Book Review: Two and Twenty Dark Tales (Anthology)

Two and Twenty Dark Tales:  Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes

Edited by:  Georgia McBride and Michelle Zink

Publisher:  Month9Books

Genre:  Horror

This anthology is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  More reviews can be found on Goodreads.

In this anthology, 20 authors explore the dark and hidden meanings behind some of the most beloved Mother Goose nursery rhymes through short story retellings. The dark twists on classic tales range from exploring whether Jack truly fell or if Jill pushed him instead to why Humpty Dumpty, fragile and alone, sat atop so high of a wall. The authors include Nina Berry, Sarwat Chadda, Leigh Fallon, Gretchen McNeil, and Suzanne Young.

It’s always hard to decide what to rate anthologies.  Some stories are amazing and others bore me.  So, I decided to to highlight the short stories that were dark, disturbing, and make this anthology worth buying.  5/23 lived up to their promise to be haunting.  These 5 stories were A+++.

Clockwise by Leah Cypress – A retelling of the hickory dictory dock rhyme.  Amarind was a princess transformed into a mouse and only the magic of a clock switched her back to a human.  She has to unravel the mystery behind the enchantment with the help of a witch.

Boys and Girls Come Out to Play by Angie Frazier – Bronywn tries to save her sister from the Beckoning, but she soon learns that you can’t deceive the witches in the woods.

Life in a Shoe by Heidi R. Kling – She can’t understand why her mother keeps getting pregnant when there’s no money to feed the children she has.

The Well by K.M. Walton – Jack and Jill are the only two left alive after a deadly virus kills everyone else in the world.

The Wish by Suzanne Young – Lauren hates her life so much that she makes a deadly wish upon a star.

A copy of Two and Twenty Dark Tales was provided by the publisher (Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Since there are so many authors, I’m only going to spotlight the ones from the stories I loved in this anthology.

Leah Cypress – website  |  Changelings – a FREE collection of short stories  |  Mistwood –  A Kirkus 2010 Best Book for Teens

Angie Frazier – website  | Everlasting – YA historical fantasy  |  The Midnight Tunnel – first in a MG mystery series

Heidi R. Kling – website  |  Witch’s Brew – YA active fiction paranormal story

K.M. Walton – website  | Cracked – YA contemporary about bullying

Suzanne Young – website  |  A Need So Beautiful – YA angel book  |  My reviews of A Need So Beautiful and A Want So Wicked  (Can you tell I LOVE this author?)

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Book Review: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

You might notice some special graphics in this review.  All previous reviews will eventually be edited to include them.  They were designed especially for the new blog.  Although I won’t be directing traffic there for another day or two, you can check out the new design HERE.


What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Self-published

What Kills Me is available as an ebook from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  

The fight for survival begins.

An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race.

So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.

How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?


Overview:  I think that I would of liked this book better if I hadn’t read so many in the genre.  I never got the feeling that this story and the characters were special.  The danger felt contrived and the characters safe in a formulated story.  I can understand why people love this book, but I don’t think it was unique enough for my liking.  It did have some humorous scenes and one-liners that were nothing short of awesome.  The excerpt is one of my favorites.

Characters:  Lucas felt short for me.  He was too rough and bitter in the beginning and his transformation by the end was too abrupt to be believable.  I liked Axelia for the majority of the story, although her part in the very beginning was nothing short of stupidity.  There’s no way that a “good” girl would decide to meet a stranger in the dark, after curfew, when everyone warns her not to…just not believable either.  Besides that, I did like her.  She acted like a dumb blonde sometimes, but the way Lucas played off of that trait was so darn funny that I liked it.

Plot:  Girl meets boy.  Girl dies and becomes vampire.  Girl has lots of people that want to kill her because she’s the chosen one.  If this was the first vampire novel I have ever read, I would have loved the plot.  I LOVE reading vampire books (and have read way too many) and so I the plot in this book kept reminding me of what I’ve read in other books.  It wasn’t predictable, however, and I wasn’t quite sure how Axelia and Lucas would escape the people wanting to kill them until it happened.

