Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Ghost of Shapley Hall by Amy Cross

Title: The Ghost of Shapley Hall
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 137
Rating: 3/5
.99 on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Georgette Shapley died outside this house. Her ghost has spent the past century trying to get back inside so she can be reunited with her child.” 

James Spence doesn't believe in ghosts, so he has no worries about going with his girlfriend Rachel to visit an old, abandoned country home. 

Rachel, meanwhile, is convinced that a weekend at Shapley Hall will make James change his mind. After all, she knows from bitter experience that the the house is haunted by a woman who once died in the most horrific manner possible, and who now waits to be reunited with her long-lost child. 

As the weekend continues, however, James starts to realize that maybe ghosts are the least of his problems. Rachel's behavior is becoming increasingly erratic, and it soon becomes clear that she'll stop at nothing to fulfill a promise she once made to a dead woman. Did Rachel imagine a terrifying experience during her childhood, or are the hallways of Shapley Hall really haunted by a terrifying, vengeful creature? 

The Ghost of Shapley Hall is a horror novella about two people who venture into a dark, abandoned house, and about the echo of a terrible crime that still haunts the Shapley family to this day.

Review:
First off, I'll start with what I liked. I liked the fact that this author can put a creepy image in your head as fast as she did. There were some elements of the story that stood out to me. Like the expansive house that's riddled with nothing but bad vibes. At the end of the story, there was a good twist that even surprised me, which I love in a good horror book.
On the other hand, I really disliked the way the author kept repeating some things. Who knew you could describe the sound of beetles in a million different ways? Cross managed to. Also, the main character, Rachel, was extremely annoying to me in many different ways. She wasn't a nice person at all, despite what her main goal in the story was, and I hated her even more at the end of the book. Poor James. :(

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

These Mean Streets, Darkly by Austin Dragon || Review

Title: These Mean Streets, Darkly
Author+Austin Dragon
Pages: 62
Version: Kindle
Get the free book here.

Synopsis from Amazon:
It's a world of colossal skyscrapers. Hover-cars fly above in the dark, rainy skies and gray people walk below on the grimy, hard streets in the "Neon Jungle." Uber-governments and mega-corporations fight for control of the super-city, but so does crime.

An average woman, Carol, who is hard-working and decent in every way, loses her daughter to the psycho Red Rabbit. Can Police Central find the girl in time alive? And is it really a random, senseless kidnapping in the fifty-million-plus city?

There are a million victims and perpetrators in this High-Tech, Low-Life world. This is one of those stories...before we meet our private eye (and unlikely hero), Cruz, in the debut novel, Liquid Cool!

Review:
This is the first cyberpunk "book" I have ever read, and I was not disappointed at all. I say "book" because it is actually a prequel to a book called Liquid Cool, which you can get here. I am super excited to start that book next. Before I get to the actual book review, I want to comment on how amazing the writing is. Austin's ability to get inside your mind with his writing is a big reason on why I decided to write this book review in the first place. I love writers who can set up a whole new world inside your head and make you feel what the characters are feeling. I've read books with extremely flat worlds, so it's amazing when I can jump into one without even trying.

This story does an amazing job at setting up the world for the actual novel. We meet a lot of characters who are going to be important and see how the story got its start. It's a short read, considering it's a prequel, but it is jam-packed with the knowledge you'll need to read the next book, action, gore, a heart-breaking scenario that is a parent's worst nightmare, and all around bad-ass characters that will make you want more from them. The book ends in a cliff-hanger that made me want to jump right into the next book, but I have a few to read and review before their release dates, so I have to hold off. *deep sigh*.

