My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing. I DO NOT accept review requests but only review books I choose to read and I don't post reviews on Amazon. I'm also persnickity about genre and plot. DO NOT FOLLOW ME IF YOU'RE HERE TO ADVERTISE, ESPECIALLY NON-BOOK PRODUCTS. I WILL BLOCK YOU!!!
by Grady Hendrix
Kris Pulaski was a rock star who almost made it, but now she lives paycheck to paycheck at a boring (if she's lucky) job as a cheap hotel desk clerk. All she has is memories of what almost was and the band member who ripped everybody off and went on to stardom, then obscurity, until she sees a billboard advertising his return tour.
This was a wild ride that earns its Horror category well and truly. Heavy on rock and roll, mainly Heavy Metal, but also you'll encounter conspiracy theories, supernatural stuff, cults, social commentary and a whole list of triggers with claustrophobia topping the list and some notable gore. If you've got a trigger, just assume it's in here somewhere.
I should mention that the characters were all distinctive and well developed, especially Kris, and the plot had unpredictable twists and all sorts of surprises.
Some parts of this were difficult for me to read, but I had to know what would happen so I persevered. The end was worth it. For the Horror fan, this is a work of art. For those who don't like Horror or tend to be squeamish, best steer clear. I can see this story developing its own cult following. Black Iron Mountain has touched the souls of all who read it.
by Robert Jackson Bennett
This one is a Fantasy story about a professional thief by the name of Sancia. It takes place in an imaginary world with lots of magic with an original approach. Sancia has been hired to steal an item she knows little about from a safe. This takes her sneaking into a compound through sewage, ensorcelled blade on guard.
Many items have magic in this world, referred to as scriving, a sigil-based spell method which in this world is defined as magical writing. The item she is after has a few surprises which will lead much of the progression of events. It is well-written, if perhaps a little cliché as thieves in Fantasy worlds tend to be. The world building is quite workable though and I found it an enjoyable read.
I was thrown off a little by the voice of a certain magical item because it sounded too modern day and pulled me out of the fantasy world a little. Also, a few occasional phrases pulled me out like "Praise God" in a world where religion hasn't been an element in the story up to then. Otherwise the characters were as you would expect for the genre.
I found myself deeply engaged with the story and have to give it a high rating for that, but this expertly constructed alternative world is both stressful and depressing and makes me think I may pass on the sequels. It also had a blatant 'buy the next book' ending and I'm finding myself less and less enamoured of those. Why must everything be a series?
by Kate Morton
Elodie, is getting married soon, but she doesn't seem all that interested. She's a likeable character with a strong sense of her own independence and a love of researching the past, which is part of her job. Although her part in the story is set in modern day, she has the feel of a Victorian character out of place.
I really enjoyed reading this at first as the writing is very good and I could identify with Elodie in many ways, but as the chapters went on I felt it became very slow. There are interesting time jumps, but they aren't done as smoothly as they might have and the connection between Elodie and Ada had a lot of potential, but again, things just took forever to progress.
I think this story could have been shorter and tightened up. Some brilliant creative ideas were in there that deserved to hold my interest more than they did.
We all know what is going on in the United States right now, so I won't bring it up here, but please do go and vote. If you are able to, please vote tomorrow. I have marched, signed letters, and left phone calls, and now all I have left is my vote.
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is part of The Cemetery Of Forgotten Books universe, along with Shadow of the Wind, The Angel's Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. They are stand alone stories but are connected through a common setting in Barcelona and some characters that appear in all of the stories. They are Literary, Gothic, Mystical Mystery stories that have helped define the Magical Realism category of fiction.
The book description tells us, "As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him."
They say you can read this series in any order and this was my first Zafón. I found it very slow in the beginning and with the characters changing in different segments, found it very difficult to find a linear plot line to follow. The second half was much easier as the various elements start coming together. The writing itself was undeniably good and there were definitely some exciting passages, but I think I might have to read it again with more familiarity with the characters and how they relate to each other. Hopefully the other books in the series will be easier as a result.
I think I would advise first time readers to start with Shadow of the Wind first.
So, today's call gave me my 4th Bingo, 5th row down. I finished 20 of the 25 books and started 4 more, to be finished in November. One never got started, oh well. It was fun, and that's what matters. Now to catch up my Netgalley reads!