Ending:  The VERY end felt cheesy to me.  It wasn’t what I expected, but really disappointed me.

(I received a copy of this novel from the author (LibraryThing) in exchange for an honest review.)

This is a great novel for those who haven’t read many paranormal or vampire novels.

“What about guns with silver bullets?  Would that slow them down?”

“Silver bullets?  We’re not werewolves.”

“Werewolves are real too?”

He glaced at me and then did a double take, seeing my bewildered face.

“Yes,” he said, watching my eyes widen. “They hang out with Santa and the Easter Bunny.”

I remained frozen for a moment and then pushed his arm.

“Hey, I’m driving,” he said.  He turned away from me to check the left lane over his shoulder but not before I caught a subtle smile on his face.  It was gone so quickly tha I wasn’t sure if I had seen it at all.

A few minutes passed.  “So, they’re not real, right?”

(Picture and Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.
She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).

She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Book Review: Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady

Hearts of Darkness (Deadglass #1) by Kira Brady

Publisher: Zebra

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

You can purchase Hearts of Darkness on ebook or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  You can read my review of the prequel Hearts of Fire.

Review:

Overview:  After reading the prequel novella (and loving it), I was so excited and impatient to read this book that I requested a copy from the author.  But it was clear very early on in Hearts of Darkness that this was a completely different story than the first.  This book is set in present time, while the prequel had a western feel.  The world building feels very extensive, but it took me quite a few chapters to be convinced that present day Seattle is over-run by mystical shapeshifters and beings…but the rest of the world is unaware of this.  I think my main gripe with the novel is that I didn’t like the POV characters.  Since the next book is written from a different POV, I might still read it.

Characters:  I would’ve liked this story much more had the main characters not been Kayla and Hart.  I liked Corbette, Grace, Lydia, and especially Norgard and I wish one of them told the story.  It could have been a five-star book.  First off the chemistry between the characters is so awkward.  I never felt like they truly cared for one another.  Hart didn’t love her – her lusted her.  He spent much of his time thinking about how to screw her over and the rest of the time thinking about screwing her.  He kept talking about the beast inside him wanting to bend her over and stick it in.  After pages and pages of this, I was like: “Just do it already!”  By the time the sex scene happened, I was so fed up with Hart and Kayla that I skipped it.  And, he growled a lot…a whole lot.  Oh, and Kayla felt like the dumbest human alive.  She walked into trap after trap and was so incredibly naive.  She had absolutely no backbone and was all about preaching forgiveness and not taking things personally.  I don’t understand how Hart could do that “thing” to her and she shrugs it off!

Plot:  The plot felt predictable about half the time and the other half I was confused as to why the characters did the things they did.  So I guess it wasn’t nearly as predictable as I originally thought.  By the end of the book, I stopped trying to guess what would happen and just enjoyed the story.  The world building was well done and the mythology was teasingly revealed throughout the story.  Even by the end, I understood much of the world, but I wanted to know so much more.

Ending:  There were some really cheesy moments in the end.  The kind of stuff you’d expect in a movie with more special effects than acting skills.  These things were not realistic and obviously only there for dramatic flair.  I wish things would have ended differently with Corbette…his ending was bittersweet.

Book Description:

Nurse Kayla Friday has dedicated her life to science and reason. But for her, Seattle is a place of eerie loss and fragmented, frightening memories. And now the only clue to her sister’s murder reveals a secret battle between two ancient mythologies…and puts Kayla in the sights of lethally sexy werewolf mercenary Hart. He’ll do whatever it takes to obtain the key to the Gate of the Land of the Dead and free what’s left of his soul. But seducing the determined Kayla is putting them at the mercy of powerful desires neither can control. And as the clock ticks down to hellish catastrophe, the untested bond between Kayla and Hart may lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

This is a great story for those who love paranormal romances and don’t mind a bit of cheese.

