The Exorcist / The Light at the End (books 14 and 15)

The Exorcist / William Peter Blatty

Synopsis – A jaded priest struggles to re-discover his faith. An atheist and single parent struggles to raise her child. A malevolent power brings the two worlds together when the child starts to display symptoms of extreme psychosis… or something much more mysterious and terrifying. How do you fight an evil entity with the logical and reason of modern medicine? How do you trust the life of a tortured child to an ancient superstitious ritual? Can a non-believer accept the possibility that Satan could be real?

Reaction – Masterfully written. A few odd sentences which cemented the confidence of the writing. A sweeping storyline which asserted the skill of the writer. I questioned the decision to keep the possessed child out of the hospital, but concede the in-house setting is crucial to the storyline. A few graphically violent scenes which were integral to the story. A classic which I will be reading again, with layers I will further ponder.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/The-Exorcist-40th-Anniversary-Edition-ebook/dp/B004V5180G/

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The Light at the End / John Skipp and Craig Spector

Synopsis – An unholy force reaches across the globe and has its evil way with a cast of unsuspecting characters. Now it’s vampire time in the big city. And a makeshift team of vampire hunters must kill or be killed. Or rather, a splattering of both.

Reaction – The story started with several graphically gory murder scenes, all seemingly disjointed, but I’m glad I kept reading. The further I got into the story, the more (morbidly) interested I was. The characters were believable, and the stakes were high. Shots of humor injected an otherwise overwhelming gore fest. This splatterpunk novel is not for the squeamish.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Light-at-End-John-Skipp-ebook/dp/B0049P23PW/

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The Gentle Man / The Loyal Man (books 12 and 13)

The Gentle Man / Michelle Montague Mogil

Synopsis – A dissatisfied wife struggles to hold her marriage and her life together. Seems some of her needs are not being met. As luck would have it, she encounters a pitiable drifter with a taste for blood. The drifter tells her he has some things she needs… and she reluctantly agrees. He then fulfills her needs, but gives her a few more needs she must meet. So the long-suffering wife jilts her long-suffering husband for a new life with her drifter. Trouble is, now she’s a vampire. Sometimes love sucks.

Reaction – The wife and her lover were sympathetic, and I enjoyed watching their love story unfold. The husband was a bit bland, but I guess it’s hard to compete with the stuff of myth and legend. Lots of curious instances of the wife covering the shift of an ill-fallen pub co-worker. Lots of implausible law elusion by the blood-thirsty duo. And the wife certainly took her time rescuing her vampire lord from an unfortunate circumstance. Perhaps she was enjoying playing coy after being neglected for so long. Overall, I found the characters engaging and the plot suspenseful.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Man-Love-Eternal-ebook/dp/B00AA1P5NG

Get the 2-book set (Love Eternal) here – http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Books-Michelle-Montague-Mogil-ebook/dp/B00H6TIKA0

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The Loyal Man / Michelle Montague Mogil

Synopsis – A long-suffering husband reconciles with his long-suffering wife for a renewed life together. In the process of adjusting to their new lifestyles, they make some friends, make some enemies, and make each other jealous. See, the trouble is, now he’s a vampire too. Sometimes love keeps on sucking.

Reaction – For book 2 of the Love Eternal set, the POV shifts from the wife to the husband, and the story is filled with a bunch of vampires, vampire sympathizers, and vampire wannabes. A dizzying cast with dizzying motivations. I felt I was reading the script to a vampire soap opera. So much fickle and fawn. Overall, I found the characters interesting insomuch as they were perplexing and… sexy. Vampires are sexy. They can’t help it.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Loyal-Man-Love-Eternal-ebook/dp/B00H4IPAQA

Get the 2-book set (Love Eternal) here – http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Books-Michelle-Montague-Mogil-ebook/dp/B00H6TIKA0

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Bad Games / Vengeful Games / Hellbent: Bad Games (books 9 – 11)

Bad Games / Jeff Menapace

Synopsis – The Fannelli brothers are gifted and talented psychopaths – they’re “special.” And the Fannelli brothers love games. Bad games. Kidnapping, torture, and rape, to be precise. The Lambert family is the American dream family – happy, healthy, and vacationing in a cabin by the lake. And Ms. and Mr. Lambert love games. Good games. Sexual foreplay and, er… sex, to be precise. (They do it a lot.) So when the Fannellis cross paths with the Lamberts, their games of choice clash. In a bad way. And the Fannelli brothers find out they’re not so “special” after all.

