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review 2017-03-19 15:00
Sarah Review
Sarah - Teri Polen

Teri Polen’s Sarah is a pleasingly creepy young adult horror. Fans of Supernatural will be delighted with this book. If you’ve ever watched any of those typical high-school rom-coms/dramas where guys make a bet to trick a girl, and boo’d at the screen, you’ll enjoy Sarah. It’s a twisted take on a classic plot that will make horror fans cheer. This is the version they were waiting on.

 

Cain and his best friend Finn are good kids that both have their heads screwed on straight. Cain took on a lot of responsibility after his dad’s death, and that definitely made him grow up a bit. Finn, too, has had his share of problems. They could be the male version of Mary-Sues if Polen hadn’t written in some believable flaws. But they’re not perfect, and that makes all the difference. Quick tempers, wicked tongues, and Finn’s desire to needle every one around him means that at any given time, someone’s probably thinking about punching him. Or Cain. Or both. The rest of the characters are appropriately likable or detestable. Except for Lindsay. She’s a bit of a non-entity.

 

I liked that the author made a few salient points in Sarah about the mindset towards sexual assault. There was more than one conversation or interaction when I just sat back in my chair and sighed after reading it. It was utterly realistic. Teenagers are, as a rule of thumb, very selfish individuals, and it seems like jocks in particular excel in this. They think they can get away with anything, and/or that the world revolves around them. It’s behavior that’s either never corrected, or not corrected until it’s too late.

 

Hasn’t recent events proven that if a boy can score several touchdowns per game, who cares how many girls he assaults, right? We all know they were asking for it anyways. Or if adult males make enough money, they can do anything they want to girls, because they believe they are more important than the girls are. And these types of beliefs are constantly getting reinforced in today’s society.

It’s disturbing and disgusting and Teri Polen shows the reader a path to douche-hood that hundreds of young men start down every day.

 

I did, however, have one huge problem with Sarah. Sarah, herself. Well, her dialogue to be specific. For the most part, I liked her. I liked seeing the change. I puzzled over what, exactly, was going on with her. Yes, I thought she was vengeance-crazed ghost thing, but she was a fun vengeance-crazed ghost thing. Until she opened her mouth. Pretty much every time she started talking, it was like someone just hit the ‘off’ button on my interest in the story.

 

I understand that her background means that we could expect a certain amount of dialogue that seemed unusual for her age range. I was fully willing to accept that. But Sarah presented with lines that went between disturbingly formal and super-villain monolog. Luckily, her talkative scenes appear in bursts, so for most of the story it’s really not an issue.

 

Sarah is a book that takes a bit to get going, but overall it’s an easy, enjoyable creepy read. I was definitely hooked fairly early on, and read the book in two bursts over two days. It comes in at just under 200 pages, so it’s not something that demands a lot of your time. If you like horror, but don’t like it too gory or scary, this will probably be a great choice. Teri Polen did a pretty solid job.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley for review consideration

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/sarah-review
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review 2017-03-18 15:00
Stone Cold Bastards Review
Stone Cold Bastards - Jake Bible

Forget clawed mutants and moody men of steel. Jake Bible’s Grotesques are the heroes this world needs. Stone Cold Bastards is outright bloody fun. I love zombies, and I’m a fan of the author’s Z-Burbia series, but I think this was much better. It is a gust of fresh air blowing away some of the rancid post-apocalyptic rot pervading the genre.

 

Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. If you cannot watch it burn, then you at least want to see geysers of blood and rib-cage battering rams. If none of those are available, chocolate will suffice. Luckily for me, I didn’t need to resort to chocolate. Jake Bible’s Stone Cold Bastards gave me all the head-bursting violence my blackened heart could want.

 

It also appealed to the teen in me. The one who discovered the show Gargoyles and sat in front of the TV for hours on end, watching the protectors of New York kick evil guy butt. Though you daren’t call the Stone Cold Bastards anything other than Grotesques, it’s clear there is a resemblance. Living stone attached to a sanctuary are moved halfway across the world to America and take up their positions as guardians.  These herculean heroes of various proportions are a bit cruder and less puppy-doggish than the Gargoyles I knew and loved, but they have an undeniable appeal. Especially the shotgun toting fairies with mouths that would make a sailor blush.

