WWIV – In the Beginning / A Gift of Ghosts (books 40 and 41)

WWIV – In the Beginning / e a lake

Synopsis – A henpecked husband and downtrodden dad is living a ho-hum life in the suburbs. Living day in and day out, trying to do what’s right, then one morning he wakes up and the power is out. All the power. No electricity. No phone, no internet, the cars won’t even start. What the hell? Was it an EMP? Mr. Hentrodden has time to ponder all this, as the wife and kids are out of town visiting relatives. After hemming and hawing while his neighborhood slowly falls apart, he makes a couple dunderheaded attempts to hit the road to look for his family, now MIA. Finally on the road, the real trouble begins. Will he go from “zero” to “hero”?

Reaction – What would you do if a massive EMP struck, knocking out ALL power? Would you try to ride out the event at home, hoping the power would somehow soon be restored? Would you pack and leave for a less populated and ultimately less dangerous area? How long would you take to decide? What if you were alone, your friends and family stranded in another city? How long would you trust people? I pondered all these questions and more while reading this book. The story had a likeable main character and well-developed supporting characters. A slow start, a nerve-wracking second half, and a bittersweet ending straight out of The Twilight Zone.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/WWIV-In-The-Beginning-lake-ebook/dp/B00JASCIB2

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A Gift of Ghosts / Sarah Wynde

Synopsis – Akira has a gift of ghosts. Seeing and hearing them, that is. And they can see and hear her too. After she lets that info slip, she loses her job as a scientist. Lucky for her, she gets hired at a paranormal company across the country. Time to start a new life. Too bad all these dead people won’t leave her alone. And ghosts can be dangerous to the gifted. Will Akira find a way to make her gift work for her, or will she soon have her own transition to a ghostly existence?

Reaction – A steady pace with a lot of unexpected twists in this ghost story. I found the main character pleasant enough, but not quite likeable. Most of the supporting characters were serviceable, but clichéd. An eye-rolling “nerd sex” scene which didn’t add much. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the fresh take on the transition world, and the descriptions of “ghost life.” The blending of science and the paranormal was delightful. Read this for an unusual take on a paranormal romance.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Ghosts-Tassamara-Sarah-Wynde-ebook/dp/B006KF645E

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3:00AM / Killer Cupcakes (books 39 and 40)

3:00AM / Nick Pirog

Synopsis – Henry Bins is only awake from about 3AM to 4AM every day. So he has to pack a whole lotta living into that one hour. Like witnessing the POTUS leave the scene of a murder, and tracking down a killer. And evading the FBI so he can play cards with his dad. Not to mention adopting an intrepid cat who thinks it’s a dog and… you get the idea. See, Bins always loses consciousness at 4AM, no matter where he is or what he’s doing. Good thing he’s a fast learner and a careful planner. Usually.

Reaction – Highly implausible, and highly entertaining. The story is a bit underdeveloped and has an abrupt ending, just like Henry Bins’ days hours. A quick, surrealistic thriller with an urban fantasy twist. Read this if you think you don’t have enough hours in your days.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/3-m-Nick-Pirog-ebook/dp/B00FV4IT7Q/

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Killer Cupcakes / Leighann Dobbs

Synopsis –High-heelaholic cupcake baker Lexy Baker (get it? Baker?) gets in over her head when her ex-boyfriend turns up dead. What’s a smart and savvy independent businesswoman to do? How about hook up with the hunky cop investigating the case, who also just happens to live next door? Will the feisty cupcake maker convince the strapping Chippendalesque cop the only cupcakes she has worth investigating are the ones under her baker’s apron?

Reaction – Cupcakes and clues and killers, oh my! Lots of frosting and sprinkles, but the sugar rush comes quickly, and the sugar coma hits before the loose ends are tied up. A shallow book, but a fun read. A few kooky supporting characters, and an obligatory yap dog. Read this if you want an easy, breezy, beach read to help you zone out. There’s even a cupcake recipe! I’m gonna veganize it, of course.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Killer-Cupcakes-Baker-Bakery-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00A0NOF7G/

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Misty Falls / The Woods of Red Hill / The Monkey Wing (books 36, 37, and 38)

Misty Falls / Shaun Whittington

Synopsis – Ah, the golden years… retirement, rest, and relaxation. No responsibilities anymore, just freedom and… er… forgetfulness. Kicking back at a retirement home, making a few friends, and reminiscing about the good old days. You know, back when you weren’t being verbally abused, threatened, and physically assaulted. The good old days when you didn’t have to worry about a rapist and a potential murderer walking around your residence, sadistically taunting you and your friends. And you really don’t have a choice, because who’s gonna believe the senile rantings of a bunch of foggy old senior citizens? But for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. It just takes a senior citizen a bit longer…

Reaction – This story had a strong voice, and I enjoyed the conversational writing style. I also sympathized with the main character quickly and easily. Most of the book was depressing and lacked hope (based on true events), but the paranormal twist at the end was merciful, and fit seamlessly, in my opinion. Overall, the book was a deeply disturbing – yet ironically charming – tale of triumph of mind over matter.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Misty-Falls-Shaun-Whittington-ebook/dp/B00DFMR45Y/

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The Woods of Red Hill / Shaun Whittington

Synopsis – Who’s brave enough to pay a visit to the haunted house? The house where a man butchered his family? Three neighborhood boys are up to the challenge. But first, a bunch of adults have to set the spooky mood and create a creepy atmosphere… Are they ever gonna get around to it? Cue the escaped mental patient hiding in the forest already!

