Saturday, July 22, 2017

D. Melhoff: Grimm Woods


D. Melhoff takes the readers on a journey of what happens at your very typical fairy tale inspired summer camp:

A remote summer camp that is based on fairy tales themes is about to show the dark side of the fairy tales. When two teens are murdered and rendered in to a real life version of a classic Grimm's fairy tale chaos is about to ensue. The counselors and children are trapped within the wilderness till Friday and the bus comes to pick the children up, 4 more days they have to try and survive. But this killer has been planned for everything and has a Grimm Fairy Tale for each counselor they want to enact, survival is not likely.

This book (and several movies out there) makes me happy that I was never a counselor at camp, these people seem to get the worst of the worst at these camps, plus they have to take care of a whole bunch of children at the same time, no thank you. This book starts out like the Wet Hot American Summer (well less funny and more sex) with just some not so casual murders involved.

This was an gripping read and this was due to the fair tale murder aspect of the book. I personally was not aware of all the different horrors fair tales come from and Melhoff does not shy away from expanding on them. The deaths are twisted, gruesome and at times you can only imagine how much the individual suffered before they succumbed to their end. These are not your Disney tales that you think you know so well and I think that Melhoff describes it best when you first open the book "Fairy tales have not always been considered suitable for children. Many of them originally contained elements of torture, incest, rape, cannibalism, suicide, beastiality, murder and other horrific acts. All references to these elements in this novel are accurate". It was from this point on that you know but don't really know what you are about to get in to. Then by the end of the book you realize how screwed up our ancestors were for coming up with these stories, and you can understand why they have changed in to the Disney version over time.

This book does not strive for a lot of character development. Yes, we have our main character in Sean but with some many people being murdered like flies it is hard to really get to know Sean outside of how he tries to handle himself in each situation.  Other than that all we know about Sean is that he suffers from a reoccurring nightmare each night about trains. This book is very much plot driven as the counselors strive to stay alive, take care of the children at the camp as well as figure out why this is happening to them.

Was not as graphic as I was expecting for being a horror book, really only "experience " one of the murders the rest happen and are discovered or the people are killed but it is not elaborated on. However I am okay with this as it allows you as the reader to use your own imagination for what happened, so you can create it as graphic as you want in your head. This does not mean that these scenes are any less disturbing, the way some of the counselors die are horrific even if only the body is discovered.

This is the first book that I have read by Melhoff and it will not be the last. I enjoyed the thin lines that he played with throughout the book and he chose well when he decided to cross them.

Enjoy!!!
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Monday, July 10, 2017

A. M. Justice: A Wizard's Forge

A. M. Justice takes a ready on the journey of a young woman who goes from a Scholar to Slave to Warrior to Wizard:

Victoria was the youngest scholar in her town. It was her job to spread the word of the history from town to town to make sure that the past was never forgotten. On her very first trip she is kidnapped and sold in to sexual slavery to the Realmlord whose every desire is to break Vic's will and make her love him and no other. Vic is able to break free, she has no desire to be a slave she knows she has to fight in order to make sure it never happens again. She becomes a warrior hell bent on revenge from her former captor but there could have been other reasons the Realmlord chose her. Vic is about to learn more about herself and her destiny but it will a bloody battle and many friends will be lost and the very thing that Vic craves may be what destroys her as well.

This was an interesting read and more high fantasy with a mix of sci-fi than I thought that it was going to be and I think overall Justice created an interesting and compelling read but there were a few flaws. For me I got lost a bit in the details of the world building that Justice tries to impose on the reader.  It almost felt like Justice was trying to hard in creating her world. I guess what I'm trying to say is Less is More. I'm still not sure what the importance is yet that they are on a different planet than Earth this aspect was very downplayed the farther you go  in to the book. I'm going to assume here that there will be more development on this in the future books. For me what drove this book was the development of her characters both those you liked and hated.

Vic is an amazing character, the strength she shows on a daily basis to go through what she has endured is amazing. I liked that Justice never had Vic forget what had happened to her as it has shaped her and still defines her character and the choices that she makes. It will be interesting to watch Vic come in to her powers and abilities the more practice and control and I look forward to Justice being creative with this. There are times when Vic's ideal are child like though which makes sense as she is only a teenager when this books starts and she has to grow up quick. I also find that these characteristics come out the more that she is with Ashel. Personally, I disliked Ashel as a character; I liked him when you first meet him in the book but it kind of went downhill from there. He is a spoiled rich prince who is not used to hearing no, he has not really experienced the world and always has his family there to bail him out if needed. I think that Justice created him this way so that when he meets Vic and actually has to go through some life changing even on his own his character has the ability to develop and change.

