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review 2017-05-31 10:05
A bizarre true story brought to life in a novel that moves across genres.
Devil in the Countryside - Cory Barclay

I write this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to Rosie Amber and to the author for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a book based on a real case (although so many years later and with the few documents and written clues available it is difficult to know what might have been ‘real’ and ‘true’ at the time) that has all the elements to be a fabulous novel, or a TV investigative documentary, or a movie. You can check the Werewolf of Bedburg and you’ll find a lot of information (or rather, a bit of information elaborated upon and repeated everywhere, but not many different sources). It’s easy to understand why the author would become fascinated with the subject and I also see how a writer would feel that the bare bones of the case that can be found through research would make a great starting point to write a fully-fledged and fleshed-out story. And that is what the author decided to do. In such a case, decisions have to be made as to how close to keep to the facts (such as they are) and how many fictional elements should be introduced. With this particular story, there were also many possibilities with regards to genre. Should it be a historical novel, researching the place and times and fitting in the specifics of the story around the findings? Should it be a mystery/thriller, chasing and investigating an early example of a serial killer? Should it be a horror novel? Personally, I’m not sure what I would have done, but as a reader, this novel was not what I expected. This has probably more to do with me than with the book itself but, in my opinion, it tries to be too many things.

The novel has elements of historical fiction. The author explains, in an end note, who were the real characters, and who the ones he created, and also briefly exposes some of the liberties he took. The historical background and facts are fairly accurate (although if you research the story, it seems that the fate of the daughter was very different to the one in the book, that seems an attempt at introducing a romance and a happy ending of sorts, that, in my opinion, does not befit the subject), and one of the things that the author does very well is to reflect the conflict between Catholics and Protestants at the time, the atmosphere of deep suspicion and hostility, and the paranoia that permeated all levels of society, whereby nobody was safe and anybody could be betrayed and accused of being a follower of the wrong faith. The author uses modern language, a perfectly good choice to ensure more readers access the text, but there are anachronisms and expressions that felt out of place (and perhaps using a more neutral, rather than a very casual language would have been less jarring, as some expressions sounded particularly weird in such setting. We have references to teenager, an expression only in use in the XXc. , characters drink coffee whilst it was never introduced to Germany until the late part of the XVII century…). I also wondered about some of the characters’ actions. Sybil, a young girl who lost her mother and looks after her father and younger brother, challenges her father’s authority with no consequences, goes out by herself and does things I would have thought would be out of character (but I will try and not offer too many spoilers). Dieter is a young and pious priest that seems to change his faith and his mind practically overnight (no matter what he thought about the bishop, the religion he’d dedicated years to, one would expect it would mean more to him than that) as a result of falling in love at first sight (as there is nothing in common between him and the girl) and in general I felt most of the characters were not psychologically consistent. I am not an authority on that historical period, although I have read other books about that era that created a clearer picture in my mind, about the historical period and also about the society of the time.

Whilst the novel opens as if it was going to be a straight investigation into bizarre murders, with a suggestion of the paranormal, there are some elements of investigation (following people, plenty of intrigues, researching paperwork), but a lot of the novel is taken up by telling (more than showing) us about the religious situation, the machinations of the powerful of the time (particularly Bishop Solomon, not a real character who is truly despicable and has no redeeming features at all) and it stirs the book towards the territory of the intrigue/conspiracy-theory novel  (it appears likely that those aspects played a big part during the trial of the man who was found guilty of being the werewolf).

Although at the beginning there is the suggestion that there might be elements of horror in the novel that is not the case. Or rather, the real horror is the way the truth is sacrificed to political and religious interests and how no side is above using any means to win (the Catholics come out of it slightly worse off, but nobody is truly blameless).  There is action, violence (some for comic relief, but some extreme and graphic, including torture scenes and gross deaths), and war, so this is not a gentle novel for people intent on learning a bit about the historical era, but it is not scary in sense horror lovers would expect.

