Category Archives: Book Reviews

Feast of Chaos by Christian A Brown

Feast of Chaos by Christian A Brown

 Feast of Chaos
by Christian A Brown

Menos has been destroyed. No corner of the realm of Geadhain is safe from the Black Queen’s hunger. Zionae—or the Great Dreamer, as she has been called in ancient tongues—has a thirst that cannot be quenched until all of Geadhain burns and bleeds. She preys on the minds of weak men and exploits human folly for an unhuman end. She cannot be defeated in her current state, but the answer to her downfall may lie in the land of her past.

It is with this aim that a Daughter of Fate, Morigan, and her brave and true companions venture to the mysterious Pandemonia, the land of chaos itself. Ancient secrets and even older power lurk in its swamps and deserts. Life itself becomes uncertain, but the Hunters of Fate have no choice: Pandemonia must give up its secrets if they want to find the Black Queen’s weakness.

Elsewhere in the realm, alliances form and break. Dead men rise and heroes fall. Eod prepares for war. In hiding, Lila, the bearer of its destruction, will be given a chance to atone and answer for her sins. Will her actions save Eod, or has she damned it with her crimes?

Four Feasts Till Darkness Book 3

Rated: ★★★★
Publication: September 23, 2016
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Feast of Chaos by Christian A Brown

Third book in the Four Feasts Till Darkness series, Feast of Chaos by Christian A Brown continues the delicate dance of progressing the possible destruction of Geadhain with the struggle to save it. Brown continues to excel at balancing the wide cast of characters with ample time and story.

It is a credit to how well Brown has developed his characters over the past two previous books that by the third, they feel like real people, people that you know and care about. So when they make mistakes, they make choices you don’t agree with, there comes an anger. You want to reach into the book, take characters by the shoulders and shake them, beg them to wake up and get real. You feel that very real exasperation you feel when you see real life friends make wrong choices, even though this time, they are just ink on a page. If that isn’t a testament to Brown’s writing ability, I don’t know what is! Especially considering the anger I felt towards said characters never once had me doubting Brown’s ability as a writer or storyteller. Since I have literally talked all about my anger over these characters in the Pages and Pause Screen podcast (spoilers, obvs), I’m going to skip over that and talk about how well the arcs progress for the rest of the cast. Those that once appeared irredeemable suddenly find themselves walking the penitent’s path and it feels real. You feel sorry for him. You feel sorry for most of these characters and the situations they’re in. And then, then you have the villains! At first, I rolled my eyes at the newest addition, the Dreamstalker, but then, THAT ENDING! Brown creates the villain that I never thought I would see. It was fantastic.

The closer we get to the end of the series, the more we see happening. War comes from all fronts and the road for our heroes looks ever bleaker. Still, there is hope that they can win, though it is interwoven with the realization that it will likely come at a great cost. Feast of Chaos by Christian A Brown is yet another great addition to the outstanding Dark Fantasy series Four Feasts Till Darkness, continuing the tradition of strong character driven fantasy.

Tuesday Intros // A God in the Shed

Tuesday Intros: A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau

Hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea, Tuesday Intros shares the first paragraph of a book I’m currently reading, which at the moment, is another horror book, A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau. So far, it’s really good and I can’t wait to get to the meat of things!

Regrets are the instruments by which we learn. We tend not to repeat the mistakes we truly regret. They may cause us pain, but regrets push us to better our lives. We regret how we treat our first love, but it teaches us to be a better partner. We regret being lazy in school, but it reminds us to apply ourselves in the workplace later. We may be troubled by our regrets, but we don’t carry them with us for the rest of our lives. Instead they become milestones, honor badges that remind us how we’ve grown.

Remorse, however, is a much deeper feeling. What wouldn’t we do to take back the circumstances that birthed those scars?

So, I had to include part of the second paragraph because it’s those two lines that really put into perspective the first paragraph, and I feel, what will be the entire story. The prologue itself had me scared to go to sleep, so imagine how the rest of the book will go! Cannot wait to finish this as it has so much potential!

What do you think? Would this paragraph hook you? What have y’all been reading?

Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt

Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt

 Greener Pastures
by Michael Wehunt

In his striking debut collection, Greener Pastures, Michael Wehunt shows why he is a powerful new voice in horror and literary weird fiction.

From the round-robin, found-footage nightmare of “October Film Haunt: Under the House” (selected for The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror) to the jazz-soaked “The Devil Under the Maison Blue” (selected for both The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and Year’s Best Weird Fiction), these beautifully crafted, emotionally resonant stories speak of the unknown encroaching upon the familiar, the inscrutable power of grief and desire, and the thinness between all our layers. Where nature rubs against small towns, in mountains and woods and bedrooms, here is strangeness seen through a poet’s eye.

