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review 2018-07-15 01:54
ARC Review: Falling Awake II: Revenant by Kristoffer Gair
Falling Awake II: Revenant - Kristoffer Gair

I sat on this review for a few days, hoping I would have the words.

I don't have the words. Sorry, Kristoffer.

But I promised a review, so I'll do my best to somewhat coherently tell you about this book. First off, this is not a romance. This is a thriller/mystery/paranormal/horror kind of book, and a prequel of sorts to the first book, Falling Awake. If you've read that first one, this second book will give you the background information that you wanted but didn't need for the first book. 

When Andrew O'Connell was ten years old, he went to the fair with his friend Thomas, also ten. The night after they went, Thomas was abducted from his house in the middle of night, his parents slain in their bed. Thomas was found dead a few days later in an abandoned house. And for fourteen years, Andrew has felt unimaginably guilty, because he believes that what happened to Thomas was his fault. He has nightmares nearly every night, and he will not stop until he can figure out what really happened to Thomas, and find the men who so brutally killed his friend. 

Andrew now works for OSHA, tasked with travelling to areas where an accident has occurred to find out what really happened, to smoke out the truth, always one step behind the elusive person responsible. At the same time, Andrew tries to gather more information on the incident that took his childhood friend, and he's not afraid to use whatever means he has to just to get the answers he needs. Andrew is not always a good man, he's not always a nice guy - he uses people even though he feels guilty doing so - because what matters is that he finds the perpetrators of that heinous crime and stops them before they can kill again. 

The book is set in the early 1970s, when Andrew is 24, which means the original crime took place in 1958. The author did a fine job on the research to ensure the references to historical facts are accurate. There was but one inaccuracy, which I'm not going to tell you about - let's see if you can spot it yourself. 

The writing is vivid, drawing you in from the get-go. Andrew's nightmares are visualized, and I was more often than not on the edge of my seat while reading this book. The author doesn't spare us the horrors perpetrated upon Thomas, though they are doled out in smaller doses so as to not overwhelm the reader. It's difficult on occasion to read about the violence that little boy endured, and there were tears in my eyes plenty of times as well. 

Evil is real, and it will corrupt and claim a person's soul. But there is goodness too, there is light, and we have to believe that the light will prevail if only you have heart. The book is aptly named "Revenant" - one that returns. 

There is no happy ending - there really couldn't be. And the ending was unexpected and also not - there actually was no other imaginable way of ending the book. 

It is a prequel, of sorts. Keep that in mind when you read this. And read this, you should. Because it's different and it's fantastic, and it will haunt you and make you think. 

I'm told the author is currently working on the third book, which I would assume will pick up where the first book ended. 

I can hardly wait to read it.



** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-07-05 15:12
Daisy Fletcher finds a body in the Tower
Bloody Tower (A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery) - Carola Dunn

Like her surname-sake Jessica, Daisy goes somewhere and there's a body. This time she's at the Tower of London by request of her editor and she stays there to see the key ceremony. She wakes early and really wants to go home to her twins but on her way out she finds a body (quelle surprise). Of course her husband is assigned to investigate, but he has to deal with Tower politics as well as multiplying motives and suspects. It also has a few glimpses into the aftereffects of World War I and the impact it ohad on the soldiers.

Relatively predictable but entertaining.

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review 2018-05-08 18:20
Last Meal: Based on the true story of the Bloody Benders by Paul A. Ibbetson
Last Meal: Based on the True Story of the Bloody Benders - Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson,Eve Arroyo

This book is the story of the Bender family who 1873 were the family involved in the largest serial killing in US history. The book is filled with historical facts s well as some fiction. I am still on the fence about the addition of the fiction. I am all about historical events n their true telling but the fiction did add to the story to an extent. 

 

Between 1871 and 1873  the Bender family later known as the Bloody Benders murdered at least 12 people along the Osage Trail in Kansas. The family was able to escape being captured and disappeared. They were never caught. 

 

Paul A. Ibbetson  has done a really good job adding fact and fiction together to bring this book to us. Molly King narrates the audiobook and though she done a good job with the book at times I was a little put off by her rendition. Some of her voices grated on my nerves, sometimes she sped up and raced through parts. 

 

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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review 2018-04-21 03:17
ARC Review: Somewhere Over Lorain Road by Bud Gundy
Somewhere Over Lorain Road - Bud Gundy
Please don't let the cover confuse you into thinking this is purely an M/M romance. It's not. While there is a love story inside, this book is at its core a mystery with gay characters. It's a book about secrets, and unsolved murders, and old wounds, and family pain. It's about coming home to help your aging mother take care of your father in his last days, it's about giving an old man his dying wish. It's about terrible, horrible secrets kept for 40 years, and confronting the ghosts of your past.

Don Esker has come home to North Homestead, Ohio, where his father lies dying, and his mother and older brothers need help with the palliative care. Don has done well for himself in San Francisco, working in marketing, and is in a position where he can work from anywhere. Coming home isn't easy, as the family name is still talked about in hushed voices in connection to an unsolved crime that happened 40 years ago in 1975, when a little boy, the neighbor's and Sheriff's son, mysteriously disappeared, and two other little boys were found brutally murdered. Don's father was a suspect in the disappearance of the first boy, if only for one evening, and while he was never charged with anything, his good name has never been fully cleared. The suspicion alone shattered Don's family, and when he came out as gay, staying in town became impossible for him. Small towns and small-minded people will not forgive and not forget, and the townsfolk certainly wouldn't accept a gay man. 

