Book Review: Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox

Hometown Boys

Hometown Boys book cover

Title: Hometown Boys
Editors: Mary Maddox
Genre: Horror, fantasy
Date of Publication: January 21, 2019
Series: Kelly Durrell # 2

Publisher: Cantraip Press


Synopsis

Kelly Durrell returns home twenty years after escaping the monotony of small-town Morrison.  Her aunt and uncle were brutally murdered by her high school boyfriend, Troy Ingram, and he claims that he did it because she broke his heart twenty years ago.  Convinced that he’s lying, Kelly takes it upon herself to investigate the murders. Some things have changed in the last twenty years, but others have stayed the same.  The townies are still vindictive and look down on outsiders, which she herself has become.  Will Kelly she be able to find whoever she believes coerced Troy to kill her aunt and uncle before it’s too late?

Plot

This is the second instalment in the Kelly  Durrell series, but it isn’t necessary to read these in order. There was a brief mention of the climactic events in the last book, but I didn’t feel like I was missing any critical information.

Hometown Boys has a solid start, with a lot of action and intriguing plot elements, but it does lag a little towards the middle.  However, every time the story pace slows significantly, a surprising and seemingly random event occurs that propels the plot forward, sending jolts of excitement down my spine.  These twists and turns kept the pages turning, transforming the story into a compelling read.

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Book Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In Book Cover

I Invited Her in book cover

Title: I Invited her In
Editors: Adele Parks
Genre: Domestic Psychological Thriller 
Date of Publication: September 20, 2018
Publisher: MIRA


I invited her in… and she took everything…

Synopsis

Melanie hasn’t heard from her college best friend, Abigail, in over twenty years. But when Abigail calls her up to ask for a place to stay as she divorces her cheating husband, Melanie is thrilled.  She invites her in with open arms, which–as you can probably tell from the book’s title and its assigned genre of “domestic suspense”–isn’t a good thing…

Plot

I was surprised by how slow this book started. I’m used to psychological and domestic suspenses starting with a bang – in the form of a prologue or a little taste of what’s to come – and then go through the monotony of introducing the main character and her humdrum life, easing the reader into the plotline, etc. While the “suspense” element wasn’t immediately apparent (and by “immediate”, I mean not even within the first 100 pages), the writing was compelling.  I found that I was curious to uncover what would happen next. However, the book is very slowly paced and character driven.  Not a lot of anything happens in the first half of the book.

As I said before, there aren’t  a lot of thrills in the first half of the book, and you have to really want to find the “thriller” aspect to even feel the slightest bit of suspense. Some chapters are from Abigail’s point of view, and she doesn’t come across as ominous or unhinged, especially in the first few chapters with her POV.  It might have added more suspense to not know what she was thinking.  Especially since it can be difficult to write someone’s point of view without revealing their motives or what their plans are.  That said, the end of her chapters tended to have a single line that made me itch for more. A single line that could be interpreted as innocuous or foreboding.  I chose the latter, because that made it a more interesting read.

There are a few plot twists, but they’re all quite obvious from the very beginning.  I won’t spoil them here, but if you are reading the book carefully enough, the twists aren’t even twists at all, but more like a natural progression of the plot.

I found the story line somewhat infuriating.  While Melanie is quite a normal person, I couldn’t relate to how she dealt with some of the things going on, especially later on in the book.  The plot grew more and more exasperating, which was partly because the twists were obvious, but also because of how slow paced the story was in addition to how nonsensical some of the characters were behaving.  And it wasn’t infuriating in that fun “Oh, gosh, why can’t they see what’s been in front of them all along!?” kind of way, more in the “Dammit, why are you so stupid!?” kind of way.

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Book Review: Wolfgang by F. D. Gross

Wolfgang

Wolfgang book cover

Title: Wolfgang
Editors: F. D. Gross
Genre: Horror, fantasy
Date of Publication: October 23, 2018
Series: Wolfgang #1
Publisher: Independently published


Synopsis:

Wolfgang is a nobleman who spends his days and nights purging the countryside of the undead.  But when he returns home after killing a nest of vampires, he discovers his wife dead, his town in ruins, and his son is missing. Desperate to find his son alive, he must fight a race against time, all the while killing the hoards of undead that are trying to keep him from his goal.

Plot

The book opens with a little preamble setting the stage for the story. It sort of reminds me of the sliding words on the screen of the beginning of Star Wars movies.  I think this will be very useful in follow up books in the series, so that readers can be quickly reminded of what happened in the previous books, so the the author can jump right into the plotline in the first chapters.

