Reviewing the Pages: One Dark Summer Night

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The fairies are coming…the fairies are coming…

To kill us all.

It’s 1989. A small Midwestern college town with a history of strange sightings and hauntings. A summer intern program in the biology department that actually pays. And coworkers who don’t warn you about vivisection day…

Della Rae planned to keep her head down and work as many hours as she could get, while filling in the gaps with a lot of old sci-fi novels.

Her plan was interrupted by a sudden friendship with a townie student, a weird girl named Merc who shared Della Rae’s tastes in fiction. It was Merc who warned her not to go to the bio department that day…

Soon, there would be hell to pay for what happened in the bio department. And only Della Rae, Merc, and their friends can stop it from spreading.

I received this through a free download in exchange for an honest review.

In order to fully grasp the entire story of this novella, one must read it in one sitting. I didn’t, and I feel like I’ve missed a few details along the way. Which isn’t a bad thing. There are a lot of shifts around that I felt a little disjointed when getting back into the read, but at the same time, it helps the plot by having so many perspectives and shifts. There is a lot going on in this read, and for Della Ray, it’s one very long night. Well, technically this book covers a whole day, but still, the majority of the action takes place after the sun sets. It’s dark, a little bit creepy, and gives me some new fears about having creatures make random inanimate objects…animate (that, and skeletal zombie mutant creatures). Do take care when you read this one fellow readers; you may never come back.

Alright, so this book is a stand-in for my original planned read, “Soul Smuggler”, which was only a preview in the edition that I downloaded.  And I do not regret my choice.  Granted, I did have some struggles reconnecting some plot points together (like how Craig goes from random stranger guy to the new Lord of the Hunt), and some of the twists and turns makes me pause and think about how we got here.

However, those twists and turns make sense in this world.  This is kind of what I would imagine the information I would get if I were in Della Ray’s shoes.  An outsider to this world, getting thrust into the situation via an acquaintance come situational friend, I would be rather confused about all of the revelations coming at us left and right.  Even though I don’t like the whole “I’m not sure about this, but I’m accepting of this” that the characters go through, it just works in this story.  Don’t ask me how.  It could be the inter-dimensional portal that is on the edge of town (or what appears to be a completely different one in the basement of the science lab), or the sheer magic of the fairies constantly crossing over.  Either way, I do love that some of my questions from the first story get answered here, but it leaves me with some more questions.  Who are these other beings that keep getting referenced? Are we going to see them in the next read? So many questions, and so impatient in getting the answers.

So, if are going to check this read out, make sure to keep something heavy handy.  You’ll never know if you have to smash your animated entertainment center down to size.

Reviewing the Pages: Four Days

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Four days to locate the killer. Four days to take revenge. Four days to find redemption.

Jim Harris is a hard-drinking detective on his way to a nervous breakdown. Every day, he works alongside corrupt cops and dangerous crooks. That is, until a brutal murder case unravels his career, bringing past indiscretions to light. Alone, afraid, and out of control, Harris makes a pact with himself: finish it.

I went into this read thinking that I’m going to enjoy it…but in the end, I was so lost for two-thirds of this book that I couldn’t completely enjoy the read. The plot that was described in this novel takes place in the last section, and could have been stretched out a little bit longer, rather than getting page upon page of backstory. Sure, I’m all for getting backstory at some point, but I would have preferred to have it intermixed with the main plot. Other than that, it was a good read. I enjoy detective novels, and this one, with a protagonist with absolutely nothing to lose, is rather intriguing. Don’t let my review sway you away from this read, dive deep into the mystery. Can you solve the case and keep your head?

The one thing that got me in this read, is the title of one of the chapters.  It goes: “Friday, October 12 to Friday, February 2, 1985”.  That wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t placed after chapters that were also dated 1985.  Now, I could be completely wrong and it’s supposed to be like that, but my brain got stuck on that, and I think that’s part of the ruined enjoyment for me.  That, or the amount of questions that I had early on that I wasn’t getting sufficient answers to.  As we dove deeper into the corruption (and for a small little bit, became a part of it), I kept wondering when the title was going to play into it.  And I finally got my answer, like 2/3rds of the way through.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of the premise, but I do really think that it should have been spread out throughout the book.  Start out with the doctor’s visit and the wait time, then dive into some back story and character development.

