating people to a pulp out of nowhere; I was instead welcomed with a mystery on the suicide of a man who ran a very profitable weapons company. Though I am not upset about this change of events, I must say that I feel slightly derailed from what I was expecting of this story.

I was hoping to have a better understanding of this “berserker syndrome”, which the reader is introduced to right away at the beginning of the story. The reader is taken through a part of Harold’s life as a young boy when Joshua is first treating him for his condition, and the author paints a nice picture of how little Harold can control his rages. But we are fast-forwarded years later to when Harold is a grown man, and the story turns into more of a “who-done-it” rather than focusing on Harold and his condition. It feels like this initial idea for the book to be based more on the psychiatric and mental side of the experiences of this family was thrown by the waste side a little. I wish it would have had bigger role in the overall telling of this story, instead of just going right into being a search to find out the reason for Richard brown’s suicide. I felt like I didn’t get an in-depth look into Harold as much as I would have liked, which in turn made it harder for me to connect with his character.

Our other main character in this story is Joshua, a psychiatrist who specializes in child development and who had coined “berserker syndrome”. I found that Joshua’s character could have also been given a little more depth and attention. Many times, I found myself slightly irritated with the comments he would make about suicide or other observations. He didn’t come across as the intelligent and worldly man that I think the author was trying to mold him to be. Instead, I found him to be a little dim and overly simplistic in the way he thought and spoke. There were a few examples of Joshua and other characters emotions being TOLD to the reader, rather than SHOWN. A book can tell me someone is sad, but I won’t believe it until I see the evidence backed by the actions of the character.

Characters aside, the overall story has an interesting and thoughtful plot. The Brown family runs a very successful weapons company. Now, I think this may be something to do with nuclear weapons, but I am not very clear on that. Anyways. One day Richard Brown shoots himself in the head in his office in front of Harold (super casual), which commences the true question of the story: WHY?! This takes the reader on a hunt to find the cause of Richard’s suicide, which eventually leads to a bigger scandal. Now I don’t want to give anything away, but BE WARNED that this book will reference some not so pleasant things. Nothing graphic, so don’t worry. I found the journey to the truth in this tale to be likable, but at times a bit too wordy. There was a lot of dialogue that wasn’t completely necessary, but I think was used to give the reader a deeper connection to the characters. Unfortunately, it didn’t for me and I just ended up skimming through those parts.

I think Joshua and the Shadow of Death was an entertaining and different read but didn’t quite hit the mark for me in terms of a deep connection and concern for the characters. I think the plot definitely makes it a great book that had me yearning for what really happened, and I found that I rather enjoyed that aspect of the book. I think the writing and character development can use a little work, but it is still very easy to read and enjoy.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: Dead Dog (Zombie Dog Series, Book 2) by Doug Goodman

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Amazon.com – Dead Dog (Zombie Dog Series, Book 2) by Doug Goodman

Goodreads.com – Dead Dog (zombie Dog Series, Book 2) by Doug Goodman

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Doug Goodman, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Horror/Suspense

Plot: He couldn’t run anymore. He was just too tired. And the undead were getting closer. He wondered how long he could survive in the desert heat? His only hope for being found was a woman from halfway across the country and her uniquely talented dog, Murder.

For Angie Graves, hunting the dead was nothing new. She’d hunted them from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the bayous of Houston. But this vast national park the size of Rhode Island? The task seemed impossible. The scents were vanishing. Could Murder find the undead in time? Could she trust her dog?

Opinion:

Trust your dog. Trust your dog. Trust your dog. But never trust a zombie.”

Angie Graves, The Zombie Dog’s Handbook

These isn’t your regular zombie story.

