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review 2019-01-10 20:27
Excellent paranormal thriller; historic Gothic mansion haunted by a past killing brings out demons, both literal and personal. This one had me gripped!
The Meadows - London Clarke

Scarlett DeHaven is a country-song songwriter who let success in Nashville lead her to fall into the trap of drugs and alcohol. After a stint in rehab, she moves to Virginia after having purchased a huge gothic historic mansion, and plans to turn it in to a bed and breakfast, despite the enormity of the task or even all the signs she seems to be getting from around her that it’s the wrong thing to do.

She gradually finds out that Asphodel House and Meadows was the site of a brutal mass killing, and ever since then, it’s been said to be used for some sort of cult, maybe even vampires or druids. Scarlett doesn’t want to believe any of it, and she soon breaks her sobriety when her friend Stella comes to stay  and starts to feel things will be okay with this new start.

That’s where the downward spiral, inside and out, seems to begin.

 

This is a not only an excellent paranormal thriller and ghost story, with elements of a cult and vampiric rituals, but also a novel about someone trying to go through recovery and deal with addiction and the trappings of what fame and fortune can do. It’s a lot more involved than initially meets the eye.

When asked to review this novel, I said yes based on it purely being a paranormal haunting-type story set in old house, and that didn’t even remotely set me up for what an amazing ride I had with this book.

Every time I sat down to read it, I was deeply entrenched in Scarlett’s plight: she had taken on this multi-million dollar money-pit with good intentions (even though her original  search for the house was made when she was high), and she starts drinking more as the stress  of it starts to take hold. When she breaks sobriety it broke my heart, but I found myself empathizing with the inner battle she constantly has with herself throughout the novel, and recognize the shame and isolation she feels. The addiction story may be hard for some people to read if they have had some experience dealing with addicts or recovery themselves. Still, it’s not done with kid gloves and Clarke does it with kindness and realistically.

 

Author London Clarke paints a vivid picture of both this looming mansion as well as this addiction in Scarlett’s life as they take over congruently; they work simultaneously like the demons that take hold. Asphodel House itself becomes its own character in the novel and is a force to be reckoned with, and it made me think of other famous literary haunted houses such as Hill House, and Amityville.

 

Scarlett’s past comes back to haunt her in many forms, and the other characters in the novel serve to remind her that she can’t step away from it. There are several humbling moments that serve as pivotal points for her too, and her story arc is heart-wrenching.   There are many bright spots though, as she pushes forward, and I appreciated the levity brought by some of the positivity she has (her denial serves her well too), and it broke up the moments where I truly had chills reading this book. It takes a lot for me, having read countless horror and thriller novels, and having worked on horror movies too. I also found the twists and turns to really take me by surprise.

 

I liken this indie-published ebook to one of the many independent movies I worked on when I worked in film; not enough people will get to read it (like they didn’t see those brilliant movies) because it’s not attached to a big publishing house (studio) or has a big name attached to it, and that’s a shame. This book is EXCELLENT. I was gripped all the way through. I want to make sure everyone I know who loves a good, chilling read, hears about ‘The Meadows’.

 

 

 

*I received a free copy of this book to review and this did not affect my opinion of the book.

 

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review 2019-01-03 03:36
Vespertine
Vespertine - Indra Vaughn,Leta Blake

This just didn't work for me. Seventeen years pass between the MCs breaking up and meeting up again. That's just too long for anyone to still be hung up on a first love, especially when I couldn't even imagine why they'd be friends in the first place. Nicky's kind of got an excuse, since he's supposed to be emotionally-stunted from his years of drug use. I'm not sure what Jasper's excuse is, but he reverts back to a teenager as soon as Nicky's around. He doesn't have a concrete personality, just "revelations" as required for the plot.

 

I didn't buy the connection between the MCs. Zero chemistry - for me. I'm clearly the odd one out on this one, since everyone else seems to love it. I wanted to like it, and most of it I did like, but there was always something off. If it wasn't the painfully horrible song lyrics, it was the ham-fisted way that Jasper's conflict of religion was handled. If it wasn't the stereotypical portrayal of the rock star life and the evil record company big wigs, it was the overly contrived situations the authors kept putting the characters in to manufacture UST that fell flat on its face. Then because the authors made the reader wait so long for the smexy, a bunch of sex gets crammed into the end, by which point I was beyond caring. Then the authors threw in an absolutely ridiculous plot "twist" that annoyed me so much I had to skim most of the after-school special melodrama, which was as cliched and predictable as you would expect, just to not have my first read of 2019 end up a DNF.

