Monthly Archives: September 2015

Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror by Christopher Golden

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Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric TerrorSeize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror by Christopher Golden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seize the Night is a collection of new short stories all featuring vampires. These are not the glittery sexy type of vampires but a return to the chill down your spine scary vampires. A challenge was given to the authors to put the horror back into vampire fiction which I think they lived up to wonderfully.

Out of the 20 stories in the collection of course there are some I liked more than others but I’d say I’d probably rate them all between 3-5 stars so I went with 4 stars overall. I’d love to do a description on each story but I don’t want to give too much away with them being short so I’ll just say that any fan of horror should find a few of these they’d love.

The collection includes titles from Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Michael Koryta, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gary A. Braunbeck, Charlaine Harris, Laird Barron, Dana Cameron, Kelley Armstrong, Tim Lebbon, Dan Charon and Lynda Barry, Leigh Perry, John Langan, Joe McKinney, Robert Shearman, Lucy A. Snyder, Brian Keene, Rio Youers, John Ajvide Lindqvist, and David Wellington.

Overall, a great read for horror fans and those that love vampire tales. If not familiar with some of the authors this is a great way to check out their writing style.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

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The Girl With No PastThe Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leah Mills lives a very solitary life. She’s had a troubled past and isolates herself from others only to go out to work in the library. She meets a man online that she thinks she has a connection with and wants to meet but on the anniversary of a big event in her life she begins to receive cards and mails from someone who seems to know her past and her secrets and who seems to have been watching her.

So many questions in Leah’s life. Why is she so isolated? What has happened to her? Who is contacting her now? Will she begin to find new friends and love again in her life? What happened to her former friends and boyfriend, Adam?

I have to admit when I started to read this book I thought I was going to be very annoyed with it. The book switches back and forth from Leah’s past to Leah in the present. After about four chapters though I got into a groove with how it’s done and really began to enjoy the story. What I found was instead on one mystery happening we really end up with two. It doesn’t come right out and tell what had happened with Leah in the past so the reader is left guessing. Then in the present someone obviously knows Leah’s past and keeps sending her messages. This made for double the suspense and intrigue in the story just wanting answers to everything that was happening.

Overall, a wonderfully written book full of gripping suspense I’d highly recommend. One that I found rather hard to put down as it felt that I had double the plot to unfold.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Awakening (The Dark Rituals, #1) by Catrina Burgess

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Awakening (The Dark Rituals, #1)Awakening by Catrina Burgess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Colina is a mage that grew up in a family of healers and had been studying to become a healer herself until a group of men came into her home and murdered her family. Fearing for her life and wanting revenge she seeks out a death dealer to learn the death arts to protect herself.

Colina meets Luke and his sister win their magic shop and tries to get Luke to train her. When the men that killed Colina’s family show up and take Luke’s sister Luke has no choice but to train Colina to try to get her back.

A very interesting take on the world of magic and communication with spirits. Found the story moved along quite nicely and the characters seemed fleshed out rather well. My one complaint seemed that you just had to kind of figure out the setting as you went along, it didn’t get very much attention. In the end it seemed that the setting was just the everyday world with the addition of people that could use magic whereas some stories would give you an imaginary world or place or in the very least name a city if taking place in the real world so you could be familiar with the setting.

I really wasn’t expecting everything at the ending of this book either so will be looking forward to the next in the series to see how it all continues.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Vendetta (The Nikki Boyd Files #1) by Lisa Harris

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Vendetta (The Nikki Boyd Files #1)Vendetta by Lisa Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Special Agent Nikki Boyd of the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force joined law enforcement 10 years earlier when her sister Sarah went missing. She’d been determined to continue the search for her sister and help others who were going through the loss of having someone close to them abducted. When out hiking with her friend Tyler to honor the one year anniversary of his wife Katie’s passing Nikki receives a call that there is a girl missing from a cabin nearby.

Nikki and Tyler begin to investigate Bridget’s disappearance finding that she went to meet a boy she’d met online, the only problem is that boy doesn’t exist, the profile and photos are fake. When following the evidence Nikki starts to think that the same man known as the Angel Abductor that took Sarah may be involved in Bridget’s disappearance.

Vendetta was actually a really good book, kept me caught up in the story and the pages turning the whole time. I just found there was a little something missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The ending seem to just lack a bit although I really couldn’t name a reason why.

The story also kept reminding me of something although I was struggling to think what it would be. I just think it’s a typical story line of something happens to the main character that pushes them into a career to help others that go through the same thing. A lot of books and shows are along those lines.

Nikki was a really strong female lead, loved her character. Really no complaints on any of the characters in the story, great writing to bring them all to life. Will look forward to any future books in this series.

Overall a very good read with a strong female lead.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Guard (The Selection, #2.5) by Kiera Cass

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The Guard (The Selection, #2.5)The Guard by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Guard is another short novella in the Selection series to be read after reading book 2 The Elite. This one is told from Aspen’s perspective covering his point of view during the events taking place in The Elite.