It was in Colorado that Angie first came across a zombie when she was working on a case with one of her Cadaver Dogs, a dog that finds corpses. Nothing could have been more disturbing and grotesque to find that giant wasps had embedded themselves into the skulls of humans, in order to feed on other humans and reproduce. But after a dangerous search in the Colorado wildfires ended in the retrieval of a young girl, the services of Angie and her zombie tracking dog Murder are in high demand. With the outbreak of zombies in Harris county making Houston “Ground Zero”, Angie and her faithful dog are enlisted to help Harris County Wasp Control Unit in eradicating the threat. But a new group called the Missing Lone Stars who have come to Houston in order to help the zombie problem, succeed more in making a spectacle of it and Angie’s work. To make matters worse, a young park ranger frantically comes to Angie in need of dire assistance. He claims that a zombie is in the Big Bend National Park, though it seems impossible that one would have made it so far. But when a young hiker’s life is on the line in Big Bend, Angie makes the decision to change course. Now Angie must depend on Murder to find the trail to the zombies, and to a hopefully still alive hiker.

BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER, be sure to read my review for book of the Zombie Dog Series, Cadaver Dog.

It has been a LONG while since I have had the immense pleasure of following Angie and Murder into the depths of zombie hell! But might I say you guys, it is GOOD to be back. Now let’s first begin with why I love this author, Doug Goodman, so much. I first read Cadaver Dog, book one in this series, back in 2015. So naturally, when I picked up Dead Dog and was about to begin my glorious descent into horror oblivion, I suddenly panicked at the thought that I may need a refresher of what happened! But to my wondrous surprise that included a loud “HAH!” from me, Doug did what no author I had read before or after him had done before.

He put the most beautifully, depressing and haunting dedication I have ever seen.

And then, he put in a recap of book one. Without having to even be asked.

Doug, you amazing man!

So since I was able to jump right into this story, let’s do the same! Our main characters are of course Angie and Murder. Angie has most of her experience in training dogs to find dead bodies, a skill she uses to help find missing people or to solve cases for the police. She is a saucy young woman who has a love for dogs, and a tolerance for her fellow people. Murder is a dog Angie had found abandoned and half dead on the side of the road, having gained his name by being almost eaten alive by a murder of crows. After one of Angie’s cases leads to the discovery of zombies, her services swiftly change and she begins training Murder to track zombies.

But these zombies, are so NOT your regular zombies! Sure. They walk around like gurgling drunk college students, and yes, they like to eat other people. BUT. These zombies are controlled by giant wasps that have attached themselves to the back of their skulls. These things use their giant stingers, insert them in the back of the head to control the body, and just have them walking around finding other humans to gnaw on! To make it slightly more disgusting, inserting those stingers is ALSO how they reproduce

I’ll let that sink in.

Go ahead and vomit a little, I can wait.

Usually I would find myself a tad bored following characters into forests and foliage while they follow scents and tracks. But Dead Dog makes it impossible to get bored or lose interest. There is CONSTANT excitement, turmoil and danger around ever corner. I found myself in a constant state of anxiety while reading, because I was expecting a wasp stinger to come out of nowhere and attack someone’s face! Thankfully, I can report that a stinger to the face doesn’t happen…*gag*. But with a new adventure, comes new characters! A few saucy volunteers, some entertaining park rangers, and even a haughty woman hell-bent on ruining Angie’s career for no apparent reason! OH! Happy day. Our story really picks up when new main character, Tyler, arrives on Angie’s doorstep. Tyler is a young Park Ranger who thinks that zombies may have infiltrated the Big Bend National Park after stumbling upon a dog that was practically ripped apart. His character is quick and intuitive, and I find him to be a great match to work with Angie and Murder. He proves to be an extreme asset to their team when they go out searching for zombies in Big Bend, and he inspires some touching and special moments with our usually tough and closed-off Angie.

“The great big, blue, cloudless sky rained heat down on his isolated hell. He was ostracized by fate and nature’s cruel designs from the world. From technology. From his loved ones.”

But as always, the real gem of these stories by Doug  Goodman is the writing. This author has a true knack for writing a detailed story that the reader feels almost trapped in, but ensures the reader won’t feel confused or overwhelmed in by too much wording. There is one chapter in particular that comes to mind, and it is when our lost hiker is stumbling through Big Bend. He has been lost for days, is being followed by zombies, and quite frankly having one hell of a mind trip. It isn’t a long chapter, just about two pages of hallucinations and sadness. But after I read it I put my book down, blew out a deep breath, and just said “well s**t”.

