Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Spirit Box by JH Glaze

The Spirit Box by JH Glaze
Before I start the umpteenth attempt of this review I feel I need to share something about how I go about reviewing books.  I never read a blurb of a book I have to review, I never read other reviews about the book I am about to review. Why? Well because I don’t want others impressions to influence my own.  After I've written a review I will go and fetch the blurb from Goodreads or some such.  Ill then read it and after I have posted the review will I go and read other reviews.  That being said, I think it is a stupid method. I've never needed help more.
The Sprit Box is a vastly complicated book and as a reader you will soon find that your own life experience leads you to fill in the grey areas.  This is the part that makes the book truly terrifying.
There are four main characters in this book.  Walt, the owner of a box so ancient and evil it is indestructible.  The second main character is detective John Hazard, a small town cop who has a John Wayne complex with Navy Seal training to boot.  The Spirit Box, evil incarnate and lastly beer.  Yes. I wrote beer, no need to dust off the reading glasses. 
Remember I stated that a reader's own personal experience will guide and fill in the grey areas in this book.  For me, the constant need of Walt to open a beer, have a beer, buy a few beers is as much a characters as is Walt himself.  But more on the beer later, I know by now, you are thirsty!
This is in essence a story about need, greed, obsession and most of all perception.  The last of which gets thrown out of the window with such a bang that it left me reeling three quarters through the book!
Walt is not a good guy but he is human.  His need, his greed and obsessions are all very human in nature.  His inability to think his choices through is however the one thing that makes him into the neighbor, the colleague, the brother - you know Walt, I can guarantee you that.
Detective John Hazard is a Navy Seal trained police detective.  He falls over a cat, steps through rotten floor boards and fall face first into stacked decomposing bodies.  He is your neighbor, your colleague, your brother - by now you know the drill, you know a John.
What sets them apart is not their differences but their choices and again their perceptions of life.  Neither of the characters are written in very flattering terms. But the reader will find himself cringing when Walt makes another disastrous decision, rooting for Walt against all logic.  We are hard wired to root for the good guy, and you do, but you won't necessarily like Hazard. 
Author JH Glaze has written a horror that feeds off the readers most dark and secret file systems.  He had me laughing and rereading a section three times in the book, my first reaction was shocked incredulity, then shocked humor and lastly simply pure enjoyment of a situation that has some women in Walt's town up in arms, well not literally, but in very unflattering positions nonetheless.
The story itself, at times has a strong resemblance to the classic The Monkeys Paw by W W Jacobs where the monkeys paw is a talisman.  In this case the talisman would have to be beer.  Well at last elucidation of my reasoning.  Walt's single minded pursuit of alcohol gets him into situations where he experiences the full consequences of his decisions.  For me in this book, beer became the silent partner if you wish.
But what is so horrible and so utterly terrifying that it makes this book a must read for any one regardless of whether a horror genre enthusiast? I would say the basic simplicity of the story.  What would you do dear reader if you're presented with a box and told to not look inside?
I usually have a rating system of6/5 starts for a book that I loved, recommend and would gift to a friend.  But I am revising that.  I am giving this book a 7/5 start rating.  I found a book I loved, a book that scared me, that made me want to discuss it to death, and had me recommending it to friends.  So why the 7th star…  I walked through my house reading while I did chores cause I simply could not put it down. 