Reaction – At first, this story was like pieces of a puzzle which may or may not be fitting together. A lack of flow in sentences and from scene to clichéd scene. Initially, a weak voice and surface treatment. A thin, seemingly disjointed plot which only picked up at the half-way point. The closer I got to the end, the more interested I became… then a surprise ending which I absolutely did not see coming. Gave me a chuckle.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Woods-Red-Hill-Shaun-Whittington-ebook/dp/B0082DB2J0/

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The Monkey Wing / Shaun Whittington

Synopsis – Some people are cut out for prison jobs, most people aren’t. Just like some prisoners do well in prison, and most don’t. Unless you’re talking about Hayden Prison. Everything is going to hell in Hayden. Sure, it has normal prison stuff – drugs, beatings, rapes – but Hayden also has a curse blessing of unexplained stenches, insect infestations, and the occasional shredding of a prisoner. Too bizarre to be real? Maybe, but it can’t all be imaginary…

Reaction – Believable prison characters with believable prison scenes. But this book suffers from a severe shortage of pronouns. Readers don’t need to be reminded of the MC’s name in every paragraph throughout the entire story. Other than that, the storyline progresses at a pleasing pace, with plenty of action and plenty of suspense. Read this if you hate pronouns and love paranormal psychological horror with prison violence.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Monkey-Wing-Shaun-Whittington-ebook/dp/B00C5PU7JM/

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The Picture of Dorian Gray / Ambrose Fountain (books 34 and 35)

The Picture of Dorian Gray / Oscar Wilde

Synopsis – A fancy and a dandy – dashing and devastatingly handsome young Oscar Wilde Dorian Gray – is taken under the wings of a brilliant painter and a hedonistic nobleman. Gray becomes the painter’s muse, and the nobleman’s mentoree. Immediately learning his devastating handsomeness is his most powerful attribute, Gray beseeches unknown entities to allow him retain his physical perfection in exchange for a perfect portrait of himself reflecting what would have been his aging. Lo and behold, he gets his wish. So of course Gray, immune to the effects of hedonism, partakes in a decades-long wine, men, and song party. As his portrait ages and reflects his sins, Gray becomes increasingly paranoid, and increasingly sinful. Perhaps he should’ve worded his wish more carefully.

Reaction – Reading this story was like listening to a charming raconteur at a private party celebrating the joie de vivre. The main character had an amazing character arc, and the supporting cast was believable and entertaining. A long passage describing the sensations of the senses immersed in the sensory world raised my brow, but I forgave Wilde for existing in a repressive English era. I decided the deus ex machina ultimately fit the book’s gothic fairytale theme.

Recommendation – This book renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Dorian-Gray-Oscar-Wilde-ebook/dp/B00J69Y5DE/

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Ambrose Fountain / Brian Sieve

Synopsis – A family man, determined to take one last shot at career success, packs up his family, moves to another country, and sinks all his hopes, dreams, and finances into an abandoned vineyard. He even makes a wish at the fountain well on his new property. Couldn’t hurt, right? In one season, he transforms the withered vines into fruitful boughs… or so he believes. When his colleagues, friends and family break ranks, he breaks. But the fountain well wish will come to his rescue… or so he believes. At least the wish wouldn’t hurt, right?

Reaction – The main character’s grief and despair was palpable and real. Other than that, the characters overall were a bit shallow, and the emotions seemed to be afterthoughts. An excitingly violent ending, with just enough carnage. A quick and easy read with themes similar to “The Shining.”

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Ambrose-Fountain-Brian-Sieve-ebook/dp/B00GDSELGM/

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Sleep Tight / Intuitions Nightmare (books 32 and 33)

Sleep Tight / Rachel Abbott

Synopsis – A carefree young woman is stalked – without her knowledge – by an obsessive-compulsive control freak. After a quick succession of major life crises, the freak comes to her “rescue.” Then her life really goes to hell. The freak builds a psychological prison of isolation, threats, and complete control under the guise of a housewife’s dream life. And she must measure her every breath under her abuser’s eyes… until she finds the thinnest chance to escape. Will she escape her abuser with three young children in tow? Will her abuser hunt her down and take his rage out on her? Or will he take away what is most precious in her life?

Reaction – The plot was overly drawn out in relation to the action. Even so, this story had high suspense throughout. A number of subplots made the story more interesting, but they kind of fizzled out at the end. A dark mood, but with a saccharine ending, in my opinion. This is a book for a long, dreary, rainy night.

Recommendation – You’re taking your chances with this hit and miss book which renewed my will to live.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Tight-Rachel-Abbott-ebook/dp/B00I7VVZAI/

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Intuitions Nightmare / Ashley N. Pearce

Synopsis – A teen starts having bloody nightmares. Worse yet, she keeps passing out. Even worse, her friends die off. And still even worse than that, she can’t distinguish between her nightmares and her waking life. Oh my god what is happening to everything in her life?! Why is everything so very utterly horrible and so very frighteningly nauseating?! Why is her life and everybody’s lives spinning completely and violently out of control like they are all cogs in some mad, demonic, wind-up toy which Satan himself has wound up and let loose on a seemingly innocent and unsuspecting populace?!

Reaction – My guess was this book was written by a teenager (it wasn’t), maybe 14 – 16. A bit rambling, definitely single-theme focused, and absolutely histrionic… and spot-on with the teenage concerns and interactions. At times I felt I was reading a parody of completely self-obsessed, the-world-is-ending teen storytelling. A few of the more extreme adjective- and adverb-laden passages were entertaining. A quick read aimed at pre-teens.

Recommendation – I guess some people would find this book worthwhile in some universe somewhere.

Get it here – http://www.amazon.com/Intuitions-Nightmare-Ashley-N-Pearce-ebook/dp/B00B609DVU/

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