Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott book thoughts

Title: The Pilo Family Circus
Series: Yes (The Pilo Family Circus #1)
Author: Will Elliott
Published Date: October 1st, 2006
Publisher: ABC Books
Source: I bought it
# of Pages: 321 pages
Format: Ebook
Genre: Horror
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★★.5(4.5/5) stars
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

"You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?"

Delivered by a trio of psychotic clowns, this ultimatum plunges Jamie into the horrific alternate universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between Hell and Earth from which humankind’s greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place—peopled by the gruesome, grotesque, and monstrous—where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself.

When he applies the white face paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead!

My Thoughts

TW: Homophobia, Fire, Death, Animal Abuse (and death), Murder, Language, Self-Harm, R-word, Drugs

I'm not really sure what to say about this book, other than I loved it! It's horrorific at times, funny at others and tugged at my heart at other times still. It's fast-paced, or maybe that's me as I read it in 3 days because Spookathon. Still I was entertained and wanting to know what was going to happen through-out the entire book. It occasionally made me think. The writing was easy to read.

I fell in love with Jamie. The characters felt well done to me for their purposes. The plot and world-building really shined to me. I fell in love with the carnival! In a weird way sure, but still. Writing a review is difficult for this book but not for lack of love for it! If this sounds at all up your alley give it a shot! I can't wait to get the sequel!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Subhuman by Michael McBride book thoughts

Title: Subhuman
Series: Yes (Unit 51 #1)
Author: Michael McBride
Published Date: October 31st, 2017
Publisher: Pinnacle
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 400
Format: Ebook
Genre: Thriller
Days to Read: 6
Rating: ★★★.5 (3.5/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

At a research station in Antarctica, five of the world’s top scientists have been brought together to solve one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Their subject, however, is anything but human . . .

Deep beneath the ice, the submerged ruins of a lost civilization hold the key to the strange mutations that each scientist has encountered across the globe: A misshapen skull in Russia. The grotesque carvings of a lost race in Peru. The mummified remains of a humanoid monstrosity in Egypt . . .

When a series of sound waves trigger the ancient organisms, a new kind of evolution begins. Latching onto a human host—crossbreeding with human DNA—a long-extinct life form is reborn. Its kind has not walked the earth for thousands of years. Its instincts are fiercer, more savage, than any predator alive. And its prey are the scientists who unleashed it, the humans who spawned it, and the tender living flesh on which it feeds . . .

My Thoughts

TW: Death, Blood, Self-harm, Fire, Mention of Nazi's in the past

It seemed to have a bit of a slow and confusing start but in time I figured out why it started out the way it did. I ended up reading this faster than I normally would, or at least it felt that way, because I was flying through the pages. Similar to how The Martian was for me. It's very heavy on the science and honestly I didn't understand a lot of it, but was able to get the basics of the story and I never felt like it was being pretentious or that I was dumb. I actually learned stuff from reading this and highlighted things I want to look up.

The only real downside is don't ask me who was who. I mean I should know but just didn't care enough to write down who was who and it didn't matter to me too much, I got the story, that's all I cared about.

It was thought-provoking at times. I loved the premise and the setting. One of the things I learned was that Antarctica has mountains...I probably should have already known that but Geography was not my strong suit in school. It had some emotional moments in the story too.

I enjoyed learning about stuff I should have learnt in school, but didn't or forgot, learning about the sciencey things as well as the characters and what they did, even if I can't tell you who did what. And I especially loved the conclusion! The second half was much more of a thriller and very bloody and I soaked it all up!

If it sounds interesting to you, give it a shot! I do plan on continuing on with this series.

"Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. both are equally terrifying. -Arthur C. Clarke"

Thank you to Netgalley and Pinnacle for letting me read this.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 edited by Brian James Freeman book thoughts

Title: Halloween Carnival Volume 1
Series: Yes (#1/5)
Author: Robert McCammon, Kevin Lucia, John R. Little, Lisa Morton and Mark Allen Gunnells, edited by Brian James Freeman
Published Date: October 3rd, 2017
Publisher: Hydra
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 149
Format: Ebook
Genre: Horror/Anthology
Days to Read: 1
Rating: ★★★(3/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Robert McCammon, Kevin Lucia, John R. Little, Lisa Morton, and Mark Allan Gunnells put the horror back in Halloween with a quintet of devilishly delightful tales, curated by acclaimed author and editor Brian James Freeman.