Author interview
My Question:
I loved the fact that several parts in the book were laugh out loud funny.  Di you plan these parts out or were they the result of the story writing itself and the absurdity of human desire that naturally lends itself to become humorous
Jeff’s Reply:
Throughout time, humor has been based in part on the misfortune of others.  How many times has something tragic happened, that after time became humorous when told as a story?  I just take small, believable things like that, twist them around, and then push them over the edge of outrageousness.  When people say they laughed out loud, I have accomplished my goal.
My Question:
John Hazard is portrayed as an excellent cop and an ex-US Marine.  Yet you have him falling over his feet three times in this book!  Is it important to you to keep your characters as real as possible?
Jeff’s Reply:
Yes, I want you to believe that John is real, not a super hero.  He falls over things when he becomes distracted.  Specifically when doing something he probably shouldn’t be.
My Question:
If you could write a story on one of the peripheral characters in the book, who would you write about and why?
Jeff’s Reply:
I have been asked to write expanded stories on John, Walts mother, big T, and Alron. The first story to be written concerning this book will be written about the baby. Three years in the future we will find that things did not go the way we thought and a new powerful threat will emerge. You may find this in book 5 of the Paranormal Adventures of John Hazard. Watch out!
My Question:
What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done and can share with us?
Jeff’s Reply:
The Jethro Tull concert at Kent State University in 1975. My friends had bought their tickets an didn't tell me until the day of the concert. I called my girlfriend and told her we were going, but when we arrived it was sold out. We really wanted to see that concert and I had an idea. I told my girlfriend to hold my wallet, then I when we got to the gate I acted like I had lost my wallet. I had 3 security guards helping me look for it in the crowd of people. I was wailing like it was the end of the world, hoping they would feel sorry for us and let us in. Suddenly I looked down and at my feet there were 2 tickets laying on the floor. I picked them up and proclaimed I found it. When we were going to our seats, we walked right past where my friends were sitting and I smiled and waved as their jaws dropped. Our seats turned out to be much better than theirs and we got in free!
My Question:
What is the one thing you would really like to do or accomplish still?
Jeff’s Reply:
I would like to travel away from the Americas and see more of the world. A series of best sellers would enable me to do that and visit fans and friends in various locations. Aside from that I want to make a difference, do something to leave a legacy for the future.
My Question:
Do you have any advice for other authors?
Jeff’s Reply:
 Write what you would love to read and don't worry what someone will say later, at least while you are writing it. This can free your imagination to be as creative as you want. Worry about opinions later!
My Question:
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Jeff’s reply:
So be it! Don't forget to read and repeat! ( Not really his reply to this question but it works )


 Next book in this series
NorthWest

Some very necessary links:

When you look into The Spirit Box, be prepared to have more than your breath taken away








Monday, January 30, 2012

Young Sherlock Holmes Fire Strom by Andrew Lane. Reviewed by Lynn Worton.


 
 
Book review of Young Sherlock Holmes Fire Storm by Andrew Lane.

A mysterious fire; a friend who has vanished; a man who claims to raise the dead.

Sherlock Holmes is at a loss. His friend and her father have disappeared. Their house is empty, as if nobody has ever lived there.
...
His attempts to solve the case take Sherlock to Scotland, and into an even darker mystery - one that involves kidnapping, bodysnatchers and a man who says that he can control the dead.

He's faced death before, but can Sherlock Holmes defeat the forces of Hell?

Review 5 out of 5

I won this book in a competition and I'm glad I did!

This is the story of Sherlock Holmes as a teenager set in Victorian England. He is staying in a small village, Farnham, with his Uncle Sherrinford and his Aunt Anna. His Uncle is the resident Vicar and they live in a large estate, which Sherlock seems to be embarrassed about. Sherlock is helping his Uncle catalogue some sermons one day, when he over hears a conversation between his Uncle and their housekeeper, Mrs. Eglantine. This conversation intrigues Sherlock into investigating and he finds more than he bargained for. Along with his violin teacher, Rufus Stone, and Matty a street urchin, Sherlock is thrown into a mystery that sees him travelling through the country to Scotland to find his girlfriend and her father before an evil man finds them.

I loved the story, as it gives Sherlock a back story as a teenager, and how he develops into the character that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about. My only quibble is that this book is actually the forth in the series! I'm now going to have to get the first three - Death Cloud, Red Leech and Black Ice; it was that good! I recommend this book to both boys and girls of all ages who love mystery/adventure. - Lynn Worton

Tempest by Julie Cross reviewed by Lynn Worton


 
Book review of Tempest by Julie Cross.

Today - Jackson and Holly are in love; Tomorrow - She will lie bleeding in his arms; Yesterday - Jackson must undo it all.

A booming sound rang in my ears, followed by Holly's scream. Then everything seemed to stop - my heart, my breath... time.
...
Jackson has a secret - he can jump into his own past. But when a shocking event propels him further back in time than he has ever been before - he finds he can't return.

Now Jackson has to find a way to save the girl he loves before they have even met, and time is not on his side...