“By nightfall, he had crossed a desert of sand and stone. He stopped to pull a needle out of his boot, but found that it had impaled his toe. He was bleeding now. He hoped that didn’t attract coyotes, but more importantly, he wanted to drink his blood. It glistened like water. He knew it was a messed up idea. But there it was. Drink your own blood.”

I obviously can’t give much more away about this fantastic follow up to Cadaver Dog, even though I could probably go on about it for another three pages. I am honored to be able to read and review these books for Doug, and to be able to share his amazing work with readers. I can only hope that there is plenty more of his writing in the future, and I cannot wait to get my hands on book three in this series. I HIGHLY recommend you guys try this series out. Even if the genre isn’t for you, the writing will hook you and make you obsessed. Trust me. I know these things.

5-stars

 

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Book Review: In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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Amazon.com – In The Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

Goodreads.com – In The Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

Barnesandnoble.com – In The Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

Bookdepository.com – In The Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Adult

Plot: It’s 1592. Europe is in chaos. Religious factions have torn the region apart and witch-hunts have become a part of everyday life.

In the Company of Wolves follows three groups of travelers – a fearless female pirate roaming the North Sea, a priest and his wife escaping to England to avoid persecution, and a young thief from the slums of Germany looking for a better life. Each has a different reason for venturing out in such tumultuous times – fear, greed, family secrets.

Is the Werewolf of Bedburg still alive, roaming the countryside and killing innocent citizens? Many believe he’s still out there—that religious and political leaders have forsaken the truth in their cunning quest for power.

As each traveler searches for individual answers, these three seemingly separate stories converge in a place which may hold the key for them all. Based on true events involving one of the deadliest witch trials in European history, this tale of adventure, mystery, and the search for truth reminds us that, ultimately, no one is safe . . . in the company of wolves.

Opinion:

It’s September kids, and you know what that means! Eerie moonlight, creatures waking from the dead, torture chambers and stealing. Witch hunts and religious persecution, prostitutes and pirates. Poison, potions and pillaging!

Tis the season to be demented and murderous!

Welcome to Europe in 1592, where you can be burned alive for false accusations and having your own beliefs! Say hello to book 2 in the Of Witches and Werewolves series, In the Company of Wolves. OoOoOoOo…*dramatic fanning*…it’s gunna be a whirlwind!

With Europe in a religious tug of war for control and regular accusations of witchcraft and sorcery, no one is safe. Sybil Griswold and her husband Dieter have fled to England with their family, in hopes of starting a new life after escaping jail and killing a man. Hot on their trail is Gustav Koehler, a man hellbent on avenging the brother that Dieter killed and bringing Sybil and her family to trial. Back in Germany is Hugo, the younger brother of Sybil, who was left an orphan after the wrongful conviction of their father Peter Griswold, who was accused of being the Werewolf of Bedburg. Now living as a petty thief, Hugo’s life begins down a dark path as he is thrust into the throngs of murder and manipulation. Across the sea, we come to a ship called The Lion’s Pride. Rowaine Donnelly has just assumed the role of captain after castrating her predecessor, all the while searching for her father that is thought to be dead. Though living separate lives, these people are more intertwined in their own pasts and futures than they realize. Through turmoil and murder they are forced to trek in order to meet their goals, while learning more about themselves than they knew, along the way.

Due to this being the second book in the series, and the reader needing to read book one to know what’s happening, please see my review HERE to see how this series begins.

When I read The Devil in the Countryside I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive. Usually religious driven historical fictions are NOT my cup of tea, but as I started reading…I got HOOKED. Cory Barclay has such a talent from writing descriptive and “old-timey” stories that have a little fact twisted into every bit of fantasy he throws at the reader. With no surprise on my end, he did a fabulous job extending this addicting story with In the Company of Wolves. This series truly has what every dark mystery needs. It’s a who-done-it with carnage, accusations of sorcery, pirates, thieves, religious turmoil, shocking twists and a touch of romance. A ton of blood will be spilled during this read, but never fear, it isn’t THAT graphic.

