Three Incidents at Foster Manor by P.T. Phronk

Summary

An old mansion. An apocalyptic storm. Whispering voices in the air. She was right to fear the worst-case scenario.

Amy Burnett has been buried in her work as a security expert. She likes it that way—her dark past can’t invade her thoughts as long as she stays holed up in her office. So why the heck has she ended up at a gothic mansion’s doorstep in the middle of the night?

It’s because Craig Foster summoned her there. Amy’s company built the sealed chamber in his basement, for any worrisome worst-case scenario, but now the safe room has presented a scenario of its own: Craig’s daughter is trapped inside.

It should be a quick fix. After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen when a stranger arrives at a remote mansion on a stormy night? An impossible mystery? A haunting? A visit from the lurking strangers in the woods? Surely not all three—that would require extraordinarily bad luck.

Unfortunately, Amy’s been short on luck lately.

Amazon

Characters

Amy is the primary character but there are a litany of supporting characters. She is an interesting character, with a lot of baggage. Despite some of her characters flaws, I quite liked her. Other characters include Caleb the needy teenager, Ash the jerk, Craig the weak-willed father, Marcus the likable dad, Jasmine the plucky one, and Trista the girl locked in the room. Each has a role to play and by saying much more I may be ruining it.

Plot

It reminded me of reading horror  genre clue. A very interesting who-dunnit where it isn’t just about who…but also about the bigger mystery and the bad dudes that show up. It will keep you on your toes with constant tension. Amy is the only one you can trust so everyone else is suspect—leading to great scenes. I did figure out both aspects but it took quite a while and I wasn’t 100% spot on—there are a bit of a twist on each. This book never lets up—in a good way.

Overall

A very easy and enjoyable read. I read this in two sittings and stayed up late to finish it. Because I just had to know if I was right and turning the pages was easy. I felt I could easily have read it on the weekend in one sitting. The writing and imagery created such vivid scenes, many of which had me gripping my phone from the suspense! A real page turner!

My only compliant was—I didn’t catch onto the whole ‘rain is dangerous because this is in the future when the environment is going to heck in a hand-basket.’ So I could not understand why people didn’t just leave. It wasn’t until much later that some very subtle hints finally made sense. Some more world-building throughout would have fixed this but it wasn’t enjoy to ruin my enjoyment of the book.

Rating

4.5 (rounded up)

A great mystery suspense for an airplane ride or a quite night in. You’ll easily read this in one sitting and feel satisfied by the end of it. Be ready for one crazy ride!

Where did I get a copy?

From the author. This review is voluntary.

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The Wake Up by Angela Panayotopulos

Summary

For years, Lexi has repressed her secret gift: a rare ability to glimpse the angelic or demonic manifestations of people’s personalities in their mirror image. With her family’s glass-blowing studio as her playground and her mirror-making grandfather as her mentor, Lexi comes of age when the nation’s president—an undisclosed Seer who demonizes his gift as fiercely as Lexi treasures hers—bans man-made reflective surfaces, plunging the nation into a dystopia where government agencies annihilate families like Lexi’s.

As her family breaks apart, Lexi falls for a man who comes to stand for everything she despises. Betrayal and deceit ignite a domino effect of dangerous consequences in a world of blurring boundaries between the worldly and otherworldly. Caught up in a battle as old as time itself, the last mirror-maker must revamp a breakup into the greatest wake up of her life, embracing her forbidden capabilities in an attempt to rouse her world out of darkness.

Amazon Link

Characters

Lexi. Lexi. Lexi. Where do I start? You are going to love/hate her but by the end you’ll miss her. At least I did! Dominic, Gabriel, and Zach are all central to Lexi’s story. Yet it isn’t just about her. Her story feeds into other stories as well. Changing those she interacts with. There is some head hoping and I didn’t love some of the flash back stories, but they weren’t too distracting. More like “Get back to the main story, I want to know more!” kind of way.

Plot

This story had a deep dystopian feel, over something that seemed very odd to me at first. However, as the novel and story progresses the plot expands to take on broader meanings and deeper themes. It went in directions I hadn’t thought of. It lulls you into a state of expectation and then throws a horrible but wonderful curve ball. Be warned, this is not a lighthearted novel, the darkness has to have its moment before the light will matter.