Review: 5 out of 5

I loved this book, as it was a refreshing change to read a book from a boys point of view. It is also unique as time travelling novels are concerned.

This is the story of Jackson, who seems to be an ordinary teenage boy of 19, but in reality, he is far from ordinary. He can jump back in time. He has one friend who knows his secret, Adam Silverman. Adam is the scientific type and convinces Jackson to keep a diary of his jumps. The reader reads the story as if from the journal kept by Jackson.
One night, some people burst in on Holly and Jackson, and the unthinkable happens. Jackson, in his anger and grief, accidentally jumps backwards in time by two years (further than he had jumped before), and finds himself having to live his life as his 17 year old self, with no way of getting back to the future.

I love Jackson as a character, but it is the bittersweet love story between Jackson and Holly that captured my heart. I really felt Jackson's anguish at not being able to get back to his correct time and prevent the tragedy that had occurred. I will be on the look out for more of Julie Cross's books in the future. - Lynn

Book review of Forsaken (The Demon Trappers Series) by Jana Oliver reviewed by Lynn Worton


Book review of Forsaken (The Demon Trappers Series) by Jana Oliver.

This book is also known as The Demon Trappers Daughter in the USA.

Riley Blackthorne. Kicking hell's ass one demon at a time...
...
Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper like her father, and she's already following in his footsteps as one of the best. But it's tough being the only girl in an all-guy world, especially when three of those guys start making her life more complicated:

Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he's God's gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her life.

One thing's for sure - if she doesn't keep her wits about her there'll be hell to pay...

Review 6 out of 5

The year is 2018 and 17 year old Riley Blackthorne and her father, Paul, are living in Atlanta, Georgia during a severe economic recession. Literally, all hell has broken loose and Demons are roaming Atlanta's streets. Riley is training to become a Demon Trapper like her father. There are several grades of Demons, from the relatively harmless Grade One's, to the lethal Grade Three's and Five's. That doesn't include the Arch-Demons! As Riley is an apprentice, she mostly catches the Grade Ones. A tragedy occurs and Riley finds herself in a clash of wills with her father's apprentice, Denver Beck, who is a Journeyman Trapper and is one step away from becoming a Master. She also begins to have feelings for another apprentice, Simon. She also meets mysterious Ori, who seems to bring out another set of feelings when he keeps saving her life.

This is a YA novel for older readers and I absolutely LOVE this book!!! I had no idea when I bought this book, that I would love it this much! I have never been as excited to read a book before, that I had to re-read it straight away! I just devoured it! Jana Oliver has become one of my favourite authors! I love the story line and all the Demons (especially the cute (but ugly) Grade One Kleptofiends (thieves)). The Grade Three's are terrifying with their claws and teeth! But I absolutely fell in love with Denver Beck! Definitely swoon worthy!

Look out for my review of the sequel, Forbidden (The Soul Thief in USA), coming soon!

- Lynn Worton

Guest blog post by Lynn Worton of Forbidden by Jana Oliver.


Book review of Forbidden (The Demon Trappers Series) by Jana Oliver.

This book is also known as The Soul Thief in the USA.

Hell has a plan for Riley Blackthorne...
...
Riley's beginning to think being a demon trapper isn't all it's cracked up to be. Her dad's been stolen by a necromancer, her boyfriend's gone all weird and she's getting warm and fuzzy feelings for someone who's got more secrets that the CIA. It's tempting to give it all up and try to be normal, but that's not an option with Hell watching her every move.

One mistake will cost her everything - and that's the one she's about to make...

Review 6 out of 5

Riley, Beck and the rest of the trappers are continuing their fight against the demons. Riley finds herself still trying to solve the mysteries from the previous book. Denver Beck, meanwhile, has problems of his own. When Master Stewart is hurt in an attack on the Guild, he finds himself being thrust into looking after the Demon Hunters, who have been despatched by the Vatican to help rid Atlanta of the demons. Simon is also badly hurt in the attack. Ori, meanwhile, has an agenda of his own.