I'm very happy that this was my first cyberpunk book that I've read, because before I had so many qualms against the genre that I steered extremely clear of it, but now I don't see why at all. I'm glad I gave it a chance, and I'm really glad I found out about this book.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay || Book Review


Title: A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel
AuthorPaul Tremblay
Pages: 304
Published by: William Morrow
Release date: June 2, 2015
Format: Kindle edition
Buy the book here

Trigger warning: mentions of slight domestic violence, explicit language, sexual imagery

Review:
What starts out as seemingly early warning signs of schizophrenia, quickly becomes a nightmare for not only Marjorie, but her mother and father, and sister who goes by the name "Merry", as well. When the countless doctor's Marjorie has been seeing can't seem to stop her from delving deeper into her corroded mind, John (the father) decides to turn to a Catholic priest to help them. After observing Marjorie, the priest proceeds to tell the family that an exorcism is in order if they want Marjorie to get back to normal.
Following this, knowing of John being out of work for a year, the priest contacts a production company who is willing to film the family's experience in exchange for a nice sum of cash to help the family get back on their feet. The TV show, "The Possession" instantly became a hit, and had a myriad of negative impacts on the family's lives.
Fifteen years later, Merry has agreed to speak out on the events surrounding her when the show was being filmed, both on and off camera. Secrets that are only just now coming out will be sure to leave you shocked and left with your mouth hanging open with an "I-don't-believe-this" expression on it.

Excerpt:
"My stuffed animal companions became my sentries, strategically placed around the room. I turned my cardboard house so the mail slot faced my bedroom door. I spent the rest of that weekend in the house, looking out through the slot, totally convinced that Marjorie would be back to apologize, or to prove that she could sneak in whenever she wanted, or to steal my books again, or something worse, like her coming into my cardboard house to rearrange my drawings in the awful way she’d done with her own posters. I was good at imagining the somethings worse.

With each passing minute that she didn’t come into my room, I grew more frantic and paranoid and convinced that she was indeed coming. So I rigged my bedroom to try to catch her in the act. Wouldn’t she be in trouble with Mom and Dad then, given how much of a surly-teen stink she put up whenever I went near her room. I took the belt from my fuzzy purple robe that I never used and tied the ends to a bedpost and the doorknob. The belt had just enough slack that my bedroom door opened so only someone my size could wiggle safely through. I also balanced an empty plastic orange juice jug on top of the slightly open door so that it leaned against the doorframe. If the door opened beyond the constraints of my robe belt, the jug would crash to the ground, or better yet, on the door opener’s head. No way would Marjorie sneak in without getting stuck or making enough of a ruckus to be heard by me.

I didn’t feel 100 percent safe so I built motion-detecting surveillance cameras and a laptop computer out of cereal boxes. I spent Sunday morning conducting quite a few background checks on one Miss Marjorie Barrett. Oh, the things I found.

Despite Marjorie’s promise to tell me a real, made-up story the following day, I would make her wait this time. I would make her come to me. So I stayed in my room and only ventured out for food and bathroom breaks.

Still not satisfied, I built a tower of books with All Around the World and Cars and Trucks and Things That Go as part of the foundation. To remove either book without everything crashing down would be impossible. I tried it twice and earned a bruise on my thigh from one of the falling books.

When I woke up Monday morning, Marjorie was already in the shower and my parents were loudly stumbling and mumbling about the house. I slowly sat up and a folded piece of paper tumbled off my chest.

I flung the covers off me and checked for security breaches. The robe belt was still tied and the empty orange juice jug was in place. My stuffed animals were still on watch. I scolded them for falling asleep on the job. I checked my cameras and laptop. Nothing. My tower of books was intact, but All Around the World was gone, stolen, and replaced with Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. Did she just yank the book out and stuff in the replacement without the tower falling? Did she patiently break down the book tower piece by piece to get to the book and then rebuild? Maybe I forgot to put the book back after one of my structural integrity tests, but no, All Around the World wasn’t anywhere else in my room.

I stormed into my cardboard house and I opened the folded note she’d left on my chest. Surely, it was from Marjorie and not Mom or Dad, though Dad was an occasional trickster if he was in a good mood.

It was written in green crayon.


I sneak into your room when you are asleep, Merry-monkey. I’ve been doing it for weeks now, since the end of summer. You’re so pretty when you’re asleep. Last night, I pinched your nose shut until you opened your little mouth and gasped.