Grade:  C

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)

Author of the Deadglass Trilogy (Kensington Zebra). Hearts of Darkness was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of Summer 2012!

A native Seattleitte, Kira spent her childhood hiking the rainy forests of the Pacific Northwest and drying out by the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot. She graduated with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her real life Prince Charming and promptly dragged him back to sunless Seattle. She fell in love with historic, haunted cities in graduate school. Now she writes about the twisted cities of her imagination, where wraiths and shape-shifters stalk the night and love redeems even the darkest heart. When not writing, she can be found drinking inordinately large mugs of Assam tea, knitting wool socks, and raising a wee heroine-in-training.

Website  |  Twitter  | Facebook

NaNoWriMo and more

I must be absolutely insane, but I am going to try to tackle NaNoWritMo for the 2nd year in a row.  I did complete it last year (although the writing was mostly rubbish).  I’m pretty sure that I won’t hit the magic number of 50k words, but I’ll be happy with half.

Lizzy’s Dark Fiction will still be operating normally with plenty of giveaways, guest posts, and reviews for the month of November.  I’ll probably post an update on my Nano progress every now or then, but otherwise it will be in the background.  I know you guys rather read posts about “published” authors and not the 500 words of crap I wrote using Write or Die.

As a reminder, the blog will be relocating on the first of November.  You should be automatically redirected upon visiting this address; I’m trying to make the transition as seamless as possible.  Everything should transfer.  If you follow by WordPress, please consider signing up by email, facebook, or twitter to stay up to date with future posts.

And a warning, I am moving sometime within the next two months.  Packing is 60% done already, but I don’t know the exact move date.  I’m hoping that it doesn’t interfere with any scheduled posts, but you never know with these things.

Anyone else participating in NaNoWritMo?

Tour Giveaway/Review: Bad Juju by Dina Rae

Bad Juju by Dina Rae

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Self-published

Bad Juju is available as an ebook from Amazon.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  You can read my reviews of other books by Dina Rae:  Halo of the Damned and Be Paranoid Be Prepared.

Giveaway:  Ends November 4th.  International.  Click to enter using the rafflecopter.

  • 10 eBook copies of Bad Juju in MOBI/PDF
  • 2 $15 Amazon Gift-Cards + an eBook copy of Bad Juju.

Excerpt:

Jake rolled out of bed and army crawled to the doorway.  Looking through the opening that separated the door from the carpeting, he saw Leah’s head bloodied.  She lay limp on the floor.  Pete stopped hitting her.  His whole demeanor changed.  With a wolfish expression, he began to unbuckle his belt.  Rhianna’s screams got closer.  She must have darted to the other side of the living room, putting her smack-dab in front of Jake’s bedroom door.  He could now see her foot.  It partially blocked his view.  Shit!  Can’t get involved!  If I open the door…

“Pete, what the hell is a matter with you?  Stop it!  She’s passed out.  You beat her into a coma, man!  And now you’re gonna…Sober up and think of what you’re doing!  Right in front of your daughter!” T.J. yelled.

Is he suicidal?  Jake knew his uncle would make T.J. regret his words.  Like Leah, T.J. was small.  He was filled with faults, but violence was not one of them.  On perfect cue, Jake could hear his uncle’s bare fists hooking T.J. in the jawbone.  Rhianna’s screams turned into full-blown hysteria.  The poor girl was hyperventilating while desperately grasping Jake’s locked doorknob for refuge.  I don’t want to be involved!  Go back to your closet and lay still!

“Jakey, Jakey, pwwweeeze!” Rhianna sobbed.

