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text 2019-04-14 17:00
Review: When I Cast Your Shadow
When I Cast Your Shadow: A Novel - Sarah Porter

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

If I could give this book 0 or minus starts I would, it was really that bad.

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book I have actively hated so much. I’m all for diving into dark fiction every now and then but this book was one of the worst, most absurd things I have ever read. It made no sense whatsoever.

 

Normally I would just say to hell with it if I don’t like it and DNF, which made it all the more irritating because even though I hated the story and loathed the characters, I wondered if A) it would get any better or B) I would be able to work out what the fuck was going on.

 

Unfortunately, neither of these things happened.

 

The premise was what caught my attention, I’ve read a previous book by the same author, which was a little weird, but I liked it. As I said, I do like dark fiction every now and then. So why not try it? The story follows New York based teenage twins Everett and Ruby whose eldest brother Dashiell died recently of an overdose.

 

Ruby was completely besotted with Dashiell to something boarding on reverence. (I’m half convinced there was something else going on there as well.) They were both totally obsessed with each other. Ruby was completely blind to Dashiell’s flaws. He was an addict, charming and manipulative and could convince her to do anything, long after he’d been thrown out of the house. The father was a workaholic, their mother left years ago. Ruby was an idiot. A sycophantic moron who couldn’t see the danger around them. Her brother Everett was possibly the only remotely likeable character in this. The more straightforward, sensible of the pair.

 

Something seems to allow Dashiell to come back from the dead in a spirit form where he can possess a body if he murders it and can live in it’s skin. At least that was my understanding. So naturally Ruby is the first person he goes to. Which is squicky enough in itself. Yet when Everett notices something off about Ruby and when she’s not possessed she tells him Dash came back he thinks she’s lot the plot. And before long Dashiell has convinced Everett whilst possessing Ruby that he could possess him instead. He can have one or the other.

 

And does some pretty vile things whilst wearing Everett – including visiting his old girlfriend whilst in Everett’s body and getting her into bed. She doesn’t know Everett is possessed, of course. Which is pretty much rape – she consented to Everett, not Dashiell. If she doesn’t know Dashiell is the one riding the front she gets no say in that. And that’s pretty fucking disgusting.

 

On top of all this there’s some of sort Land of the Dead plot where other ghosts are walking around, and Dashiell has pissed off the Big Bad who runs the show. And comes after him for revenge.

 

The whole thing was bizarre, twisted. Way too many characters, all of whom had no personality and were just pretty horrible people. It was beyond fucked up and just an awful, awful novel. Nothing made sense and it was pretty much one of the worst things I have ever read.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan-Tor/Forge for approving my request to view the title.

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text 2019-04-13 17:00
Review: When The Lights Go Out
When The Lights Go Out - Mary Kubica

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

The premise of this one caught my attention and made me want to request it. A girl’s identity is called into question when she finds her name is on a record of deceased people. With an alternate story of a woman’s decision some 20 odd years ago that might be the cause of it.

 

For the most part, this was actually a pretty good book. Jessie Sloane has lived with her single mom her whole life then mom gets sick and dies. Jessie has spent most of her life caring for her. She suffers from terrible insomnia which plagues her for days at a time during this difficult period.

 

I liked Jessie as a character, she was tough and seemed fairly smart and logical given her terrible circumstances. She knew how to look after herself. Applying to college for financial aid she discovers Jessica Sloane is deceased. Bringing on a whole host of panic and desperate search for answers as to what the hell her mom was hiding and where it all went wrong and how could she have never known this before?

 

The second story line follows Eden and her husband Aaron. The one thing Eden wants more than anything is a baby, but Eden seems to be unable to conceive. Which puts a huge strain, both emotional and financial on what was otherwise a perfect relationship.

 

Eden’s story was hard for me to relate to, as a woman who has no interest in rearing children, her obsession was just something I couldn’t get my head around as a reader. Yet as the novel progressed and Eden’s chapters went on I did find myself empathising with her. No matter what this poor woman tried nothing was working. And her best friend who came to visit has two or three noisy children she always brings with her and is pregnant again. It was heart-breaking for Eden. But as things go on and get more difficult Eden’s desire for a child becomes all consuming. She works at a hospital and is often going to the new baby ward. She drops hints that she did something terrible and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. At least that’s what the story seems to want you to think, anyway.