Sybil and Dieter have started a new life in England, with the hopes of practicing Dieter’s newly shaped faith by means of a new church. They have made new friends and work towards living a simple life in peace, but that of course isn’t going to happen to these poor characters. Enter: Gustav Khoeler. Gustav has been tracking the couple for some time, unbeknownst to them, seeking revenge for the death of his brother Johannes. Gustav is a vile and disturbing character, and it seems that the crudest and most despicable acts happen in his company. Gustav is the true picture of a man that would do ANYTHING to get what he wants. By capturing the couple, Gustav plans to bring them to his father Ludwig Von Bergheim in Trier, where they will be put to trial and burned alive for their crimes. So ensues a chase, a capturing, another chase, and another capturing. Eventually running the group into a fearsome female pirate, by the name of Rowaine Donnelly.

Rowaine is a  truly fierce, empowered, and BADASS female. Not only does she castrate her own captain in order to take his place (yes, you read that correctly) but she has little to no fear and a whole lot of charm. Rowaine’s mission is to find her adoptive father, a man that is thought to be dead. Along the way she finds herself protecting Sybil and Dieter, who share various connections from their pasts. In agreement to help each other, Rowaine, Sybil and Dieter head back to Bedburg to find Rowaine’s long lost father. But being back in Bedburg is a risky place to be for Sybil and Dieter, considering they are still fugitives on the run. But what is interesting about the return to Bedburg, is that many characters from book one now believe that Sybil’s father WAS actually wrongfully labeled the Werewolf of Bedburg. Which of course continues the search for the real werewolf. Hmmmm….who done it, indeed.

While all this is happening, the reader also follows Hugo, Sybil’s younger brother that stayed behind in Bedburg. Hugo is by far my FAVORITE character this time around. He is young and fresh, but has a strong sense of morals and loyalty. But a few turn of events land Hugo in a place that he didn’t expect from himself, the apprentice to the torturer of Bedburg, the famous Ulrich. If there was a book based on Hugo’s travels alone, I would be on it before you could even give a release date. This kid has guts and spunk, and he will SHOCK you with what he does. He eventually ends up in the pit of this never-ending religious power struggle, and the role he takes on is an interesting one.

I feel like I am leaving you guys completely hanging here because there is SO much that happens in this story. There are some epic gun fights and show downs, especially near the end. There are new characters who make this story amazing, and some old ones who make it even better. Now this book focuses more on the select characters rather than the Werewolf of Bedburg, like in book one. But I imagine that book three will tie everything back together, giving the reader a nice assortment of both stories. I truly cannot express the level of writing and detail this author has given this series. Though it may feel like a long read, you will get hooked and won’t want to put the story down. This second installment has left me NEEDING to get my hands on book three, because I have to know what the author is going to me up with next!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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The Dark Beneath the Ice will be available for purchase on August 7, 2018

Pre-order a copy through the links below:

Amazon.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Barnesandnoble.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Goodreads.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

Bookdepository.com – The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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

Genre: YA/Teen/Paranormal

Plot: Something is wrong with Marianne.

It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has—everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

Opinion:

Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her”

So this was…interesting.

Marianne’s life has never been more out of control. With her parents announcing their divorce despite seeming to be so in love, her mother’s recent hospitalization, and the drama surrounding Marianne’s decision to quit dance; it feels like Marianne is drowning.  As she is sent to live with her aunt, strange things begin to happen in Marianne’s quiet world. Losing time, objects being moved without her moving them, strange knocking and banging on the walls, and the never-ending feeling of being watched. After a loss of time happens in one of Marianne’s classes, she attempts to reach out to the goth girl named Ron in hopes that her psychic mother may help her. But when communicating with whatever haunts Marianne only strengthens it, everyone close to Marianne is in danger. Something is coming for Marianne, and its angry at her for being shoved down and drowned. But in the end, Marianne may be the one being dragged beneath the ice.

Intriguing concept and idea, but a bit of a miss for me.