Now, getting those gripes out of the way.  I did enjoy what we got here.  I did enjoy all of the backstory (as confusing as it was).  It’s dark, gritty, and doesn’t hesitate to throw the other side of the law at you.  The side that most people think happens all the time in their own neck of the woods.  And sometimes, they are right.  Well, I don’t know that for a fact.  After all, I’m just a reader from a small town in the least-populated state in the US (we have more problems with our current mayor than the police department.  All of my town’s officers are good men).  The unfamiliar (to this reader) setting is something different, and I rather enjoyed the experience of finding things out as Harris did.  There are still a lot of questions left unanswered (such as the VERY last line…is he just talking out loud, or is the person he’s with someone he actually knows).

I do recommend this book, and I hope that you can look past all of my criticisms.  Dive deep into the corruption; can you find a safe way out and solve the mystery?

Reviewing the Pages: Doctor Who: Shada

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From the unique mind of Douglas Adams, legendary author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, comes “Shada”, a story scripted for the television series Doctor Who but never produced—and now transformed into an original novel…
 
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Imagine how dangerous a LOT of knowledge is…
 
The Doctor’s old friend and fellow Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, has retired to Cambridge University, where among the other doddering old professors nobody will notice if he lives for centuries. He took with him a few little souvenirs—harmless things really. But among them, carelessly, he took The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey. Even more carelessly, he has loaned this immensely powerful book to clueless graduate student Chris Parsons, who intends to use it to impress girls. The Worshipful and Ancient Law is among the most dangerous artifacts in the universe; it cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
 
The hands of the sinister Skagra are unquestionably the wrongest ones possible. Skagra is a sadist and an egomaniac bent on universal domination. Having misguessed the state of fashion on Earth, he also wears terrible platform shoes. He is on his way to Cambridge. He wants the book. And he wants the Doctor…

Can I give this more than 5 stars? Goodreads seems to think I can’t, but I will. I will gladly proclaim this book a hefty 20 stars out of five. Why? Because I enjoyed this book. Because it’s a mixture of humor, science fiction, suspense, drama, and humor. Yes, I said that twice. Gareth Roberts does a tremendous job of keeping Douglas Adams’ humor and tone within this story (even though Adams never did actually write a novelization of this, you can tell he’s in there). Yes, there are some places where you are fit to be tied about finding out the last little detail, but it pays off in the end.

This book will make you laugh out loud, so be prepared to get some very strange or dirty looks (I got one from the family cat). This is a brilliant adventure, and I recommend anyone who enjoys science fiction to check out this book. Just, make sure to keep track of your mind. You’ll never know when you just might lose it.

Oh my.  Hang on…thanks River.  Anyway, I love this book.  It blends together Doctor Who, and the wonderful humor and imagination that is Douglas Adams (through the pen of Gareth Roberts).  Now, mind you, I have seen very little of Classic Doctor Who (meaning I’ve only watched clips on YouTube, shame on me).

Now, let’s get right down to it…this book is amazing.  And a lot of the details that came out of this, which is based off the series script for the Fourth Doctor, would have been incredible to watch on the screen, if only they could have gotten it right.  Which they apparently hadn’t.  All thanks to a production strike during the time that this was filming.  But that’s alright…I think this one would be much more appreciated on the page, rather than the screen.  But that’s just me.

As I stated in my Goodreads review, you can tell where Adams’ tone shines through, and it’s thanks to Roberts keeping in touch with it.  Roberts does a fantastic job of keeping Adams’ humor in, while adding his own humor and giving us just the right amount of suspense on certain plot elements.  Yes, there were times where I was confused on Skagra (goodness I’ve had to spell that name a bazillion times), but I loved the pay out in the end.  And there’s Chronotis.  I honestly didn’t expect to see that coming, but it worked wonders when it did.

I want to show love to some of my favorite parts of this book, but I’d be here all day.  So, I’ll summarize.  There’s the bit where the Doctor (in a fashion that I’m not sure is in line with the Fourth Doctor, or if it’s just him being patronizing), Romana, and a medal (which is where I cracked up); the ship reading out The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey to Skagra (and the Doctor’s subsequent reading of it); and the brief little reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which is all shared to the annoyance of my ex-Mrs./lovely friend Princess Penguin).

If you are a fan of Doctor Who, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams’ work in general, or just quirky and fun science fiction, check this one out.  Just watch out for friendly, yet scatterbrained, old professors.  You never know what secrets they might hide.