Overall

Wow! This novel had a slow start, but after about 30% it really picks up and then I couldn’t put the book down. I had to force myself to plug in my phone and go to bed, then I woke up in the morning to finish it. A fantastic book! Very colorful and vivid language throughout the book. Almost lyrical. Each chapter starts with a quote that connects to the theme of the chapter.

Was this novel perfect? No. Did its imperfections distract from the amazing story? Not at all!

Rating

5 stars

If you love dytopian novels and vivid descriptive language, this is a must read!

Where did I get a copy?

The author send me one. This is a voluntary review.

Ugly Things We Hide by M. Ocampo McIvor

Summary

“We all bend the truth from time to time.” 

Enigmatic Hawaiian surfer, Daniel, seems just within reach of a better life, but he is locked in a pattern of self-sabotage — why? 

Restless with his life in Oahu, he moves to the mainland and delves into the shadowy world of the filthy rich, catering to their whims for money. But his cool, smart, and practical exterior starts to crumble under the weight of his clients’ ugly secrets, though he is most wounded by his own secret shame.

Characters

Daniel is a bit of a mess but does so with flare and ease. He is easy to relate to on some regards and draws the reader in with this deep thoughts and restlessness. Although I would say he is pulled along through life it doesn’t feel contrived – in fact it feels quite natural that he should wander. From his sweet Auntie to his brother Noah to Frank his friend and Jackie his “friend” this host of supporting characters is varied and colorful. All I can say is, awe Phoebe.

Plot

I was surprised by this book. The concept seemed interesting but I didn’t know where the author was going. Even though you knew from chapter one where Dan ends up and what happens to him, the journey mattered more. Although I suspected some aspects of the book I was surprised by how it was presented. The beautiful prose scarred by ugly truths. Absolutely stunning and shocking.

Overall

Just wow! I was absolutely floored by this book. After a slow start I was just sucked in. Phoebe was such a star in his life but she burned out because of his choices. I don’t want to give anything away but I just couldn’t put this book down – I had to know the ending. Which left me both unsatisfied and wanting more in many regards. It does seem like there is going to be a second book – so there’s that.

The writing was flowing although a little lengthy (almost unnecessarily in some regards) but didn’t distract from the power behind the book. This hit me square in the chest because of the complexity of humanity striped bare and shown in its beauty and horror. I’ll be honest that I didn’t really like the cover but after reading the book even the cover made sense and should be changed. Overall – a resounding yes!

Rating

5 stars

This book will not go the way you expect – even getting a glimpse of the beginning. The authors subtlety and painful realism will leave you reeling. Well worth the time!

Burner (Affinity Series, #1) by J.S. Lenore

Summary:

Homicide detective Kim Phillips isn’t like the other officers of the Chicago Police Department. She’s quiet, isolated, and she can speak with the dead. Born with the ability to see into and interact with the afterlife, she is a Burner: a person tasked with hunting down dangerous spirits and sending them to the other side.

When Kim exorcises the ghost of a young girl, she’s dragged into a new and unsettling case, one where people like Kim are being killed. The only problem? There’s no connection between the victims, and no proof that they were murdered in the first place. Kim has to catch the killer before he finds his last victim and unleashes an unknown evil on the world.

Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, is a dark exploration of how life and death are only separated by a single breath and how even those with power can be powerless.

Characters

Kim is a bit of a mess, but in a charming way. Her stubborn, almost self destructive drive to make things right and do them her way, is perfectly balanced by Priya. Priya is a bonded ghost (like a supernatural partner) and a sweetie! Cross is a very distinct character and I loved him almost more than Kim. The author created wonderfully diverse characters that, despite their flaws, were easy to love and even relate to.

Plot

The author built a complex world with lots of mediums and types of mediums that is pretty easy to follow. It is confusing a few times in the first few chapters but I got into the grove. Found out there is a glossary in the back that confirmed everything I had figured out, I’d recommend taking a peak there first.

There is a complex detective story that was decent. I figured it out pretty quickly but mostly enjoyed the journey and the action. Boy was there a ton of great action! I also liked the building romance between her and her new human partner…you’ll see how cute they are and I hope to see more of them!

