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review 2018-03-20 20:39
Unsettling, entrancing tale of escaping the traps we're born to
Along the Indigo - Elsie Chapman

Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication proof via NetGalley


I loved this. Vivid, strong character writing and a fully fleshed-out sense of place from the first page made this an engaging story, and the dark fantasy/paranormal elements, while light, tinted the story with a deliciously creepy atmosphere.


Marsden is saving up to skip town with her 8-year-old little sister before one or both of them get roped into joining Nina's girls like their mom. Their dad died (or killed himself) when she was her sister's age, and their mom started working the not-so-secret nightshift in the boarding house they live in/brothel.


Being pressured toward sex work isn't the only source of Marsden's misery. She's half Chinese in a white, rural American town. Her mother's job - and her likely future - are an open secret, and the predatory, bullying behaviour of her peers and neighbours has her self-isolating to survive. And she can't hear the voices of the dead - despite regularly visiting the covert behind the boardinghouse to strip the bodies of the dead for cash. It's the last remaining piece of family property, a sort of suicide forest, tainted by the murder spree of a mad ancestor.


So there's a lot going on here. The visible minority/POC/mixed ancestry thing is handled well and comes up in Mars & her sister's experience, as well as another boy in town's story. The absent/abusive parent thing is troubling but very well handled, as is the dysfunctional community. And the suicides. There's heaps upon heaps of messed up in this book, but the author doesn't bury you in it. It's an engaging read, atmospheric and challenging without feeling hopeless. It reminds me of Brenna Yovanoff's books, and Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood just a touch. I think it's set in eastern Oregon or Washington maybe, or one of the prairie/desert states further east of there, but it has more in common with Southern Gothic paranormals. Creepy, foreign and familiar at the same time, unsettling and entrancing. Will circle back to this author's earlier works and follow her future books with great interest. Highly recommended read.

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review 2018-03-18 20:11
An epic-story, which will make you reconsider what you thought you knew about angels, demons, and everything in between.
The Fall of Lilith (Fantasy Angels Series) 1 - Vashti Quiroz-Vega

I have seen this book described as “epic” and I agree, not only for its length (it is two books in one) but also for its topic. It does talk about all things in Heaven and Earth, near enough, from the creation of the angels and the battle of good and evil to the fall of the angels and their revenge plans once on Earth (that don’t bode well for humanity).

The author’s writing style in this book is reminiscent of the Bible, although the story is told from quite a different point of view, and it deviates from the narrative most Christians are familiar with (I am intrigued to know how the story will resonate with readers not familiar with the Christian tradition, although the world building is detailed enough for anybody to be able to follow the events). I am not a bit Fantasy reader, mostly because I am not that fond of lengthy descriptions (I admire authors who do it well), although this story has the added interest of providing a major variation on a story many of us are familiar with. As typical of the genre, there is plenty of telling (in fact, all the characters are storytellers, and we get to hear the angels’ voices often, narrating their own adventures, or even fictional ones, like a fascinating story Lilith narrates in book 1), and beautiful descriptions of Floraison, the part of Heaven inhabited by the angels, of the angels, and also of the creation of Earth, and of Earth itself in book 2. We follow the story in a chronological order, from the time when the angels are quite young, growing up and learning about their powers (this part reminded me of YA books set up in special schools for young people with special abilities, and also of parts of The Hunger Games, when the characters had to train for the battle ahead), through to the battle between good and evil and their fall to Earth. Although the story is narrated in the third person, we follow the points of views of a variety of angels, mainly Lilith, the main character, but also most of the others at some point.