They say there are always greener pastures. These stories consider the cost of that promise.

Rated: ★★★★
Publisher: Apex Book Company
Publication: March 4, 2017
Genre: Horror, New Weird, Southern Gothic
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt

This book hit all of my buttons, in the best way possible! Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt is a wonderful collection of short stories that creep their way out of the horror genre and into Southern Gothic and New Weird. Every single story creates and maintains its own sense of unease, while also building upon and blending into the overarching feeling that ties everything together, the visceral and oppressing wilderness.

The very first paragraph from the very first story sets the mood for the remainder of the book. The constant feel of ache and weariness contrasted against the savagery of the environment. From a technical standpoint, it’s amazing how Wehunt manages to construct sentences that are both simple, yet impactful. To go from a character holding a jug of milk, to feeling devoured by the unending vastness of night, Wehunt juxtaposes common day occurrences with a dread and terror that fit seamlessly in. You’re left with a feeling that at any moment, you could find yourself in that very position, that very place. Whether intended or not, Greener Pastures oozes Southern Gothic charm. From unstable characters, the undertone of rebellion and overbearing small-town religion, to the sublime, yet grotesque depictions of nature.

Though themes do seem to be threaded through each story, they are each standalones and different, all in varying degrees of weird. From love lost and its consequences, to a quartet of child stories that are interesting to make sense of as a collection of its own, to life in places better left untouched, each story confronts the inevitable differently, makes use of the environment in its own way. Beside Me Singing in the Wilderness, one of my favorites, has a mountain demanding its return. Greener Pastures, another favorite, a darkness that consumes and demands more.

Whenever it comes to a book of collections, readers are naturally wary; I sure am most of the time. Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt, however, is what short story collections should be. Every story accomplishes its goal of disturbing the reader, inducing horror and unease. Out of the eleven, there are only one or two that I personally didn’t enjoy as much as the others, and yet, they were still good. Definitely pick this up!

Quotes & Excerpts

I’ve come home to this nameless mountain pouring blood from its bowel.
Beside Me Singing in the Wilderness

Eyes black as their feathers, as holes. I stand on the porch. A gallon milk jug sweats against my hand. The crows or ravens are quiet and there are only the bugs dying out in the fall. My arm begins to ache and the night opens its jaws, slow and cool.
Inconsolable

Tuesday Intros // Greener Pastures

Tuesday Intros: Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt

Hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea, Tuesday Intros shares the first paragraph of a book I’m currently reading, which at the moment, is Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt, a really great spooky read with really vivid imagery.

Sissa died last year, just shy of our hundred and thirtieth birthday. I ain’t talked much to folks since, excepting Mr. Pearl. Me and Sissa was both childless. But I’ve shook it off and traveled such a long way at my brittle age. I’ve come home to this nameless mountain pouring blood from its bowel.

The second I read this paragraph, I was hooked. It’s so damn visceral with that last line, a mountain pouring blood. The short story this paragraph is from, Beside Me Singing in the Wilderness, is amazing.

What do you think? Would this paragraph hook you? What have y’all been reading?

Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott

Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott

 Silver and Salt
by Elanor Dymott

On the death of the celebrated photographer Max Hollingbourne, his daughter, Ruthie, returns to his villa in Greece after fifteen years in exile. The youngest and estranged member of a once close-knit London family, Ruthie is haunted by a dark secret from her childhood, one that fractured her family and drove her mother to madness.

Still, following her father’s death, she and her older sister, Vinny, manage to build a fragile happiness at the villa where they had spent their summers as girls. But the arrival of an English family at a neighboring cottage, and the presence of one young girl in particular, trigger a chain of events that will plunge both women back into their harrowing pasts with shocking and fatal consequences.

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: WW Norton & Company
Publication: April 4, 2017
Genre: Suspense
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott

While I love fantasy the most as a genre, I have a real strong affinity for all things family drama. Dark family secrets that tear families apart and leave either the reader or a new generation to uncover the twisted past that scarred every generation proceeding. Gothic Americana, a genre I truly hold dear to my heart, yet struggle to find good, recent representation from. Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott, though not American, does succeed at capturing the very feeling I search for.

For those that aren’t fans of a slow moving suspense, Silver and Salt might not be the story for you. This is a very gradual build, but in my opinion, so worth it. It’s this creeping pace that builds the tension, keeping the reader wondering what that horrific end event is. Even after you learn what it is, you’re still vested in learning how. How it happened, even as you already know why.

