The Write Reads- Appreciation Day

Less than a year ago, my wonderful husband suggested that I write my literary opinions in a blog. I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but I thought I’d give it a go.

I tend to get overtly passionate about books. I had no idea that I’m not the only person who likes books more than I like most people.

Enter Dave at @The_WriteReads. He’s fostered a community full of amazing, supportive bookbloggers. As everyone in the gang knows, not only does Dave feature a different blog post and book review each day- massively increasing readership- but he works tirelessly, organizing giveaways, blog tours, and basically being incredibly encouraging.

You, sir, are awesome! Thanks for everything.

Lingeria by Daniel Kozuh

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Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Norman is a successful author of Lingeria: a series of fantasy books that he’s written and now despises. He’s in a rut and incredibly unhappy. Imagine his surprise when he finds a door in his oven that leads into the fictional world he created-with one small exception. There happens to be an evil wizard who has seized control.

The fate of Lingeria is in the hands of a depressed author, a hobbit ripoff named Roe, and a ragtag group of equally unlikely heroes. What could go wrong?

Full of sarcastic humor, and a twist on every common fantasy trope, this book was a ton of fun. It moved quickly, taking me on a very bizarre and incredibly funny adventure. I found Norman’s discontent with the books he’d written incredibly entertaining.

I loved the situations that mark the “introduction” between Norman and his very real creations. One of them involves a broken nose; another a very disconcerting painting. This book takes every fantasy expectation, turns it upside down, and shakes its pockets for loose change. I highly recommend this one.

Possible trigger warning: There is a botched suicide attempt at the beginning, easily passed over by skipping pages 15 and 16.

This Time by Azaaa Davis – Buddy Read

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Legendary demon hunter Nadira Holden paid the ultimate price to end the war between demons and hunters.

Resurrected in present-day New York, many years have passed, everyone moved on without her, and the demons she once battled have made peace with humans. Nadira no longer has a purpose here. Dying again might be her ticket back to that “next life” she experienced.

Except humans are disappearing, and Nadira’s father is one of the missing. Feeling a strong obligation to find him before sorting out her own fate, she begins investigating.

She won’t rest in peace unless she can prove the demons are behind the disappearances. But Nadira is running out of time. The darkness within her is causing her to lose her humanity while the rest of mankind is on the verge of enslavement to the demons they now worship.

Fight with Nadira in a new urban fantasy series that combines monster-slaying action, family drama, and simmering romance. Experience why not even death can stop her. (taken from Amazon)

I got to do a buddy read with the fabulous Beth at Before We Go . This is a genre that I have very little experience in, so please forgive me as I wade through the tangled morass that functions as my thought process. I blame motherhood.

I got some serious Buffy vibes in the first few chapters. Seeing as I’ve watched Buffy upwards of five times, that’s quite the compliment. Nadira digs her way out of her own grave, only to find that years have passed and the things have changed drastically. She has to deal with an uncertain peace that now exists between humanity and demons. Her innate distrust lets her see that things aren’t what they seem.

Nadira was pretty hard-core. I love reading a tough cookie of a female main character, so I was down for that. It was interesting to see that, despite her tough exterior, Nadira was also unsure of herself in many ways.

There were several scenes with Roquell the succubus that made my (more prudish than I thought) sensibilities a bit squirmy. Ha ha! I’m not used to steamy scenes in books. They weren’t over the top in any way, just not the sort of thing I usually read.

The middle slowed down a bit, but the last little bit packed a wallop. The action was fast-paced and didn’t let up. Make sure to read Beth’s take on This Time, and consider picking it up yourself.

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove by J.S. Bailey, Mackenzie Flohr, Elise Manion, D.M. Kilgore, et al- ARC Review

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Graves Grove isn’t your ordinary town…

Nestled within the folds of the Canadian Rockies, Graves Grove probably isn’t the picturesque place you’d like to stay for long. Peculiar things happen here. The citizens seem normal superficially—they function well enough. But each one is deeply disturbed, wrapped in secrets and neuroses which drive them to strange behaviors.

And then there are all the missing children. And why is everyone afraid of that sycamore tree?

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of stories taking place throughout the history of this mysterious town, from its founding to its future. Read them…if you dare. (taken from Amazon)

                    This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October thirteenth.

If Twin Peaks had a more horror-based neighboring town, Graves Grove would be it. Bizarre and creeptastic, this shiver-inducing collection of short stories is a blast to read. I love reading stories that have a common thread, but still showcase each author’s individual style. That’s what this collection did: while all the tales were part of a larger narrative, each one was individualistic and creative.

There were many stories that I loved, and just a few that were “meh”. A couple of them mentioned fairies which didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book, but they were still interesting even though they felt a bit disjointed.

I loved Where’s Matheson Lam and The Flash in particular. The both left me with that feeling of what if?, which is so much fun in supernatural and horror books. I also loved that there’s a distinct lack of over-the-top gore.

This book collection was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

A Midnight Clear by Sam Hooker; Seven Jane; Alcy Levya; Laura Morrison; Dalena Storm; Cassondra Windwalker- ARC Review

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Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books.A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter’s eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf’s holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa’s Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season. (taken from Amazon)

            This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on November fifth.

This collection of stories was full of dark humor, and more than a bit of creepiness, taking the usual Christmas cheer and turning it upside down. This collection would be as easily at home during Halloween as Christmas. Some of the stories hit the mark better than others, in my opinion. It’s a solid collection, but nothing to write home about.

There were two that stood out to me: The Dauntless, in which Snickerdoodle the elf has to defend Gumdrop (another elf) from murder charges. Yep, you read that right. It was odd and funny, and I couldn’t stop snickering every time I thought of a lawyer named “Snickerdoodle”.

