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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Review: Dark Prayer

Dark Prayer
Dark Prayer by Natasha Mostert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Dark Prayer from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Once again Natasha Mostert writes another great book around the concept of memory. I was keen to dive into this one as I was fascinated with the use of memory in Season of the Witch and I was eager to see where else she could go with it in this book.

Jennilee's mother is murdered and she's the only one to have seen the person who murdered her but she has no memory of who the murderer was. Her mother was part of a group made up of 4 people who were studying the mystery of the human memory, how we remember and how those memories change over time. Is it possible to make those memories more vivid at the time? Is it possible to restore forgotten memories? Can we remove unwanted memories from those who have experienced trauma and want to forget?

Daniel Barone who was part of the group, takes Jennilee in and becomes her guardian after the death of her mother. Many years later she disappears and on finding her, her guardian soon discovers that she has no memory of who she once was, she's suffering from what is known as a fugue state and has a whole new identity. He reaches out to her and she refuses to come home, so Daniel in an attempt to get her back contacts another member of the group who sends his son Jack Simonetti to help. All is not as it seems however, and there is a darker side to the story. One which you're going to have to read to find out!

I really enjoyed this one, it wasn't as heavy a read as it sounds from what I have written above. It's a very well paced mystery and I learned quite a few things while reading. I was actually quite shocked to learn what they used to do in medieval times to young children. During a time when few could write, they would use these children in the most awful way in order to make them remember certain occasions more vividly so that the memory would be remembered exactly as it happened, unchanged even in the childs old age.

The story has a lot of detail and it's obvious a lot of research went into this one. It was well executed and it left me with many things to think about after having finished. My 16 year old son and I actually ended up having a rather interesting conversation, there was one part of the book that I read out loud to him - "If there were memories to sell, what would you buy? I would buy memories of love. If there were memories to buy, what would you sell? I would sell memories of love." - and we ended up talking away for almost 2 hours about the possibilities of this and what we each would choose and why.

Oh and I just can't finish this review without my favourite quote from the book - Books. They tumbled from the bleeding sky like wounded birds. The spines snapping open and the pages fanning white. Black letters slipping off the slanted pages and falling, falling to the ground where they... Shatter.” It's not very often I quote from a book in my review but I just loved that one!

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Friday, 21 November 2014

Review: Journals of Horror: Found Fiction

Journals of Horror: Found Fiction
Journals of Horror: Found Fiction by Terry M. West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review copy provided by Terry M. West in return for an honest review.

I used to spend many a sleepless night on Reddit reading the horror case files and found footage horror stories. Journals of Horror is much the same but in book format, so I was looking forwards to this one. There are so many stories in this collection that if I were to say a little about each like I usually do with anthologies, my review would be too long. Instead I've given them each a rating and will say a little about my favourite and my least favourite in the collection.

"If you have an arse you're as good as buggered already" Hole By Joseph Ramshaw is by far my favourite and it's so aptly named! I kinda cottoned on roughly where this story was going, enough to know there was a huge cringe factor ahead of me. It was so wrong in so many ways but I just had to keep reading.

My least favourite was Vermilion A Traveller's Account By Stuart Keane. I don't like zombie stories. I'm sick of them, they are everywhere and most are rehashed and done to death in my opinion, so I wasn't far into the story before I knew it wasn't one for me. I also didn't like the homophobic tone used by the MC or his use of the word "fags" or the way the guy with a stutter was classed as a retard. That kind of stuff honestly sets off my moral compass and I don't want to read it.