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some positives! The story started out great in regards to the writing style. It was so descriptive and beautiful, I felt as if I was reading a more relaxed form of poetry. The writing feels like a well-choreographed dance, and I found myself having to read between the lines to figure out what these characters were hiding. It was constructed well, had an even tone throughout, and was a very quick and easy read. The theme that the author kept with through this story (as you can tell from the title) is a theme of being drowned or shoved down beneath ice. Marianne uses her memories of the river near her aunt’s house as a meditative tool when she begins to feel overwhelmed or scared. She pictures the calming feeling of her being submerged in the water, and the silence and security that comes with hiding under the surface.  The water is her safe place, and the ice on top of the water becomes her shield against anything negative. This theme is carried throughout the entire book, but becomes less of a symbolism and more of a….sighit honestly just becomes ridiculous.

As I started this read, I was really into it and devouring the words in order to find out WHAT exactly was going on. Is this a ghost story, is it a story of delusions and misconceptions, or is it a fantastical read about demons?! Halfway through the story I had decided that this was a ghost haunting/exorcism story that was about to be twisted and wild, and it was proving to be just that. Marianne would wake up at the piano in her aunt’s house banging on the keys in the middle of the night, or she would find herself up in front of her class at school being scolded by her teacher but having no recollection of what had happened. Things got worse after Ron, the goth/emo girl from school, tries to give Marianne a tame version of an exorcism. But even after enlisting the help of Ron’s mother, the physic, things turn dangerous. Knives floating in the air and being aimed at herself, bruises on her body, and a distinct pulling feeling that tries to drag her into the river and drown her.

However, how this turns out just DOES NOT ADD UP.

*Watch out, there’s a puddle of SPOILERS down there*

Nearing the end of this story I had a thought that MAYBE this was all just a symbolism for Marianne figuratively drowning herself in her hardships and woes and BLAH BLAH BLAH. MAYBE there isn’t actually a ghost or anything haunting her, MAYBE it’s just her.

Well, guess what?

It was literally both of those things.

It was her own “shadow self” trying to drown her because Marianne had pushed her “shadow self” beneath the figurative surface, and the “shadow self” wanted out because the “shadow self” was actually the original Marianne, and the Marianne that is now Marianne isn’t actually the original Marianne. The “shadow self” is actually the first Marianne, but in the end they are actually both Marianne.

Makes total sense right?

-__-

Apart from that complete mess, the character of Marianne that the reader follows during this read proves to be another negative in my eyes. Marianne is, simply put, annoying as all hell. She felt a bit dull, emotionally confusing, and extremely desperate and needy in a way that made me scrunch my face up in a “WTF” sort of way. She has this fabricated idea of friendships in her head that I just didn’t follow. She was so worried about looking needy all the time, but it just made her look doubly needy and a little stalkerish. She just wasn’t my cup of tea. Ron on the other hand, was a more agreeable character for me. This could be because of my tendency to favor the weird gothy kids though. But Ron proves to be a strong character, she is willful and a “take no s**t” kind of gal, and I love her for it.

Also as a heads up, there is a bit of LGBT moments that happen in this story. They are very tame and mild, so if this is your thing or isn’t, just a warning in advance.

All in all, that ending really ruined the story for me. It started out promising, I loved the writing style, but the main character and the conclusion just didn’t hit the mark for me. I appreciate where the author was trying to take this story, but I don’t think she was able to take this book to the place it needed to go. The ending just didn’t feel completely thought through, and the delivery was a bit lacking. Of course, this is just my own opinion, and not all readers share my thoughts. If you think this might be a story that interests you, then I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

2-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: The Grass Cutter Sword (The Healer 3) by C.J. Anaya

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: War is coming, and the veil between life and death is weakening.

As a trusted member of the Samurai Rebels, it is up to Mikomi to gather information that will stop her father from creating a kami army. Katsu’s constant interference impedes her progress, and she is torn between her duty to the world and her love for one very reluctant rebel. Unfortunately, more than one party is interested in using the kami army for their own malicious purposes.