Reviewing the Pages: Odd Thomas

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“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

From the very get-go, Odd Thomas explains that he is going to be an unreliable narrator, well, at least in terms of the writing that he is doing for the tale that he is publishing, but it still works here. Odd is…well, odd. An avenger of sorts; Odd inspires to be nothing more than your everyday common man, but his special gift tells him otherwise. I have to say that this tale gets you invested with Odd’s way of telling things, plus getting you rooting for him and Stormy. This is one of the very few tales that I would make me cry because I feel for Odd. Is that a bad thing?

For those who like a bit of a odd tale, with a bit of love, happiness, supernatural elements, and some Elvis within, then you should check it out. 

Within the first three pages, Odd already establishes himself as an unreliable narrator, and it certainly shows throughout the tale.  Odd throws a lot of humor at us, interspersed between the darkness that he is plunging himself into.  From the humorous introductions of the supporting cast, or his self-deprecation (one of the clearest moments of this is during his interaction with his father’s Girlfriend of the Moment).  However, there’s a darkness to Odd’s tale.  A family that doesn’t love him, and a fear of firearms that doesn’t get explained until the latter third of the book.  Though, while it seems like it goes away, part of me thinks that that fear got suppressed by Odd trying to save the people of the story.

Which is where the sadness comes in.  I’m glad that we didn’t get Odd seeing Stormy.  I can only imagine what sort of dark character turn it would have taken Odd down, and we don’t need that.  Reading chapters sixty-four through sixty-six, for a brief moment (even though I had read this before, and remembered the ending), I was rooting for Odd and Stormy to have their wonderful life together.  But, alas, it just isn’t meant to be.  And for Odd, there’s so much more for him…like six novels worth.  As stated above, those who like odd adventures should check this read out.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll know why the dead don’t speak.

Reviewing the Pages: By Dawn’s Bloody Light

What if the deadliest people in a serial killer story…weren’t the serial killer?

A small Midwestern college town.  A series of murders that ape the Jack the Ripper killings.  Then Laney Miller is butchered just after dawn in front of a second-hand bookstore.  The one witness didn’t see anything…except Laney getting dragged out of her car and murdered by an invisible force.

One that carries a straight razor.

It’s a town that has attracted the weird and strange as far back as the eighteen hundreds.  Since then disappearances, murders, suicides, and kidnappings have only grown worse.  Especially targeted are a group of local girls that carry the same face…

Laney’s face.

Laney’s girlfriend Joy and her friends decide to find the seemingly-supernatural killer and take him down before he strikes again.  

In as violent and bloody a manner as possible.

By dawn’s bloody light…they will have revenge.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free through InstaFreebie in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Deanna Knippling is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors, even if I’ve only read a few pieces of her work.  By Dawn’s Bloody Light is a quick little foray into supernatural horror, and makes me want to know more about the history of the town, and some of the locals described within.  There’s one character in particular that gets so much buildup at the very beginning, and while I was immediately suspicious of them, their actions only dispel my suspicions of them by a little bit.  The brief hints of lore that get dropped about the mysterious happenings in town make me want to know more about the town and it’s deep and bloody secrets.  Who or what started all of this? Is it older than time itself?

If there’s anything I disliked about this read, is the reveal of the killer.  It got dropped on us like Dorothy’s house on the Wicked Witch, and felt a little…lacking.  I was invested in the supernatural aspect of the killings, only to be let down a little bit.  But even with the reveal, I really enjoyed this read.  I do hope that there are more stories in this unnamed Midwestern town, revealing more about the…weirdness that plagues this town.

If you like supernatural horror that give some creatures a different twist, and a read with diverse characters, than you should check this read out.  Sure, it’s short, but it does pack quite a punch.  Enjoy the scares, even if nobody wants to talk about them.

Reviewing the Pages: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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The war against Voldemort is not going well: even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of The Daily Prophet looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet …

As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate, and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

So it’s the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Harry struggles to uncover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, the past owner of a potions textbook he now possesses that is filled with ingenious, potentially deadly, spells. But Harry’s life is suddenly changed forever when someone close to him is heinously murdered right before his eyes.

With Dumbledore’s guidance, he seeks out the full, complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort, and thereby attempts to find what may be his only vulnerability.

Probably the darkest entry in the series, Half-Blood Prince is a gritty look into the darkest times of the Wizarding world. With Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters finally out and wreaking havoc again in this edition, the now sixteen year old Harry struggles with balancing post-OWLs schooling with Quiddich, friends, extra lessons and his own blossoming internal feelings. The description of the “monster” within Harry in terms of his feeling for Ginny is accurate.

