Hangman’s Army (Lake of Sins #3)

Title: Hangman’s Army (Lake of Sins #3)

Author: L.S. O’Dea

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 565 pages | 7940 locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

Book 3 of the Lake of Sins takes place four years after the events of the previous one. While High Hugh Truent was in prison for claiming that all classes were genetically similar, the world outside changed radically. A war is looming… and the allied classes need Hugh.

Review:

When I first looked up the book details I thought whoa, 565 pages, that is going to take me a while. But it went by so fast! I never imagined I would finish in just three days.

I cannot say this enough, L.S. O’Dea is such a talented writer. The pace is relentless but that does not mean that the world and character development is not satisfying, on the contrary. There is a lot going on but it is quite easy to follow and it only made me want to know what happened next.

It’s a YA book, not my favourite genre, so there will always be things I don’t particularly like as the characters end up sounding too dramatic for my taste. Trinity ticked me off a few times but I enjoy to see her keep growing.

There were quite a few repetitions – a lot of disgusted looks, for instance, and the way Hugh kept correcting mother to Sarah and father to General Truent when he found out the truth just felt forced and overdone, just like the excessive compliments on both Trinity and Hugh. I feel that their actions say enough, we don’t need to be told several that Trinity is brave and honest, even through the voice of another character, or that Hugh really doesn’t want more deaths on his conscience.

All in all I had a really good time reading this. Some parts made me laugh out loud, which earned me quite a few puzzled looks on the bus ride home, while others had me biting my nails. Some scenes were just so tense that I figuratively stood on my toes.

I can honestly say this is amongst the best YA reads I have stumbled upon and encourage you to pick up these books. This series has all the ingredients to become an epic.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 25th to Jan 28th, 2017
GR Review

Drayton, the Taker (Drayton #1)

Title: Drayton, the Taker (Drayton #1)

Author: Tony Bertauski

Genres: Fantasy | Paranormal

Format: Mobi

Length: 70 pages | 688 locations

Source: Author Newsletter / Promotion on Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Premise:

Drayton does not know why he is the way he is. He only knows what he is compelled to do, which is to take human essence.
To balance his nature, he tries to atone by honouring his victims’ dying wish.

Review:

I absolutely love Tony Bertauski’s ability to come up with interesting new concepts. Even if they are not absolutely new, he has a way of recreating them into something unique.

Drayton the Taker is no exception. I was immediately taken by the story. It is so much more than a vampire’s tale, though there are similarities.
The way Drayton was introduced was incredibly well achieved and it set the pace for the narrative’s development.

It is remarkable how the author manages to depict each character so well in such a small story but the fact is we get a crystal clear idea of who they are and what moves them.

I was intrigued by the change in Drayton’s behaviour considering his past. I would have liked to know what triggered his sense of morale, but I can only hope the sequel(s) will explain that.

This is a brilliant introduction to a mysterious, dangerous character, who seems to also have a soft side and once again Bertauski does not disappoint.

Note:
This book is currently free on Amazon; click here!

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read on Nov 10th, 2016
GR Review

Lake of Sins for Free!

Hello, lovely people!
I hope your weekend is going well.
I have just the thing to make it even sweeter! I have just learned that you can get the first two books in the Lake of Sins series by L. S. O’Dea for FREE!

I thoroughly enjoyed these books and if you are into YA I am positive you will enjoy them even more than I did.
They are just so imaginative and fast-paced that it might be just the thing for your weekend binge reading.
Feel free to check out my reviews:

Escape (#1)

Escape (#1)

Escape (#1)

Secrets in Blood (#2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the yummy part. Free fabulous fantasy, you say? Well how can I get them then??

You can download Lake of Sins: Escape from any of the major retailers and then go here to get the second book free: http://lsodea.com/?page_id=243

Or you can go here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/4htqW

Instafreebie will send you the first book and the author will send you an email with a link to get the second one.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss this opportunity!

Ozarium (Transitional Delusions #2)

Title: Ozarium (Transitional Delusions #2)

Author: Brick Marlin

Genres: Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Thriller

Length: 281 pages | 5511 locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

After the Shift, a new world arises from the ashes.
However, new changes are about to arrive and they won’t be pleasant. Two boys strive to make the difference.