Justice does not shy away from torture in this book and it takes on several different forms from mutilation to sexual to psychological in nature. While this book may feature a teenager, this is not for a young adult audience some of the things that Realmlord does to his people is very disturbing. However, Realmlord is an interesting foe and one that Vic will never be able to forget and he uses that to his advantage on more than one occasion. The Realmlord is one of the highlights of this book as his a a really good villain and the length he will go to for control and to get Vic back are extreme.


Overall enjoyed the book even though I found the world building a bitt too convoluted, I really enjoyed the story and Vic as a character. Of course there is a cliffhanger at the end too, so you'll be wanting to read the next book
Enjoy!
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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

J.P. Delaney: The Girl Before

In his debut novel J. P. Delaney's characters enter in to a life changes in the search of perfections:

Make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life? How does one answer that question and it is a strange question to ask to someone who is looking to rent One Folgate Street, but it appeals to Emma (Before) and Jane (After). Here lies the intertwining story of two women at One Folgate Street and how the past can affect the present and people can find themselves walking the same path as those before them even if they know it will have deadly consequences.

This is a debut novel for Delaney however, it does not read like one. I found the story was interesting, with fairly well developed characters that kept me guessing and switching my opinion till the very end. (After writing this I found out that J. P. Delaney is a pseudonym for another author, but I was unable to find which author it was for, which I was able to find out was Tony Strong who I am not familiar with).

As I cannot seem to get away from this genre this year I have another Domestic Suspense read under my belt. How does this differ from the other ones I have read this year or does this add anything new to this up and coming genre, I'm glad you asked, as this book takes the manipulation factor to the hilt. And it is not just unknowingly being manipulated the two main female characters Jane and Emma, enter in to a tenant lease and relationship that they know is going to be full on manipulation as really this is one of the rules that comes with living in the house. I think this is what drew me in to the book. How could these women want to be manipulated like this, why stay especially Jane when she learned what happened to Emma. This book just has an overall odd/strange feeling to it as you try to understand both Emma, Jane and One Folgate Street that keeps you turning the pages.

I find the house is one of the interesting aspects within the book. It is stark clean lines, everything has its place and must be there when not in use. Delaney does a perfect juxtaposition between the clean well maintained house and the idea of perfecting the messy lives of the human race. It is also interesting to see how the house affects Jane and Emma differently as you go back and forth between their points of view (Emma: Before, Jane: After), which in my opinion was the best way to tell this story.

When I started this book I thought I was getting a mystery type of book, but some where in the middle is some how it turned in to 50 shades of grey (well at least I think 50 shades of grey as I've never read the series), well 50 shades of grey but with some murder. I guess you can attribute this to the manipulation and domination that Simon has and wants to have over Emma and Jane, I just was not expecting it.



Overall I enjoyed this book, even though it was not exactly what I thought it would be. This book is all about the manipulation within relationships and who is manipulating who, so with that I do not know if it will appeal to everyone. I look forward to seeing what Delaney can come up with next.

Enjoy!!!
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meg Collett: Fear University


In the first in a new series Meg Collett takes the reader to your not so average University:

Ollie is very unique, she has been diagnosed with a disease that prevents her from feeling pain. There are people that would take advantage of such a gift, expecially after Ollie is abandoned by her mother at age 10 and she is passed from foster home to foster home. When she lands on one foster home that has a let's make Ollie scream game, she end up killing a man and is on the run. Ollie thinks that she's the baddest person in town but she is about to get a rude awakening when she comes face to face with what she will learn are aswangs. Man by day creature by night and they are winning the war against the Hunters. Ollie may have been on her own for a long time but she is about to find a purpose in fighting the aswangs that would harm humans and live for the fear they inflict.

Alright that was a roller-coaster ride and this book was not what I was expecting at all. I thought it was going to be a fun little easy with a bit of romance through in to it (honestly I did not have that high of hopes). What I got instead was a fairly dark, action packed read that I did not want to put down (with a little bit of romance and sexual tension thrown in there too), so Bravo Collett for surprising me. That said I did find some aspects of the book predictable but overall it was a good fun read.

Fear University is more like Fear High School, maybe this was due to the fact that the university was so small and  the interaction with the same people all the time, but there was nothing university like in this book to me. The whole clique aspect, with the mean girls and everyone pinning for the same guy, sounds like high school to me. However, this High School aspect is countered with the darkness of the book; From the Lets Make Ollie Scream game to the action/fight scenes these added to a more well rounded read.

I like Ollie as a main character and her haunting past. Though I was able to figure out the "major" twist very early on. The one thing I will point out is that for all her gruff and front she was at times a whiny character especially when she did not get her way. I think this is a maturity factor and as I said above, more like High School than University. Her disease is an interesting aspect for Collett to play with. Even though Ollie is unable to feel pain she is still able to get hurt and hurt badly and that seems to happen quite a bit in this book. I also think that Ollie seems to heal faster than normal, maybe this is a side affect to the disease maybe something else. I like that Luke had the frame of mind to try and teach her understand that not feeling pain could actually be a liability and to try to not get hurt.