 

Actually, that was a big issue from the beginning of the book. Because this is a Romance(™) so there has to be an HEA or at least an HFN, and for that to happen, there's no way Jasper was ending this book still a priest. It was pretty easy to see how that resolution was being set up. That wouldn't be an issue, necessarily, but I could never buy into Jasper's existential crisis. It came across shallow. A little less clear was Nicky's ending, but you knew something dramatic would happen to make his situation with his record company better.

 

And that was another problem. There was just so much drama. While this did start out promising, it quickly nose-dived into Dramaville around 70% and never quite climbed it's way back out again. The drama llamas were stampeding and they weren't letting our characters out of this book without massive amounts of MELODRAMA.

 

Melodramatic yelling at your long-lost love.
Melodramatic song lyrics.
Melodramatic praying in the shower.
Melodramatic swimming.
Melodramatic running away down the road whilst halfway tearing off your clothes. Yes, that deserved a "whilst."
Melodramatic phone tossing - because you can't have melodramatic ANGST if the characters can contact each other too easily. (Did he ever get a new phone?)
Melodramatic crying.

 

So.

 

Much.

 

Crying.

 

I didn't feel any of these emotions were genuine, nor did I feel any real attachment to the characters. Basically, I had attachment disorder with this book. :D

 

I didn't hate all of it. I liked all the stuff with the teens in Blue Oasis. I liked Thomas and Mrs. Wells, and Nicky's parents and Ramona. The cat was hilarious. Nicky even had his moments when he wasn't being an ass or annoying. Jasper was mostly lost potential though, sadly.

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text 2018-12-24 06:19
Opioids Addiction: Cause And Recovery

Opioid addiction is one of the epidemics that the world is facing. Gone are days when people used to live life and handle problems with sobriety. Many were unknown or away from the use of drugs, which now a day’s preferred as an ultimate way to release stress and manage life. Since the lifestyle has started becoming hectic, lavish, and advance, people are getting obsessed with different drugs, alcohol and other opiates. An opioid is one of the drugs people are getting addicted to. According to the study, about 26-36 million populace worldwide is addicted to synthetic opioids or natural opiates.

What Causes Opioids Addiction?

Opioids generate a sense of happiness or elation, which might be addictive to many people. Normally the feeling of contentment and happiness is caused by dopamine chemical, which is produced by the brain. However, in people who are addicted to opioids, the brain is unable to generate dopamine without opioids. Opioids are generally prescribed by doctors to cure pain. Due to the regular intake of prescribed opioids, people start developing the habit of it and at some point, they get addicted to them. They start thinking obsessively about having extra opiates.

Treating Opioids Addiction

Though it seems that opioids addiction is difficult to cure, it is not impossible. Among various alternatives, an Opioid Rehab Center is always an intelligent and effective option to treat opiate or opioids addiction. At such rehab centers, they employ different programs like Residential Treatment, Partial Hospitalization Program, and an Intensive Outpatient Program that have proven to be super successful in many cases. In these various programs, they tend to use most effectual therapies like spiritual healing, individual therapy, and groups therapy. Each of these treatments has immense benefits that help people get rid of opioids addiction.

Do you want to take help of opioid rehab center? Then you must go to Asheville Recovery Center, which is renowned for its most excellent and successful drug addiction recovery therapies and programs. It is established by people from the recovery community, who recognize the effect of drug addiction and the need to cure it. They are highly-experienced individuals worked in the field of addiction treatment. In their residential treatment program, they offer personalized care and first-rate facilities, which makes them stand unique among the other rehab centers.

About Asheville Recovery Center:

Asheville Recovery Center is one of the prominent drug rehab centers providing best opioid addiction cure and heroin addiction help.