Jake couldn’t take her suffering any longer.  Quickly unlocking the door, he grabbed the little girl and pulled her inside his room and then relocked the door.  The living room had grown eerily quiet.  Jake had a difficult time hearing while Rhianna wailed.  “It’s okay now.  Try to be quiet,” he whispered, straining to hear.  Nothing but silence was on the other side of his door.  His heart rate doubled.  Always quiet before the storm.  Was it over?  Or was I next?  He slid on his gym shoes, took a can of Comet cleaner from his bathroom, and crept up to the only window in the room.  It was small, but Jake knew he could fit through.

Then came the sound he was waiting for.  Click, click, click.  Pete was delicately trying to open the door.  He now knew it was locked.

Book Description:

Lucien Nazaire flees his Haitian homeland and meanders around the United States for decades.  He settles in a Wisconsin trailer park filled with elderly tenants.  He meets Jake, his teenage neighbor, and hires him for odd household jobs.  As their relationship progresses, Lucien invites the boy into the world of Voodoo.

Jake LaRue lives in foster care with his abusive uncle.  The Voodoo lessons give him a sense of power within an otherwise helpless situation.  Although the boy is a loner, he feels an instant connection with his classmate, Henry, and introduces him to Lucien.

Henry Novak has Asperger’s Syndrome.  He fixates on historical events, most recently the 2010 Haitian earthquake.  Like Jake, he becomes passionate about the dark side of Voodoo.  They learn how to cast spells on those they hate and lust, leading up to dire consequences.

Several months after the Haitian earthquake, Henry convinces his family to volunteer with their church in the island’s reconstruction.  Their mission turns into a nightmare when he mysteriously walks off of the campsite.

Bad Juju is a balance of horror, romance, and literary fiction intended for ages fifteen and up.   Research about the Voodoo religion, shapeshifting, zombies, and possession and themes of redemption and loneliness emerge throughout the plot.

Review:

Overview:  Dina Rae has a very unique writing style.  The book feels more like a screenplay than a novel in parts.  The dialogue is over-the-top dramatic at parts, but with the dark nature of stories such as Bad Juju, there’s a lot of reasons for the characters to be upset enough to validate the ample use of exclamation points.  The way the author switched from over-the-top psychological horror to back story and new character point of view was frustrating for the hardcore horror lover in me.  I wanted the gore and horror to never stop.  However, for readers who don’t read primarily horror novels, you will appreciate a change of scenery after reading some of the most disturbing parts of this novel.

The descriptions and scene setups are so well done that I forgot I was reading a book.  It felt like I was watching reality TV, although I doubt anyone would want to star in this novel.  Don’t get too attached to the characters as not all of them make it to the end.  Overall, I think Bad Juju will appeal to readers who like both psychological horror novels and dark stories without the gore (although I would still rate this book R for sex, nasty dead people, and violence).

Characters:  I liked how complex and colorful Jake’s family was.  There’s a couple of white trash stereotypes in the beginning but as the story progresses each character is really fleshed out and the stereotypes forgotten.  Although Henry’s family got nearly as much screen time, they weren’t as interesting and some of them fell flat.  I was surprised how much attention Britney and Rio had in the story – and even though they were minor characters, they felt unique and as far from the head cheerleader/jock personalities and stereotypes as you can get.

Plot:  The story hops around quite a bit, which didn’t bug me when I read Halo of the Damned by Dina Rae.  Since this book was more of a hardcore horror book, I felt like the scenes ended prematurely sometimes.  I wanted the creepiness and the gore to keep going and for the scare/creepy factor to be more consistent.  The twists in this book kept me guessing until the last few chapters.  Despite my disappointment in the horror, the story was so compelling and addictive to read.  Dina Rae definitely comes up with some creative dark tales.  I can say with certainty that I’ve never read a novel like this one.

Ending:  I have some mixed feelings about the ending.  I liked what Jake and Lucien were doing with the Voodoo, but I was really tired of Henry and his mother Jess.  I wished for many bad things to happen to the latter pair and not all those bad things came to pass.  I did like how Rio’s story ended.  That was a nice twist.

Grade:  C+

This is a very gritty horror novel.