Review:

I have just finished reading Ozarium and I have to admit it is a difficult one for me to review.

There is no question that once again Brick Marlin succeeded in creating a very twisted world with new concepts or reformed ones that will chill you to the bone. However, I had a few issues with the book.

First of all, being part of a series, I had hoped to see more of a connection to the first book. Instead I only got the first chapter and a couple of references at the very end. While that can be a good thing because it means the book can be read as a standalone, I really wanted to know how exactly one world morphed to the other. For instance, if all the adults had been killed and the children turned to rats, where did the new population come from? When Slader explains Overcast he says there were survivors but where? I recall the first book ending with only Martha standing up. How far does this event reach? Also, why were there suddenly now two suns?

Secondly, I have to admit I was lost with all the characters and the names for what had took place before – Overcast, Ozarium, Shift, The Reckoning, Whethersphere (not sure if that’s spelled right) or the role of the four gods. To this point I do not really grasp all the concepts, particularly the last ones. I got that after the Shift there was Overcast, and then Slader turned the colony into Ozarium but no clue about the other ones. That is my bad though, I don’t remember much from the first book and I should not have expected this one to explain it all over again. Also, most likely the others will be further developed in the next books of the series, so I suppose I am just impatient!

However, my main two issues were the pace and the writing.

For a long time I felt I was being info-dumped. For almost the entire first half of the book, we are introduced to an array of characters and commercials that help us understand the dramatic changes the world has suffered. While they served to get me used to all the craziness going on, nothing seemed to be actually developing, and I did crave for some action.
Then Jonas wins the lottery and things start to get interesting, although there is a lot that did not make sense to me, not only in what happened but in how characters reacted to it.

Regarding the writing, that was really my main problem. I don’t mean the language. Actually, Marlin was able to create a very interesting dialect, with influences from several decades, I believe, and a whole lot of imagination. However, I did feel that, for example, when the two main child characters were speaking, they did not sound their age. I get that the slang and stuff was different but in some situations the words they used made them sound much more mature than what would sound natural for their age. I had that feeling of unnatural speech with just about all characters and instead of finding it creepy and going with the story I have to admit I felt uninterested.

Just a couple of very small examples, there were others that could bring my point across better but sadly I did not make notes: “Would you rather be in pain with a sun burn when both suns go down?”. We had already been told there were now two suns (though no explanation as to why), so why not say ‘when the suns go down’?
Or “Don’t get grumpy because I took you away from drinking (…) laced with that drug called goose(…) or (…)as one of those zombie creatures called schizos!. Saying things are ‘called’ something makes me feel the characters and myself are somehow out of the narrative, that these things they are talking about are not intricate to the world but something apart.
I think that this one I managed to save best explains what I am trying to convey, this feeling of disconnection and unrelatable speech: Fred snorted. “Oh, you just don’t know, Wilbur. Guess we all learn from our mistakes in life.” “You’re right. I’m not perfect either, so don’t be too hard on yourself.” “Okay.”

On the other hand, while things got a whole lot more exciting towards the last third of the book, one other thing stood out that I had noticed before: at times the narrative was overpowered by dialogues where while they were taking place everything else seemed to pause. For instance, on a couple of occasions, a few characters are in very tricky situations and instead of trying to get out of them they just seem to stand there catching up and only when they are done to they go ‘ok, let’s try and get out of this’. I was like… So the bad guys just wait for them to talk things through? I don’t get it. Instead of ‘x character searches y part of place they are trapped in’ or something, we’d just get snorts and grins and stuff. There wasn’t that feeling of urgency that would fully have gripped my attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed what I read because the fact is Brick Marlin created a pretty darn awesome world with this book. Some things are truly shocking and I wonder how anyone could come up with it. Appliances having Tourette Syndrome is just about the most innocent example I can give without spoiling the read for you but trust me, there is a lot here that I found pretty macabre and twisted. Some concepts were not entirely new but the way the author meshed them together made for a truly horrific vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where the values have completely shifted. And there are so many interesting developments. It’s just that I wish there was a better pace to the story, the writing had enveloped me more and hopefully a clearer connection to the first book, since this is a series.
Also, it needs major editing services. There are redundancies such as rectified the world right or also lived down in this corridor as well, several repetitions of the exact same expressions to explain something, wrong verb tenses like “Where was he?” she spoke aloud. and sequences where things played out differently before than they are told later. Even the Epilogue is called Prologue, for some reason.

