Tuesday, February 28, 2017

This Lola Is No Showgirl!

Author: Melissa Scrivner Love
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication Date; 3/21/17

Lola, by Melissa love, is the kind of book that you find yourself thinking about when you should be concentrating on other things.

This is an epic tale of one woman’s rise to power in South LA gang territory.  People know Lola as the girlfriend of the leader of the Crenshaw Six  - a gang that controls a small area of South LA.  What they don’t know is that Lola isn’t just the girlfriend – she’s the actual leader of the gang – and everything that happens only happens on her say.   When the Crenshaw Six is asked to assist a cartel in a dangerous job, it’s death or glory for Lola and the people she cares about.

Lola herself is an amazing character.  At first, you think she’s stone cold.  She can put a bullet between your eyes simply because it’s necessary and not think twice about it.  But despite her practicality, she’s also fiercely loving.  And she’ll do anything at all to protect a young girl from being used and abused.

I’ll admit that I had a few struggles believing that, given the gang cultural aspects,  the men in the book would have accepted Lola as their superior.  While Lola was a force to be reckoned with, I didn’t really expect so many of the men to simply bow to her.  But that notwithstanding, I loved her character and her story and that didn’t impact my rating at all.

Highly entertaining story and unusually compelling main character!

·         ARC Provided via Net Galley

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"The Girl Before" by JP Delaney

This is one of the most interesting books I have read this year.  I love mysteries and this one is in the psychological thriller subgenre.  It started a little bit slow as I was getting to know Emma and Jane, and kept building straight through the end.

Emma and Jane are alternating first person narrators as "then and now" tenants in an unusual ultra-modern "concept" house that they must apply to rent by taking a personality-type test (questions from the test are spaced throughout the book and an interview with the celebrity architect who designed it.  Once selected, they are able to rent it at a bargain price in exchange for following an exacting set of rules.  The rules are so encompassing that living in the house starts to change who they are and the house almost becomes a character of its own.  At the very least it is an extension of the architect.  Emma moves in with her boyfriend after a break-in at their previous apartment.  Jane moves in some time later after a personal loss.

As the story unfolds through the eyes of these women, it is hard to figure out what happened.  At first you lean one way and then you learn more information and go the other way until the author has you neatly tied up in knots.  Even at the very end, I still think there is room for things to go a couple different ways.  You think the book has most likely ended one way, but I'm just not 100% sure.  That sense of being not quite certain what is going on is one of the reasons this was such a good psychological thriller.

I am going to tell all my reader friends to get this book.

I received a free advanced readers copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Breaking Bad with Powdered Wigs? Mais, oui!

Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 10/25/16

When you first read the description of Glitter, you might think it’s just plain odd.  Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette?  A pretty you thing and a powerful drug in lip gloss? 

But what you get is a wonderfully original read that’s edgy, fun, and has just enough history meets sf to keep you reading non-stop until you finish.  Honestly, if I didn’t have to work, I would have binge read this entire thing in one sitting. 

Now, keep in mind, it’s a cliffhanger.  But, oh it’s a good one.  If book two were available now, it would already be on my kindle and I’d be reading it instead of typing this review.  It’s the kind of cliffhanger that makes you scream “NO!”, yet doesn’t anger you.  You just really, really, really want to see what happens next.

The world building was stellar.  As I read, the more logical part of my brain would come up with questions, but the author handled them beautifully, building a complete world that’s utterly different from anything you’ve read before.

And our characters?  Complex.  Danica is very like Marie Antoinette in which she’s well meaning, yet incredibly self-centered all at once.  Yet, she’s still likeable.  But, oh, so many people get hurt in her quest for freedom.

Very simply, I want the next book now!

*ARC Provided by Net Galley

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Bad Seed's Got Nothing on Nora!

Author;  William W. Johnstone
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date:  9/1/86   Reissue: 9/13/16

A hideous jack-in-the-box.

Murderous Nazis.

And the most evil little girl in print.

William Johnstone brings them all together in a gory, chilling, and very scary roller coaster ride of a book.    The horror starts slowly as you realize that something is terribly wrong with young Nora.  This beautiful young child is warped and wrong – and her family will pay the price.

The book is extremely violent.  I should also warn you that there’s one scene involving Nora that is truly awful – it definitely breaks some taboos.  But this is an excellent piece of horror fiction that will keep you reading breathlessly to the end.  Just don’t expect to get any sleep that night.

I’m extremely happy that the publishers are reissuing these old horror novels.  Old as they may be, they stand up against today’s modern horror wonderfully – in most case surpassing them.

And excellent (and scary) read.

·          ARC Provided by Net Galley

Epic Chilling Horror

Author: William W. Johnstone
Publisher: Zebra Books / Kensington Publishing Corp.
Publication Date:  1986 - Reissue 9/13/16

I am so very pleased that books from horror’s golden age (lol – okay, the 1980’s) are being issued, and Rockinghorse is one of the best!   I read many of these books when I was a kid, but completely missed this one, so I’m even more pleased that I had a chance to read this one.

In pure William W. Johnstone style, the most innocent of items – in this case an adorable rocking horse, becomes a tool of great evil.   The book is fast, violent, and extremely scary.

If you’ve read Johnstone before, you’ll recognize his horror formula.    A community must take sides between good and evil – and it’s not always clear who’s on which side.  Then comes isolation and an epic battle of good vs. evil.

Johnstone puts many of today’s shock horror writers to shame.  He knew how to deliver the perfect combination of shocks and chills and this one is guaranteed to keep you reading.

I hope the publishers continue this trend.  I’ll read all they can throw at me!

·         ARC Provided by Net Galley

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Complex & Meaty

Author: Douglas Perry
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Publication Date:  9/6/16

This is a strangely complex yet compelling novel.  This feels more like a crime novel than a standard mystery.

There’s a huge cast of characters and a series of terrible events, seemingly unconnected, that meld together to form a dark and furiously stark book.  Because of the large cast, it takes the reader a while to really get to know anyone, but when you do, you discover unexpected complexities in each of them.

While there’s some violence in the book, it’s more of an overwhelming sense of menace as you witness a town and its people devolve in the face of an unknown terror.

The author does disclose the truth behind the terror, but it’s almost at the end of the book.  It’s ultimately a satisfying reason, but there was a part of me that wished the truth was vastly different. 

Note that the characters (again that huge cast) also have a lot of backstories – and many of them felt unimportant.  I really didn’t need to know the histories, hopes, dreams, and motivations of every character – but I got to read them!

Four stars.  It’s a weighty book and may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you stick with it, you’ll start to find that the various characters and stories meld into a meaty and satisfying read.

*ARC Provided by Net Galley

Gruesome Goodness!

 On Goodreads

The Jersey Devil
Author: Hunter Shea
Publisher: Pinnacle
Publication Date: 8/30/16

Whether you’re new to Hunter Shea’s horror or a long time reader, you’re in for a terrifying treat with this one.

In The Jersey Devil, Shea brings into the heart of the Pine Barrens to meet New Jersey’s most terrifying resident.   Expect blood and gore from the very first chapter.  It simply doesn’t let up.

However, this isn’t just a gore-fest.  Shea introduces us to a family that has a very special interest in the Jersey Devil – a very dangerous interest.   It’s one of those ‘family that slays together stays together’ things, and you’ll love it. 

Expect characters you’ll love, some you’ll weep for, and relentless terrifying horror.  If you live anywhere near the Barrens, you’ll be looking over your shoulder as you read.

Truly excellent horror!

*ARC Provided by Net Galley