These angels reminded me of the Greek gods. They are not the celestial beings many of us imagine, but more human than human. They have their personalities, their peculiar characters, their flaws, their desires, and they are far from goodie-goodie-two-shoes. Even the good angels have faults… (Oh Gabriel…). We get to know Lilith’s cunning and devious nature better than that of others (she is rebellious, proud, has a superiority complex, and does not seem to feel true affection for anybody, even her supposed friends), but we see that Lucifer is proud and is not a good looser from early on (when he is following the rules), and some of the other angels are weak, easily manipulated, and only worried about their own well-being and interests. The God of this story does not tolerate rebellion or deceit, and he severely punishes his children for their misdeeds. The author excels at writing the punishments and tortures the angels are subject to, and these parts of the book are not for the faint-hearted. I know she writes horror too, and this is quite evident in her penchant for devising monstrous characters and pretty cruel and sadistic tortures.

As is often the case, the bad characters are more interesting than the good ones (that we mostly lose sight of in book 2, apart from some brief appearances). I would not say any of the characters are very sympathetic. Lilith is put to the test and punished for being what she is (and considering angels are given free-will, that seems quite cruel), but she displays psychopathic traits from the beginning and it is difficult to blame her nasty personality on her experiences. She is strong and determined, but she abandons her friends, is manipulative, and goes to extremes that make her exceedingly unlikeable. I have no problem with having a truly horrible character as the main voice of a book, although I missed something that helped me connect with her (there are moments when she hints at a weakness or hurt, but I did not feel they were particularly convincing. Perhaps a sense of humour, no matter how dark, would have helped, but other than some instances of silly behaviour very early on, there are moments of wonder but not many laughs). Gadreel is perhaps the easiest character to empathise with, and she grows and develops during book 2 (to begin with she is constantly complaining and moaning, but she gets more confident, although she is not traditionally good either). Satan does horrible things, especially to Lilith (who is not blameless by a long stretch, not that such abuse could be ever justified in real life), but he is an interesting character and quite loyal to his friends. And he also does much of what he does out of love, however misguided. I don’t know what that says about me, but I really like Dracul, Satan and Lilith’s child. He is described as quite an ugly thing, but I find him cute. There you have it.

For me, book 2 is more dynamic and moves faster than book 1. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the adventures of the fallen angels on Earth allow us to read about their first impressions of the world as it would appear to somebody who had never been here, a totally brand new place. Such estrangement and sense of wonder are fascinating and the writing captures it well. The fact that the fallen angels find themselves in a hostile environment and have to learn to work together to survive adds to the interest. Of course, Lilith has her own plans, and she makes sure she convinces others to follow.

The character of Lilith reminded me of the typical figure of the femme fatale in film noir (or the spider woman, or… well, I’m sure you can think of many epithets such females have received over the years), who is powerful but her power consists in manipulating and deceiving males, convincing them that they are in charge, while she pulls the invisible strings. I do admire such characters, especially when the circumstances are dire and that seems to be the only option to get ahead. There is always a difficult balance to maintain between creating a strong negative female character that can hold her own and ensuring it does not reinforce the usual story tropes that blame women for all of world’s ills from the beginning of times.

This book made me wonder once more about the well-known narrative (and let me tell you, there are some twists that will keep readers on their toes) of events, which amounts to a civil war in Heaven, where there is no reconciliation and no possible redress or forgiveness for those who rebelled against the established order and lost. I also had to wonder about the rules imposed in Floraison and what seems to be a bias against LGBT (sex is bad, but same-sex sex is worse and is more severely punished), which has always been an issue that has caused much religious debate.

This book is a tour-de-force that I’d recommend to readers who love to be challenged by narratives that push the limits of well-known stories and make us rethink and reconsider the stories we have been told. And one for those who love strong and wicked female characters. And baby demons…

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review 2018-03-15 18:37
Afterage by Yvonne Navarro
Afterage - Yvonne Navarro

AFTERAGE was a whole lot of freaking fun!


The vampire apocalypse has already occurred and entire cities have been decimated. With isolated survivors cut off even from each other-how could a premise this good go wrong? The good news is, it didn't.


What I liked most was the...I guess I'll put it as...different levels of vampire. They have differing levels of energy and power. I won't even get into the Queen. (That's what I'm calling her.)


I also liked how the story of each survivor, (or surviving group), was introduced. I think it takes a special skill and confidence to jump into a story with a large cast and Yvonne Navarro did it deftly and with panache. I never felt that the story was lost or unwieldy. It all came together in a most satisfying way.