Mikomi’s enemies quickly multiply as a plot far more devious in nature is unearthed. Though Musubi works to prepare her for the many dangers she must face, remaining within the palace walls may no longer be an option. She must protect herself against nekomata disguised as normal humans, while a far greater threat lurks within the heart of a man whom she loves and trusts.

Opinion:

WOOOOOOOOO! Things are HEATING UP boys and girls!

Can you guys feel it?! That…that tingling?! It’s almost like goosebumps, or maybe butterflies? It…it almost feels like…NO! Could it be???

HOPE?

…I’m actually referring to the feeling or desire here though, not the character Hope…HA! *sigh* bad joke.

As Mikomi’s ascension and wedding to the warrior God Katsu nears, the threats against her life and her kingdom are at an all time high. With Katsu unable to heal the significant damage done to Mikomi’s Ki due to the healing of her mother, Mikomi and her teacher begin to wonder if the prophecy was interpreted correctly: if Katsu is even her soulmate. But while Mikomi searches for the truth, new concerns begin to arise. The Nekomata are attacking Mikomi left and right, and an army more sinister than the Emperor’s is readying to attack. With the rebels and Musubi at her side, Mikomi fights to free the enslaved God’s in the palace while looking for her own way out in the process.

*It’s Spoiler City down there*

That was probably a REALLY confusing summary that I just laid out for you guys if you haven’t started this series yet. So, what are you waiting for? Get on it! The Grass Cutter Sword is book number THREE in The Healer series, and it is just as action/sadness/heartbreak/romance packed as the previous! The reader continues to relive Hope’s past life with her as Princess Mikomi: the prophesized Healer who will join with the Warrior God Katsu to heal the veil between life and death. Now there really isn’t any way for me to review this story without giving away some HUGE moments from book two, so…beware? 😉

The Grass Cutter Sword leaves off right where The Black Blossom (book 2) ended; Mikomi has red eyes from her Ki being severely damage after she was forced by the Emperor to heal her mother, she isn’t sure if Katsu is actually her true soul mate, she has the serious obsessions with Musubi, and she is still trying to figure out how to win the war against the Emperor. This girl has A LOT to handle. But to her credit, Mikomi is turning into a real badass. She is honing her samurai fighting skills in order to protect herself, and even her healing abilities are getting stronger. Not only is Mikomi progressing on her own in this third installment, but FINALLY we are seeing some progression with Musubi!

The relationship between Mikomi and Musubi (remember kids, it’s also Hope and Tie) has FINALLY made a turn for the right!! But then…oh wait…it crashes and burns again. -__- *sarcastic monotone excitement* – WOO. These two…*le sigh* are trying to kill me. Every time I saw a little glimmer of hope (hehe) between them, just a little smidge of progression to “twue wuv” and happiness, Musubi literally runs away. Literally. He just leaves.

Umbye?

Now, this book ends on a somewhat bittersweet note. It filled me with romance, only to empty me halfway. Romance aside though, The Grass Cutter Sword  kicks some serious ass. The threat to the rebels becomes INSANE as they learn some dark news about their enemy. This is BIG guys, and it’s downright horrible. I have to say that where this book leads up to is by far my favorite, the epic battle scene and the end of Hope’s life as Mikomi is a true punch to your gut. What happens to Mikomi and her friends is DEVASTATING. But truth be told, as soon as I followed Mikomi back to the present, back into her life as Hope, I was a little bummed. I have grown to LOVE who these characters were in their past lives. They acted with so much more conviction and wisdom, and I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed when they started acting like ridiculous teenagers again when Hope woke up. My only complaint is that these characters shouldn’t have changed, and that the badassery that was showcased during Mikomi’s life should have DEFINITELY continued.

Ending aside, I am looking forward to finishing up book four and checking this awesome series off my TBR list. I am hoping for improvement when it comes to the characters and how they act in the “present”, but we shall see where the author takes this story. I am SO ready to get back to this epic love/adventure story!