I have to say I think I’m actually enjoying the novellas more than the actual books in the series. Probably because the novellas seem to dig a little deeper into what’s going on or simply let us in on some behind the scenes we miss from the regular books in the series. This particular book is hinting at maybe the things King Clarkson does behind the scenes may not really be on the up and up. Aspen’s getting a first hand view as he does his duty into some questionable actions of the King. It also focuses on Aspen’s feelings for America and how he sees the events taking place in the story.

Really recommend checking these novellas out if you are reading the series, they give more depth that the series alone seems to miss out on.

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The Elite (The Selection, #2) by Kiera Cass

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The Elite (The Selection, #2)The Elite by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Normally I wouldn’t talk too much about the plot in a review for the second book in a series but the title alone of this book gives away where it picks up the story. We are down to the final six girls known as the Elite out of the 35 that started competing for Prince Maxon’s heart and the crown. The girls begin to be given tasks to prove that they are worthy of becoming the next Princess of Illea and continue with their dates with Prince Maxon.

This book in my opionion was slightly better than the Selection rating 3.5 stars from me. It didn’t seem to compare to other stories as much and just continued where it left off in the first book. There’s still the hint of the Bachelor in there as they are still competing for one man but it’s not as obvious as all the Hunger Games similarities were to me.

America at times can be a bit too wishy washy to really get to love her character. She can seem so strong and independent at one moment but then completely naive and somewhat on the dumb side the next. And it really doesn’t have to do with the love triangle as much as her questioning everything else although her constant questioning of Maxon and not just communicating with him also needs work.

The story line with the rebels searching for something seemed a bit obvious to me right from the moment it was mentioned so I wasn’t surprised to learn what they were stealing. I’d like to have seen more of this angle of the plot than the dating to be honest. It seems a lot of the world around the palace and the selection gets brief mentions then put on the back burner so still hoping to learn more in the next book.

Overall, not the best writing but still a light, fun read.

Blind: Killer Instincts by Sidney Bristol

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Blind: Killer InstinctsBlind: Killer Instincts by Sidney Bristol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Jacob Payton and Emma Ration share a past even though the two had never met. Emma’s grandparents were victims of the TBK serial killer before her birth. Her father was the only living survivor of TBK’s killing spree leaving him broken and giving Emma a tough life growing up. Jacob was the son of the detective that had brought TBK to justice.

The two meet when Jacob contacts Emma to view her research on TBK when he receives a letter that he thinks is from a copycat killer even though there hasn’t been a victim yet. There is an immediate attraction between Jacob and Emma, unfortunately soon after meeting the murders begin.

Blind: Killer Instincts is classified as a romantic suspense story but seems to be more of an erotic suspense. Readers should be aware there is a lot of graphic sex scenes and violence in the book before picking it up. I’m fine with both and rather enjoyed the story but felt it could’ve dealt a bit more with the case and catching the killer.

Jacob and Emma were great together. Both strong characters that complimented each other well. Jacob had a darkness about him and Emma seemed to be his light. The other characters in the book could’ve used a bit more fleshing out. When the FBI is involved I felt I didn’t get a good grasp of who was who at times. Amanda was also someone who seemed to just be a name on the page and could’ve used a bit more to the character to make a reader care.

Overall, a fast paced story that blended a romantic/erotic developing relationship with an intense page turning killer on the loose plot. Somewhat reminded of the Following when reading this book and would look forward to seeing this story continue.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier

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WonderlandWonderland by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderland is a large amusement park in the small town of Seaside, WA. We start off the story with one of the Wonder Workers, an 18 year old disgruntled employee, sneaking into the park before it opens and free climbing the 150 foot Wonder Wheel ride to take a selfie and post it to the internet. While he’s up there someone shows up at the bottom of the Wonder Wheel and turns the ride on.

Next we meet the new Deputy Chief of the Seaside PD, Vanessa Castro. She’s crawling out of the bed of her latest one night stand to head into her first day at the police department. When she arrives she learns that a body has been found at the park below the Wonder Wheel. The thing is the body has been dead a while and our selfie taking Wonder Wheel climber has disappeared.

This book just kind of sucked me in and I didn’t want to put it down. I still don’t know if it was because of the thriller/mystery aspect of the story and wondering just who our killer is or the secrets and lies that unfold throughout the story. Seaside should be a charming little town but it’s residents have so many skeletons in their closets I’m surprised it’s not a nudist town as they wouldn’t have room for a wardrobe in there.

The book changes the point of view between the various characters in the story and I thought this was a wonderful way to add to the layers and depth. We get to know exactly what has gone on from all angles as the list of suspects grows and grows.