Tonight it’s your turn. Sneak out to my room, after you’re supposed to be in bed, and I’ll have a new made-up story ready for you. Pictures and everything. It’ll be so much fun! Please stop being mad at me and do this.

xoxo


Marjorie"

If you read this book, you won't be disappointed! From Stephen King himself, he said it even terrified him!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review || Reckless Traveler by Walter Rhein

Title: Reckless Traveler
Author: Walter Rhein
Publisher: Perseid Press
Pages: 318
Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Synopsis from AmazonReckless Traveler: an autobiographical novel of adventuring in South America, sure to delight anyone with a passport. PerĂº and beyond: Through the alchemy of travel, youthful folly may bring disaster or wisdom . . . and more.
The instructional travel guide for aspiring backpackers: learn how to bribe police, avoid malaria, and find employment abroad -- and what to do (and not to do) when armed mercenaries detain your charter bus.
Awaken your inner explorer with Walter Rhein's Reckless Traveler, expat tales from a decade of discovery.

Review:

This book is not usually the type of book I'll pick up if I were browsing through a bookstore. I am however, extremely glad +Walter Rhein decided to e-mail me to see if I wanted to read his book and write a review over it. I'm not one to pass up on adding a book to my library.
I am someone who loves the idea of travelling, but I doubt I ever really will. Mainly because the anxiety that comes when I actually start planning is too overwhelming. I did get lost in this book. The imagery Rhein weaves throughout his re-telling of his decade in Peru is astounding. The characters who flit in and out of his life are likable, some are even worrisome. The situations he got himself into range from hilarious to sad. I mostly smiled reading about his adventures than anything else, though.

You can tell there is a huge gap between how we do things within the United States and how other countries do things. When we're sick, we want to go to the doctor. When they're sick over there, they stick to home remedies. Dancing is always encouraged, and people are genuinely interested in taking you under their wing if they find you to be of good character, as opposed to us Americans thinking people should just make it by themselves.

Rhein has woken up the travel dragon inside me. I believe when I actually do sit down and plan something, I'll be able to follow through with it. My desire for new experiences outweighs my worries about what could potentially go wrong. I think I'll start slow and opt for another state instead of another country right off the bat, though. ;)

I'm giving this book a 5 out of 5 stars because Rhein knows how to re-tell a story. He knows how to make his readers laugh. He also knows how to make his readers be filled with awe by just telling us how he felt examining certain places he went to on his travels. It takes an amazing write to put a picture inside your head and make you feel what they were feeling at the time.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Review || Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore

Title: Wreck and Order
Author+Hannah Tennant-Moore
Pages: 304
Publisher: Hogarth
Star rating: 3/5

Trigger Warning: Deals with sexual scenarios some may find uncomfortable or degrading. Also deals with physical and emotional abuse.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Synopsis from AmazonDecisively aimless, self-destructive, and impulsively in and out of love, Elsie is a young woman who feels stuck. She has a tumultuous relationship with an abusive boyfriend, a dead-end job at a newspaper, and a sharp intelligence that’s constantly at odds with her many bad decisions. When her initial attempts to improve her life go awry, Elsie decides that a dramatic change is the only solution.
An auto-didact who prefers the education of travel to college, Elsie uses an inheritance to support her as she travels to Paris and Sri Lanka, hoping to accumulate experiences, create connections, and discover a new way to live. Along the way, she meets men and women who challenge and provoke her towards the change she genuinely hopes to find. But in the end, she must still come face-to-face with herself.
Whole-hearted, fiercely honest and inexorably human, Wreck and Order is a stirring debut that, in mirroring one young woman's dizzying quest for answers, illuminates the important questions that drive us all.

Review
This was a hard book for me to read, and I normally read about some heavy issues without it bothering me. This book was hard to read for me mainly because I wanted to shake the main character, Elsie, until she grew a brain. On the other hand, I really felt for her because she obviously has some inner issues that she can't handle and searches for ways to heal herself in abusive relationships and running away 500,000 miles from home. 