Reaction – I considered not finishing the book had the story followed through with its torture porn set-up, which I do not care for. But as there were explicit torture scenes in the last half of the book, I wouldn’t put this book in the torture porn genre. The story was well-written, extremely suspenseful, and the tension just kept ratcheting up. But I had less than zero sympathy for the bad guys. No redeeming qualities there. I also questioned the believability of the brothers continually eluding the law, given their long-term careers in torture, and I questioned their odd relationship with their mother. But they’re psychopaths, right? The good guys were just annoying enough with all their pinchy, slappy foreplay that they weren’t boring. A bit heavy on the explicit sex descriptions for my taste. The ending was as abrupt as the jerk of a noose, but it worked.

Recommendation –  This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Games-Dark-Psychological-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00BIP1S8E

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Vengeful Games / Jeff Menapace

Synopsis – The Fannellis and the Lamberts meet up for a revenge-inspired scrimmage in this sequel to “Bad Games.” The Fannelli’s games of choice? Still kidnapping, torture, and rape, but with more psychological torment and “show” murders to rally the teams this time around. But the Lamberts still don’t like those games. Doesn’t matter, because the Fannellis are dead set out to prove they really are “special” after all. Imprisonment and a trial gets in the way of “special” Fannelli family fun, so they opt out of those inconveniences. And that’s as easy as a gifted and talented student skipping a grade.

Reaction – Again, I questioned the Fannelli family relationship, and the seemingly magical way they kept eluding the law. I also questioned revenge as plausible motive for a true psychopath. And again, no sympathy for the Devil, and a bit heavy on the explicit sex descriptions for my taste. The contextual appropriateness of some expressions were off. The ending seemed rushed and light. But overall, the ratcheting stakes and heightening tension paid off big time in this dreadfully great page-turner.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Vengeful-Games-Dark-Psychological-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00D8GBT1C

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Bad Games: Hellbent / Jeff Menapace

Synopsis – A Fannilli and protégé match will and wits with a Lambert and bodyguard in this sequel to “Vengeful Games.” Fannelli’s games of choice? Kidnapping and torture. Motivation? Revenge. Specifically, slow psychological and physical torture, resulting in death. With the help of the psychopathic reform school girl she helps “liberate,” Fannelli sets her trap. And after a couple in-the-field primer lessons on the fun and fulfillment of torture and murder, teacher and student matriculate to the final exam – shredding the mind and body of the bodyguard who dared put a damper on “special” Fannelli family fun. Only this exam has a few unexpected questions. Real toughies. I guess Fannelli shouldn’t have skipped a grade.

Reaction – Revenge is the main theme of this book, which is once again odd, considering Fannelli is supposed to be a psychopath. I didn’t think revenge even registered as a motive in the mind of a true psychopath, only self-preservation. Fannelli oddly showed some empathy is this book, albeit very limited, but I did not empathize with her in the least. The last part of the book got a little torture-porny for my taste, but it fit the storyline. This book started off with the promise of a fully-stoked steam train, then barreled at me when the wheels caught the tracks.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Games-Hellbent-Psychological-Thriller-ebook/dp/B00GYG47TY

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Adjacent Fields / Via Dolorosa (books 7 and 8)

Adjacent Fields / Charles Barouch

Synopsis – A little inventor and an emotionally compromised business negotiator team up to promote a teleportation device. They convince investors to invest, and the government freaks out and attempts to intervene. Along the way, a field of colleagues, friends, and family members wrestle with death, sexuality, ethnicity, and familial dysfunction.

Reaction – The mechanism of the mysterious teleportations wasn’t explained until the end, but then the “explanation” itself wasn’t explained. The teleportation demonstration scenes struck me as slight-of-hand. Even after reading the scenes several times, I didn’t understand how the teleportation demonstrations were believable. But further into the story, I was able to suspend my disbelief as all my attention was focused on the overabundance of characters and the overabundance of sub-plots. But I’m glad I stuck it out. I’m an experimental writer, and this book is experimental writing, in my opinion. Soft sci fi adjacent to a multitude of tangential character studies is new to me. This is a book I will be reading again.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Adjacent-Fields-Charles-Barouch-ebook/dp/B00ANF7D7A

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Via Dolorosa / Ronald Malfi

Synopsis – A newlywed Iraq war veteran from the USA honeymoons with his bride on a stormy island. Their stay is complimentary, as he is an artist by trade, and is painting a mural at their hotel. But not all is happily-ever-after. His painting hand was mangled in the war, and he’s suffering from PTSD. And his wife told him a terrible secret. And he has a terrible secret of his own. When they befriend a free-spirited, seductive photographer, the wedge between them deepens, and he suspects he will lose his mind. Or maybe he already has…

Reaction – Lush. Tropical. Moody. The book starts out slow and full of promise, and the pace quickens throughout the story. The promise is delivered with an explosive ending, then the dénouement. Vivid descriptions of sight, sound, and smell. Believable characters in the throes of believable sorrow. What is real and what is madness? I could only surmise, as I was right there, in the story.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Via-Dolorosa-Ronald-Malfi-ebook/dp/B00756ALXI

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