Overall

Wonderfully written. I loved the way the author started the book – right into the action. Besides some repeated paragraphs in the earlier chapters, it was nearly flawless. I wasn’t sure what the point of the random pictures were throughout the book and actually though they could all go because they were distracting.

Relate-able characters, great plot, easy to follow world in an urban setting, and a great balance of romance and action. The ghost scenes were awesome! I wasn’t bored and every word was written with economy. I was very impressed all the way around. I kept wanting to read what was happening next!

Rating

5 stars

I loved this book. I was initially drawn to it because it said it was like the Dresden Series – and it was in many ways – but there were a lot of unique factors that just had that edge. For sure will be looking for more from this author in the future! If you love ghost/supernatural detective stories this is a must read!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Michael’s Passion by Joel Crofoot

Summary

The Archangel Michael’s passion for life has recently begun to wane. He has isolated himself from the other angels and become complacent on the job. When a slip up in a fight causes him to be cast out of heaven the furthest thing on Michael’s mind is helping a demon, until he meets Jahi. Now Michael must face a dilemma he never could have imagined. With Michael already cast out of heaven, what will happen to him if he falls in love with a demon?

Jahi has finally returned to earth with her demanding boss, only to find herself captured by the Archangel Michael. Now she must decide if she can give up the freedom she has sought for so long or return to a life of prostitution, and Michael’s passion for her makes this a decision Jahi can’t take lightly.

Caution: This book contains scenes that are intended for adults only. You probably won’t want to bring it to church with you.

Characters

The two main characters are Archangel Michael and the demon Jahi. I love them both. The author does a great job of making them complex enough to feel real but not so complex and flawed that you can’t like them. Michael is overly caring at times but such a knight in shining armor complex. While Jahi is almost painfully independent and determined to keep her freedom. Makes for great characters. Despite the slew of supporting characters the author makes Gabriel and some of the other angels/demons very interesting and they actually add to the story and not just the romance – very refreshing!

Plot

This is a romance but it is more. It is a romance with a plot! In addition to the determination to be together and their growing love, which was super sweet, there were action packed moments and another plot line. Actually multiple moving parts which kept me interested. Very cool take on Angels and Demons, not too original but for sure more thought out – especially the added complexity near the end.

I’m not a very religious person so some of this may be too close to home for some – be warned.

Overall

I read this book in one day. I totally just had to know how everything was going to work out. Even if the romance was very HEA the plot kept me jumping on other topics. Plus the baby angels (they are like 30 years old looking but totally lost on the ways of humans and it is ADORABLE)! The sensual scenes were steamy and appropriate. The complexity between Michael and the other angels, particularly Gabriel, really helped with character development and I loved them both more because of their internal crises. The writing was enjoyable and the fight scenes easy to follow.

Only thing I didn’t like was the cover. It still makes me laugh at how silly it is – but you can’t judge a book by its cover here!

Rating

5 stars

This book had it all for me and I absolutely loved it. I laughed out loud, I nearly cried (twice), and I was gripping my phone because of action or a tense scene. If you like paranormal romances this is a must read!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Where the Waters Turn Black (Yarnsworld #2) by Benedict Patrick

Summary

When gods and monsters battle, her music will not protect her…

The Crescent Atoll is a remote string of tropical islands, connected by long canoe journeys and a love of stories.

When Kaimana, a young ocarina player, discovers the lair of a taniwha – a legendary monster – she finds herself inspired. The song she is composing about their encounter will be her masterpiece, but her disturbance of the beast attracts the ruining gaze of the god of war. She must convince the taniwha to trust her if they are both to survive.

Where the Waters Turn Black is a standalone novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. Inspired by the myths and legends of South Pacific island cultures, this book is perfect for those seeking fantasy stories with a hint of the unfamiliar.

Characters

Kaimana is a likable character but more importantly she feels real. Her decisions aren’t always perfect but there is something of a dreamer in her that is to be admired. Rakau is the tanwha and has a big personality. He reminds me of a big intelligent dog. The supporting characters are varied but most seems to be morally reprehensible characters. From her parents that can’t understand to her ‘mentor’ Eloni (who is a real twit).