With a lot of strong female characters populating the landscape of vampire-ridden Chicago, how could I not enjoy this book? I especially liked Louise and her little dog, Beau, and of course, I had a fondness for Jo as well. (Though I could not help being reminded of Swan, a character in another GREAT post apocalyptic tale. Bonus points if you know what character and/or book I'm talking about.)


AFTERAGE was written in the 90's but it doesn't feel dated. I think that's because there's no electricity in this world, so phones and the internet would be out of the picture anyway. Even though decades have passed since this was written, the characters and themes involved are timeless. They still worked their way into my heart, and perhaps if you let them, they'll work their way into your heart as well.


Highly recommended!



You can get a copy here:  AFTERAGE



*I read this book because of THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE podcast. (They're doing an online book group and this is the second book they're reading.) I probably wouldn't have made time to read it otherwise, so thanks to the HORROR SHOW crew for bringing it to my attention. *



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url 2018-03-14 18:33
Blind the Eyes is competing in Kindle Scout - Please Vote :)
Blind the Eyes - K.A. Wiggins

I have a YA dark fantasy debut coming out this summer and it's currently competing in Kindle Scout. If you go to https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/E9IM6GHX3YIJ and nominate it and it wins, Amazon will send you a free preview copy before it releases to the general public!


So if you're at all interested in the book (or just want to help a newbie out!) please vote. :)


A little more on Kindle Scout:


  • Kindle Scout is the American Idol of publishing
  • Readers vote on pre-published books during a 30 day period
  • Editors read the manuscripts at the end of voting
  • Amazon publishes the best of the combined editor- and fan-approved books in ebook format
  • Amazon sends a free ebook to everyone who voted for (“nominated”) a book that gets published!


So if you want a chance to get a free copy of BTE, head on over to the Kindle Scout website, nominate it and hope it wins! And hey, why not vote for some other faves while you’re at it? You get up to three nominations at a time.


A little more about Blind the Eyes:


In a world where hope kills and dreams are deadly, obedience is the only way to survive. But when one girl learns her society's absolute control and guarantee of safety are both illusions, she risks her hard-won status, her home and her life to rebel and expose its lies.

A YA dark fantasy about identity, trauma & taking back your choices. Ghosts and world monsters in post-eco-disaster Vancouver.

From the back cover:

In the Towers of Refuge, regulation dictates every aspect of life.

Haunted 17-year-old Cole would do anything to shake her reputation as a failure. The only way to survive the nightmarish Mara is absolute obedience, and she's down to her last chance.

But when a charismatic stranger shows up claiming to know her and Cole discovers Refuge's absolute control and guarantee of safety are both illusions, she realizes hers isn't the only life at stake and goes on the run.

In the underground club Freedom, nothing's forbidden.

Cole needs allies to help her expose Refuge's lies and escape execution by nightmare. Too bad the only candidates are a hedonistic rebel, a childish ghost, a stylist with a secret and an imaginary friend with a talent for monster-hunting.

With enforcers in pursuit and the dead invading her dreams, Cole must figure out who to trust and stop the dying before the nightmares eat her alive.

Trusted authorities lie, allies have their own agendas, and even the monsters wear masks in this YA dark fantasy suitable for ages 14 and up. Ebook, audiobook and print editions coming in late spring 2018. Subscribe at https://kaie.space/newsletter for exclusive previews and extended content.

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text 2018-03-05 00:15
Calling all book bloggers~~
Blind the Eyes Limited Preview Edition: 3 Chapter Preview - K.A. Wiggins

Hey guys! I have a last-minute cover reveal for Blind the Eyes coming up this week because I've got some other exciting news breaking pretty much immediately.


If anyone has an opening on their blog or whatever social channel you're rocking and would like to get involved in sharing the news/boosting the signal, please DM!


For everyone else, subscribers get exclusive first looks, breaking news, & previews at http://kaie.space/newsletter

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