This book will pull at your heartstrings, as it caused me to tear up at the very end, even after having read this book at least once or twice. That’s how you know that a book is good. It gets deep inside of your soul, and never lets go. Rowling is a masterful storyteller, and while there are some moments that will irritate you, it works to get you invested in the story.

If you haven’t gotten into this series by now, this would be a BAD book to jump into. Go read the others first before coming back to this one. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

For those of you who haven’t read this yet, than this ENTIRE review series has been a spoiler, and with that, I’m sorry.  That being said, the actual death of Dumbledore didn’t move me to tear up.  What did was Fawkes’ lament afterwards.  The sorrowful song that I imagined in my head would have probably caused me to cry if I would have heard it in person.

Also, the end of this book sets the stage for the final book.  Throughout the entire thing, we keep getting mentions that Harry is the ‘Chosen One’ to take down Voldemort, once and for all, or fail trying.  We also get an incredible amount of backstory through moments in the Pensieve along with corresponding tales from Dumbledore.  It makes the inhuman monster human, almost.

Harry continues to frustrate me with his single-track mind once he finally sets his mind to it.  This time, it’s trying to catch Malfoy in the act of doing something…Dark.  Yes, I did just use the term “dark” in that way.   ‘Cause that’s what Harry keeps going on and on about.  That Malfoy is up to no good and Harry REALLY wants to catch Malfoy in the act, to prove himself right to others for a change.

However, the other major story here is love, and how it does take awhile to blossom.  In this case, it’s both Ron and Hermione going on their separate journeys in possibly finding love.  While it’s clear to the reader that Hermione does like Ron in more than just a friend way, Ron’s a bit more thick-headed about it.  Then again, when hasn’t he been thick headed about Hermione? Then, there’s Harry and Ginny finally getting together.  While Ginny has always been infatuated with Harry, Harry has only now found feelings for Ginny.  As I said in my Goodreads review, the description of Harry’s monster within is surprisingly accurate.  Love feels that way sometimes.

I hope that you have continued to enjoy these books well after you have read them the first time.  I’m loving the dive back into the series, and I’m anxiously awaiting diving into Deathly Hallows.  If you’re reading through the series folks, and are starting this book, then you might want some tissues…you’re gonna need them.

Reviewing the Pages: Devil in the Countryside

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Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Based on historical events, this book gives us a look into what may have been happening in Bedburg leading up to the events of the trial. I liked the four different points of view in this story, with each of them giving a slightly different point of view to look upon, even if Dieter and Sybil’s become kind of interchangeable towards the end of the book.

Mr. Barclay does a wonderful job of setting up the atmosphere and setting for this story. Keeping true to the religious and political turmoil of the times, he weaves them in wonderfully with the story of trying to catch the Werewolf. There are times where I forgot that it was the late 1500s, and I could see some of these conversations and scenes come up during a read in the modern day.

Be warned fellow reader, there are some heavy themes alluded to in here. While the details are not alluded to within the pages, one only has to read between the lines to figure out what is going on. I highly recommend diving into this read when you get a chance reader. Step back into the past, and chase down the Werewolf yourself.

Well, there’s a lot going on in this book.  Yes, most of this read is fictionalized.  But, the author had to do so with the lack of information on the subject.  It’s not like there is a surviving diary or journal from someone back then.  But, then that would have been too easy.  Cory Barclay does a wonderful job of weaving all of the known factors of the time period for that region into the fictional aspects that he had to create in order to tell this wonderful tale.

The biggest problem that I came across while reading this was at the end, where we got a merging of points of view of sorts between Dieter and Sybil.  I wish that they could have been separated out a bit, by keeping feelings of the event that was happening relegated to that character.  But that’s my only negative criticism of the book.  The characters that I hated, or mistrusted, were written that way for a reason.  Even the motivations of the characters were realistic, and something that wouldn’t be out of place in that time period.

As to the themes that I alluded to in my Goodreads post? They’re there.  While most of the violent acts are brought up after the fact or presented as they are happening, they are there in their gory detail.  There are also some more sensitive topics that get brought to light, including rape and abuse.  I do request that you heed my warning: do not go into this read lightly.  While I highly recommend it, know your limits fellow reader.  Yes, all of those are light, and most of the story is steeped in political and religious turmoil, the underlying darkness is there.  Don’t let the darkness sway you from reading this book, fellow reader.  Enjoy the read and let the mystery suck you in.