The story is told in the third person from the point of view of different characters, and each chapter starts with the name of the character whose point of view we share, although at times we get reflections and comments from an omniscient point of view (comments about character’s feelings or motivations that do not seem to come from them). Heinrich, the investigator, is an enigmatic character we never get to know well, as although we see things from his point of view, we aren’t privy to his full motivations (and that is aided by the third person narration). He is at times presented as weak and ineffective (a bit like Johnny Depp’s depiction of Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow) and at others, he is clever and manipulative (and the ending is quite eerie, but no, I won’t say anything else). He seems determined to carry on with his investigation and get to the truth one minute, and then he settles for what he knows is a lie, behaving as a corrupt cog-in-the-machine.

I suspect it was partly because of the point of view changes but I found it difficult to connect with the characters (my favourite was Georg, a conflicted character whose motivations are easier to understand and who was, despite his flaws, a good man.  I felt sorry for Sybil but her character didn’t quite gel for me) although it is impossible not to be horrified at what went on and I didn’t manage to get the timing of the events straight in my mind.

Some of the comments expressed unhappiness with the ending, but for me, that is well resolved (perhaps apart from the happy ending part of it, but then that is a matter of genre) and I did not find its openness a problem but rather a plus.

Most of my difficulties with the book stem from my own expectations about what the story was going to be about and how it was going to be told. I’ve read many positive reviews about the book, and as I said, it does create a sense of dread, paranoia, and suspicion that can help us imagine what living in that historical period, so uncertain, must have been like.  And it has a chilling and eerie ending. So, if you are intrigued by the history behind it, don’t take my word for it and check a sample of the book. And do a bit of research. It will prove, once more, that reality can be stranger than fiction.

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review 2017-05-26 08:55
A good story but lacking in romance
Pete and the Werewolf - Cassandra Pierce

I liked the story and the world-building but unfortunately the romance was underdeveloped. Time jumps in the relationship and not even fade to black romance meant that it was hard to feel any chemistry between the leads. I'd have liked several more chapters to fill in the blanks and give us just a modicum of heat.

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review 2017-05-24 06:05
Werewolf's First Love - Viv Phoenix,Aly First

This was a short read. Wyatt is a werewolf and he finds a woman, a human, that he wants. Charity is a generous woman and accepts Wyatt as a shifter. The story has a couple ups and downs. I found it a bit forced at times but I did enjoy their journey.

I received a copy of this story through RR Book Read and Review, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2017-04-24 07:05
Blog Tour w/Review - Falling For The Billionaire Wolf And His Baby
 
 

Falling for the Billionaire Wolf and His Baby

by Sasha Summers
Publication Date: April 24, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Covet, Paranormal, Romance

 

 
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About the book:

 

When Jessa Talbot’s boss offered her a promotion, she agreed—no questions asked. Her family needed the money, but fighting the attraction she feels for her brooding employer is tough. Worse, she instantly bonds with his infant son she’s caring for. But this is a temporary solution and she can’t get attached to either of them.

 

Finnegan Dean is cursed. He’s a nicely dressed monster, the wolf inside always looking for a way out. But there are two things he and his wolf agree on. They must protect baby Oscar and Jessa—his mate. While the wolf hungers to seal their bond, Finn fights the instinct. After all, if he really cares for her, he’d never doom her to the life he lives.

 

Buy links:

 

 
 
 
 
KBSBookReview
 

Falling for the Billionaire Wolf and His BabyFalling for the Billionaire Wolf and His Baby by Sasha Summers My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Finnegan AKA Finn needs help in the worst way. He calls upon his employee who needs the money most. Jessa turns out to be a nice surprise. She is just what he needs. J

 

Jessa is shocked her boss needs her in any way. She has a lot to learn about Finnegan and what he is asking. There are secrets being kept by both of them. Maybe taking a chance can lead to so much more.

 

Really fast paced and enjoyable book. The sweet story and sexy times make this a keeper. Hoping to see these incredible characters in upcoming stories. The Blood Moon Brotherhood is full of hottie testosterone!

 

***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publisher, in exchange for an honest review only.

 

View all my reviews

 
 

About Sasha Summers:

 

Sasha is part gypsy. Her passions have always been storytelling, romance, history, and travel. Her first play was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She's been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she's doing so. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and supportive.