This is the second book in the series and I just LOVE this world! Sure it's got its problems, but which world is perfect? Jana has created the perfect balance between fact and fiction and gives all her characters the feel of living, breathing beings! I am now eagerly awaiting the release of the third book, Forgiven (both UK and USA), in March (in UK) this year. - Lynn Worton

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forced Intelligence by JH Glaze



What if we could boost the intelligence of humans through a process of brain stimulation using frequencies close to those of the average mobile phone?

Doctors Connor and Shafer have been working for years to perfect the treatment, but on the day of the experiment, a careless lab technician makes a mistake that jeopardizes the lives of everyone in the facility.

With the military closing in, the clock is ticking, and when their time runs out...

A fast paced short story from JH Glaze

This is a short story written by JH Glaze. The crux of the story is this: Smart people, in genius range, work in a government funded lab on experiments that may or may not have military application!

Alex, the main character is a nice and decent man. He does not mistreat his subject matters or his colleagues. But being decent does not mean he is safe! An experiment in the lab goes disastrously wrong and .... Well it is only forty pages long. I'm not going to rehash the story here. It is, however, dark and deeply disturbing. Why? Because it is all about human nature. And with that comes a very dark and predictable ending. But the fact that it is so very predictable is the crux of the story. We know how these things go!

The one thing I'm getting to appreciate about Jeff, as an author, is that he does not underestimate the intelligence of his readers. He leads you down the path to the bridge. If you wish to cross it - so be it!

Since it is a short story and you can literally use it to fill the time between coffee breaks I would recommend you to read it. The last two pages, as predictable as it was had me wiping away a tear. Who am I kidding. Several tears.

If you like dark and twisted, if you are only human, read this. It makes you reassess an age old truth - We are the superior race because our intelligence gives us the power to reason! Heaven help us.

I give this book a 5/5 star rating. Sensitive readers should think before they read this book. For the rest of us, we should try and learn to think before we do.....

For more about Jeff see

http://www.facebook.com/JHGlaze.author

http://www.facebook.com/thespiritboxbook

http://www.facebook.com/northwestbook



Check it out! This is one amazing author.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tangled Bloodlines by Deborah Noel



Book blurb
Via Goodreads
"This is not your sweet sparkling vampire story. Old-school vampires have re-surfaced, responsible for brutal murders and more blood than anyone can cope with. In ""Tangled Blood Lines"", Cianna Fitzgerald, a young but "retired" crime scene investigator, finds herself back in a world she walked away from some years ago.

She grew up in twentieth century Pennsylvania countryside knowing she possesses superhuman powers from her "Irish pixie" bloodlines. She had retired after a particularly tough case where the victim was her husband's twin brother. After her brief respite from murders and homicides, Cianna witnesses a killing where the murderer is a vampire. Her daughter goes missing soon after the killing. Cianna and the love she had once pushed out of her life, her estranged husband Declan, travel halfway around the world to try to save their child.

As the mystery unravels, she learns that although she is a half-breed, the other half isn't "Irish pixie" as she grew up believing - weaving her into a more tangled history and frightening future than she had bargained for.


My review
Tangled Bloodlines by Deborah Noel.

The start of this book is astounding. It reads like a mixture between Karen
Roses and Kathy Reich.

The crime scenes are vivid, detailed and extremely graphic. The observations
are excellent and the reactions human!

But it is not a murder mystery. It is not a CSI or a normal run of the mill
detective story. It is instead a paranormal thriller.

As you read on you discover that the main characters Cianna and her
estranged husband Declan are not ordinary folk. They have family skeletons.
Skeletons that come with certain powers. These powers, they soon noticed are
passed on from them to their daughter Mattie. Mattie and the family dog
Bullet are by far the two coolest characters in the book!

But things start to happen. Cianna's personal work related demons come back
to haunt her and as she delves deeper she finds that her world is a lie.
Things that go bump in the night do exist!  Together they are thrown into
situations where they learn to accept myth as fact and when Mattie is
abducted from school they need to make peace with their own abilities and
Irish Pixie bloodlines. But again the truth and Mattie escape them.

I loved reading this book. The characters both main and secondary to
peripheral is fluffed out and given a unique voice!

The reader gets to know the characters and will soon be rooting for certain
bloodlines above others. No sparkly anything in this story. In this book the
normal and supernatural follow the lines of reason and of natural selection.
The fittest survive and the choice between evil and good is an individual
one. Not dictated by bloodlines.

