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text 2018-02-01 00:56
January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-28 13:00
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
Lockdown - Alexander Gordon Smith
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alex Sawyer finds himself in Furnace Penitentiary; a pit in the ground, its sole purpose to cage away the youngest of offenders. The thing is, Alex may be a thief, and he may have broken the law, but he certainly doesn't belong in Hell. Facing a lifetime underground, of never seeing the sun again, Alex is determined to escape. Good thing he's made friends, for he'll need all the help he can get.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

This wasn't a bad book (the Escape from Furnace series is five instalments long); I actually quite enjoyed it on some level, however certain questions got in the way and became an obstacle I unfortunately couldn't bypass. Without sufficient world-building, I just couldn't fully appreciate the premise of the plot; it seemed too far-fetched to me, lacking in any form of realism. But this is a book, right? It doesn't need to be realistic, it's fiction, after all. Well, if a story's told correctly, if sense is made through the writing, then the author makes you believe, no matter if it's about elves and goblins or whatever else. Words are a tool to be used, to transport us to new worlds that in themselves need to work. This didn't work.

Sure, there was a bit of background on the world, and it touched upon why society believed it imperative to lock away children, but it was minimal and certainly not enough. Logic and reason just kept worming its way into my mind, asking why. Why create the most horrific prison for teenagers? Adults commit appalling crimes just as much, if not worse in comparison, yet this prison - this hell - isn't for them? Let's get the important facts out of the way, shall we?

- Each and every prisoner is there serving a life sentence. LIFE. I recall there being kids younger than fourteen.
- Inmates have zero rights. No visitation, no health checks, nothing regarding the law.
- They're killed and / or transformed into monsters regularly. Basically guinea pigs for the warden and his experiments.
- Oh, and they're all male. No females in sight. I can't say I agree with the exclusion, but I get this is supposed to be a book catered to young boys.

They're thrown away, forgotten about, and whilst I understand the "Summer of Slaughter" may have been a horrendous thing, the plausibility was severely lacking.

Moving on, before I just keep on repeating myself! Another thing that occurred to me throughout the chapters - this series is labelled as "young adult", however I found there to be sensitive material that younger readers could very well find disturbing; including the murder and abuse of minors. This isn't something that bothered me per say, but even I felt a chill or two down my spine at the horror elements Smith included with vivid description.

Despite my complaints and belief that it's extremely flawed, I didn't hate it. I kept wanting to read more, to see what would become of each and every character introduced. I found it interesting to read about Alex's range of emotions; from desperation, to fear, to that spark of hope. The place had an effect on the boy; weighing upon his shoulders until he felt he'd been trapped there a lot longer than the mere days in which was reality. Alex may have made mistakes throughout, but I found him likeable. He had spirit, and despite his mistakes in life, he had a good heart. He wasn't my favourite, though, as Donovan took that position. Older, more mature, he strived to take care of the group. I believed it was completely reasonable for him to question Alex's ideas, and for his mindset to be cynical. I actually felt something when he was taken - some sense of sadness.

Whilst some things got repetitive in regards to the writing (the same thing would be described in different ways, over and over, such as the voices of the "blacksuits"), it worked for me. A lot was able to be conveyed; the sheer ugliness of Furnace itself. The dogs, the "wheezers", and in general the frightening side of the plot, were all written superbly. I felt entertained until the very end, and the cliffhanger promptly made me buy the next one. I guess that was the intention!

In conclusion - I found it to be entertaining, however it failed in convincing me how Furnace could be allowed in any country. I'll be continuing on with the series, with the hopes of having a history lesson.

Solitary is the next instalment of this series, and was first published in 2009.

Notable Scene:

The monster was standing outside my cell, staring at me with eyes so deeply embedded in its shrivelled face that they looked like black marbles. The contraption that covered its mouth and nose was coloured with rust and verdigris, and this close I could see that the ancient metal was stitched permanently into the skin.