This novel reads like a rocket-fast paced version of Dracula (minus the epistolary style).  The story itself is quite different from Dracula, but the writing has a similar language and tone.  The plot plunges forward from the very first pages, and things are explained just enough so that the reader can follow along for this wild ride.  There are quite a few twists and turns in the plot, some which were predictable, and others were not.  

Characters

Because of the fast pace of the story, there is not much opportunity for scenes that are crafted solely for the purpose of character development. However, every scene is carefully planned.  F. D. Gross does an excellent job of giving us a clear understanding of who Wolfgang is, what his motivations are, and even showing some vulnerabilities. For instance, in the very beginning of the story, he has to kill an undead woman.  He does so, because it’s his duty, but he wavers at the thought of killing her child, even though the little boy is no longer technically living. This tells us so much about not only the nature of the undead in this world, what the plot will be like for the story, but it also tells us bucketloads about the main character.

Side characters are a little less developed, and I would have liked to have had some more scenes with simple conversations between the characters, to get a better sense of who they are.  Wolfgang’s wife dies very early on in the book, but we didn’t have much opportunity to grow attached to her. However, F. D. Gross does provide some flashbacks later in the book, which allow the reader to better understand how greatly Wolfgang loved his wife.

Worldbuilding

While the plot is fast-paced, every word is carefully selected and F. D. Gross crafts a well-developed and elaborate world.  He even describes what the undead smell like – cloves and burnt leaves, in case you were wondering.

Wolfgang

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of fast-paced plots, effortless worldbuilding, and old-fashioned vampire killing.

starstarstarstar

*Thank you to the author for the ebook for review!*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: When it Will Rayne, It Will Pour by S. C. McCormack

When it will rayne book cover

when it will rayne it will pour book cover

Title: When it Will Rayne, It Will Pour
Author: S. C. McCormack
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Date of Publication: October 4, 2018
Publisher: Self-Published


Synopsis

Rayne Slater is a private investigator with a mysterious past. When she’s hired to infiltrate a lion-shapeshifter colony and isolate one of their members, Reese Donovan, she agrees, but only for the big paycheck.  She’s hesitant to be thrown back into a world that she escaped years ago, but this case forces her to face her demons.  When she develops feelings for her target, she has to make a big choice: and it’s not just between her client and her feelings, but about what she wants the rest of her life to look like.

Language

When it will Rayne, it will Pour is written in a noir-like style that I enjoyed immensely.  The text needs editing (at least, the version I read), but it didn’t trip me up too much.

McCormack employs seamless transitions between present day and flashbacks that flesh out the story.  The author provides just enough information about Rayne’s past to leave the reader eagerly anticipating more.

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Book Review: Green Zone Jack by I. James Bertolina

Green Zone Jack Book

Green Zone Jack Book Cover

Title: Green Zone Jack
Author: I. James Bertolina
Genre: Action/Adventure
Date of Publication: July 13, 2018
Publisher: East Third Street Press, LLC


DSS Special Agent Payton Ladd is just about to go on a well-deserved vacation when he’s called back to the field. The nephew of an American senator has gone missing in Baghdad. Payton must go straight to the Green Zone to find him, but it won’t be easy.  Nobody tells the truth, everyone seems to be pushing their own agenda, and, most troubling of all, Payton is compelled to work with his ex-girlfriend, RSO Catherine McCabe, to solve the case.

Even though this book is filled with technical military jargon, it somehow manages to be very fast paced. There is a handy list of acronyms at the end of the novel.  However, for those of us who don’t have a military background, the language can be hard to follow.  I found myself having to put down the book every few minutes to do a Google search.  

That said, Bertolina doesn’t actually spend that much time discussing technical aspects. The plot is very fast paced–plunging forward without lingering on the complex terminology.  At times, I did want the story to move a little slower–particularly during action scenes. They often ended in less than a full page.  I would have appreciated longer and more detailed fight scenes.

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Book Review: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Kill Creek Book Cover

kill creek book cover

Title: Kill Creek
Author: Scott Thomas
Genre: Horror
Date of Publication: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Inkshares


World-renowned horror author Sam McGarver has writer’s block.  He hasn’t written anything in two years. So when he’s mysteriously invited to spend Halloween at an allegedly haunted house, he figures he has nothing to lose. When he gets there, he discovers that the reporter who invited him, infamous Wainwright of the website “WrightWire”, actually invited three other horror authors as well. All four of them write completely different types of horror, yet they’re all brought to the house for a group interview as a publicity stunt to increase sales of their future books. But when the sun goes down strange things start to happen in the house, and Sam starts to wonder—what if this house really is haunted?