 

Meanwhile Jessie is struggling to find out what happened and why “Jessica Sloane” is deceased. And how did she get this girl’s social security number? Made worse and worse by the fact that she just can’t sleep and her mind is going round in circles. She doesn’t know what’s real or what’s not anymore. It’s all pretty compelling stuff. And definitely becomes a page turner.

 

This is a huge spoiler but it pissed me off so much and ruined the whole book for me and I need to rant about it.

 

It gets to the point where Jessie can’t cope anymore and you start thinking dear god what else can go wrong for this poor girl, how is this ever going end? And then the book does what every English teacher told me in school was the poorest way you could end a novel ever. “And then I woke up and it was all a dream!” At the start of the novel Jessie is with her mother in the hospital on her death bed. She won’t leave her mother’s side and has been there for days. A kind doctor gives her something to help her sleep. Understandable. But then the combination of stress and drugs give Jessie this epic nightmare. And that’s all it was. A nightmare.

(spoiler show)

 

I mean…for fuck’s sake. All of that…all of that and to have it ruined with that. It just felt like such a huge let down for what was otherwise a really good book. The truth about Eden’s story is revealed as well, and thankfully that wasn’t as infuriating. It actually turned out to be nothing like what I thought it would be.

 

Great potential but ruined by a rubbish twist. The end itself wasn’t that bad, really. But that twist just pissed me off so much.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HQ for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2019-03-26 07:23
DNF: Red Harvest
Red Harvest (Haunted Hollow Chronicles) - Patrick C. Greene

Calling it quits on this one.

 

I really wanted to like it as it had everything I like in small town horror. Characters from the normal to the weird, a sense of community in a place where there's history, everyone's known each other a local Halloween tradition, a family with a creepy secret. It's clear something is going to go very wrong very quickly.

 

I'm losing patience with the story, there's too many characters to keep track of and it seems like too much going on. My other major problem with this book is how poorly it's edited. Random words are missing from sentences or in some instances entire sentences are missing and while with most you can get the idea of what's going on, it's annoying and jars you out of the narrative. I've had enough, DNF. Not for me.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the review copy.

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review 2019-01-07 12:00
Review- Soul Taker

Okay, Dear Readers, here is the first review of the new year.

After long years in the line of duty as a ‘Soul Taker’, Kate is worn out. 

 

When she gets a new job offer from the ‘Powers Above’, she accepts her new job as a Guardian gratefully without knowing that her teacher is one of the most powerful beings in existence, the Archangel Raphael.

 

Along with Raphael, she takes on her new task and the connection between them grows.

Raphael helps, protects and supports Kate, but suddenly, she becomes a target for the Demons of Hell.

 

Raphael realizes that Kate means more to him than he expected, which causes him to fight furiously against danger. If he fails, Kate’s future will contain eternal darkness, evil, and torture. ” Amazon

 

138 pages of if not quite hell definitely not heaven. There is a typo in the dedication, the dedication. The author lists DSM Publications as the editor and this man has a lot to answer for, but not as much as the author who has compiled a hot mess of at times almost incoherent, simplistic, predictability.

 

This is a book about angels supposedly but Alexander’s angels, or Angels since she insists on capitalizing the word, are merely badly drawn human characters with wings. There is nothing grand or glorious, fierce or fearsome about these angels, excuse me “Angels”. They are merely Angels because the author says so.

 

If you want angels read Nalini Singh’s Guildhunter series or Thomas E Sniegoski’s Remy Chandler series. These are angels.

So our heroine is Kate, a Soul Taker, which is an Angel who goes around gathering up the souls of the dying. (Remind me to tell you about this amusing little series about a woman who delivers souls to their proper destinations) I’m not quite sure how she does it because it’s never fully explained but when we meet her she’s tired of it. It depresses her. Mind you, Kate wanted to be a warrior Angel but gathering souls depresses her. I wonder what she thought warriors do, tickle their enemies into surrendering?