Though Stone Cold Bastards doesn’t exactly hit the ground running, by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’ve forgotten the real world exists. A literary treat that will have you on the edge of your seat, always ready to do a fist pump and cheer the Grotesques on. Morty and company burst to life in your mind’s eye. As tension builds and the violence becomes almost non-stop, it’s impossible to put down.

 

And Bible’s world in Stone Cold Bastards is a scary one. There are no zombies, but instead, there are demons. In this new post-apocalyptic world, the gates of Hell have opened and demons are queuing up to take their turns in the meat bags there were inheriting the earth. But human bodies can’t contain the festering rot of evil for long, and as the book opens, there’s only one Sanctuary of uncorrupted humanity left.  What makes this so scary, though, is that in this world all it takes is eye contact to become possessed. Bible takes something that we take for granted and twists it effortlessly into something with terrifying consequences.

 

By the time I was 30 pages from the end of Stone Cold Bastards, I was grinning like a loon. After it had finished, I went full on fangirl squealing and bugging my book-reviewing compadres to put it on their To-Read list immediately. I haven’t shown so much geekish excitement over a book since I read Andy Weir’s The Martian a few years ago.

 

Even a few days later, I still grin every time I think about the awesomeness that is Stone Cold Bastards. It’s an unashamedly campy, no-holds-barred post-apocalyptic thrill ride that will make you cheer. And maybe do a little Snoopy dance. (Or maybe that’s just me. What can I say? Some gals go gaga for romance, some go nuts for butt-kicking.)

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/stone-cold-bastards-review
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review 2017-03-14 15:00
The Devil You Know Review
The Devil You Know - Mike Carey

The Devil You Know was my second book by Mike Carey, although I didn’t realize it until after I’d already purchased the book. The first, of course, was The Girl With All The Gifts. While it wasn’t exactly filled with suspense, there was a good bit of a mystery involved in it. Carey did a great job of giving as a familiar yet unfamiliar world. You also can’t help but root for the main character.

 

There were so many snarky quips in this book that had me rolling. Michael Kramer does a great job delivering Castor’s lines with such a dry wit that it takes a minute to realize the insult that’s just been delivered. If you are quite the religious person, I highly recommend that you avoid this book. Castor is decidedly anti-church, and he let’s people know it, both in direct remarks and in thoughts.

 

A paranormal mystery with an exorcist slash beginner gumshoe, The Devil You Know is set in a world where all sorts of abnormal creatures walk the earth. There are zombies, rougaroos, ghosts, demons, succubi, so on and so forth. The world has been dealing with this new state of things for quite a while, so you get a sense of ‘the new normal’ after the world has adjusted to the big event. There were not many references to what happened, or to the details of how it happened, and I found that refreshing. Sometimes you don’t need an epic recounting of a calamitous event. The after is just as fun.

 

From beginning to end, the book is well-paced and intriguing. The characters aren’t exactly fully fleshed out, but they don’t need to be. Felix is a fantastic grey-shaded protagonist. He has no qualms with admitting to why he does things. He’s also not above blackmailing or doing whatever is necessary to get things done. Underneath it all, though, he’s essentially a good guy, and that’s part of why he’s so darn likable.

 

This is not a book for the easily offended. But, if you’re able to enjoy a little bawdy humor and a good dose of snark, you’ll love what you’re reading/listening to. I definitely intend on picking up the rest of this series. The Devil You Know was just too entertaining for me to walk away from it after just one book. (And that’s extremely rare for me.)

 

I definitely recommend fans of paranormal and supernatural mysteries pick this up. And from what I’ve read of The Dresden Files, if you’re a fan of that type of urban fantasy, The Devil You Know will be right up your alley as well.

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/devil-you-know-review
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review 2017-03-12 15:00
Emerging (Subdue #2) Review
Emerging (Subdue) (Volume 2) - Thomas S Flowers

Emerging is the second book in the Subdue series by Thomas S. Flowers. I reviewed the other book, Dwelling, several months back.  Dwelling gave the reader interesting characters, and a good setup, but basically no action. Emerging, thankfully, drops right into the thick of things. Also, even though it had been a while since I’d read the last book, I had no problem picking up the threads of the story again.

