Monsters I Have Known: Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

35534791 Title: Monsters I Have Known: A Collection of Short Stories

Author: Jess Hartley

Genre: paranormal, thriller, and horror short stories

Synopsis:

Come take a walk in the shadows alongside award-winning writer/editor/novelist, Jess Hartley, as she leads you through 13 intriguing tales of monstrous beings – supernatural or otherwise. In this, Hartley’s first solo anthology, readers will find a broad offering of genres – horror, romance, steampunk, fantasy and more – including her never-before-published murder mystery novella – Love Never Dies. Monsters I Have Known collects both well-loved favorites from previously published anthologies and never-before-seen fiction, presenting them with insightful introductions to share with readers some of the circumstances surrounding each story’s creation. A must-have introduction for those new to Hartley’s work.

My review:

Wow, what a great collection of stories. I’m not normally a fan of horror, but I love a good spooky ghost story. When I was approached to review this book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I’m glad I took a chance.

It’s hard to pick which story I liked best, but the first one, Love Never Dies, was the longest. In this one, the main character finds herself walking up the beach to her house. Nothing feels right, but it’s only her and her husband. What could be wrong?

My favorite story was Immaterial Witness. Liz gives tours in Bisbee, Arizona, the most haunted town in America. She gets a chance to be on a podcast, but the slimy host has plans of his own. He wants all the dirt, but Liz has a big secret. She can see ghosts, and she’s not about to expose them to a third-rate journalist looking to exploit the dead. Really good story.

This month is a perfect time for this collection. You should totally check this one out. It’s available on Amazon.

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Afterdeath: Review

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

35274633Title: Afterdeath

Author: Benoit Chartier

Synopsis:

Death is a country we see through the tiny keyhole of an immovable door.
Raised by their grandmother after their parents’ death, Chloe and Olivia Borders are now in mourning for Rose. The Alzheimer’s that forced them to be split into separate foster homes has taken their last living family member. As a way to rekindle their friendship, the twins commit to a road trip— which spells their demise. Now the question is: What comes after, and how will they get back to life?

Review:

Twin sisters Chloe and Olivia have drifted apart since their parents’ deaths. Now that their grandma is dead, the two decide to become reacquainted with a sister road trip. They both die. That sounds like a spoiler, but it happens early in the book, and the real story is about what happens AFTER Death. Hence the title, get it? Right.

So what does happen next? Let’s just say it’s NOTHING like you might expect. Olivia is a serious Christian, Chloe an agnostic, and both of them are in for a shock when they get to the other side. First of all, there’s still plenty to do and no sign of the Pearly Gates. Instead they meet some dubious new folks who claim to be there to help, but it’s hard to know who you can trust and who wants to kill you. Again.

It all gets a little confusing and kind of depressing, TBH. I had to push myself to keep reading. It doesn’t help that Angelica, their new companion, flips back and forth between seeming like a good gal and then a bitch. I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to like her or hate her, but she just confused me instead.

In the end, this one was quite original, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. I think it was a case of a bad fit. It sounded like something I would like, but I guess I was in the mood for something lighter.

Living the Good Death – a review

standalone-sundayTitle: Living the Good Death

Author: Scott Baron

Synopsis:

Wearing nothing but psych ward pajamas and fluffy slippers, the odd girl wasn’t really dressed to kill. Being the Grim Reaper, however, she felt confident she could make it work.

Review:

She thinks she’s Death. Is she right? That’s for readers to figure out as they read the entertaining new book by author Scott Baron. As the girl (she doesn’t have a name for half the book) goes through her new life, she experiences the normal human needs of hunger, fatigue, and going to the bathroom. She also makes enemies and falls in love.

The reader, meanwhile, is never quite sure whether the girl really is Death or whether she’s imagining it all. Sometimes the story makes you think she couldn’t know thar unless she was human. It was a fun idea, but I was really ready for some answers.

I liked the secondary characters in this one a lot. The doctor was a little too evil to be believed though, and the ease at which he’s able to get the girl admitted to a mental hospital without her consent was totally unrealistic. That bugged me enough that I almost quit reading. But the ending was good so I’m glad I stuck with it.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, but my opinions are my own.

 

10 Series I Just Can’t Wait to Finish

13555073Are you looking for another great series to follow? I’ve got 10 that I have to recommend, along with the first book in each and the author.