I would classify this book as new adult, as the main character is 19 and I think there is way too many thoughts of sex and the one sex scene was highlighted too much for a YA read. There is also how the aswangs saliva affects Luke, basically makes he extremely sexually aggressive and this is also highlighted in the book as well.

This is the first book that I have read by Collett and I think that I am going to enjoy this series. I'm already on the hunt for the next book.

Enjoy!!!
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Richard Montanari: Shutter Man

In the ninth book in his Balzano & Byrne series, Richard Montanari introduces the readers to a story that was 30 years in the making:


Billy is a perfectionist when it comes to killing, if only he could remember who he was supposed to kill looked like. Billy carries his targets in photographs in his pocket to make sure he get the right one. Killing is part of Billy's ancestry as part of the  Philadelphia's Farren crime family. Detective Kevin Byrne and assistant district attorney Jessica Balzano are assigned a strange break and enter series all of which seem to be link to the Devil's pocket and Bryne's past. All of this jeopardizes the Farren family and has put Bryne on Billy's hit list.


I was really really excited to read this book, it had such an interesting premise (I mean a hit man not being able to remember face of who he is supposed to kill but can only tell who they are through photos. Just think of how you could take advantage of that) and the beginning was fantastic, engaging, had me hooked and then it fell really flat and slow.


Going in to this book I did not know that it was part of a series when I requested it on Netgalley. It was my fault for not checking, I get that, but I guess I assumed (we all know what happens when you do that) that it would be listed as number 9 in the series. So as you can guess I did not know the players in this game, their history and this is probably part of the problem I had.


There was too much back and forth not only between different characters but also between past a present that I found myself lost some where in the shuffle. I like to think that I read often enough that this is a hard thing to do but I just really struggled with this book. I also really like when back story is explained especially when it relates to the characters and sometimes the crimes, but this one did not feel fluid with me.


I just do not know with this book, I have read some amazing reviews for it that make me think I should go back and give it another try, but I really had a hard time getting in to the story, that makes me think this one was not for me. Maybe if I start at the beginning of this series I would have been able to get in to the story more. Basically do not make the same mistake that I did.


Cheers!!!
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

S.J. Kincaid: The Diabolic

S.J. Kincaid takes readers to a world where technology is dying and those at the top seek to keep it that way so they can hold on to their power:


Diabolics are created to be ruthless, powerful, and have a killer instinct. They are devoted to a single person and will stop at nothing to protect them. For Nemesis that person is Sidonia who is an heir to the galactic Senate. They grew up together and Nemesis would do anything to keep her safe, even if it means taking her place in the imperial court as a hostage. Nemesis has to navigate the court with all its lies and deceptions, where one wrong move against the Emperor could lead to death. With the Empire beginning to fracture and rebellion on the way, Nemesis has to tread carefully in order to survive.

I really enjoyed this book, and I would have read it in one sitting if I would have been able to, but life gets in the way. I think my favourite part of this was the politics. Kincaid was not afraid to show the darker aspects of it either. The lies, murders, wheeling and dealing that goes on behind everyone's back are at full light here. I mean this in the nicest way but this book was like a space version of Pinocchio, except for the whole not being able to tell a lie aspect, plenty of lies to go around here. Diabolics are not real people, they are created for one purpose only and that is to protect those that they are bonded with and nothing else. However, Nemisis' "owner" sees her as more than that and wants more for her as well, in other words to be become a real girl.

I think the overall concept of the Diabloics was interesting. I mean why wouldn't the people in power want a personal body guard who is bonded to them and will protect them at all costs, no questions asked. Diabolics are not created to think, or have feelings they are created to serve, nothing more than an object and thing something that was owned. You can see that this is how Nemesis "feels" about herself at the beginning of the book and it was interesting to see how Nemesis adapted and grew throughout the book especially when Sidonia is not around to help guide her. Nemesis is a vicious character and will not (and does not) hesistate to kill anyone that threatens her or Sidonia. So you can guess things do get a bit bloody and this book does take some darker turns that I was not expecting.

I appreciated that Kincaid had the romance/relationship as secondary aspect in the book and that there was not a love triangle.There was no need for one in this story and I am really glad that Kincaid decided to not have one. Even the romance/relationship part is fairly stunted as Nemesis does not really understand quite the emotions involved as her love has been dedicated to Sidonia.

This book is a really good stand alone read, but i have just realized that it is going to be part of a series. Not sure where Kincaid is going to go from here, but I am interested in finding out. One to add to your reading list if you're looking for something a little different in the sci-fi YA genre.

Enjoy!!!
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