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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-22 17:13
Erinyes by George Saoulidis (2016 Review)
Erinyes - George Saoulidis

Erinyes by George Saoulidis
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Egotistical Mahi is beyond ecstatic when she's presented with a new phone by her father; it's top of the line and a new model, one that offers tech never yet seen before. However unbeknownst to the selfie-loving youth, there's more to the phone than meets the eye.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to George Saoulidis for giving me the opportunity!

Initially the synopsis caught my eye when I was first directed to this novella; it sounded like just what I wanted at the time - a creepy tale, something to pull me in and keep me entertained. In this case, it was of a frightening Greek deity stalking her victim through phone selfies (of all things, but why not?), perhaps even escalating to increasingly terrifying events, or at least that's what I expected. I was optimistic, very much so, however the execution proved less than thrilling and failed to induce the desired effects; irritation rather than fear, boredom rather than interest. I'm being brutally honest here, in that I didn't consider it a finished work, but rather a draft piece that could've been largely improved upon.

Indeed technology has become a very significant aspect of life, and I'm sure it'll continue to evolve and play a major role in everything we do, but due to the main characters obsessive and downright unhealthy attitude toward social media, I found it difficult to read her narrative. I even questioned; are the adolescents of today really like this, or is this merely an exaggeration? Do underage girls continuously post pictures of themselves for the attention of older men, and depend upon "likes" for their happiness?

It's sad, because I know the answer. All I have to do is take a look at Facebook, or some other similar website.

Mahi was such a dislikeable person. Utterly childish, painfully narcissistic and ridiculously naive, I didn't come to care for her at all. I'm all for teenagers as main protagonists, but when they're portrayed in such a way that makes me want to gouge my eyes out, then I know there's very little that can save the book in terms of my enjoyment. As for the few other characters (her two friends, mostly), they left little impression and ultimately added very little overall.

I feel that with some proper editing and development upon the storytelling, then perhaps this could've been a decent read. As it was, it lacked the build-up of tension and anything remotely eerie. The plot and ending could've been more fleshed out; the ending itself was abrupt and offered no closure. I can't say, even if I had of liked the story, that I would've been satisfied with the conclusion. No questions were answered (what did the phone have to do with anything?), and all in all, it was disappointing.

In conclusion: Like many indie works I read these days, it suffers from grammatical errors and has an unfinished feel to it. I deeply disliked the main character and I feel she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It could've been improved greatly with a little TLC, but otherwise I consider this not my type of book.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/05/22/erinyes-by-george-saoulidis-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-19 21:32
Needful Things by Stephen King
Needful Things - Stephen King

Needful Things by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's a new store opening in Castle Rock, and the whole town has noticed its special green awning. Questions arise as to what it will sell, and whom exactly the proprietor is, but nobody ever expected the severity in discovering such simple things. Treasures that appear otherworldly in their perfection start to become prized possessions, soon enough causing disarray in the town's day to day activity. There's something too good to be true about Needful Things.

(WARNING: This reviews contains minor spoilers.)

Whilst it felt like this one took me far too long to finish, I really shouldn't forget that at nearly a thousand pages, it's one of the longest books I've picked up in years. Being a relatively slow reader in general, the weeks seemed to fly by as I continued to be in thrall of Leland Gaunt's brilliantly wicked schemes, thus it was approximately one month before I reached the end. I admit, such lengthy novels can be intimidating to me, whereupon I feel I'm not making much progress, but I found myself very much intrigued by King's use of development; rather than everything happening all at once, a considerable amount of time was taken to form an almost intimate relationship between character and reader. I do admit that despite this intention and my enjoyment for the majority of the time, my interest dropped now and again by a slight margin with all the backstory and slow trudge toward climax. There was just so much, and sometimes I had to place the book down and have a break.

I feel like in the past, I dismissed King's work as I considered it largely not my style, however, after several years of my tastes morphing and expanding, I believe I can finally appreciate his format of storytelling. He has a very precise way of writing, and it truthfully jarred me at first, but it really does work within the setting he creates. Of course, this is strictly a personal matter, but one I wanted to briefly touch upon.

The plot of this beast of a book deals a lot with obsession and greed over material objects - something we have all experienced in our lives. Materialism in general is a huge part of humanity, and Leland Gaunt was able to immensely exploit and amplify the deepest desire of each victim, going so far as to greatly influence their every paranoid little thought. He was a truly an excellent villain; one of the best as far as I'm concerned. He implemented himself into people's lives, and quickly became integral; as far as they were aware, he took their best interests at heart. It was his expertly woven manipulation, as well as his cool demeanour, that struck me as quite fascinating. Whether he was a demon, a dragon, or the devil himself, I won't soon forget how much he impressed me.