I still recommend it, but not for everyone. This is something that I believe will only really appeal to fans of truly dark, macabre stuff and who do not mind not being able to connect to characters.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Oct 1st to Oct 9th, 2016
GR Review

A Shadowed Spirit (Tree and Tower #2)

Title: A Shadowed Spirit (Tree and Tower #2)

Author: Sara C. Snider

Genres: Adventure | Fantay

Length: 250 pages | 3054 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.9/5

 

Premise:

After the first book’s events, Siyan feels torn on whether to pursue her quest to find her people in the forest or know more about the dangerous Magistrates. Once her goal becomes clear, so does the fact that she has a lot to learn. But was she born to learn or to teach?

Review:

A Shadowed Spirit did not disappoint. It enthrals you in same beautiful writing that the first book did. The ability of this author to weave words into breathtaking settings and actions never ceases to amaze me.

There were a few things here and there that made the book not perfect for me.
Romance – My pet peeve. Even though the author tried to convey a sense of mystic connection between the two beings, I still felt they were strangers and their closeness came too quickly.
A couple of characters disappeared too suddenly from the story.
I felt some parts dragged on a wee bit during the inner monologues/questions and there was some repetitiveness to it from paragraph to paragraph or chapter to chapter. Also, the phrase ‘it was all X could do to…’ felt like a crutch, it was particularly repetitive.
Oh, and I missed Cobber. Her humour brought a dimension to the story that I truly craved. I suppose there was no place for her though, considering the novel’s tone.

A Shadowed Spirit is a much darker book than its predecessor, in my opinion. There is much doubt around Siyan – about herself, who she is, what her people area. When she first seeks some answers, I have to admit I was surprised and confused at the development of that part. I did not understand why Emora would drive her away like that and much less why Enon rambled about her being selfish when she clearly did not want that mission.
However, it is also a more intimate story.

The way the narrative develops allows for Siyan to come across her answers in a wondrous, magical manner. However, a very dark one as well. At one point I felt that the characters, particularly Siyan, constantly dreading and even seeking some sort of self-destruction to achieve peace or their means was a bit overbearing.

In the end, some of story’s scenes will stick in my mind for their beauty, strength, purity and/or uniqueness. The fact is the book completely grabbed my attention, I read it any chance I got, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I recommend that you read this book after the first one, The Thirteenth Tower.
Keep an eye on Sara Snider, she is a very tallented fantasy writer.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from May 11th to May 13th, 2016
GR Review

The Magician

Title: The Magician

Author: D.A. Pupa

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Length: 326 pages / 4561 locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 2.25/5

 

Premise:

Detective Frank Sorello is obsessed with finding the man who murdered his wife.
With a novel coming out which depicts the murder in detail, he is sure he has finally found him.
The hunt begins. But is the prey more cunning than the hunter?

Review:

Well, it’s never easy to write less than stellar reviews when an author is kind enough to gift you his or her work, but I have to admit I had quite a few issues with this story.

First of all, I had a big problem with the punctuation. Misplaced commas always make me twitch.
Example:
He loved the darkness, quietly he entered the bedroom.

There was just something about the prose that felt forced and sometimes even pompous.
I got that feeling from the first line: The orange hue of the early morning sun was casting its rays upon the seashore community of Spring Lake, New Jersey. I thought the sun cast rays, not a hue, I don’t know. Probably not the best example but it was something that I was not crazy about.

This feeling transposed to the dialogues. I kept thinking that people don’t really talk like that, with all the politeness and treating each other by name every other line. Something that should have felt casual came across as much too formal or even fake.

