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Monday, 26 January 2015

The Shadow Garden (Nightfall Gardens 2) by Allen Houston

The Shadow Garden (Nightfall Gardens)
The Shadow Garden by Allen Houston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Shadow Garden in return for an honest review.

The Shadow Garden is book two in the Nightfall Trilogy. Usually I find the middle book in a trilogy doesn't quite reach the level of enjoyment that I find in the first and last books, but with this one that was not the case. I moved onto book two as soon as I finished the first one but I was pleased to see that there was plenty little reminders worked into the story, without it being too much, of what happened in book one for those who perhaps had a period of time between reading the books.

The same wonderful dark and gothic atmosphere is present in this book and I was not disappointed at all in where the story led me in this next instalment. The story was as imaginative, dark and full of wonders and horrors as the first one.

I couldn't stop to write a review as I was itching to move straight onto book three!

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review: Nightfall Gardens

Nightfall Gardens
Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Nightfall Gardens in return for an honest review.

Unbeknown to Lily the Blackwood females are cursed, with her grandmother on her death bed, Lily is now the last female in the Blackwood line and her destiny awaits. Kidnapped by her Uncle, she is returned to Nightfall Manor to protect the world from the darkness, a darkness that holds all sorts of mythical beasts, fairy-tale nightmares and far worse. If Lily is unsuccessful the darkness and terror will be unleashed on the world outside the walls of Nightfall Gardens.

Nightfall Gardens is the first book in the Nightfall trilogy and is a wonderful, dark and imaginative tale. The author creates such an amazing spooky and gothic atmosphere full of all sorts of mythical and fairy-tale creatures. The pacing of the story starts a little slow but it picks up quickly a few chapters in and is written in such a way that it just sets your imagination on fire.

The Manor and the Blackwood family are like their own unique version of the Addams Family. Throw into the mix some magic, creatures from myth and fairy-tale, lots of dark and creepy goings on and you have a very dark and addictive read. The only slightly negative I can come up with, is that it finishes on a cliffhanger, but all three parts of the trilogy are now available so that's just a very minor negative.

I would love to see this as a movie. It's been a while since I enjoyed a dark fantasy as much as I have this one. An easy 5 stars for Nightfall Gardens.

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review: Seeker

Seeker (Seeker, #1)Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Seeker from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Unfortunately this book just isn't for me and I am having to give up on it. The world building is flat and extremely lacking. On first reading it feels very medieval but then it jumps to things that show it's a lot more advanced and modern, only to jump back again and so forth, it's very confusing as a result. Where are we? When are we? Why is here so basic and medieval, when other places are more advanced and modern?

It's not clear what an actual seeker is and it feels like the author has missed backstory and scenes that the story really needs to explain this. When Quin takes her oath she goes through the portal, approaches a house and is obviously scared. Next scene she's covered in blood and gore and totally horrified about what she's just been through. What has she been through? There's nothing there, we've not been told, the author just totally skips the whole scene. We're expected to fill in the gaps ourselves but the author hasn't given us enough information or backstory to be able to do so.

I feel there's no point in reading on when I can't understand or connect with what I've already read. I'm totally lost right now and reading more will just get me more lost and much more confused and frustrated with the story. It's taken me almost a week to get to 40%, that alone says enough. I put the book down and nothing compels me to want to pick it back up.

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Review: Mind Games

Mind GamesMind Games by Teri Terry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Mind Games from the publisher in return for an honest review.

In a world where almost everyone lives, learns and plays in virtual worlds, Luna is one of the few who refuses the implant that makes this possible. Luna is a Refuser, she learns the old fashioned way and she lives in the real world, but she has a secret. Can she protect that secret and herself from PareCo, the creators of the implants and the virtual worlds.

I really enjoyed this one, the writing style flowed very well and it was a pleasure to read. The world building made everything easy to picture in my minds eye, it really made the book stand out and feel real.

I can see technology easily heading this way, it's not outside the realms of believability that this could actually become reality in the future. The plot was really intriguing and unique and although there is a frightening reality to the consequences of something like this happening, I couldn't help but think how much fun being able to access virtual worlds in this way would be.

The different take on hackers was refreshing and I really was not expecting that twist at the end. I'm not going to give away any of the plot, but the shocking reality of those who hold the power and how far they will go to maintain that power is scary believable.

