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review 2017-05-31 22:50
The Only Child - A Review

The story of Frankenstein’s monster has captured the imagination of readers of almost two centuries, not only because of the story itself but also it’s back story.  It has also been retold in many forms.  With this one Mr. Pyper hits it out of the park.

 
THE ONLY CHILD by Andrew Pyper
 
Lily Dominick was six years old when, as she looked on, her mother was brutally murdered.  The trauma caused her recollections to be hazy … she recalled only a monster knocking on the door to kill her mother and her six year old self being rescued by a white creature.  The incident still haunts her dreams and may well have led to her career choice as an adult where she is Dr. Dominick working as a psychiatrist with the worst of the worst criminals in New York’s Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Centre.  At work it sometimes seems to her she can read the mind of the incarcerated.  One morning she walks in to interview a man known only as Client 46874-A and claiming to be 200 years old.  For Lily he is an enigma; she can’t get a read on him and she feels as if he is looking into her mind instead of the other way around.  Then he throws Lily totally off balance when he claims to have known her mother and what happened to her so many years ago.
 
The next day Lily awakens to the news that Client 46874-A has escaped.  Driven by clues he leaves for her and the need to discover if he can truly help her solve the riddle of what happened on the night her mother died Lily sets out to find him and hopefully the truth.
 
Mr. Pyper takes his reader along on Lily’s quest as she travels across Europe picking up more and more information about not only “Michael”, as she named the mystery man, but about herself as well.  And for Lily the truth does indeed turn out to be stranger than fiction.
 
“The Only Child” is a well-written page-turner.  I would expect nothing less from Mr. Pyper.  This book is not only a psychological thriller with it’s share of the paranormal but is extremely entertaining in it’s explanations of the basis of not only “Frankenstein” but also “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Dracula”.  Within the context of the story it had me nodding my head and thinking “Oh yeah … makes sense”.
 
As I read closer and closer to the end I began to formulate my own theory about Lily and Michael so I was quite pleased to discover that I was at least half right.  Despite that, the reveal caught me by surprise.  I had hoped for a different outcome but the ending suited the story.  Not wanting to have to include a “spoiler alert” I do want to mention that there was one scene at the end of the book which wrapped up the story so extremely well that I still pause to think about it a few days after I’ve closed the cover – so well done Mr. Pyper.
 
* I’d like to thank the publisher, Simon and Shuster, and Netgalley for providing me with the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review.*
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website
 
Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1968. He received a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from McGill University, as well as a law degree from the University of Toronto. Although called to the bar in 1996, he has never practiced.
 
Andrew’s creative writing teaching experience includes terms at Trent University, the University of Toronto, and, currently, Colorado College. Last year he won the Grant Allen Award for contributions to Canadian crime and mystery literature.
 
He lives in Toronto.
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review 2017-04-05 03:33
A Change of Heart - A Review

Urban fantasy is not my usual go-to genre, but tempt me with vampires and I can be convinced to give one a try.  The bonus is that the vampires in this one are bloody and brutal – just the way I like ‘em.

 
A CHANGE OF HEART by Mark Benjamin
 
Gabriel Harper could be the poster boy for the fellow they kick sand on at the beach.  Smart and nice doesn’t always cut it and the bullies soon found he was an easy mark for their fun.  Escaping from one such attack by diving behind a dumpster Gabriel never thought it would change his entire world.  That’s where he came across the dying Lucas, one of “The Royals” in the vampire community.  Lucas had never procreated but with his dying gasp he decided to turn Gabriel.
 
Alone and not knowing what was happening to him Gabriel navigates, with the help of a strange voice in his head, what it takes to be a vampire and the reader is introduced to a very unique world of vampires and the Silver Legionnaires – those who hunt them.
 
When Gabriel and three of his friends are unexpectedly yanked from their everyday lives and into the fortress of the Legionnaires life becomes very uncomfortable for Gabriel.  Although he is a “hybrid” no one knows his secret, so how does a new vampire live among those determined to eradicate them.  As the story progresses the reader realizes that things are not happy in either camp and, while each community is determined to rid themselves of the other, a little extra spice was added because each community also had traitors within their midst.  Would the vampires and the Legionnaires destroy each other or would they be destroyed from within?
 