Also, the characters felt less than believable because they all seemed so perfect. Frank was a gentleman and a perfect FBI agent with a tingling extra sense that popped up when real criminals were around, Rob was the perfect director who could see the big picture, Beth was a very attractive, perfect/extremely capable agent, Sarah was a perfect woman who broke through Frank’s shell…

Then there were all the clichés. One of the most noticeable ones was a sensei getting Frank out of his downward spiral with a few words – ones that anyone could have said to him, mind you, but for some reason the sensei saying them made more sense because he was wise. That is one of the examples of things that felt that were thrown out there just for the sake of it, without proper development. I also got that feeling throughout the narrative.

There were other lines that just felt cheesy to me, like Dear God, for everyone’s sake I pray he’s wrong or Sarah had become so in tune with her man (…)

With all that, I guess I may have become over-sensitive or I just focused hard on the story and became more aware of what was my main issue with it: the repetitiveness. The author kept coming back to things I felt should only be said once. At one point I felt I kept reading the same thing over and over, which made it less than special.

There are good things to this book, of course. I loved that the chapters relating present day were interspersed with how our villain came to be. My favourite part was definitely the description of guy’s story and his struggle (or lack thereof), but even that was thwarted by all the repetitions. James was a genius, James perfectly masked his thoughts, James always planned ahead, everything James did served a purpose, James really knew true love when he was with his group, up until then only James first foster parents brought out the good in him, etc, etc.

I am sorry I could not give this story a higher rating but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Even the ending was anti-climatic. I thought there should have been a link that explained the dentist’s appointment, for instance. Did James switch his dental records with someone who looked like him? That would have been cool to find out. Especially if it turned out to be any number of characters that were described to be blonde, blue eyed and tall throughout the book. Because in the end everything James did had a purpose but a lot was left unexplained and I found that a shame.

I honestly believe other folks will appreciate this novel and dive right into the story. Sadly, I was unable to enjoy it much.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from March 22 to 31, 2016
GR Review

The Pit: Watchmaker’s Hell: Book One

Title: The Pit: Watchmaker’s Hell: Book One

Author: L.A. Barnes

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Mystery | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic

Length: 460 pages | 4617 locations

Source: Author / Netgalley

Format: Mobi / Locked PDF

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

When people die, they go to a far different place than what they had pictured.
One man, with his own agenda, knows how everything works. But he won’t tell.

Review:

I have to admit The Pit surprised me.

It took me a while to get into this book. There were a lot of characters and the setting of the world seemed a bit too abrupt – in other words, it felt like info dumping.

Throughout the story, I was confused because I could not keep track of who was who and what their story was on Earth and in the beginning things were particularly difficult because certain premises about the world seemed to contradict themselves.

Some still didn’t make much sense, like why only two dozen bodies fell on the Pit at a time or even why it took 2000 years for something like this to happen to someone as experienced as Marcus or why Lauren wasted a bullet if they were that valuable, amongst others I can no longer recall, but you know what? I actually enjoyed this quite a bit and I am sure that with enough time to fully dedicate to the story I would not experience most of the difficulties I had – even if I had to take notes it would be worth it.

The version I read could use a good editing. Sometimes the way things were written wasn’t the clearest, some words or expressions felt almost pretentious, and I personally could have done without the several ‘with (…), what was X to do?’, but that’s a personal pet peeve of mine.

It was very refreshing to see such a new version of Hell and Heaven and the author did a great job overall, building several new concepts. The narrative is quite suspenseful at times and as the pieces come together you cannot help but feel enthralled by the story and wanting to know what comes next.

Keep in mind that this is a dark book. It addresses several sensitive subjects and experiments with them, such as violence, sex and religion, amongst others. So it is not a book everyone can handle. However, if you are ok with this, you should definitely check it out.

The author has 4 more books programmed for this series. I, for one, am intrigued to see what comes next.

Note: I would like to take the opportunity to thank the author for the Mobi file as, once again, Netgalley only provided the locked ACSM file.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author, the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Mar 03 to Mar 10, 2016
GR Review