The only thing I can say I'm not a fan of is the cover, it wouldn't catch my attention and draw me to pick up the book to find out more.

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Review: The Deep

The DeepThe Deep by Nick Cutter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Deep from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Gets, a disease that is slowly spreading and causing people to forget, little things at first, then bigger things, until eventually they forget how to live. 8 miles under the sea a team of scientists research a substance they think may cure the disease before it wipes out humanity. But everything has gone quiet. The surface has lost communication with the team below. The last message received was for Luke Nelson from his brother Clayton, one of the scientists... "We need you. Lucas. Come home."

First off, I must warn you that if you can't read about animals being hurt or suffering, then this one is not for you.

The Deep is a dark, creepy and claustrophobic read. I used to be terrified of the dark right up until I was a teenager and I hadn't thought about that fear in a long time, till I read this book. The descriptions of the underwater scenes really gave me the creeps and I could feel the darkness sneaking up on me as I was reading. The fear and tension was oozing out the pages, it really grabs your attention and despite the fact that it has you feeling claustrophobic and totally creeped out, you just can't help yourself from reading on.

The pacing is perfect, it starts off a little slow and lulls you into a false sense of security before literally throwing you into the deep end with no warning or inkling of what's ahead. The author expertly places you right into the midst of one of the most terrifying and helpless situations you can ever imagine and captures the mental anguish and decline of the mind in such a situation perfectly. The sounds, the dark, the tension, the atmosphere, the creatures, the list goes on and on. One thing you can be certain of is that he's going to grab you by the seat of your pants and hone right in on one of your deepest phobias and have you reaching for the lamp switch.

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Movie Review: Jessabelle

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return -- and has no intention of letting her escape.

Jessabelle turned out to be a total flop. The plot wasn't very original at all.

The movie started off OK, the tension building slowly along with the atmosphere but it very quickly went downhill. The ghost that began as ominous shadows and creepy occurrences quickly turned into your run of the mill cheap stereotypical ghost. You know the kind -creepy female wearing a dirty white gown, with long scruffy hair hanging over her face and shoulders, sunken eyes- that jumps out of the shadows screaming for that cheap instant scare effect. Apart from the few cheap scares, the movie really had no scare factor at all.

The whole movie was full of clich├ęs and you will pretty much see everything coming. Of course because the movie is set in Louisiana that must mean that all the black people there practice voodoo, don't even get me started on how insulting that is! The actress playing the lead fails massively in expressing the fear during the more tense parts of the movie and I couldn't take her seriously at all. I kept wanting to tell her to close her mouth, she looked more like she was trying to catch flies than act like she was terrified of what was going on.

Even though there was a twist to the ending, it was a predictable twist. I knew what the end result was going to be, just not how it would be executed and the way it was executed was a huge let down in itself.

Not one that I would recommend at all. I recently read Stillwater by Maynard Sims, it has a similar but far more superior and creepy plot and and would have made for a much better movie than this rubbish.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Review: Witch Island

Witch IslandWitch Island by David Bernstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Witch Island from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Witch Island reads like a typical slasher movie. A bunch of teenage friends having just graduated decide to spend the night camping on Witch Island, where over one hundred years earlier a witch had been burned at the stake. The spirit of the witch is trapped on the island and many residents are scared to set foot there, braving the island despite all the warnings, the group of teenagers have no idea what lies ahead as the night progresses. How many of them will survive the night?

This was a bit of a middle of the road read for me. It wasn't an awful read, but it centred around the teenagers too much for me and I found that part really predictable. The dialogue between the teenage characters was kind of annoying, the use of words like "babe" so often was off-putting. Add to that all the constant stereotypical teenage sex talk and behaviour, and you have pretty much the same story as most teenage slashers out there.

The plot was pretty typical for this kind of story and I knew more or less what was coming as the story progressed. I actually found the parts that covered the backstory of the witch the most enjoyable and would have liked to have seen more of that in the book. I would have also liked to have read and learned more about the characters who were sent to trap the witch. The history of the island and previous inhabitants of the area is what stood out the most for me, it made reading the rest tolerable.

Witch Island wasn't an awful read, I enjoyed it for the most part but the majority of the story has all been done before and is nothing new or unique.

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