Plot

This book was such an array of themes. At its core I felt this was about the power of love/friendship. That it doesn’t matter how different  you may be from another person/creature, sometimes there is a connection that only you and the other person/creature can understand. It was a beautifully refreshing novel. There wasn’t any romance, it was just the story of a girl and her monster.

There were Gods, and constant threats from all sides, and awesome scenes. The concept of the Knacks are back in this Yarnsworld novel, which was pleasant. The author took a completely different but enjoyable feel/plot without completely leaving the writing style or world that I loved in They Mostly Come out at Night. A fantastic adventure that not everyone will come out of the same or even survive.

Overall

The world building was breathtaking and the transitions clear. I was a little disappointed that the fairy tale like stories didn’t connect back into the story more, but it did well enough to be fantastic. The Gods were varied and complex in their own right. I cannot give this book enough praise. I don’t want to give anything away, you’ll just need to read it!

Rating

5 stars

If you love Folklore stories even a little this is a must read! I couldn’t put it down and once I started reading it I had to finish. A must read!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

2016 in Review – Best Reads

2016 Reading Stats

Goal for 2016: 25

Number of books read: 45

Number of books reviewed: 44

Best Books of 2016:

1st place goes to:

They Mostly Come Out at Night (5 Stars)

Patrick, Benedict – They Mostly Come Out at Night (Fantasy) (Review) (Amazon)

Here is why: This book absolutely blew me away. It was one of those books that start out completely innocuous and by the time you realize it is amazing, it floors you. It rocked my world – I couldn’t stop talking about it for days and have recommended it countless people. It is a fairytale that the Grimm brothers would be proud of – this is a must read for all adults who like fantasy.

FYI the second one is out (not a sequal just the same world) and I am STOCKED to read it!

2nd place goes to:

Proving

Brosky, Ken – The Proving (YA Sci-Fi) (Review) (Amazon)

Here is why: This book is heads and shoulders above all of the other sci-fi’s I read this year. Some were great, don’t get me wrong, but this one took my socks off. I love the characters, loved the concept, loved the writing, and the overall plot was excellent. It is a little scary for middle schoolers but anyone 14+ who likes Sci-fi needs to read this book. I find myself recommending it all the time.

3rd place goes to:

Jurassic Park

Crichton, Michael – Jurassic Park (Urban Sci-Fi) (Review) (Amazon)

I love Michael Crichton. He is one of my go to authors. I really enjoyed reading Jurassic Park and it really amazed me to read this and compare differences with the movies and the books. I’ve wanted to read this for years and it is really a book everyone should read as adults. If you love the movies, the first book is a must read!

Best Crime (Mystery/Suspense):

Cover

Mayer, Dale – Tuesday’s Child (Mystery) (Review) (Amazon)

Loved this mystery. For sure a darker one but great!

Best Erotica:

Eronica

Vaughn, Scarlett – Eronica Unbound (Erotica) (Review)

There is a plot…silly…but the steamy scenes are impressive!

Best Fantasy:

They Mostly Come Out at Night (5 Stars)

Patrick, Benedict – They Mostly Come Out at Night (Fantasy) (Review) (Amazon)

Just yes.

Best Romance:

hart-broken

Arcane, Annie – Hart Broken (Contemporary Romance) (Review) (Amazon)

Very realistic romance. Hits you in the feels!

Best Sci-Fi:

the-martian

Weir, Andy – The Martian (Sci-fi) (Review) (Amazon)

Hilarious and educational.

 

 

Best Short Story:

Spinnings

Thorpe, Marian L. – Spinnings (Short Story – Fantasy) (Review) (Amazon)

I loved this collection of stories. Very fascinating!

Best Urban (anything):

Jurassic Park

Crichton, Michael – Jurassic Park (Urban Sci-Fi) (Review) (Amazon)

A must read for the dinosaur lover.

Best Young Adult:

Proving

Brosky, Ken – The Proving (YA Sci-Fi) (Review) (Amazon)

Really for all ages but amazing. If this could win two categories it would win for sci-fi too.

Best Wattpad:

Some Like it Ruthless (Book Review)

Some Like it Ruthless by Megan Bryce (Review) (Amazon)

I love Megan Bryce. Period.