© Red Lace 2018

Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

 

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/05/lockdown-by-alexander-gordon-smith
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review 2017-10-20 00:49
Be very, very careful what you wish for
The Serpent Scrolls: Rise of the Immortal Snake (The War with Satan Book 1) - Kenneth Harris

Afterwards, he was immediately executed. It is believed by local scholars that his beaten and burned corpse was decapitated limb by limb and buried in the forgotten grounds of Serpent Cemetery just outside of Kilfield, Massachusetts. Reportedly, his spirit awaits rebirth by 99 souls from his own admission shortly before his death.

Harris, Kenneth . The Serpent Scrolls: Rise of the Immortal Snake (The War with Satan Book 1) . Kindle Edition.

 

Emphasis is mine.  This is from the one-page Introduction.  It is the second or third major grammatical or syntactical error on that short page.

 

Disclosure:  I obtained the Kindle edition of this book on 19 October 2017 when it was offered free and promoted as such on BookLikes.  I have had intermittent communication on BookLikes with the author, but not about this book or about his writing in general.  I am an author of adult fiction and non-fiction.

 

 

The text is absurdly over-written, with four adjectives used where one would be too many. Often, they're misused.

 

Lots of words are misused.

 

He inserted the mouth of a rigid bolt cutter over the bulky wrapped chains and bisected it.

Harris, Kenneth . The Serpent Scrolls: Rise of the Immortal Snake (The War with Satan Book 1) (p. 1). Kindle Edition.

(One does not insert something over something else.  Bolt cutters have blades, jaws, and a neck, but not a mouth.  Chains are plural; it is singular.)

 

 

I don't know if this is supposed to be a morality tale reminding us of God's love or a Young Adult horror story.  If it's supposed to be a combination of the two, I can only roll my eyes.

 

The book needs serious editing.  I'm not being paid to do that.

 

I recommend avoiding this book as if it were a rattlesnake.

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-12-14 05:34
Suspicious minds
The Semper Sonnet - Seth J. Margolis

When Stephanie at Stephanie's Book Reviews reviewed this book, I was intrigued enough to check it out on Amazon.  The Kindle edition was only 99 cents. so I splurged and bought it.

 

Disclosure:  I paid the full retail price for the Kindle edition.  I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any contact with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of contemporary gothic and historical romances.

 

This is not really a review, since I've only read a couple chapters and may or may not read any more.  But I'm so disgusted by what I found that I feel compelled to post this information.  As an author, I cannot post it on Amazon; authors are not allowed to post negative comments/reviews.

 

I know virtually nothing about the publisher of this item, Diversion Books of New York City.  They have a website that makes them look professional, and they seem to have a number of authors and titles in their catalogue.  But I personally would never recommend them to anyone, based on my reading of the opening chapters of this book.

 

Editors are supposed to fix errors.  Although editors are human and make mistakes, they shouldn't make big fat obvious ones.

 

 

Screen shot from K4PC

 

 

 

 

Copied text from later in the same chapter:

 

Lee Nicholson would not be wounded. She would not bleed.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 245). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

Copied text from the next chapter:

 

“You haven’t been charged with anything, Miss Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 292). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

Copied text from later in the next chapter:

 

Where would she go?

“Miss Nichols?”

Detective Lowry was staring at her with something verging on concern.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 317-318). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 

And later:

 

“Leslie Nichols?”

She turned from her dresser to face one of the plainclothes men sifting through every item in her bedroom.

“I’m known as Lee. Lee Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 365-367). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

An error like that is pretty much unforgivable.  I caught it on a first reading late at night when I was tired as hell.

 

Names are important . They are one of the first identifiers of a character.  They can also stop a reader in her tracks if they're wrong or jarring or . . . too familiar.