I received a copy of this novel as part of the book blog tour in exchange for my honest review.

Excerpt:

“He’s done this before, hasn’t he?”

“Yes.  Lots of times.  But this is the worst time,” Jake cried.  Emotions suddenly overcame him.

“This is unforgivable.  The next time might be worse.  He needs to be stopped.  Police?”  Jake shook his head.  “Let me make you an ointment for your back.”

Lucien opened a drawer with endless containers of odd spices labeled in French.  He began to boil water.

“Lucien, why don’t you make a Voodoo doll?  Isn’t that what you do in Haiti when someone is making you mad?  We can make one of Jake’s uncle,” Henry suggested.

“Can you do that, Lucien?” Jake asked.

“I haven’t done that kind of thing since, oh, since I left Haiti.  And sometimes it doesn’t even work.  It’s such a small part of the Voodoo religion.  Some would call it Hoodoo.  These things take time, but we could try.  Although I’d feel more comfortable showing you how to make a healing ointment for scarred skin.  Revenge is one of the trickiest of the hexes.  It has a power of its own, making it easy to backfire.  Any more harm than what your uncle deserves might invite evil loas into your life.  And Henry, your parents might not approve of this.  Maybe it’s a bad idea.”

“Like I said earlier, I’m good at keeping secrets.”

“But from your parents?  I don’t know if that’s right.”

“He’s cool.  And like you said, this probably won’t even work.  It’s worth a try.  You’re cheering me up just talking about it,” Jake said.

“Then I’ll need a few personal items from your uncle.  Hair, Q-tips, trinkets, clothes, anything he personally uses,” Lucien instructed.  “I also need dirt.  Large Ziploc bags of dirt from the graveyard next door.  I think I can provide the rest.”

About the Author:

Dina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her three novels, Halo of the Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and radio programs.  When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.

Website | Blog | Twitter: @haloofthedamned The Last Degree | Halo of the Damned |

Book Review/Giveaway: Halo of the Damned by Dina Rae

Halo of the Damned by Dina Rae

Publisher:  Eternal Press

Genre:  Dark Paranormal

You can purchase Halo of the Damned on ebook or paperback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  There is a separate giveaway for a paperback version of this book on Goodreads that you can enter from Oct 1-31st.  You can read my reviews of other books by Dina Rae:  Be Paranoid Be Prepared and Bad Juju.

Giveaway:

Click HERE to enter the giveaway for an ebook version of Halo of the Damned as well as a $10 gift card to Amazon.com.  Giveaway is opened internationally.  There will be one winner.

Review:

Overview:  Halo of the Damned is the third book I’ve read from Dina Rae and she sure does have a very signature way to her writing.  It’s raw, extremely unpredictable, and compelling from the first page to the last.  The dialogue and writing feel over-dramatic at times, and the way her books are written feels like Dan Brown or Tim LaHaye.  I like how each of her books tackle a different genre – this one is a dark thriller.  I like how this book is about a devil religion unique to this book – which means Catholics are spared from the corrupt priest stereotypes.  It’s dirty, but not gory.  A great Halloween read for those who like their “evil” without too much scare.

Characters:  Like in her other novels, there is a huge cast of characters with distinct personalities.  With such a large amount, there isn’t much character development for many of the characters, but they will leave you guessing from scene to scene.  Joanne is the star of the novel and she is both a recovering drug addict and an ex-con.  I like how her view of the world was more jaded than the typical heroine and how she didn’t fall madly in love instantly with the first male who showed interest in her.  There is a little bit of a love triangle, but honestly, one of the men was way out of his league in trying to get her.  The romance is very underplayed and the plot definitely hog most of the spotlight.  One person I couldn’t stand was Marie – as she in no way resembled a 6-year-old in her mannerisms  behaviors, or vocals.  I think her character would have been more convincing if she was at least 12 or 13.