For further information, visit

https://www.google.com/maps?cid=5221979875720174024&_ga=2.161673663.2077490685.1540830527-2145813309.1540830527

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review 2018-12-21 20:49
Love Can't Conquer (Love Can't #1)
Love Can't Conquer - Kim Fielding

Older MCs (in their mid-to-late 40s), each with baggage and hard pasts, each from the same small podunk town, meet again after a lifetime of disappointments and hardships. This is unlike anything I've read before by Kim Fielding. The tone is more grounded, the characters are mature and facing their lives and mistakes. It's still a fast moving romance if you look at the timeline, but there's so much weight to these characters and their scenes together that it feels more than a sufficient time for it to feel more like a slow burn than insta-love.

 

Jeremy is a park ranger in Portland, OR, and has an alcoholic ex whose bad decisions are about to crash into Jeremy's life. Qay is a recovering addict who spent years homeless and in mental hospitals, and is now working in a factory and going to college part-time. Qay recognizes Jeremy immediately from their long-ago childhood, though they were never friends. Now, the two men forge a friendship together. But love doesn't fix their problems. Jeremy's life is still in upheaval because of his ex, and Qay still has to fight his urges to give into his addiction and still has panic attacks.

 

Jeremy tries to see the good in everyone and to do good to all he meets, and Qay has been alone for the majority of his life, seeing the worst sides of life. There are several reasons for them to stay away from each other, but just as many to give each other a chance. As with most of Fielding's stories, this is a quiet story filled with compassionate and flawed characters. The supporting cast is great, and the setting is used to full effect. There are no easy answers for the MCs, and they stumble more than once. 

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review 2018-12-18 20:59
Bundled Up (Portland Heat #1-3)
Bundled Up (Portland Heat) - Annabeth Albert

This was disappointing. I really liked Albert's #gaymers series and was hoping this would be more of the same, but alas it was not. This contains the first three novellas of the Portland Heat series, and each one is just not up to snuff. They're rather superficial, actually, with each couple falling into lust with each other and that eventually leads to love after lots and lot and lots of redundant sex scenes. Usually, I'll at least skim the sex scenes if they're spread out enough, but there were too many even for that and I just started skipped them all. What was left was pretty standard fare, but with MCs that were terrible at communication. At least it took them longer than the standard 30 days to say the ILUs and move in together, a timeline that's painfully common in romance these days, so there's that. All stories are 1st-person POV with only one MC getting the POV per story, and all their voices sounded the same.

 

Served Hot - 2 stars

 

Robby has his own coffee cart in the business district and has the hots for one of the white-collars who comes to his cart every day. David is a finance director despite being rather young for the position, and he's on the nerdy side. David's getting over a relationship that ended when his lover died, and Robby is the insecure pushy needy emo-dude that he gets stuck with. Yeah, I wasn't feeling this couple at all.

 

Baked Fresh - 3 stars

 

Vic is a baker whose addiction to food - and his male relatives' young deaths from heart disease - led him to getting a laparoscopic band surgically placed around his stomach. Robin is a trust-fund baby who's a recovering drug addict and volunteers at a homeless shelter to atone for his past misdeeds while high. He also has a series of sexual hangups that of course can be cured only by lots and lots of sex. *sigh* Counseling is a thing, you know? I did not at all like Vic calling Robin "boy" during sex - brain bleach please! - or the mildly quasi-D/s dynamic their sexual relationship had, but I did like the relationship outside the bedroom, especially once they started talking to and supporting each other. These two actually did the most talking and connecting of these three couples. I could believe they'd actually have a future together.

 

Delivered Fast - 2.5 stars

 

Oh, it was fast all right. Lance, a younger cousin of Vic, is going to college to be a physical therapist and working part-time making deliveries for bakery where Vic works. Chris - whose name isn't mentioned until more than halfway through the book - co-owns a coffee shop with his ex. Chris is really old, y'all. He's mid-30s! *gasp* and so of course the age gap becomes an issue, and Chris is an immature dweeb about it. Lance is just barely given any depth, most of it in the last half of the novella. I skimmed a lot of the set-up with this one, because I was bored with the "guy-sees-guy, guys-boink-a-lot-of-times, and eventually start acting like a couple" formula. The blurb promises clever double entendres - I don't think the blurb writer knows what those are. And how do you not hear someone riding up on a motorcycle? That scene made no sense. Well, a lot of scenes don't make much sense in this series so far, but that one took the cake. I also wasn't feeling this couple, though this one ended stronger than it started.

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