This is definitely a character driven story. Everything revolves around the Hollingbourne family — the relationship between patriarch Max and wife Sophie, their relationship with daughters Vinny and Ruthie, and the relationship between the sisters themselves. Though the physical settings play a part, influencing and heightening the tension between the family, it seems almost inconsequential to the story because of how intricately detailed and well developed the characters. Max, charismatic photographer better suited for transient life than as a family man. Sophie, a starlet who abandoned everything to start a family that could never happen, Vinny, the elder daughter who just wants to get away to a normal life, and Ruthie, the younger daughter who is a combination of all of her parents’ flaws.

Told through a series of cuts between time, the narrative slowly uncovers the tragedy of what should have been a golden family. Silver and Salt by Elanor Dymott is such a heartbreaking tale of love gone wrong, of love not being nearly enough. Definitely recommended for fans of dysfunctional family dramas and family secrets that end in tragedy.

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen
by Patricia Briggs

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Mercy Thompson series, book 10

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Ace
Publication: March 7, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Fae, Paranormal, Supernatural
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

After being mildly disappointed with the previous book, I was hesitant on what I would get with Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs, her tenth in the Mercy Thompson series. The beginning did not alleviate my concerns in the slightest. However, I have to admit, by the end, I was entertained. It was an enjoyable experience and did hearken back to the earlier books in the series.

Now, I mentioned I was worried this would be a disappointment in the beginning. Why? That’s easy, because Briggs re-used an opening sequence. The second Mercy had to run to the store to grab something, and started mentioning the car, I knew it. I knew we were going somewhere we’d gone before. Book 7 – Frost Burned, opened with Mercy in a staged car accident. The only difference between the two books is that in Frost Burned, the pack was targeted and in Silence Fallen, Mercy was the target. Reusing that set-up just had me worried that perhaps Briggs had run out of new ideas. Didn’t know where to take the story now that things seemed to calm down in the previous book.

Worries were allayed due to superficial reasons however. Stefan, my darling baby boy vampire finally makes a reappearance and I could not care less if this entire book went sideways, he was back. Thankfully, it didn’t go sideways. It was really interesting to see Briggs try to shake things up from how she normally does this series. Playing with split point-of-views, we get to see the dynamic between Adam and Mercy play out. Diplomacy over action. I’m not sure I’d like to see more of this simply because I’ve grown to used to this being Mercy’s story, but it worked.

Things get muddled with the plot simply as a result of the split POVs. Adam and Bonarata was solid and something I truly enjoyed and appreciated. ESPECIALLY AT THE END WHEN MATT SMITH. Matt Smith made me go back to reread things. But yes, the Bonarata plot was good. It was intricate, but not overly complicated. It made sense, especially given his age and position. Mercy’s plot, however, seemed convoluted. I don’t know if it’s because Briggs is planning on making what she learns part of the next troublesome arc or not, but there were too many elements involved. Vampire witches, ghosts, golems, and Coyote all mixed together in a tiny space fighting for control of the narrative. It felt sloppy and the only thing that kept things afloat was Adam.

Compared to the previous book, Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs is a step up. It’s definitely moving in a better direction and leaves me excited to see where the series goes from here. The cast is definitely bloated and could use with some trimming, which is being hinted at, but we didn’t gain any new characters here. With two possible directions, that I could gather, for where the next big bad will come from, I’m optimistic Briggs still has control over the series.

T5W // Books for Slytherin

T5W: Books For Your Hogwarts House

Top Five Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Lainey and Samantha over on the T5W goodreads group. This week’s prompt was:

Show your Hogwarts House Pride, and tell us the top 5 books that represent your house!

As a Slytherin through and through, thanks to the Pottermore sorting and thousand other quizzes I’ve taken that have all given the same result, I think I have the perfect set of books that could be found in the dungeon common room. In no particular order…

The Magicians by Lev Grossman has got to be quintessentially Slytherin. Over achievers whose ambition to become the best magician drives them forward, and then, once they reach the pinnacle, find that the mediocrity of the world around them is contemptibly tedious. This book immediately came to mind when I thought Slytherin.


The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco might seem like an odd choice, but hear me out. We’ve got main character Tea that is extremely powerful, and through a series of events, becomes so extremely cunning and ambitious she is banished from society. Does she simply resign to that? No, she plots for a way to get even and boy is it frightening!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Kaz Brekker. That’s pretty much it. The reason this screams Slytherin. Now, still haven’t read Crooked Kingdom, so who knows if it still rings true, but since SoC Kaz is so driven by vengeance, even though he remains mostly cool and collected about it, and has plans upon plans upon plans, this is totally typical Slytherin.