This is a fresh new take on all bumpy creepy things. I loved it.

I am often berated due to my lack of constructive criticism. So I decided
ill give it a try - sorry Deborah. My criticism is two fold. I am not a
raving fan of the last chapter in the book!  It has a cliffhanger ending
which is good but a few logical questions is left unanswered. It may very
well be answered in the sequel. Which brings me to my second criticism. Why
oh why is there not a sequel available yet?  What am I supposed to do - walk
a high wire of anticipation until the release of the second book?  Hmf.

I give this book a 5/5 star rating. I loved the story and would recommend it
and even gift it to any lover of the supernatural genre!

Interview to follow, one thing I can share, she had a friend of hers do all the German translations for her.  It added an air of mystique to the story.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Guardian by Gillian Joy

Headstrong and determined, Hannah always knew that she would become the Guardian. She was the keeper and the protector of all supernatural. What she didn't expect was that it would mean she would have to endure the agonising death of her mother first hand as their supernatural connection brings her to her knees, or that it would mean that she could never be with the man she loved.
Blond haired, blue eyed Gabriel was her handsome childhood friend, but would circumstances prevent her from ever being able to explore her true feelings for him?
Jesse, the dark alluring but incorrigible vampire would give anything to be with her, but as the guardian Hannah is forbidden to fall in love with the supernatural.
With her life in turmoil over her conflicting emotions about Gabriel and Jesse and her frustration at being unable to exact revenge for her mother’s horrific death, Hannah flees her life in an attempt to start over. But can we ever really escape from ourselves?
There is no escaping destiny no matter how hard she might try and Hannah must learn to reconcile her commitment to her family with her responsibility as the Guardian and her duty to her heart


My Review!

 Hannah is the girl next door. She is pretty, some would even say very pretty. She has as best friend, a boy named Gabriel. He is the IT boy in town. His father is the sheriff and thus a truly influential man. And so begins the story, like most other stories, with a boy and a girl. Oh and a kiss.

   But Hannah is not the girl next door. She is pretty yes, but she has a destiny. She is the Guardian - the Venatorcustos. She was born from a line of Guardians. Her mother, Susannah served the world in this capacity for 600 years and her mother before her, well maybe as long as 3000 years. Hannah has a past, a destiny and a responsibility that could cost her everything she holds dear.


   Guardians are responsible for Crudelitas! They are to make sure that they do not harm humans, that they do not take dominance over some group or the other. She is the keeper of order. Tough job when dealing with Vampires, mermaids and witches to name but a few!  Oh sorry. Did I did mention that Fairies and werewolves and such are indeed Crudelitas? Luckily Hannah is born with all the collective memory of every proceeding Guardian.


   But Hannah's memory could not save the life of her mother, her super human powers could do nothing to save the life of her father Jonathan and her love did nothing to change the fate of her beloved Gabriel!


   Structurally Guardian is fast paced and entertaining. The character development of Hannah and Bernard is especially endearing. Hannah is truly human. The little girl grows up to be a willful young woman and with that comes temper tantrums and impatience. Hannah is most certainly very human, and I loved this aspect of the story. Bernard, a character introduced nearly at the start of the book, is portrayed as eccentric and loveable. He is a grandfatherly type with hidden depths that I myself can't wait to learn more about in the next book of this trilogy. One character however never goes through any growth. I found that puzzling since the characterization of main and peripheral characters are expertly done through out the book. The character of Gabriel however shows a complete lack of growth. But it soon dawned on me that the answer is simple. Gabriel is perfect!  He can't get any more perfect. I found this a brilliant characterization move on Gillian part and loved Gabriel all the more for his state of being eternally perfect and eternally Hannah's first and only love.


   I really loved reading the book. Peripheral characters are introduced with regular intervals and the depths of their roles in the story fully explored. The characters are either very human, very Angelic, perfectly perfect or truly evil. Very little grey areas exists in the world of the Guardian and this contrast to the real world is expertly revealed later on in the book when Hannah's' real life and her life as a Guardian meets in the living room of her house in Australia.