1. Bagged, Tagged & Buried by Terry M. West - (4 stars)

2. Turn Me On, Dead Man By Robin Dover - (2.5 stars)

3. Truant By D.S. Ullery - (5 stars)

4. The Book of Flesh and Blood By Jeff O’Brien - (4 stars)

5. Beyond Castle Frankenstein By Paula Cappa - (1 stars)

6. Dying Scrawl by DJ Tyrer - (1 stars)

7. Girl in the Woods By Evan Purcell - (3 stars)

8. Going Home By Michael McGlade - (2 stars)

9. Hamburger Lady By Darryl Dawson - (3 stars)

10. Hole By Joseph Ramshaw - (5 stars)

11. Human Resources By Todd Keisling - (1 stars)

12. In the Woods, We Wait By Matt Hayward - (3 stars)

13. “Killing Jessica” By Glenn Rolfe - (5 stars)

14. Letter to Grandma By Crystal Leflar - (3 stars)

15. Look Up By Michael Seese - (3 stars)

16. Lucca By John Ledger - (2 stars)

17. Night Terrors: Journal By Michael Thomas-Knight - (5 stars)

18. Finders Keepers By Paul D. Marks - (3 stars)

19. The Anniversary By Sonja Thomas - (3 stars)

20. The Breath Within The Darkness By Essel Pratt - (3 stars)

21. The Devil’s Irony By Lori R. Lopez - (2 stars)

22. The Note By P. D. Cacek - (3 stars)

23. The Seahorse Speaks By Erik Gustafson - (4 stars)

24. Vermilion A Traveler’s Account By Stuart Keane - (1 stars)

25. Whispers on the Wind By Robert McGough - (4 stars)

26. There's something in my house By Wesley Thomas - (2.5 stars)

27. Tweets of Terror By Robert Holt - (1 stars)

28. Self-Consumed By Terry M. West & Regina West - (4 stars)

29. Note-To-Self By Christopher Alan Broadstone - (3 stars)

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Review: Abram's Bridge

Abram's Bridge
Abram's Bridge by Glenn Rolfe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Abram's Bridge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

At 85 pages Abram's Bridge is a quick read, it's a ghost story but it's also a lot more than just that. The story revolves around Lil'Ron meeting the ghost of a young girl, so it is at it's heart a ghost story but it also has elements of thriller, suspense and the horror every day people are capable of. Drawn to the Sweet Kate, Lil'Ron spends more and more time with her and wants to know what happened to her and why she is still around, little does he know that in looking into her death his life will change drastically. Every town has their secrets and this small town is no different.

Short stories tend to be a hit or miss for me, many of them have big gaps in the story where the reader has to try fill in the information themselves, or on finishing you're left with questions and no answers given and you're left wondering what the heck just happened or they lack depth and background and have boring flat characters. Abram's Bridge had none of that, it's a good solid story with a main character you can't help but like and root for. The pacing and tension builds slowly throughout and the story has a good beginning, middle and end and held my attention easily.

I enjoyed this one, it took me on a whole different journey than I was expecting.

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Monday, 17 November 2014

Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One by Paige McKenzie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I was drawn to this book because it's written around a series of YouTube videos, I haven't watched any of the videos but the idea intrigued me. The blurb really doesn't give much away in regards to what the story is about, so unless you've watched the videos all you really know before reading is that it's about a girl living in a haunted house. It's so much more than that.

The story revolves around Sunshine and unlike most YA books, the female lead doesn't have boys falling at her feet, she's not pretty or perfect and there's no love triangle or overly mind numbing teenage angst. The first half of the book felt slower than I would have liked. There was plenty happening but I just wanted it to hurry up and get to part where I could really get my teeth into what was happening. I think it was more impatience on my part though because of the other voice in the story, someone who throughout the story is watching Sunshine but who we don't know who until nearer the end.

The characters of the book are well done and each play their own part very well. The overall atmosphere is dark, cold and creepy and I felt so sorry for Sunshine feeling like she did all the time. I enjoyed the plot, I won't go into the plot details as I don't want to spoil it but it was original and held my attention throughout.

I don't know that I enjoyed it enough to want to carry on with the series, like I said before it was slower than I would have liked but that's just my personal preference.