Plot:  It could be viewed as a good or bad thing, but many of the scenes are revisited by different characters.  Scene A might be told in Joanne’s POV and end in a cliffhanger.  A chapter or two later, Marcus will pick up the same scene either explaining the events leading up to Scene A or the events that happened because of Scene A.  Halo of the Damned is definitely a non-linear story, but surprisingly the pacing of the novel is strong even when the information in the book is familiar to the reader.

Ending:  Thankfully this was not a cliffhanger.  I could see the potential for a series involving many of the characters, but even as a stand alone this book has a satisfying ending.  There’s a few twists that happen during the path of the book and I had a general idea of what would happen at the end – but there was no predictability to the actions of most of the characters.  Overall though, it was a good read.  A “light” read for those who like “dark” books.

Grade:  B+

This is great book for those who wants something different in the paranormal genre.

Book Description:

A chain of advertising agencies, a new breed of humans, and a fallen angel to worship… Andel Talistokov is known for his slick advertising agencies across the globe. He is a fallen angel that uses advertising as a weapon for Satan’s work. His growing power emboldens him to break several of Hell’s Commandments. Furious with his arrogance, Satan commands him to return to Hell after finding his own replacement. Yezidism, an ancient angel worshiping religion, quietly expands throughout the West. Armaros appears as a guest of honor during their ceremonies. He mates with young women to produce nephilim, a mixed race of humans and angels. They are alone and unprepared for their supernatural power. Joanna Easterhouse, a recovering drug addict, steps out of prison shortly after her mother’s fatal accident. She and her sister, Kim, unravel their mother’s secretive past. Intrigued, they learn their bloodline is part of a celestial legacy. Both worlds collide. Halo of the Damned is a horrifying tale that weaves research together with suspenseful twists and turns.

About the Author:

Dina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her three novels, Halo of the Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and radio programs.  When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.

Website | Blog | Twitter: @haloofthedamned Halo of the Damned |

Book Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Publisher:  HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray

Genre: Paranormal Romance

You can buy it on ebook or paperback Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overview:  I’m a huge junkie on anything dealing with mythology – both fiction and non-fiction, so I had high expectations when I picked up Everneath from my local library.  And then when I started reading Everneath, I almost put it down.  After reading others’ rave reviews about this title, I was disappointed by the slow slow pace of the first part of the book.  There were so many unanswered questions.  There was a significant lack of descriptions or anything besides Nikki’s constant whining.  The non-linear storyline got on my nerves, as I just wanted to know WTF was going on.  And then when things were explained and the time ran out, I finally fell in love with Nikki.

Characters:  The best scenes were those that involved either Cole or Jack.  The scenes between Nikki and her family or best friend, Jules, were awkward and I wish that she’d stop complaining so much in her narrative.  At least when one of the guys were involved, you could feel the emotion building inside of her towards one or the other and you could completely understand why she made the decisions she did.  I don’t know if I would consider Jack/Cole/Nikki a love triangle, since Nikki really doesn’t like Cole.  Although…she does spend half the novel trying to escape from Cole (and into Jack’s arms) and the other half of the novel trying to escape from Jack (and into Cole’s arms).  My favorite character has to be Cole.  I like how he felt so un-human.  He doesn’t have emotions of his own and is forced to “feed” on others to survive.  He’s a monster but surprisingly an easy character to empathise with.

Plot:   The story is told from two point of time in Nikki’s life.  The current time, which counts down six months until she has to return to the Tunnels and a year ago, which counts down until the first time she went to Everneath.  There’s quite a bit of information that is purposely left out until the end of the story and the unanswered questions built up my frustration for the first half of the novel.  When Nikki discovers that there might be a loophole and it might be worth fighting to remain, the story really picked up (and the answers to my questions finally showed up).