   I always feel as if I should choose my words carefully when doing a review as not to give out spoilers. With Guardian I find it especially difficult since it is indeed a tangled web Gillian wove. I highly recommend Guardian to any lover of YA Paranormal literature and give it a six out of five scale rating. Not only do I recommend the book to readers but I would happily gift it to my best friend to read and enjoy


The cover of Forever.  Stunning hey?

Four Short Stories

I personally find it difficult to review short stories. As per my norm I'll
do reviews on any book, on request. I prefer dark and twisted but I do
not limit my life, nor my reading experience, to my preference. Thus far my
biggest challenge lay in reviewing children's books!  Even if I love it I
have no idea if a certain age group would. In reviewing short stories I have
found a much more challenging culture than that of children's book. So bear
with me as we explore the following short stories together:

   The first story in our exploration is Unintended Outcomes by MJ McCann. This
story is 14 pages long and deals with a homicide case in a supermarket. The
policing procedure is explained in enough details to ensure that the authors
love and knowledge of firearms becomes apparent. Character
involvement is done ingeniously through personal taste preferences for
certain vehicles and dress codes etc.
   The murder itself is where in the core of the story according to me is tied
in. The murder is so senseless and so bruta,l and perpetrated by such an
unlikely offender, that the last sentence of the story, as well as the book
title, serves to tie the story together. I found it a disturbing read and for
that reason alone I would recommend it. I can't say I liked the story. It is
really not a feel good story. It is however one of those truly unique
stories that your mind keeps turning over and over again.  I'll give this
short story a 4 out of 5 star rating. Its recommended but will not fall in
everybody's taste!

   The second story is A Christmas Crossing by Lynn Hubbard. In this story you
will find real character growth of the main character Sarah. I found this
remarkable in a 29 page short story and highly commendable as to the talent
of the author. This is, however, not a typical feel good Christmas story. It is 
a story of hope and life as lived by real people during the American
revolutionary war!

   I will recommend this story to any history buff. It will stick with you, that
I can guarantee. Again I give this story a 4 out of 5 star review. It is a
good read although it will not fall into everybody's taste.

   The next short story for review is The Premonition, written by a good friend
of mine, Kelvin O'Ralph. 
   This is a six page read!  Jason falls asleep, has a dream and wakes up. Only
to have his day start in the exact same manner as it did in his very
shocking dream. This story has no grounding, no history and no character
development. This should serve to make it a forgetful read but instead it
serves to add to the general feeling of existentialism embedded throughout
the story.
I give this story a 4 out of five star rating. The title is the main focus
line of this story and most readers will walk away from the story wondering
whether it was a premonition. This will most definately not serve as an easy read but
instead as a "the story keeps lingering in my mind" read.

The last of my short story reviews for today is A Christmas Miracle by Willow Cross
This 12 page story is semi - predictable. It is filled with hope and dreams and
lives up to its name. It is a story in which dreams come true. I loved it
for its predictability and that "feel good" feeling I had once I finished
it. As per usual Willow Cross's writing style is easy and fast. Character
development is lacking but it is not about building a character. It is about
showing the true nature of human kind and the strenght of character they
already possess!  I give it a 5 out of 5 star rating. I am hard pressed to
think of anybody who would not walk away from the story feeling all warm and
fuzzy inside.
 
 
Thrust into a war she did not choose, Sarah Fanum yearns for simpler times. Times when all she had to worry about were bad crops or bad weather.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans. Set in 1776, my short story, A Christmas Crossing describes the night that changed the course of the Revolutionary War. It is not your typical Christmas story, but one that has affected every fabric of our lives as an American.

I was inspired to write A Christmas Crossing after visiting Yorktown, VA. I have always been enamored by the Revolutionary War and wanted to share my love for history with my love for Christmas. I hope you enjoy it
 
The truth shall set you free, or so they say, but what happens when the it does the complete opposite?
Jason Pendrill is orphaned after his mother's death, and like most orphans, he's lost and confused. His mourning is interrupted by a mysterious girl.
What news does she have for young Jason? Also, she's only a teenager, what news could she possible have?
 
A short inspirational story about a single mother and a very special Christmas.

2012

Wow. Its been some time since my last drop in over on this blog of mine.  Hope to see you all soon and that we will be having loads of fun here.
Wanda
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