I did like the fact that most of the novel was set in Sri Lanka, where Elsie went to lose herself in a poverty stricken neighborhood with her friend Suryia. I believe the trip was definitely eye opening for Elsie because she has so much more than what Suriya and her family has. This novel is beautifully written, and deals with a lot of issues that are deemed as taboo, which is very brave of Tennant-Moore, in my opinion.


I was a little disappointed at the end of the book because I didn't feel as if Elsie had learned much of anything except about her divide with a third world country. This is a book that made me feel degraded reading. I wanted to reach out to Elsie and tell her that rough sex isn't the only way she can feel the things she needs to. In fact, I think it hinders her ability to move past whatever issues she is dealing with. Although I did finish the book, it would be one that I will not let my children read until they are grown up enough to understand that the type of love and sacrifices that Elsie is making is not the type of love she or he will ever need in their lives. This is a story of a severely screwed up individual who should have had a little more guidance when they were growing up instead of an absent mother and a father who also has a mental-illness.

All in all, I love the way Tennant-Moore can write. It's eloquent and in some cases extremely crude and horrifying. I love a book that can bring out those emotions in me. On the other hand, it's a book that needs to be read by an older, more mature crowd who can understand the difference between abuse and love. This book likes to make you think differently about things.

Monday, March 7, 2016

REVIEW: A Stalled Ox by Dean Moses

A good book and a hot bath.
Perfect for relaxation!

DISCLAIMER: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.

Title:
A Stalled Ox
Author: +Dean Moses 
Pages: 120
Publisher: Black Hill Press
Release date: November 11, 2015.

Review:
The unthinkable has happened. In a world where meat is non-existent, people have turned to religion to help save them from what they believe to be the end of the world. Agent Howard and his partner Linda to go undercover to a compound where a man who calls himself by the name of "God" is claiming he has found a way to serve his followers meat.

In such a short novella, Agent Howard, Linda, and "God" are well-thought out characters. Linda and "God" have background stories that are summed up in a few paragraphs and they are told perfectly. "God" is a very calculating character, and has so much more inside of him than what is presented in the story. He is cold, unpredictable, yet even I was drawn in by him. His story comes with a ton of surprises as well. This novella has horror, passion, and exciting turns of events you'll be captivated by. By the end, you'll be left with questions and wanting even more.

This book is perfect for readers who like shorter novels, but still appreciate amazing writing. The fact that this is a novella doesn't mean it doesn't pack the punch a longer book does. I found myself flinching at the gore found within its 120 pages and was scared numb by the imagery Moses formed inside my mind with his writing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The People v. Jonathan Ludarac by Richard McLarn


Title: The People V. Jonathan Ludarac
Author: Richard McLarn
Synopsis from GoodreadsDetectives Dalton and Renfield investigate the murder of Dallas Gaines. Gaines is one of four defendants who were accused of murdering Jonathan Ludarac’s daughter but were released after a mistrial. As the detectives investigate, the case grows more complicated due to media attention, public opinion and evidence that Jonathan Ludarac’s house may be haunted. His daughter may still be alive, and Jonathan himself may be more sinister than he seems.
Review:
I always really enjoy books that are formatted in ways that aren't considered "normal" compared to other books. This book, which I found on Wattpad, follows multiple different characters over the course of a trial. I'm always reading books that deal with court settings, and I feel like Richard did an amazing job at making everything seem professional. I have no idea where he got his information over court trials from, but I felt like I was right there in the court room while everything was going on.

On the other hand, there are a ton of supernatural elements within this book as well, which if you've been following my reviews at all, you'd know I adore. It's very hard for a book to give me goosebumps. It's even more hard for books that I read to make my mouth drop. 
The People V. Jonathan Ludarac managed both of these for me and I was definitely not disappointed at all with this book.

You all should check it out! The shortened version is on Wattpad, and the extended edition is found here.