This was a fairly lengthy book and just as I thought things could be moving ahead at a little faster pace Mr. Benjamin threw in a twist I was certainly not expecting.  Well done as it certainly gave me my second wind.
 
This book starts out with a bang.  Mr. Benjamin definitely drops you right into the middle of the action and then just as you feel you need to catch your breath he the reader back to the norm … Gabriel’s world as a college student.  From that point on the book follows a pretty straightforward time-line.  While the book is written in the third person each short chapter is headed with the name of the character that the chapter features.  I have no problem reading in this manner but the book has an overabundance of characters to keep straight and, rather than helping, the chapter headings seemed to make it more difficult to keep the minor characters straight.
 
I did enjoy this book.  It was, in my opinion, a very original take on the vampire tale while still staying true to the nature of the beast.  It also gave me a vampire protagonist I couldn’t help but like without making him too “twilighty”.  I did feel that some of the characters had rather juvenile reactions to certain situations considering their twenty-something age bracket but this is book one in “The Royal Blood Chronicles” so I am going to assume the characters mature as the series progresses.  I am also going to assume that I received an ARC because the book could have benefited from a last fine-tooth-comb edit.
 
I would definitely pick up the next one because I am curious as to where the story is going to go.
4-Stars for this one.
 
I would like to thank the author for providing me with the book at no charge to read and review.  This in no way influenced my opinion.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his amazon author page
 
Mark Benjamin is the author of two books - one, in an adult urban fantasy series, The Royal Blood Chronicles; and the second, a short story. Devouring all books he could get his hands on from an early age, he managed to ruin his eyesight by reading (when he should have been asleep) under his bedcovers with a torch (video games had no say in his bad eyesight...okay, maybe a little). His love of books translated to a passion for writing, which he began aged ten (he still has his first juvenile novel to this day). Currently working for a national bank, his dream job is to be a full-time author, a path he fully took when he sent a sample of his work to a ten-week introductory fiction course funded by an American foundation and conducted worldwide in 2010. Out of the 15 available slots, one was his out of hundreds of thousands of applicants (okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was advertised in the national dailies). When not writing his third book or planning literary world domination, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, entertaining his under one-year old daughter, playing on his Playstation (AnnA) and reading (obviously).
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review 2017-03-01 02:13
The Lady and Her Monsters - A Review

When I was in High School (yeah, I’m surprised I can remember back that far too!) we had a wonderful Advanced English teacher who allowed us to do one term on Horror books – the classics.  We read Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and, of course, Frankenstein.  (We also watched Hitchcock films and were allowed to choose a modern horror book of our choice for independent study.)  Despite dissecting and reassembling these books ad nausium I did not learn as much about Mary Shelley and her monster as I did from reading this book.  English teachers, as awesome as some of them might be, could learn a lesson here and occasionally take a few steps outside the actual book.

 
THE LADY AND HER MONSTERS – a Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr, Frankensteins and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo
 
From the frog experiments of Luigi Galvani in the mid-1700’s through to Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” man has always been fascinated with reanimation of the departed.  Ms. Montillo does not spare those readers of a more delicate constitution from the realities of these experiments.  Gruesome as they were it is important to understand how Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley might have come about some of her knowledge about these experiments in a time when well mannered women were kept in the dark about science.
 
Not only does this book offer an explanation of how Mary Shelley may have come up with Frankenstein’s monster but also serves as a comprehensive biography of Shelley and her family, as well as several of the prominent people in her life; Byron, or course and Percy Shelley are among others both well known and not.  As far as the truth behind the stories and myths surrounding the writing of the book itself … ‘twas indeed a dark and stormy night.
 
Ghoulish as it makes me sound, I was also quite fascinated about the goings on of the “body snatchers”.
 
Packed full of obviously well researched information and written in an easily readable style I definitely have to give five stars to this fascinating read.
 