Ending:  Until the last part of the novel and the entire story clicked into place, I was totally planning on this being a 2 or 3 star book.  The ending completely consumed me and I was so locked into the story that I immediately added the rest of the series to my wishlist after finishing Everneath.  Although this is a paranormal romance, the ending is very bittersweet and dark.  The “dark” part of this story reminds me of A Need So Beautiful in that the protagonist is battling against destiny to stay with her love one, even when hope is futile.  Thank you so much to the author for the chosen ending.  It was perfect.

Book Description:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned–to her old life, her family, her boyfriend–before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance–and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

“Everneath” is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

Rating:  B

A very dark retelling of the Persephone/Hades Greek myth.

I received a copy of this book from my local public library.

Neverfall (#1.,5) is set to release December 2012 and Everbound (#2) is set to release January 2013.

About the Author


(Picture and image borrowed from author’s website.)

Because of two parents who were Greek myth geeks, I grew up thinking the latest fashion trends were inspired by Aphrodite, and a good conversational opener was, “So, which mythological character do you most resemble?” Despite these social shortcomings, I found a great husband who’s always my first reader. We live in Utah with our two young boys, who still have no idea why I’m at the computer all the time.

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Utah and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics.


By Lizzy's Dark Fiction Posted in Default

Delay

I didn’t find out until yesterday that we’re showing the house all weekend.  So, today and possibly tomorrow there will be a post void.  Don’t be alarmed if Monday has an overload of posts.  I probably won’t have time to answer comments until Monday, but I will get back to each and every lovely person that leaves a comment.  🙂

Delayed:

Weekend meme posts for Short Story Saturday and 5 Star Reviews.

Upcoming:

I have two reviews planned Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady and Everneath by Brodi Ashton this week.

Tuesday – Halo Be Damned review and giveaway for the Spooktacular Hop.

Wednesday – Bad Juju tour stop with a review/giveaway.

Friday – Broken Aro guest post and giveaway.

Book Review: Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright

I originally agreed to review this book back in August and expected to get to it on my TBR list last month.  Had I known how much I would of liked it, I would have read it the instant the author sent it to me.  I suppose that one good thing about waiting is that the sequel The Burning Bush released September 28th, so I don’t have to wait long before finding out what happens next with Lenore.  You can check out more information on Burning Bush (Habitat #2) on Goodreads.  I haven’t had much luck with Urban Fantasy books, but Fire Baptized changed my mind about removing that genre from the list of books I review.  Check out my review below and then make sure you pick up your own copy.

And dare I say this….I’ve had amazing luck with books this week.  I think I’ve loved every single one of them!


Fire Baptized (Habitat #1) by Kenya Wright

Publisher:  Dragonfairy Publishing

Genre: Urban Fantasy

You can buy it on ebook or paperback Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Review:

Overview:  I was seriously done with urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  I’ve began to feel like it’s the same old characters with the same old problems and they all end the same.  Urban fantasy in particular has disappointed me lately and I admit that it took me much longer than it should have to finally read this book.  After reading the first chapter of Fire Baptized, I KNEW that this was special and different.  First off, this main character is not a detective or in law enforcement.  Secondly, Lenore is not your average female.  Thirdly, this book is much darker and more disturbing than most urban fantasies.  This book never scared me but there were several disturbing and gory scenes that gave it a horror feel at times.  Fourthly (is that a word?), Lenore is part of the underclass and the segregation and class differences/lack of rights is really compelling.

Characters:  There is a love triangle, but this is no love triangle you’ve ever read before.  Lanore has two male companions who both want to be with her.  She refuses to be exclusive and instead chapter by chapter she alternates between the two men becoming more and more involved with each one.  This drives MeShack and Zulu crazy with jealousy, but they only pursue her further.  In other words, Lanore is a playa.  This role, usually reserved for males, makes for a very entertaining read.  I couldn’t guess which one she wanted and I’m guessing that she would have been happy with both – had the guys agreed.  There are some awesome lines in this book:

“I don’t need your protection.”  I extended my hand to the side, pushed a large fireball out of my palm, and said, “Wow, look at that.  Isn’t that amazing? I did it all by myself. I can dress myself and wipe my own ass, too.”  – Lenore to Zulu.