 

From early in Chapter 1:

 

Her mentor at Columbia, David Eddings, had assured her that it was her looks and not her scholarship that had landed her a spot on the news.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 224-225). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

David Eddings was a well-known author of several best-selling fantasy series.  Coming across an unusual name of a real person like this is a jolt that pulls a reader out of the make-believe world of the novel.  Had the name been Donald Eddings or David Geddings, I would never have noticed it.  But I did notice "David Eddings" and was immediately on alert.

 

When the main character's name changed from "Lee Nicholson" to "Lee Nichols," the importance of the other name doubled.  "Leigh Nichols" is one of the many pseudonyms of another best-selling author, Dean Koontz.

(spoiler show)

 

 

Had this been a self-published book, I probably would have stopped reading at that point and just posted a DNF review.  There were other elements of the plot that bothered me even at less than 4% into the book, but I could have overlooked those if I felt confident of the writing.  But because it was published by a third party, I decided to do a little more research.

 

The first stop was Amazon, to see what the reviews were like.  Oh man, oh man, oh man, here we go again.

 

The Semper Sonnet's dedication:

 

For Jean Naggar

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 64). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 From the Amazon page for the book:

 

 

Full transparency my ass.

 

Oh, and that 1 comment?  It's Jean Naggar's link to her own book.  Follow that up and you'll find that Ms. Naggar is a literary agent.  I'd be willing to bet she's Seth Margolis's agent.

 

Full transparency my ass.

 

So now I have a really bad taste in my mouth about this author and this book.  I regret spending even 99 cents on it and putting 35 cents in Margolis's bank account, 7 cents of which probably went to Naggar.

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review 2016-10-31 01:54
A Century-Old Chamber of Horrors!
Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall - Annie Roe Carr

I love finding old books, especially when they're free.

 

I don't remember what led me to the Nan Sherwood books, but with free Kindle editions available, I downloaded them for the fun of it.  And rather than fall back on a Goosebumps or other expected Young Adult horror title, a haunted boathouse seemed like a good choice for this Bingo square.

 

The seven books of the Nan Sherwood series were part of the greater Stratemeyer syndicate that included Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Honey Bunch, the Bobbsey Twins, and literally dozens of other series for young readers.  Nan's first adventure was published in 1916, her last in 1937.

 

Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall, or the Mystery of the Haunted Boathouse is the second of the series and finds our plucky heroine embarking on her first term at boarding school on the Michigan shore of Lake Huron.  She comes from a family of less-than-modest means and would have been going back to the high school in her home town of Tillbury, but her parents have expectations of coming into a windfall inheritance, so Nan has been sent off with her wealthier hometown chum Bess Harley to the "select" girls' boarding school at Lakeview Hall.

 

The haunted boathouse plays only a tiny part in the story, but Nan's first couple of months at Lakeview are certainly filled with crises, everything from being accused of theft (more than once!) by the spoiled little rich girl, Linda Riggs, to battling a rattlesnake to nearly drowning during a sudden storm on the lake to falling through thin ice and being stuck in frozen mud to her parents suddenly losing their anticipated fortune and being plunged into poverty.  Never mind that her chum Bess is less than dependably loyal and has her own snobberies, or that Nan's generosity and integrity are often the source of trouble for her.

 

Throw in the dashing Walter Mason with his automobile (he wears gauntlets and goggles, and has to crank it) and his motorboat, and you've got the makings of a nice rivalry with the nasty Miss Riggs.  And of course there's the intriguing Professor Krenner, who teaches mathematics and architectural drawing and who invites Nan and another student to visit him at his nearby cabin.

 

There's a lot of innocence in the book, along with some of the horrors of early 20th century prejudices.  The writing is overblown just a bit, and the drama mostly exaggerated.  The ghost in the boathouse isn't very scary -- and of course isn't a ghost at all, as Nan knew from the beginning because plucky fourteen- or fifteen-year-olds even in 1916 don't believe in ghosts.

 

But overall it was fun, if eye-rolling.

 

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