 

As Kate is wandering around gazing soulfully and sighing her boss happens along and offers her a new position as a Guardian. Of course she accepts it at 3% of the book, so why is it called Soul Taker? Making sense is not a strong point of this book.

 

“I was nearly in tears, found myself lonely, sad, bullied.” Ye-ah. Whatev. Never does she explain this. The girl is over 300 years old and she doesn’t have a friend? And bullied? How? Where? Don’t ask because you will not find an answer here. “I loved my looks, I had only wished that, once in a while, someone would take the time to look behind my mask of pure beauty and try to fathom my feelings, emotions, brains, guts – and whatever else was there.” Cue soundtrack, “Feelings”. “Whatever else was there”? What? Brain matter? Blood? Veins? Hair?A vacuum between her ears? I’ll take the vacuum for a $1000, Alex.

 

Let us just say that her world building has a condemned sign on it.

Back to Kate. She accepts the position and her now former boss introduces her to her new boss or teacher or mentor or something. It’s the archangel Raphael and he dresses like a cowboy. Do not ask why. He’s also a hugger. And not George Clooney. I can’t believe I read this.

 

So he says they’ll be working together for the next 3 or 4 years and we will now stop. The timeline in this hot mess was nonexistent. You can be reading along and suddenly days, weeks, month have passed. But she seldom tells you, you have to stop and figure it out from the text. I think the timeline is well over 18 months but I can’t be certain.

 

So Rafe whisks her away to show her the job which is the only time , how much time I don’t know because to the nonexistent timeline. There’s a night watchman, a castle full of soldiers, two churches, the castle again, a hospital. It’s disjointed, confusing, and unintentionally hilarious. “I nudged the younger man, who suddenly got up, walked over to the others and explicitly declared: “Madame, Doctor- you WILL perform the surgery and do it properly! I, Sheldon Foss III, will fully cover this woman’s surgery and her hospital stay!”  Ye-ah. No. There are a couple more examples of what the author fondly believes shows the inspirational calling of her Angels but they follow in the same overwrought pattern. “He smiled at me with winning charm and asked, with a dark and manly voice as if he was some kind of doctor: “How are we today, Sweetie?” A dark and manly voice? As if he was some kind of doctor? What the hell?

 

“”And still, you’re answering so convincedly.”” Her editor’s name is Don Massenzio.

Now here is something I haven’t seen before:

 

If it looks like the word contemptuously has an attached link, it does.

I had been wondering if Alexander perhaps didn’t speak English but she claims:

Let us continue. So we see her job and then Mr Dark-and-Manly-Voice grabs her. It’s a demon. You would think it would be hard to not write an interesting demon but somehow Alexander manages it. I weep. And here I will recommend R J Blain’s Whatever For Hire, Blain’s Satan is deliciously funny and witty and devious.

Torture ensues, mainly of the reader but a little bit to Kate. She is rescued, damn it. When she wakes up there is an IV in her arm. An angel. I guess divine healing isn’t what it used to be. I hope she has good insurance. When she recovers she rehabs in a fully equipped gym. And once again I ask where? Heaven, earth, fluffy cloud?

 

A good writer can get away with some iffy stuff but a bad writer just makes it light up like neon in Vegas.

 

So she recovers and now is moping around when an angel visits and informs her she’s in love with cowboy Rafe. “I grabbed his shirt with both hands as I did never want to let him go again”. Did I mention she had an editor? And he charges for this.

 

“Before I had time to answer two things happened nearly simultaneously. Thunder, lightning followed by the little airplane Raphael had saved falling from the sky”. Thunder, lightning, plane falling, isn’t that like, you know, threethings? Not the first time this author has had a problem with her numbers.

 

“The weight pressed me down, but there was neither nothing nor anyone there.” She gets attacked and faints. A lot. There is a reason for this, the attacking not the fainting, she’s a special little snowflake. You know, one of those characters so special that you just want to vomit. “”I was informed that this very special ability and unique part of personality needs a lot of strength as well as modesty. That’s why no Archangel has obtained it except for Angels with not only the right humble character, but also the will, strength and loyalty to our Creator. This is you, Katie! Our Father has had very disappointing esperience with vanity and envy. He counts on you to not betray him or his gift. Your experience has shown he made the right decision. You are a unique gem amongst Angelkind”” Kate is so, so special.