Well, 9 books for the month isn't bad. I accepted a week ago that I just haven't been able to read fast enough to expect to finish any more, even though I have several still in progress. Maybe saving my longer books for the second month of Bingo wasn't the best strategy. Oh well, it's been enjoyable anyway.
Of the above list, I would happily recommend any of the first 4 (yes, even the zombie book). The others were mostly decent reads. The only disappointment was The Amulet Thief. I had high hopes for that one but found it boring.
So not a bad month over all. I haven't managed Bingo blackout. I will finish my Bingo books in progress. There are 6 of them and 3 of those are Netgalley reads. I also have 6 more Netgalley books not yet started. Guess what I'll be doing for November!
Only one of my Bingo books never got started, the Mary Shelley. From what I've heard it's a bit slow, but I want to read it anyway. Whether I do it soon or save it for next year is yet to be seen. My priority for the moment is shifting to Netgalley commitments.
I also want to have a blitz of my samples. I may not get to it in November with so many Netgalley books but I'd like to just take some time to sit and read them, keeping in mind that many never take more than a couple of pages to reject. Whether I do any holiday reads this year may depend on how far I get with both samples and Netgalley. I'd like to start the new year with a clear samples folder, though I find it easy to slip in short books. I'll let my mood take me where it will.
Bingo has been fun. I expect to get one more from tomorrow's call, but that's it for me. Next year I'll make sure I don't lumber myself with any bricks!
Free or Discounted Books.
Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Dark Fantasy ebooks online fair is until October 31st.
by Lin Senchaid
I can never resist a good antichrist story. At first I thought this one was going to be just a light hearted YA novel, but things started happening by chapter three that had me holding my breath! There are also some great laugh out loud one-liners between the more intense scenes.
Lucas is the antichrist, but with incarnation comes free will and he's having a teenage rebellion. Rather than being anti-social in high school, he has a few close friends that border on being followers, but most of the time treat him like any other teenager, albeit one with certain leadership abilities and a few, um, unusual skills.
Part of the amusement value is that he attends a Los Angeles high school where everyone knows he's the antichrist and it's just treated as another teenage quirk, except when things get too real. Some of his teachers assume it's just a fantasy thing, but he's got a crush on a girl with very religious parents who disapprove of him for what he is and won't let her go to a dance with him.
I hope there will be further books with these characters. I'm usually not big on series but there's room to further develop some of the peripheral characters and I rather liked the main ones. Yes, including Lucas. I used to wonder after the second of The Omen series films came out what would happen if the antichrist decided he just didn't want to fulfil his prescribed role or questioned the prophecies and this addresses those questions within the context of a fun, fast moving story. Highly recommended!
I've been keeping an eye on new releases in Horror since the start of Bingo and although I've already filled that square, I came across this yesterday and thought it might do for someone else. Only 137 pages, YA, not scary.
It's fun though. I got the sample and started reading, then bought it and just kept reading. I think I've found a new favorite author to add to the pile.
by Paul Coelho
This is an interesting take on an interesting era. It's the 1960s-1970s and all over the world people are questioning social structures and getting experimental with everything from drugs to free love to world travel for the purpose of spiritual awakening. So many documentaries have been made about the era, usually focusing on London or New York or San Francisco. This one is written from the perspective of someone from Brazil.
He makes the pilgrimage to Machu Pichu and discovers that the high altitude can be dealt with by chewing Coca leaves, gets arrested as a terrorist because his girlfriend is from a Communist block country and goes through many other adventures that are generated by the times and social movements.
I found it fascinating to see his travels through the eyes of someone who wasn't either American or English. His time in Amsterdam made me smile as my own visits to the city, decades later, were very similar.
The writing was wonderful and had a certain dreamy quality that seems to come with writers from South America. This was a trip of nostalgia for a time and place I've never been and was a very enjoyable read.
At last! With yesterday's call for the book I had nearly finished, my center row down is complete!
by James Herbert
James Herbert can always be relied on to present an interesting story and this is one of his best. A couple looking for a house of their own are drawn to a remote cottage called Gramarye ("magic'' in old English) in the New Forest. It's a little over their price range but in need of serious repairs, leaving room for a little negotiation. Midge, the wife, is adamant that she must have this cottage and suddenly the money to make the difference appears in a rational way. She is an illustrator of children's books and the husband, Mike, is a session musician. Jobs arise in their usual haphazard fashion. The one unusual aspect of the transaction is that the previous owner had some odd criteria for whom the cottage could be sold to detailed in her will.