In a lucid moment, Don's father asks for just one thing before he dies - to have his name cleared once and for all. Don, obliging son, begins a journey that not only brings him to Bruce, the love interest, but also face to face with his childhood friend, the brother of the missing boy, who still lives with his father, the ex-Sheriff across the street from the Esker home. It forces him to confront things of his past. Thick as thieves when they were young, Don and his friend haven't spoken in many years, longer than Don has been gone from North Homestead. There is history there. And hurt, anger, and hate. 

As the story unfolds, we are given pieces of the past, set in the 70s and 80s. There's an incident with an old fridge. There's the moment in which Mr. Esker is hauled from his home to answer questions about the disappearance of the neighbor's son. There's the moment in which Don's brother... no, I won't spoil this for you. Just do yourself a favor and read this book.

There is a moment when I knew, just KNEW, who the culprit was, thought I knew who had committed these crimes. 

And there is a moment when the truth comes out, and I was proven wrong. Except, not entirely. 

The romance between Don and Bruce doesn't really begin until the 2nd half of this book, and it's never in the forefront of the tale. There are no explicit scenes, and there didn't need to be any. It unfolds quietly, organically, and peacefully, just as it should have. These are grown, mature men, and there are no games to be played. No contrived misunderstandings. A love story. Simple. Quiet. 

Obviously, Don is not a skilled investigator, and it's often just sheer luck that he is able to find a piece he needs to solve the decades-old crime. He fumbles more often than not, which is to be expected, but he does persevere. 

The mystery is eventually solved. The truth comes out, as it always will, no matter how much time passes. I wasn't prepared for this truth. I wasn't expecting this truth. Though, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to go that route, and I must applaud the author for taking this road. It humanized the perpetrator, and though it doesn't offer forgiveness, it offers a believable motive. It does also shine a bright light on deep dysfunction within a family, on emotional and psychological and physical abuse. Facades crumble under such light. Cracks appear. Truth will out.

This book, with its tight narration and unexpected turn of events, kept me glued to its pages until the very last one. It's riveting - a page turner, and masterfully written. 

Give this a try, I beg you. This isn't a romance. It's a mystery with a gay MC. It's a story about family. But it is also a love story. Absolutely worth your time.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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review 2018-04-13 18:55
Mary: The Summoning Review
MARY: The Summoning - Hillary Monahan

Source: Library

 

Mary: The Summoning does the Bloody Mary legend good. Hillary Monahan moves the story along with a purpose, and by the time you’re done with the first book, you need the second one on-hand immediately. (I’ve already reserved the second book at the library.) We do get a complete story arc in Mary: The Summoning, so it’s more of a gleeful “Must read book 2!” than a frustrated cry. I want to know more about the revelation of the connection to Bloody Mary, and I want a certain someone to get their comeuppance. (And also, why did Mary orient on Shauna to begin with? What made her choose her? Inquiring minds need to know!)

 

I felt like the interactions between the four friends was very real feeling in Mary: The Summoning. And, by the end of it, I was cheering a few of them on when they finally did what needed to be done. Things were frequently very tense between them, but they also demonstrated a certain maturity when push came to shove and they needed to overcome their differences. Also, it was nice that the parents of some of the kids felt a bit more present in this book. Even though there were still some of the usual tropes like the MC being in a one parent household, the mom was still there. Even if she wasn’t always physically present, she was always texting her kid, checking up on her, letting her know that she was loved and such. It was a nice, positive reinforcement of how a parent can stay in touch with their child in today’s world.

 

The scenes where Mary was on the other side of the window, trying to get through always creeped me out. I don’t think I’ll be looking in my mirrors any time soon for longer than I absolutely have to. There were elements incorporated that I had never of before in conjunction with Bloody Mary. (However, seeing as how I never actually did Bloody Mary when I was little, I don’t know if they were new elements or what.) The salt on tape thing was definitely a neat trick, though, that you can see a crafty teenager coming up with. Mary: The Summoning has lots of deliciously creepy scenes to keep perpetually tense. 

 

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. One of the biggest faults to Mary: The Summoning is that Mary herself is too Samara-esque. The author does a great job of reminding you exactly how creepy that demon/dead girl movement is from the movies. Which is a problem considering Mary is supposed to be her own freaky character. It’s an awesome thing to be able to remind readers of something that utterly freaked them out, but you don’t want to go too far and make it into a clone, which is kind of what happened here.

 

Also, and this is something I seem to have run into a few times lately, but the main character Shauna, is just so… blank. Is this a thing in YA books that  I’m just now noticing? Do they now try to keep the main characters as blank as possible so that the reader can insert themselves in the story? If so, it sucks. Give us characters who are feisty or quiet. That like loud music, or don’t like music at all. Give us sarcasm, wit, or even timidity. Just don’t give us a character so bland that you can’t remember her bloody name halfway through the book!

 

Overall, while Mary: The Summoning could be a bit better, I was very pleased with what I read. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2. Hillary Monahan is a solid writer, and this is a great book in the YA Horror category. And there wasn’t even a love triangle in it, imagine that! 

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