 
 
 ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
 
Roseanne Montillo is the author of The Lady and Her Monsters. She holds an MFA from Emerson College, where she continues to teach as a professor of literature. Roseanne lives in Boston.
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2017-02-08 01:19
HauGHnt - A Review

A deathbed confession, a family curse, a dark and stormy night complete with a mysterious stranger; really, what more could you ask for in a horror story?

 

HauGHnt by David C. Cassidy

 

As his father lies on his deathbed Paul Steele finds he can barely look at the man let alone offer him any comfort as he takes his last breaths. His father’s life-long quest to find peace in the bottom of a bottle destroyed Paul’s mother and alienated Paul. What the old man has to say before he dies does nothing to change Paul’s feelings, but now Paul may understand his never ending drinking. Paul’s father committed an unimaginable crime and avoided prosecution by making the proverbial deal with the devil. “We’re all damned. It’s just a question of when”. For Paul Steele the mysterious “when” turns out to be “right now”.

 

This short story is the first of Mr. Cassidy’s “Dark Shapes, Dark Shadows” series and after reading “HauGHnt” I am looking forward to what’s to come.

 

Mr. Cassidy seems to enjoy taking an ordinary person with an ordinary life and putting them in the most extraordinary situation. It certainly makes for a chilling read. Short stories are not my usual go-to read because, by their very definition, they are – well – short. It’s difficult to come to care for characters in the few pages allotted to the read but Mr. Cassidy packs a lot into this one, so I found myself totally involved in Paul’s dilemma. I couldn’t get to the end fast enough – in the good way! And the end? Paul shocked me as did HauGHnt and that’s always a good thing in a horror story.

 

I admit to wishing the story were just a tad longer, but taking the “creep” factor into consideration I’m giving this one 4 ½ stars.

 

* I’d like to thank the author for providing me with this book at no charge in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. *
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his Goodreads page) Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several best-selling novels of horror and suspense, Velvet Rain, The Dark, and Fosgate’s Game. An author, photographer, and graphic designer—and a half-decent juggler—he spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen. But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots. David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD—Multiple Activity Disorder—he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

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review 2017-02-03 20:54
Why Did You Lie - A Review

Yrsa Sigurdardottir has been a fave of mine since I read the first book in her Thora Gudmundsdottir series.  This standalone novel showcases what Ms. Sigurdardottir does best … chills up your spine and not just because of the cold Nordic setting

 
WHY DID YOU LIE by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
 
Nina’s life has slipped off the track a little bit.  She is a pariah among her fellow police officers for filing a sexual harassment suit.  Now she is working on dead files in the basement of the building where she has entirely too much time to think about her husband who is lying in a coma after attempting suicide.
 
Helgi is a photo-journalist doing a photo shoot on a very small, very remote island where a team was sent to refurbish a defunct lighthouse.  Helicopter troubles keep them on the island longer than usual and during a raging winter storm one of them disappears. 
 
Noi and Vala return from a trip to the United States where they had house-swapped their home with an American couple.  Coming into their house they sense that something is off but cannot put their finger on what it is. 
 
What do these people have in common?  At one intersecting point in their lives they lied!  Now, someone or something wants them to pay for those lies.
 
I enjoy Ms. Sigurdadottir because she give me the all the thrills and chills I love without the “in-your-face” horror.  In “Why Did You Lie” she tells four seemingly unconnected stories that each hold your interest independently but when she brings them together at the end of the book it is in the most deliciously unexpected way.  If you enjoy mystery thrillers with a touch of what might or might not be a supernatural element I highly recommend you add Ms. Sigurdardottir to your TBR.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)
 
Yrsa Sigurdardottir works as a civil engineer and lives in Reykjavik.  She is the author of six novels in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series and two previous stand alones, “I Remember You” and “The Undesired”.  All of her books have been European bestsellers.
 
In 2011 "I Remember You" was awarded the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award and was nominated for the Glass Key.  The most recent Thora novel, “The Silence of the Sea”, won the Petrona Award in 2015.

 

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