At times I found myself confused over the abundant cast of characters, but soon enough they all had their own particular and memorable differences. The two that drew me in the most, gaining my favouritism and attachment, was Polly and Alan. They were both painfully realistic in their emotional and physical ailments. I wished time and time again for them to survive the horrific events Gaunt set in motion, and most of all, for them to remain together. With so many diverse personalities, I experienced a range of reactions, from laughter to pity and much of everything in-between. You see, there's definite comedic value with such a man as Buster, and a sense of tragedy with someone like Brian - all in all King was able to bring their unique situations to life.

In conclusion - I'm glad I plucked up the courage to read this. I'd describe it as a slow burn, leading to an explosive finale. The evil mastermind behind the whole thing, Leland Gaunt, had to be the highlight; at first subtle in his transgressions, but then going all out on the poor citizens of Castle Rock.

Notable Scene:

The two women lay draped over each other like lovers, their blood painting the cinnamon-colored leaves in the gutter.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/05/19/needful-things-by-stephen-king
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review 2018-05-09 04:47
DISCO SOUR by Giuseppe Porcaro
Disco Sour - Giuseppe Porcaro

A (political) suspense, placed in a post-continental war contemporary world. Bastian is running against time to get to a conference in Chile to deliver his speech and defend democracy. His journey is plagued with set-backs and delays orchestrated by a political rival. Throw in an almost permanent state of confusion courtesy of above mentioned rival, a loss of his Morph® phone (Bastian's whole life was on it) and constant pondering over his multiple break-ups, and here we have a character so fractured, that you keep wondering whether he is ever going to make it to his destination. Yet there was a small token that keeps Bastian focused. In the end, I loved him for his determination and his devotion to the cause. This book is packed with humor, curious facts and cultural references. I also found it a bit on a surreal side, a cross between Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Kidnapped by R.L. Stevenson (weird, I know, but it's my impression). My only two problems with this book is the beginning, where we have a couple of pages of info dump (not too bad, but still) and the ending, which is a little bit anticlimactic. I wish there was more of an impact, a "Eureka" moment before the solution was revealed, but I guess it's OK the way it is. Bottom line, I really enjoyed the book and will definitely watch out for more of Giuseppe's books.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-04 07:16
The Rift by R.J. Clark
The Rift (Detectives and Demons #1) - R.J. Clark

The Rift by R.J. Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt Faustus, whose very soul is connected to a high ranking fiend, finds himself neck-deep in a new case - one he accepted despite being warned about the possible ramifications. A little girl is missing, abducted by the family's house-cleaning demon, and it's his job to find her. Eager to earn that paycheck, Matt's enthusiasm soon lands him in trouble within the Hellspawn society, though that sure doesn't stop him.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to R.J. Clark for giving me the opportunity!

This came as an unexpected surprise, especially considering I added this one to my Goodreads shelf way back in 2011; the year I made the decision to start reviewing everything I read. Being able to jump into something that piqued my interest that long ago, well, it was more than nice. What initially drew me in was the compelling aspect of the Rift itself, and how it expelled demons of all shapes and sizes right out into the city of New Orleans. Can you imagine if that happened? It's a terrifying thought; an apocalyptic occurrence right out from Revelations. However, whilst the book includes adult themes of gore and some sensitive subject matters, I wouldn't classify it as horror. For me, it was urban fantasy through and through - perhaps on the darker side of the spectrum, yes, but urban fantasy all the same - a genre that still appeals to me despite my tastes evolving toward more darker material.

Matt was certainly an entertaining and likeable protagonist, even if he displayed selfish and immature behaviour, but those faults didn't affect my impression of him. His soul-bound connection to Baalberith was yet another high point, offering a more intimate and unique peek into the relationship between man and monster. A large part of what intrigued me was Matt's entire history - there's so much backstory, so much unexplored territory to his character. Mentioned throughout were snippets of his difficult childhood, a large portion including Father Donovan and his ceaseless exorcism attempts. Clark has a great amount of freedom if he wishes to return to the world in which Matthew resides, either as a recollection of earlier events, or following the conclusion of this debut. Maybe even involving a new hero entirely!

My favourite character had to be Persephone, however. I found him a great addition to the team as he added much needed spice to what would've been a couple's day out. There was nothing wrong with Alura per se; she had a temper I found to be enticing, and I loved the Succubi as a species, but overall I didn't quite feel connected to her partnership with Matt. This could be because their attachment had already been established, and instead of accompanying them along with their courtship, I was thrown into the middle. I felt somewhat lost at times, and when particular information was held back, of which concerned the reason why they had fallen out in the first place, it even further distanced me.