  1. Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Set in a world where ghosts are common, but only children can see them, the kids at Lockwood & Co start their own business. They quarrel a lot, but they know their jobs. I’m up to #5, which I think is the last one in the series. They’re more MG books than YA, but so much fun that I don’t mind.
  2. Flavia de Luce, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Flavia is a very unusual child. She likes poisons. Like, a lot. Which is good, because she’s able to solve murders. Set in a little English village after WWII, this series is like a warm cup of dark cocoa.
  3. The Reckoners, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Ten years after the Calamity, the superpowered people called Epics have taken over the world. Regular people are nothing but a resource, but they’re ready to fight back. I’ve only read 1 & 1.5, but the next book is on my birthday wish list.
  4. 8097637 The Legend of Eli Monpress, The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron. Eli is a wizard and a thief. He’s also got a plan. He’s always got a plan. This series isn’t finished yet, but it’s been a lot of fun so far, and the first one was free!
  5. Spells, Swords, & Stealth, NPCs by Drew Hayes. This group of friends know they’re only NPCs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be heroes. 3 books in this fun series so far. Also free through Kindle Unlimited.
  6. The Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. If you haven’t tried this one, what are you waiting for? Amazing fantasy series that I’m just loving. Not as good as Six of Crows, but then, what is?
  7. Amory Ames mysteries, Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. Amory and her husband have a complicated relationship. She also has a tendency to find dead bodies. Set after WWI, lots of fun.
  8. The Queen’s Thief, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Stinking amazing fantasy series. 5 stars! I’m currently listening to #2 and I’m dying! Amazing isn’t even good enough. The writing is just so good. I wish I had written it.
  9. Ms. Marvel, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. I love this series of graphic novels. The art and the story are both great. Even if you’re not normally a superhero fan, give this one a try.
  10. 8629611The Price of Freedom, The Last Kings Amulet by Chris Northern. Loosely based on a Roman/fantasy mashup with a bunch of necromancers thrown in as well. The first one in this series is free as well.

Two DNFs

I’ve got a couple of recent DNF (did not finish) that I thought I’d mention. Sometimes people are surprised by how fast I read, but they don’t realize that I count ALL books I read, including the ones I try, but just don’t like for whatever reason. Here are a few I didn’t finish lately.

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan

This one was just what it sounds like, a collection of stories about Greek heroes written as though told by Percy Jackson. I love Percy, but when he’s telling someone else’s story, I find him a little more annoying than when he’s telling his own. My main problem here though is that I really already know most of these stories, so I wasn’t interested in reading them again. There was one in there I hadn’t heard, but I know about Daedalus and Theseus and so on. Just wasn’t interested.

Belle Dame Sans Merci by Astrea Taylor

Belle is a cool heroine, but for some reason reading a story set in Hell was stressing me out! I skimmed this one, so I mostly read it and then skipped to the end. I’m betting this one has a sequel. If you like stories about demons and stuff like that you’ll probably like it more than I did.

 

Review: Skinwalker

Title: Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock #1)

Author: Faith Hunter

Recommended by: My sister

Format: Audio

Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance

Jane makes a living as a vamp killer, but this is her first trip to New Orleans, and the culture there is well, different. Vampires are a major tourist attraction. The vamps have even banded together and set up houses. Some of them are ‘sane’ and accepted as members of society. But one has gone rogue and taken to killing – and eating – the tourists. And that’s not cool.

It’s Jane’s job to hunt this rogue down and kill him, and she’s got 10 days if she wants the bonus. (She does.) Lucky for her, she’s got a secret weapon – her Beast partner. Jane is a Skinwalker, thanks to her Cherokee heritage, and she can shift form into an animal. But this hunt is going to be her toughest yet.

I really wanted to like this book. I got it on audio on my sister’s recommendation. But I’m afraid I didn’t like it nearly as much as she did. I found Jane a little too cocky, her Beast form irritating, and I was put off by the amount of sexual undercurrent that ran throughout the whole book. In fact, I don’t think there was a single person who wasn’t discussed as a possible romantic/sexual partner for Jane. Like, take a cold shower already!

I liked the basic idea, but nothing about the book stood out in any good way. I was hoping I’d love it, since it’s the beginning of a long series, but it sounds like they’re all basically like this one. So, if I don’t like Skinwalker, I’m not going to like the rest. I feel like I’ve been on a losing streak lately – too many disappointments in a row. I’m not really enjoying any of the other books I’m reading right now either. Maybe I’m having an off week. Anyhow, I can’t recommend this one. But I’m didn’t hate it either. 2.5 stars out of 5, nice and average.

I’ve got a setting!

I’m just barely starting my second book and it’s very slow. I’ve realized that I’m just a slow writer. Which is OK, we don’t all have to write the same way. But it is a little discouraging. I feel like I have fight for each word, each sentence. Me finishing a paragraph is like a little victory, and a whole page is actually a big deal.

I’m trying something different this time too. It’s more a ‘seat of your pants’ kind of thing, instead of being all planned and plotted out. I have a general idea, a good character, and then I’m going to just sort of see what happens.

I do have a setting though! Inspired by my recent trip, I’ve decided the book takes place in Grand Junction, Colorado. I needed a big town with some wilderness nearby, and this definitely fits that requirement. As for the story, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a paranormal thriller about a young woman who gets kidnapped and breaks free using what might be paranormal means.

Write on!