My favorite story was The Poetry of Snow and Stars. I thought it highly entertaining that it takes place at the hotel from The Shining. The writing in this one was strong, and it was quite evident that the author, Cassondra Windwalker, was fully confident in her writing ability. There wasn’t a false step in her writing.

While obviously not written for everyone, this book would be a great Christmas gift for anyone who likes their holiday with a hint of the macabre.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry- ARC Review

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available for purchase…

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Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky- ARC Review

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available to purchase on October first. As soon as I started this book, I was presented with a problem: Do I read it as quickly as possible to see what happens next? Or do I drag it out as long as I can, enjoying Stephen Chobsky’s fantastic writing? I’m sure you, reader, have been in this position before. Ultimately, the choice was made for me; I couldn’t put this book down. I’ll start with the characters. They were wonderfully three-dimensional, every one of them. Christopher was such a sweet little boy and I absolutely loved his mom. She was a fighter in every sense of the word. With the many characters this book had, the fact that they were all well developed and had distinct personalities was impressive, to say…

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One Way by Jeff Lane

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Barry Griffith doesn’t know it yet, but tonight is the night fate has chosen to be the night of his death… his murder. At a gas station in the middle of nowhere, late at night, his wife Jenny appears… no car… no coat and looking older than when he saw her last. That’s because this is not the woman he received a good-bye kiss from this morning. This woman has been a widow for over four years and has made an impossible journey back in time to try to stop her husband’s murder. Will they be able to escape the killers or does fate only have one plan… one possible outcome… ONE WAY? (taken from Amazon)

                     Thank you to the author for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I’ve read time travel books before, but never one that centered around preventing the murder of your spouse, and most definitely not one that was this action packed. This was an emotionally charged thriller, that started quickly and kept on going at a heart pounding pace. However, there were a few things that just didn’t work for me.

I went back and forth on how I felt about the characters of Jenny and Barry. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was something that really bugged me about Jenny. I’ve been thinking it over and I honestly don’t know what. Barry was a bit of a jerk, but I loved that he didn’t suddenly become Rambo while on the run from a deadly threat. He got very lucky, which was much more interesting. I really liked the grief counselor, Dr. Van Der Vehn; he was an fascinating mix of sympathy and selfish professional mania.

There were a few writing choices that I found a bit jarring. The beginning chapters of the book had several sentences foreshadowing future events, worded similarly to “little did they know that the shadow of death hung over…” which isn’t a literary choice that I love.

The other writing issue that I had with this book is one that probably would be completely unnoticed by many people: the use of the word “seizure” instead of spasm or convulsion. There is one example in particular: “There were cords standing out in her neck, and she was shaking like she might go into a seizure at any moment.” The thing is, I have grand mal epilepsy,  and seizures being used as descriptors when the author is discussing stress or fear really rubs me the wrong way. This is just one of my pet peeves, but I wish different wording was chosen.

I did like how the issue of a set path vs. changing your fate was explored. It was fascinating seeing it as the theme in a game of cat- and- mouse.  Incidentally, this has been adapted into a movie, and Jeff Lane also wrote the screenplay. Talk about wearing multiple hats!

While I didn’t love this book, I found it a solid addition to the thriller genre, one with a one-of-a-kind twist.

Have you read this? What did you think?

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow- ARC Review

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In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on September tenth.

This book was both magical and beautiful. Diving into its pages, I immediately forgot everything but the gorgeous storytelling. I felt January’s desperation and discontent, as well as her insatiable curiosity. I wanted to escape into the pages of her book with her–only a reader can understand how this is completely possible.

I love the themes present throughout this book. There is a subtle yet present focus on relationships and how they can shape us- both positively and negatively. It got me thinking a lot about the power we give to others without even realizing it.  How what happens in our lives can affect us but doesn’t have to define us. January had both some lousy examples of “love” and experiences with loss, as well as the kind of love that is selfless and pure.

The writing was astounding. This story is so vast, yet I never felt like it got away from the author. It’s so wonderful that I’m having a hard time articulating my thoughts. A book like this is so hard to review because at some point it stops being characters, plots, and turns of phrase, and becomes something more. It’s magic.

Read this book.

Doors, he told her, are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties, and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and endings of every true love story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and- here he smiled- even love. Without doors the worlds would grow stagnant, calcified, storyless. (quote from arc, and might change in final copy)

Universe Awakening (Redux Edition) by D. Ellis Overttun

The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe. It is the last of a complement of twelve that is part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and spatial distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years. 

Before ISV Intrepid can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. The ship is later salvaged but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma. 

The probes collect their data with uneventful regularity. 

Fast-forward to 526,880. A sole-surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around the probe begins to stretch and distend. Then, the probe disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it manages to transmit one final message. 

CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is that something has invaded the universe and is moving a superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next thousand years. To the Celesti, this is one lifetime. 

What can be done? 

The one person who might be able to solve this problem is the copilot of ISV Intrepid. He has been lying in stasis suffering from mental trauma. He has been this way for the past century, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unchanging condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there. 
This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed. 

Is it possible to unlock his mind? 

The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower level of the hierarchy of the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary do something extraordinary? 

Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book is smart. Like, “stop and ponder every few pages” before moving on smart. It’s a sci-fi unlike any other, more intent on making you think than giving you aliens and spaceships (although it has those too). And let me tell you, it definitely succeeded.

This book was incredibly interesting, although be aware that this isn’t the sort of book you’ll read in an afternoon at the beach. It’s introspective and well written. I found myself pondering the relationships between characters and thinking about how tough times can change or build relationships (I’m being deliberately vague so that you can form your own thoughts).

Give it a go and tell me what you think!