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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Review: A Place for Us Part 4

A Place for Us Part 4
A Place for Us Part 4 by Harriet Evans

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of A Place For Us Part 4 from the publisher in return for an honest review.

You can find my reviews for previous parts here: A Place For Us Part 1 / A Place For Us Part 2 / A Place For Us Part 3

Part 4 is the final instalment of A Place for Us and I have to admit, I'm kind of sad to see it finish. I started reading this series originally because I was sent an invite to review part one, this is not my usual choice of reading material so it's not something I would have chosen for myself to read. I have really enjoyed getting to know the Winter family and I'm going to miss them. The character development during this series has been fantastic, I feel like I'm losing contact with good friends now that it's over.

This is the perfect ending to a great series, full of joy, pain, personal struggles and journeys of a family who have really been through good and bad times together. I was eager to see how they would all come together and overcome everything they have been through, I really couldn't have pictured things ending any more perfect than they have.

Harriet Evans has a real talent when it comes to developing characters that draw you to them and have you feeling like you've known them forever. I will definitely be reading a lot more of her work.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Review: The After House

The After House
The After House by Michael Phillip Cash

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

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

From reading the blurb I was expecting this to be a great creepy and spooky read, a ghost story that would be full of atmosphere and chills. It was nothing like the blurb would have you believe. What I got instead was a mix of romance, predictable mystery and the paranormal with a little humour.

The main character Remy I found really irritating, she allowed herself to be so easily led by others and her decisions and reactions made no sense. The inner dialogue and conversations of Olivia, Remy's 6 year old daughter, were totally wrong for her age. And cmon Remy's mother meets this guy Hugh once and after everything her daughter has been through, she's pressing her to meet what is basically a total stranger. A stranger who within a few minutes of meeting, Remy then falls madly in love with. One thing I hate more than love triangles is people falling head over heels in love within seconds of meeting each other, especially when it's grown ass adults. I get that you have to suspend belief when reading fiction but not this much.

The After House just didn't work for me at all. Yeah I got a few chuckles out of it but overall it didn't live up to the expectations given by the blurb. Nothing came across as believable and I couldn't connect with any of the characters at all.

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Review: A Grimm Legacy

A Grimm Legacy
A Grimm Legacy by Janna Jennings

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a copy of A Grimm Legacy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

This book frustrated me quite a bit. It could have been a great story, the idea was fun and the basic story was there, but the writing lacked and let it down.

What you have here is the story of 4 children who are transported to another world and on trying to find their way home they find themselves travelling through several different fairytales. Some you may have heard of and some not so familiar.

I couldn't connect with the characters, I found myself getting frustrated with the way the author had portrayed them. It took me ages to get the characters right in my head and even then at 73% in I still wasn't sure which girl was which. The author didn't define them enough for me. I know one had blonde hair and one had dark hair but apart from that there was nothing. The author didn't given me much about them appearance wise to set them apart from each other, there was no picture built of them in my minds eye, yet I was expected to know who was who. I kept having to stop and try to remember which was which and I eventually gave up trying.

The story mostly centres around the two girls, which seemed weird to me as Frederick was really the only character that the author gave any substance to, he stood out more clearly and had way more substance than all the rest, yet he played a much smaller role than all of them. Also for some reason Quinn was the only one that got captured, not just once but every time someone got captured it was poor Quinn.

There were many places where the sentences and grammar were off and the dialogue could have been improved. Each chapter jumps between the four characters. When reading these chapters I found that sometimes on moving to the next paragraph the story had jumped ahead all of a sudden, like a part of the story was missing. Normally this would be where a new chapter would begin, but because of the chapters revolving around a character, it just goes right into a new paragraph instead and it got confusing and pulled me out of the story.

A Grimm Legacy had a lot of potential but I think it needs quite a lot of improvement and a lot more character building. The characters are flat and forgettable they need more substance. Show me, don't tell me, build the images in my mind so I can see the characters and remember them, make them stand out as individuals.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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