The plot itself was the definition of action packed. It just didn't stop; trouble followed Matt everywhere, biting at his heels. I appreciated the fact that injuries were in abundance - pain, bloody and brutal, was dished out over and over. There's nothing more tedious than an overpowered hero that comes out on top of every bad situation. For me to get properly invested and absorbed, there has to be that feeling of danger and struggle, even if it's nothing but a convincing illusion. Clark was able to pull this off superbly, successfully giving considerable weight to every threat. The ending also held a twist I adored, because of the sheer horribleness of it. Suffice it to say, I felt sorry for Matt.

As for the Bestiary and wide selection of demons - I enjoyed the large amount of creativity put into their creation. They had their own culture and each offered their own strengths and weaknesses. It might not have been pretty, but I was completely on board with that.

As you can tell, I've a lot to say about this once forgotten novel as I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I do believe it's in need of further editing. There's a large amount of mistakes; incorrect words placed within sentences, although it didn't bother me all too much.

In conclusion: I would consider this a great beginning to a series. I enjoyed the demonic elements, and Matt as protagonist. This book deserves more recognition in the urban fantasy genre, for sure, however I believe it needs a bit of tidying up in regards to sentence structure.

Notable Quote:

Most humans saw these creatures as second class citizens, and treated them decidedly so. Like their slaves for the most part. Regardless of the concept of inalienable rights, man is a creature attracted to subjugation, and since it wasn't legal in this country to enslave each other anymore, many figured they'd just substitute the Hellspawn. Demons were the food that fed that primal urge without attracting social ire or reproach.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/05/04/the-rift-by-r-j-clark
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-04-28 21:07
The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson (2016 Review)
The Scent of Shadows - Vicki Pettersson

The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At sixteen, Joanna Archer experienced an extreme act of violence, something that stole her innocence and destroyed her youth. As an adult, she seeks solace in her photographs whilst stalking the streets of Las Vegas, using the darkness to hunt for the monsters that cause pain. Nothing will prepare her for what is about to happen however, as nothing can prepare anyone for their death.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I was at first very unsure whether or not I wanted to grant this a higher rating - yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it in some instances, but was it enough to justify a four star review and therefore dismiss the obvious issues? After much consideration, I finally made the difficult decision; I couldn't completely disregard the things that irked me. They ranged from little annoyances to what I believed to be more obvious faults, but I'll get to those in a moment. I just feel the need to state how much I love urban fantasy and starting a new series; it'll always remain one of my all time favourite pastimes. There's something about the genre that I adore, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Joanna Archer was a decent protagonist yet not overly likeable. Indeed, she experienced a horrific ordeal as a teenager, but at times it appeared she held an air of superiority because of it; continuously mentioning her own personal strength and her sister's "innocent" weakness, it got a little repetitive. The fact she also turned to violence as an answer was in itself questionable and no doubt self destructive; definitely not the ideal role model, yet whilst these obvious flaws bothered me, I also appreciated their presence. No character, in any book, should be perfect, as no person in the real world is perfect.

I found the plot largely improved in the second half (the first half being somewhat dull), when Joanna's identity was altered and she joined the Zodiac team. Yes, she turned out to be some all-powerful figure of prophecy, but that didn't bother me. There was a lot of focus on the "superhero" aspect and the battle between Light and Dark, which interested me even though some of the dialogue forced me to cringe. The group dynamics really sucked me in however; I liked that she was looked upon with suspicion and that she struggled to gain their trust. I suppose I just favour conflict amongst relationships, it serves as entertainment. It can get a bit too much when the heroines of the genre are instantly liked way too much by everyone, and desired by every male.

Saying that, I didn't particularly like the implied love triangle that's obviously going to play a role in further instalments. Hunter seemed like an interesting character, but I hope it won't turn out to be a Hunter/Ben dilemma - I find triangles infuriating more often that not, as the females usually spend most of their time dwelling over both men rather than focusing on the vital matters. Another thing that got to me greatly, was the comic book store scene. I just really do hate the stereotypical portrayal of such stores, and those who read comics. The other characters however were written well - even Chandra - as they all displayed individual traits and differing demeanours. Warren was probably my favourite overall; who doesn't like a bit of insanity?

In conclusion: The very obvious possibility of a love triangle didn't appeal, and the main heroine seemed to be selfish - though that certainly gives room for growth. Regardless of what I favoured and those aspects I didn't care for, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Notable Scene:

He was bereft of all his senses now, as helpless before me as Olivia had been in his arms, but instead of killing him, I lowered myself to the edge of the bed and watched. I wanted to observe the last seconds of his life, as death marched across his features. I wanted to see if he would heal.

Then I could kill him all over again.


© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/04/28/the-scent-of-shadows-by-vicki-pettersson-2016-review
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