 

Emerging is an easy read for the most part. I finished the first half of it in a ridiculously short amount of time. The pacing in this one is better than in the other. The dialogue is fine. There are some great lines in it. I giggled at the Pastafarian reference in particular. It was the first time I remember seeing His Noodliness mentioned in a book, and it cracked me up.

 

The characters are just as good in the second book as they were in the first. But Ricky is probably the most interesting character. Well, the most memorable at least. It’s hard to not to fixate on the insect-infested zombie who keeps showing up to his PTSD-affected best friend. Especially when you realize that he’s not there to haunt Johnathan. Instead, he’s trying to care for his wife from beyond the grave for as long as he can. Bobby was a close runner-up.  I did find that I didn’t feel as much for Jonathan as I did in the first book. He pulled some stupid moves in this book that just made me want to slap him.

 

But, the repetition got to me. Emerging got off to a great start, and it held strong at first. But I got tired of reading about cicadas, and bulbous red eyes, mandibles, and the sounds that they make. The odd emphasis on the word cicadas near the end of the book. Flowers has talent, but he seems to have let himself fall into lazy writing habits for the last part of the book. It brought the quality of the book down a good bit. It could have ended on a such a strong note, but didn’t. In fact, the closer I got to the end, the angrier I got about what I was reading, because I knew he could do better.

 

Overall, Emerging is a decent read, but it doesn’t come close to being as good as it could have been.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author for review consideration.

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/emerging-review
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review 2017-03-10 15:00
The Devil's Prayer Review
The Devil's Prayer - Luke Gracias

I don’t feel like the blurb for The Devil’s Prayer does it justice. But I also think it would be really hard to do a blurb that really did tell you what this book was about. Some of the book is fairly typical fare. Deals with the devil, prophecies, and the possible end of the world. Then there’s the historical fiction aspect of it. Which, if you’re someone into religious history, provides enough actual facts to make you happy. For the horror hounds, there’s some of that too, around the second quarter. So, there’s obviously a lot going on.

 

The first three-quarters of The Devil’s Prayer were awesome. There was the mystery, the horror, the clues all coming together. We got the beginnings of an answer to a question that was asked early on. Once I really sat down to concentrate on the book, I read through 50 percent of it in one night. And the last quarter was good, too. But in a very different way. Unfortunately, the last quarter doesn’t really match with the first three in any way other than covering the relevant subject matter.

 

It felt like Luke Gracias got almost done with the book, and then decided to turn it into a history paper at the end. The material he covered was fascinating, and stuff I’d definitely look up in my free time when I was in the mood for it. However, when I’m three-quarters of the way through a fiction book, I’m not in the mood to come to a full stop for a preachy, hand-holding history lesson. My interest in what I was reading swiftly fizzled. Instead of getting the climax and story resolution I was hoping for, I was suddenly just hoping it would end soon.

 

The way The Devil’s Prayer is told is a bit flip-floppy. It’s told journal-style, interspersed with present-day action. My one problem with journal style – and I’ve had this thought with a couple other books – is that it feels unrealistic. No one is going to be as detailed in their journals about every little interaction as they are in these types of books. (And I know this is partially on me, for not being able to completely suspend reality, but it bothers me.) I was able to push it aside, for the most part, and just enjoy what I was reading. Luke Gracias does a good job of giving us a character we can care about in Denise Russo, even if we know she’s already dead when we start to get to know her. Siobhan is pretty much just an audience substitute in this book.

 

Overall, The Devil’s Prayer isn’t a bad read by any means. But it’s not exactly the smoothest read with the way it ends. Luke Gracias is talented, though, and obviously a religious history enthusiast. I think we’ll see some great work from him in the future. Also, I would be shocked if The Devil’s Prayer doesn’t have a sequel already being written. The book ends, if not exactly on a cliffhanger, without a feeling of plot resolution.

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author for review consideration.

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/devils-prayer-review
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