 

“This Archangel was the teensiest bit intimidating. he had the features of a wrestler, mocha colored skin, nearly black eyes and his wild ebony locks were falling onto his shoulders.” Scary black man? And then, describing another angel: “”You have never seen him joking around as Darth Vader – or wearing Jeans, Flip-Flops, and a pink net shirt, acting as if he was gay.”” I can’t even. I won’t even. You shouldn’t even. Remember this is YA.

 

“”We both might need a coffee – and the best is at my place.” Then several paragraphs later, “”I’m on my way to Aylah’s place to have a coffee with her” And I’m not sure where Kate’s place is because she had a fight with Rafe (she’s “brave” for shouting at him) and she was bemoaning she had no place to go.

 

So things roll boringly along until Rafe informs her she’s pregnant. He has to tell her much like that other angel told her she was in love with Rafe. “The entire Hall was decorated with blue flowers and golden tresses.”  Hair? Angels decorate with hair? Oh, A.J., that word does not mean whatever the hell you think it does. Did you know she had an editor? Oh, the flowers and hair were for her wedding, a little something that the Archangel who didn’t want to tell her he loved her while her teacher because he didn’t want her to feel pressured because of his position sprang on her without so much as a by your leave. He did gift her a beautiful new dress so I guess that makes it okay. Afterward Rafe tells her he wanted to legally bind himself to her and, and, angels. Legally bind? Sounds like they had a ceremony at City Hall. These. Are. Angels. Or at least the author wants us to believe they are.

 

“And even though Raphael treated me like a raw egg from time to time,” The deathless prose!

 

So basically Kate wanders through this “book” being told all the major things she should be able to figure out if she had half a brain, has a baby, keeps getting attacked by demons and the Devil, is a special little snowflake, and dispenses rainbows and uplifting words of wisdom at the drop of a purple pen.

 

“”And we both fathom, no matter how many women there were, ‘the one’ was not among them. The one who will touch you, hug and kiss you, full of love and dedication and any time of the day, she was not one of them. And still, love will find you! Your lady of heart will meet you when the time has come.””

Gives that endorsement the side eye.

 

So I recommend Singh or Sniegorski or Blaine and just leave this shambles of a “book” alone. Here endeth Part I. You remember my post about second chances, well now, that is Part II.

 

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review 2018-12-01 21:53
I Can't Believe I Read The Whole Thing. I Want My Time Back
Nightchaser - Amanda Bouchet

Scrambled, abrupt plot drops, character black holes, unbelievable characters. (possible spoilers) -This started out really good. I loved the action, the mystery man, the ship the mystery. At about 15% everything went wonky. The books is filled with cliches and I saw the big moments coming from the very beginning, no surprises These people are running for their lives, they are escaped prisoners with bounty's on their heads they can not trust anyone. Too bad the story didn't stick with that little detail. Then the "big guy" (yes that was his title) who was introduced and seeming to have a major part just vanished from the story. Okay, I was thinking he'll be right back with some trick to get them going on to the next level right ? No, it's didn't happen till the end, (the end !) when he just popped up again out of the mist and was accepted back into the fold. The MC the most wanted of them all, is so wishy washy, she trusts no person, then blabs her whole story to a complete stranger she just met, and wants to do business with. Then she takes a shower in this strangers house ! What ? Okay she's dirty, water is tight on the ship, something mentioned so many times, but really? You are in so much danger, wanted, hunted and you take a shower in a strangers house ?  Wait there is more. She steals a dangerous super solider vaccine, and finds out it's made from her blood. So because she's a super special girl she can drain herself almost dry to make a fix it for some sick kids. The story goes from this super solder vaccine to sick kids with whiplash speed. The vaccine that can cause war/death/destruction suddenly becomes almost forgotten in the story, it's all about saving these orphans, yeh orphans. I could go on but I think you get my feeling on this one. What happened ? I had this author on my top 20 list, this doesn't read like her work at all. Her last 2 books declined in quality this one dumped. I'm done and will not invest in her writing anymore.

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