Mike is a city boy, but Midge grew up in the country so she adapts to the lifestyle change fastest. Mike takes a little longer to warm to remote life, especially when unexplainable things start to happen.
Things get a little weird from the start and progress as the story goes on. To explain further would require too many spoilers, but I can say that someone else wants the cottage for their own purposes. Discovering the nature of those purposes is an important part of the plot.
My favorite character was a little squirrel named Rumbo. I have no objection to most of the human characters, but this little guy was a heart stealer. All I'll say about the ending is that there was plenty of action and drama, though the magic aspect deviated into the sensational. It made for a very entertaining read all the way through.
Well, Rows 4 and 5 down have all been read and the next book I finish will complete row 3 down and give me a second Bingo. Yay! It will also put me one book away from top row across Bingo, but I have a long way to go to finish that one.
Weird kitty=read, slash=called
Meanwhile I have two books as yet unstarted and only 10 days left. I think Blackout is not in the cards for me. I also have a few long books in progress that may or may not get finished before Halloween.
I think November is going to be for finishing my Bingo books, finishing my Netgalley books, and reading samples.
New Release - Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden
- 4 stars
Darkest London - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (336 pages)
Country House Mystery - The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (400 pages)
Modern Masters of Horror - White Lies by Jeremy Bates - 4 stars
A Grim Tale - The Second Sister by Rae D. Magdon - 3 stars
Genre: Suspense - The Moor by Sam Haysom - 4 1/2 stars
Terrifying Women - The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (512 pages)
Gothic - Unsettled Spirits by J. Matthew Saunders - 2 stars
Romantic Suspense - Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart - 3 1/2 stars
Dead Lands - End Times: Rise of the Living Dead by Shane Carrow - 5 stars
Cryptozoologist - Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea - 2 stars
Fear the Drowning Deep - Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift (260 pages)
Free Space - Dark Ride by P.G. Kassel - 3 stars
Classic Horror - The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe - 3 1/2 stars
Baker Street Irregulars - Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan - 3 stars
Amateur Sleuth - Pieces of Her by Karen Slaughter - 4 stars
Ghost Stories - Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe - 4 1/2 stars
Genre: Horror - The Hermits Creepy Pet by Terry M West - 3 1/2 stars
13 - No. 13 Toroni: A Mystery by Julius Regis - 3 stars
Shifters - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan - 5 stars
Diverse Voices - The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (832 pages)(N)
Terror in a Small Town - General of the Dead by Richard Gleaves (608 pages)
Supernatural - John Peters In The Land Of Demons by A.H.Matai -1 star
Relics and Curiosities - The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett - 2 1/2 stars
Doomsday - Doomsday Anthology by Samie Sands - 3 stars
by Shane Carrow
Oh the feels! I'm not a big fan of zombie stories in general but this is one of the better written ones I've seen.
The story is set in Australia, beginning in Perth. Aaron is writing in his journal about applications to colleges, parties at the end of school where his twin brother Matt is very popular but he is not, and about a meteorite that falls near a small town on the other side of the country.
Soon reports start coming in from that town about a strange virus, first thought to be rabies, then something else... see where this is going?
All too soon Aaron and Matt discover they're on their own in a world where all services have stopped and the undead are out to attack anything that moves. Their phones are running out of charge so they can't even communicate with their father, who got stuck in another small town where he was looking after their grandmother before the road blocks went up.
I could really feel the tension as Aaron and Matt try to make decisions in an adult world where they were only just starting to take their first steps towards self-responsibility. Now they have to survive and there's no rule book, no authority to consult.
Despite a couple of predictable elements necessary for this genre, the plot progressed with a lot of unpredictable elements and what especially struck me was the realism of how people might react, both good and bad, in a survival situation. Since the journal is written by Aaron, it's a first person narrative and we see his own emotional responses to the need to adapt in a far too rapidly disintegrating civilisation.
Both Matt and Aaron develop in various ways as the struggle to survive takes them into situations they had never thought of and they have no choice but to think on their feet and react accordingly.
By the time we get to the last entry I was completely wrapped up in the boys' struggle and although I could see a couple of things coming as events led up to the action packed conclusion, it didn't detract from my full experience of everything that happened. This one is an easy 5 stars, just for bloody effective writing.