Absolutely adored Ava’s character and her love of all things creepy. Sure she’s a rebellious teen but she reminded me of myself in her wanting to work in the Clown Museum and scare people. I spent 5 years getting my head chopped off every October at a haunted hayride so when we got to Ava working the Clown museum I was just smiling away waiting for the scares.

Vanessa is tough as nails as a detective and determined to not drink the Wonderland Kool-Aid but she herself has her own shady past too. Hard to find someone in the story without something questionable going on which just intrigued me just as much as finding out the killer.

I’d highly recommend this to any fan of a much darker, creepy mystery/thriller and will definitely be looking into more of Jennifer Hillier’s work in the future.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dangerously Dark by Colette London

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Dangerously DarkDangerously Dark by Colette London
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hayden Mundy Moore has traveled to Portland to visit her old college friend for her engagement party. Unfortunately right after arriving the fiance in question turns up dead. The death is ruled an accident but Hayden is determined that Declan’s death is suspicious and she’s stumbled on another murder to solve.

Dangerously Dark is the sequel to Criminal Confections which first introduced Hayden as a world famous chocolate whisperer. She travels the world helping companies with their problems involving all things chocolate. In her last job she came across a murder and helped solve it so when finding a death while visiting her friend she’s determined to do the same.

There are a lot of different reasons I ended up not really enjoying this story, I can see that some will love it though but it just wasn’t for me. First, Hayden is a rather frantic character. She admits at one point that her mind will go to a thousand places at once but for a story this gets sometimes confusing and sometimes just plain boring as she thinks this and this and this but takes forever to get back to the original point. I had a really hard time making any kind of connection to her because of this.

Another thing with the story was that the “murder” in question to everyone else was an accident. Hayden is the only one thinking there is even anything to investigate and with the frantic nature I’ve already mentioned I was questioning whether this really was even a mystery. You get 35-40% into the book before even one person agrees to help her investigate and that’s a friend that just wants to prove Hayden is wrong and seeing things that aren’t there. This is way too slow a pace for me to get caught up solving something that as I said I was starting to think I was tricked into believing there was something even to solve at that point.

There is also a repetitive nature to some of Hayden’s ramblings. I lost count of the times it was mentioned she had lost her beloved crossbody bag and had an inferior purse. Some other aspects also seemed to get repetitive too, descriptions of her “suspects”, describing her chocolate expertise etc.

In the end it just wasn’t for me. Found it too slow going and prefer a more fast paced whodunnit.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass

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The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Selection takes place in a future version of America, now known as Illea after two more world wars. America Singer becomes eligible to enter a lottery known as the selection where 35 young women will be chosen to be taken to the palace to compete for the affections of young Prince Maxon.

For most of the women this opportunity is a dream come true, a handsome prince for a husband and becoming the princess and future queen of the land. For America though it is anything but a dream. She’s in love with Aspen and wants a future with him.

This book has ratings all over the scale. Some people absolutely love it and others absolutely hate it. For me I’m rating a 3 based on the fact that while I didn’t hate the book I still found too many similarities to The Hunger Games and The Bachelor to rate higher. I went into this knowing that the writing isn’t going to make this book become a literary classic by any means so I was a bit more tolerant of things like the lead character being named America Singer and her occupation being a singer. If you expect cheesy writing, a lack of world building and sometimes shallow characters and just read this for the fun of it it may entertain you.

The first half of the book there are so many similarities to the Hunger Games it often just made me shake me head. The world is based on a caste system from 1-8 which you can compare to the 12 districts. The royal family and palace would then equal the capital in Hunger Games. America sings, Katniss sings. America’s boy at home is a dark haired broody young man from a poor family that works all the time to take care of his younger siblings. The two discuss how they’d ever be able to have a family and feed their children. Prince Maxon is the attractive blond that America is going to meet. We have the drawing that America doesn’t want to get picked for. It mentions a grumpy guy coming to see her when she’s picked (Haymitch), a female aide to escort her (Effie) which thankfully aren’t expanded on. When getting to the palace you would think the similarities would stop but America is sent directly to a prep team to pretty her up and even sent to training… only it’s training in etiquette.

Once you get past the Hunger Games portion of the book it turns into the most dramatic episode of the Bachelor ever! Fans of the Bachelor will completely understand that reference, thanks Chris Harrison! 🙂 Basically the 35 girls meet the prince, a few are sent home right away and then we begin the one on one dates and some of the cattiness of having so many young women competing for one man. And just like the Bachelor, America is the one contestant not there for the right reasons having a boyfriend she loved back at home. I was really waiting for the roses to be handed out but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

If you’ve actually read this far you probably wonder why I didn’t give this a 1. Basically because after everything I’ve mentioned and the general cheesiness of the book overall I still didn’t hate the story and thought it was actually fun and will continue on to see where it goes. I would say if you go into this knowing it’s downfalls you may just end up enjoying it in the end.