Plot:  The book begins with Lanore witnessing a murder and the murderer knows.  Lanore notifies the police but she’s unsatisfied with being idle and searching for the identity of the murderer on her own.  Be careful which characters you get attached to in Fire Baptized, but the murderer is not satisfied with killing only one person.I appreciated the details the author made to make this fantasy world seem authentic.  There were several references to historical events that she put an urban fantasy spin.  Like, the black panthers were actually black panther shapeshifters.

Ending:  The mystery of who the killer is (and who Lenore will be with) is solved, but Lenore (and the reader) gets a glimpse of something at the end, which will change everything she thought she knew.  It’s a decent end to this part of her life, but I’m so thrilled that the next book is already released so that I don’t have to wait too long before finding out what happens in her life next.

Book Description:

Since the 1970s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend MeShack and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

Rating:  A

An urban fantasy containing a love triangle with almost too much love.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.


Book Review: Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Publisher:  Momentum Books

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Arcadian Genesis released September 1st, 2012.  You can buy it on ebook Amazon, iTunes bookstore, Kobo, or Booki.sh.  More reviews available on Goodreads and more information available on the publisher’s website.

Review:

The first thing I noticed when reading Arcadian Genesis was how vivid and complete the world of Alex Hunter was.  It’s like the author slipped on his favorite pair of shoes when writing this book.  It’s so polished that you’d think Alex Hunter himself was writing the book.  Being written (mostly) from the POV of an emotionally detached guy, there is some trouble feeling for the other characters, which is a good thing considering how many deaths there are in this book.  And in some chapters, there is so much carnage and chaos that you’re not quite sure who is left alive until the next chapter begins.

I must say that the pacing is incredibly fast for the majority of the story, and you really have to pay close attention or you’ll lose track of what’s going on very quickly (and with a small child running around, I did have to reread some parts).  Every word counts in this story and by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you read a story twice as thick because of how much information, world-building, and action is crammed into Arcadian Genesis.

As far as technical care, Greig Beck’s writing feels a lot like Brad Thor, but Alex Hunter is way less of a ladies man than Harvath.  Alex is consumed by revenge for the deaths of his family and no detailed is spared in exactly how he transforms into a cold-blooded killer.  Lots of gore and death.  No character is safe.  For anyone that has read other books in this series, you know how it ends.  For anyone else, you will be surprised.

Book Description:

Alex Hunter – in the mission that turned him from a normal man into the weapon known as the Arcadian – and the elite team of soldiers known as the Hotzone All-Forces Warfare Commandos must enter a hostile country to rescue a defected Chechen researcher from the center of a country at war.

But the HAWCs are not the only ones looking for the rogue scientist and the mysterious package he carries with him. A brutal and relentless killer and his death squad are on the trail too – and they bring a savagery with them that Hunter and his team have never witnessed before in modern warfare.

In this stunning prequel to Beneath the Dark Ice, the HAWC team must race the clock to rescue the scientist, prevent the package from falling into the wrong hands … and save the world from a horror that should never have been woken.

Arcadian Genesis features a sample chapter from Greig Beck’s forthcoming novel Black Mountain.

This is the prequel to the Alex Hunter series.  Check out the covers to the other books in this series.

Rating:  A

This is a great book for those who want grit of an action novel in a vivid science fiction world.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

I’m an Australian author residing in Sydney with my wife, son and oversized black German Shepherd named Jess. My novels are now available in more than ten countries, and coming soon in full AUDIO format.

I grew up spending my days surfing at Bondi Beach before entering a career in Information technology which took me around the world. After completing an MBA, i was appointed both an Australasian director of a multinational software company, and tasked with setting up the USA arm of the organisation.

Today, I’m still involved in IT, but spend most of my time writing… with plenty left over for surfing.