 

Connect:

 

 
 
 
1. What was your favorite book/series in your youth?
 
I love the Narnia series. And I read everything I could that included Greek Mythology. 
 
2. Do you ever make playlists for your books?
 
 I make playlists for all of my books. If I'm writing a series, I might just add on new stuff for the next books. Or I'll make a new list entirely for each book.
 
3. Do you write to music?
 
I always write to music.
 
4. What genre would you like to write that you have not had a chance to yet?
 
 Suspense. I've written in fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, paranormal, and YA. I'd love to try a suspense or mystery.
 
5. Will you share with us something about yourself that no one else knows?
 
I'm addicted to Chris Hemsworth. Wait, everyone knows that... I've never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
 
6. There is a real demand for shape-shifter books. (and... we thank you) What made you decide to write one?
 
I think werewolves are delightfully sexy and primal. I really enjoyed tapping into that - with Finn and the next books.
 
7. You write about very powerful characters. Do you feel like they demand to have their story written?
 
Yes. Absolutely. I can argue with them all I want - they always win. ;)
 
8. What do you want us to take away from your story?
 
I'm a romantic at heart. Big time. I believe love conquers all. That's what this series is about. Danger, life-and-death, risking it all - but love will triumph.
 
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so so glad you enjoyed Finn. Can't wait to hear what you think about the rest!
 
 - Sasha
 
 
 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Direct Giveaway Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1cb554951086/

 

 

 

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review 2017-04-16 17:08
Slade by Eva Gordon
Slade, Book 1 in Team Greywolf Series - Eva Gordon

They’re both werewolves, but they come from worlds apart. Cricket is technically a Runt in the werewolf hierarchy, but her competence and ability to blend in as human has granted her honorary Beta status in the American Lycan Intelligence Agency in Team Greywolf. Slade comes from a long line of werewolf royalty where long-held rules of mate choosing are strictly adhered to. Recently, he lost his entire pack and madness threatens to consume him utterly. It’s hoped that Cricket’s Runt status will serve to bring out his Alpha protectiveness and ground him once again. Cricket isn’t too enthused about the assignment even as her libido lusts after the well-muscled Slade.

I’ve been wetting my feet on paranormal shifter romances this past year. I find some parts of this genre to be fascinating (like the shape-shifting) and other parts to be a bit over-pronounced (the damaged Alpha male). I found this book to be a better story than most I have encountered in this genre. It was Cricket. She made the story for me. I found her wit and sense of purpose and self to be refreshing and totally entertaining. She has a career and a place in Team Greywolf that she earned. Her status isn’t dependent upon the man in her life (another theme in shifter romances that has worn thin for me). I often chuckled at her sarcastic jokes. I think I could be best buds with her.

The damaged Slade was not much more than that. He has his royalty thing going, being a rich man in his own right and then his damaged psyche that needs healing. I could have used something more to give him personality. The lusty scenes between him and Cricket were good if a little brief. Perhaps that’s just my lustful hormones wanting more…

I did enjoy the big mystery to the story. Something is taking out werewolves, like Slade’s pack, and the Lycan Intelligence Agency is at a loss to explain it. One tiny lead gives us another and then Cricket and Slade have to go undercover and on the hunt. The action picks up and there’s one rescue after another. It was fun if a little predictable.

As a biologist, I also liked the few realistic touches about wolf hierarchy, such as all the sniffing, the nose nipping, and other such things. These details made the shape shifting, and especially the wolf form, more realistic and the other all story more entertaining.

At the end, not everyone gets everything they wanted, which I also liked. I don’t need everything to turn out totally happy hunky dory in my shifter romances. A few complications were left for the characters to work out.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Christine Padovan was great as Cricket. She has Cricket’s sarcasm down to a T. Padovan does tend to drop the last word in a sentence and draw it out, giving her speech an odd cadence that I can’t place. However, she doesn’t do this often when she’s doing a character’s lines. She does do it often when telling the story narrative and I feel it takes a little getting used to. Don’t be put off by it though as her character voices are worthy.

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