Jonathan Strange and Mr NorrellWow, I read this so long ago, I don’t have a review for it up on RR. It’s a dense read, but what makes it Slytherin is Jonathan Strange. His distaste over Norrell’s boring forms of magic, the desire to break out on his own, and his ambition to uncover new, greater magics, leads me to think he would have been a great, if disastrous, addition to Slytherin.


Wuthering Heights by Emily BronteI mean, I don’t think I really even need to say anything about this choice. It’s obvious. Heathcliff and Catherine fall down Slytherin’s dark path of ambition and cunning, where it leads to cruelty and rancor. Still, they understand each other, and in the end, isn’t that what Slytherin is all about? Yes, we might have negative tendencies, but we’re family. We take each other, warts and all.


So, what do you think? Disagree with any of my choices? Have any recs? Let me know!
I’d love to see what y’all picked for your houses!

Beckoning Darkness by JD Stonebridge

Beckoning Darkness by JD Stonebridge

 Beckoning Darkness
by JD Stonebridge

After centuries have passed, the End of Times draws near, and Heaven is preparing for God’s return.

After centuries of imprisonment in Heaven, Ariel is given a chance to redeem herself in the eyes of the archangels. Years after her last descent, Ariel must return to the mortal land to fulfill her mission for the coming of God. But the memories of her past sins catch up to her, and Ariel must decide where her faith truly lies.

The city of Chicago was the chosen residence of the eccentric demon, Caelum. His taste of entertainment sets him apart from the rest of his kind, driving him to walk amongst the mortal men. But when he is presented with an opportunity to have a hand in Hell’s grand plan, temptation beckoned him to take the risks. Walking through shadows and nightmares he crosses paths with an angel from Heaven, and the memories of his forgotten humanity begin to resurface.

Both Heaven and Hell have plans for the End of Days with the angel, Ariel, and the demon, Caelum, at the center. When faith is threatened, two natural enemies become unlikely allies in a war for all humanity.

The Damned and the Pure book 1

Rated: ★★★
Publication: November 27, 2014
Genre: Supernatural, Angels
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

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Beckoning Darkness by JD Stonebridge

I need to start off this review but profusely apologizing to the author, for I forgot about this lovely book until I started clearing out my emails. It’s a shame really, because I adored Beckoning Darkness by JD Stonebridge. It is exactly my type of tea! The pacing was fast, the action never dulled, and the characters had such a spark!

I’ve always found it to be a fine line when reading supernatural stories about angels. At best, they tend to create an almost infallible protagonist that suddenly falls for the bad boy and a love triangle ensues. At worst, it is covered in heavily overt Christianity (not that there’s anything wrong with those that want that; I, however, prefer most religious messages out of my literature.) Beckoning Darkness, however, was one of the shining examples of angel fiction done right. There is angel mythology there. There is Heaven versus Hell. But, never once did I feel as though a message of righteousness was coming for me. Nor did I feel like the characters were ever simply one-dimensional tropes, even when they are so extremely in their role.

Angel Ariel knows her place and knows where demon Caelum’s place is. They are not friends, they are born to opposite ends of a spectrum. She is the ultimate angel, faithful and a believer, even when things don’t feel right. Caelum is the lovable charmer, whom I am completely smitten over. Their places, their roles, clearly defined. And yet, we see the relationship progress, with neither changing their stance for the most part. That is, until the very end, and even then… well, there’s a sequel for a reason! The dynamic between Caelum and Ariel was the best part of the story. These characters just jump right off the page and interact so easily with one another, it’s bewitching to read.

Stonebridge excellently balances out exposition, background information, forward moving plot, and character development in such a short amount of time! It never feels like an overwhelming information dump, nor do you ever truly lose the thread. The story feels as natural as the characters, moving fluidly towards the conclusion that is foreshadowed (and I’m LOVING it). The ending, the questions it brings up, I’m just so excited to dive into the sequel now to see how my theories play out.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, supernatural suspense that features some great, snappy characters and banter, I wholeheartedly suggest picking up Beckoning Darkness by JD Stonebridge. Don’t be a fool like I was and put it off.

Quotes & Excerpts

 

“Admittedly, I don’t trust my own kind either. Rather, I don’t trust anyone but myself. But I trust that if given the right push and pull, anyone can be relied upon to do what you want.”
– Chapter 14: The Sinner’s Task

“A demon who does not like to inflict pain. Tell me, what makes you so different from your friend in there and the rest?” Ariel challenged him.
“I consider myself better looking than any of them are,” Caelum said with a grin.
– Chapter 14: The Sinner’s Task