Kill Creek brings Gothic horror into the modern era.  In the very first chapter, Sam McGarver, who is also a professor at the university, gives a lecture on the elements of true Gothic horror.  It did not go over my head that this book addresses all of these key components. The house on Kill Creek has a tragic, mysterious history that Thomas shares with the reader in the very prologue of the book. This sets the stage for the disturbing events that follow…

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Book Review: In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey

In The Night Wood

In the night wood book cover

Title: In the Night Wood
Author: Dale Bailey
Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Publisher: John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


When he was just a young boy, Charles Hayden discovered a mysterious Victorian children’s book called “In the Night Wood”.  Years later, Charles is a failing scholar who is obsessed with the book that so greatly influenced his life. His wife is a distant relative of Caedmon Hollow, the author of “In the Night Wood”.  When she inherits Hollow’s home, he moves there with her to run away from their shared tragic past–the death of their six-year-old daughter.  Charles hopes that he can use this opportunity write a biography of Caedmon Hollow.  Digging deep into the past is never a good idea, however, and it quickly becomes apparent that “In the Night Wood” was inspired by the forest surrounding Hollow’s home.  But how much is truth and how much is fiction? 

The writing style is one of the book’s greatest strengths, and Caedmon Hollow’s Victorian-style house, the woods surrounding it, and the neighbouring town are all beautifully described.  However, I felt that the story somehow managed to feel too rushed, while very little actually happens. The story doesn’t have much substance.  In the Night Wood is quite short, but based on content, it could have easily been a novella or even a short story.

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Book Review: Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Ghost Town book

Ghost Town Rachel Caine Book Cover

Title: Ghost Town
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Morganville Vampires # 9

Date of Publication: November 2010
Publisher: New American Library


We’re back to Morganville for the ninth instalment of the Morganville Vampires book series!

Vampires and humans coexist (somewhat) peacefully in the sleepy town of Morganville, Texas.  During the day, Claire Danvers attends the local university, but at night she works for the mad, genius vampire Myrnin in his lab, where he mixes alchemy with science.  In this installment of the series, Claire and Myrnin “fix” the town’s security system, which insures that anyone who leaves Morganville immediately forgets about its uniqueness–namely, the fact that vampires roam the streets at night.  But something goes terribly wrong, and everyone starts to forget who they are. The fact that Claire’s boyfriend doesn’t recognize her is bad enough, but when vampires forget what they are and start to lose their inhibitions? Not yet plagued by memory loss, Claire must seek unlikely assistance in saving Morganville from itself.

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Book Review: Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

Under My Skin

under my skin book cover

Title: Under My Skin
Author: Lisa Unger
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Date of Publication: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Park Row


A year ago, Poppy’s husband was brutally murdered while out for an early-morning jog. Poppy can’t remember what happened to her in the days following his death. She hasn’t been the same ever since.  At night, she’s having terrible nightmares, and during the day, she keeps seeing a hooded man who follows her everywhere. But how much of this is real? Are the nightmares memories? Does the hooded man even exist? But, most importantly, does Poppy have buried memories of who killed her husband, and if she does, does she even want to remember?

Poppy is a photographer, and though she hasn’t photographed anything since her husband’s death, her perspective—the way she sees the world—is coloured by her artist’s perspective. She evaluates the people around her, not just the persona that they show to the world, but who they really are. What lies Under their skin.  This unique perspective was more noticeable earlier in the book, and as the story’s events unfold, it becomes clear that Poppy isn’t quite as observant as she believed herself to be.

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Book Review: Martha Kite Among the Congregation in Exile by D.W. Cropper

Martha kite book cover

martha kite book cover

Title: Martha Kite Among the Congregation in Exile
Author: D.W. Cropper
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Date of Publication: April 20, 2018
Publisher: Reliquary Press


Martha Kite, a former pickpocket and actress, is hired by the Crown to rescue a supernaturally gifted child from a group of religious fanatics called the Congregation in Exile.  But Father Simon Pitch will not be discouraged, and he will stop at nothing to resurrect the Great and Terrible Lord, even if that means killing the gifted child’s “ungifted” twin sister. Martha Kite is driven to protect and rescue both children, but at what cost?

While the story has a very quickly paced plot, the major appeal for this book is the language.  D. W. Cropper makes use of an elaborately crafted narrative and complex language.  In the beginning, I found it hard to follow because of the heavy tone and dense descriptions, which were at times overly complicated.  I got used to it as the plot progressed and the story picked up.  While complex, the book is very well written, and Cropper does an excellent job of setting a dark and twisted stage for his horror story to play out on.

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