4-stars

 

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · Reviews

Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen, Fiction, Fantasy

Plot: Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Opinion:

Witch hunts, romance, drownings, and the ever-lovely rocks being tied to boots to make 3 women sink to the bottom of the ocean; this one’s a doozy.

For my fellow spell casting witches and wizards, I bring you The Wicked Deep.

Every Summer in the town of Sparrow, death marks the waters. Multiple young men are found drowned in the ocean, without any sign of a struggle or foul play. But the residents and tourists of Sparrow are never shocked, because they celebrate this time of year as part of their towns history. As the legend goes, the three Swan sisters (Marguerite, Aurora and Hazel) traveled to Sparrow by boat in 1822 and started a perfume shop. Quickly, the local men started to take interest in the sisters due to their intoxicating beauty and allure. But soon the three sisters were accused of being witches and casting spells on the men of Sparrow. So, the three were taken on a boat with rocks tied to their boots and thrown into the ocean where they drowned. Now in present times, Penny Talbot fears the coming of the new “Swan Season”. Her mothers condition has worsened due to the disappearance of her father 3 years earlier, and Penny only hopes that the deaths stop in Sparrow. But with the arrival of a boy named Bo, this Summer proves to be something else entirely.

Guys, this book is WILD! It has an even pace throughout and it kept me CRAZY interested the entire time, but the best part is the twist that Shea Ernshaw throws in! I will admit that I suspected at least part of what happened, but this author took it a step further and left me more than a little shocked.  The entire idea of this story feels very HOCUS POCUS, but with a style all its own. We’re talking some SCI-FI/Fantasy stuff here guys, and I am loving it! I also want to say that there is a bit of a mystery going on here that the reader gets to participate in. Are the legends true? If they aren’t, then why are girls randomly drowning boys? If they are true, how is that even possible?!

Penny Talbot is a tough character for me to give an opinion on, and after reading this story, you will understand why. From what I have gathered of her, she is a calculated and careful young girl. She is compassionate towards her mother and the state that she has left herself in, but she still has dreams to leave Sparrow. I really liked the character of Bo as well. He has a dark aura of mystery floating around him for a while, but he slowly starts to shed that as he gets to know Penny. Their relationship is…*sigh*…so complicated. It is incredibly hard to elaborate with out spilling the beans of the masterpiece that is this story. So trust me when I say, this romance is a heavy one.

The author made sure to keep my head going in multiple directions as I tried to figure out just WHAT THE HELL was going on in this town of Sparrow. It was so eerie yet entertaining to see all of these teenager’s party down at the beach as the Swan Season began, bating and teasing the girls to go into the water to be inhabited by a sister. This made me assume that most of the locals didn’t believe in the legend…but then. The witch hunt begins. These kids are INSANE. They accuse each other of being a swan sister and for drowning a boy, and then they hold each other captive. What’s worse is that the local police don’t do anything. That’s BIZARRE! I also liked that Penny and her mother lived on a separate section of Sparrow. At first, I was picturing a beautiful mountain range and cliffs with an inviting private dock, but then I was picturing a dark and scary setting straight out of Frankenstein.

I don’t want to give anything away because that would ruin the entire story, but I MUST express my distaste for that ending. It was an ending that we have all come to as readers, one that screams “I had no idea how to wrap this story up”. How Penny and Bo end up is just bizarre to me, but I guess to Penny it wouldn’t be considering the circumstances (I know this is painfully cryptic, I apologize). Regardless…the ending feels like a lie, and I loathe it. Also, these are teenagers. I know Penny’s mother is a little out of it since her father left, but honestly. Where is she every time Bo and Penny start hooking up?! Her senses are obviously off…

Apart from the ending, I loved this story. I thought the story line and the characters were riveting, the flashbacks to parts of the Swan Sisters time in Sparrow gave great insight, and the dark and eerie foreboding the author kept up during the read kept me slightly creeped out (in a good way). I love when a story keeps me guessing and questioning what I think will happen. Though some things were explained a bit too late, I was still able to keep up and enjoy every moment. I am definitely going to keep this author on my radar, especially if she keeps with this witchy theme!

4-stars

 

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