STRANGE CANDY by Robert McCammon
Chocolate bars and sour suckers are trick-or-treat staples, but beware the odd sweet at the bottom of your bag. You never know who it’s from—or what it might do to you.

Father Ward should have heeded the warnings about hearing confession on All Hallow’s Eve. Because a man is about to tell him a secret more haunting than any he has heard before.

DEMON AIR by John R. Little
Fear of flying is not uncommon. But on this transpacific airline, the real danger isn’t the flight itself. It’s whoever—or whatever—is up in the air with you.

Trick McGrew, former cowboy star of the silver screen, has never believed in tall tales. But down in Mexico, the land of La Llorona, he’s about to find out just how real urban legends can be.

Some people will go to any lengths to rack up retweets, likes, and follows on social media, no matter who they end up hurting . . . or even killing.

My Thoughts

STRANGE CANDY by Robert McCammon★★★★★(5/5)

My favorite out of the collection! Not scary so much as heart-breaking, both hopeful and sad. A short but powerful ghost story.

THE RAGE OF ACHILLES by Kevin Lucia★★★.5 (3.5/5)

TW: Death, Murder, Suicide

Slightly confusing, but mostly heart-wrenching and haunting, about the pain of loss so all consuming it never really ends. A very moving story. A man has a son with autism who he loves very much and will go to great lengths for. I can't speak on the autism. Might be a bit hard to read for some in regards to ableism for lack of knowing how to better put it (though I wish I could figure out how to better put it). I am disabled myself (not autistic though so again, can't speak there) and can see how it might be hard to read for some disabled people, but personally I found it very well done. Not an easy read but still a powerful one about loss and grief.

DEMON AIR by John R. Little★.5(1.5/5)

This made no sense to me. I have no idea how Halle being Aborigine had anything to do with finding courage. I liked the part about her wanting to find out more about her identity after finding out she was adopted, but it just didn't go anywhere. One minute it had just became Halloween, the pilots became demon things to introduce the Halloween theme, Halle being Aborigine, which she just found out, ment she had to be courageous and stand up to them (which just felt like a weak plot point that had so much potential), and then quickly the scene and the day is over and they are still flying above the ocean. Not sure how that works. It just felt like the story had so much potential but it was too short to be fleshed out at all and didn't make any sense.

LA HACIENDA DE LOS MUERTOS by Lisa Morton★★(2/5)

TW: Racism

A racist actor gets called to be in a movie in Mexico. He doesn't believe in tall tales but is about to find out how true Urban Legends can be. It's at a ranch that is legitimately haunted. It's not really scary though. The actor's racism is talked about again and again, never followed up on and suddenly it's resolved magically at the end. I liked the urban legend and there is a bit of twist to it that I really appreciated.

#MAKEHALLOWEENSCARYAGAIN by Mark Allan Gunnells★★★.75(3.75/5)

TW: Death, Murder, Homophobia

A horror author is annoyed that people have turned Halloween into something no longer scary. So he starts a hashtag #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain that flops and does not catch on...except with one twisted person that ends up being a serial killer seeking out this past Halloween greatness and using the hashtag as a calling card at the murder scenes. Action and suspense were through-out the entire story (also the longest one being about 1/2 the book) at least until the end. I did guess the ending but did enjoy the journey getting there.

Final Thoughts

Average = 3.15

It's an anthology and in my limited anthology experience they do always seem to have some stories I enjoy and some I don't. It's just what happens. I am glad I read this for the 3 out of 5 stories I enjoyed and would recommend checking it out if you're interested. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle book thoughts

Title: The Goblins of Bellwater
Series: N/A
Author: Molly Ringle
Published Date: October 1st, 2017
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 289
Format: Ebook
Genre: Fantasy/New Adult/Romance
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★★.5 (4.5/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit's end trying to understand what's wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn't talk of such things: he's the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.Then Kit starts dating Livy, and Skye draws Kit's cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods. Skye and Grady are doomed to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever, unless Livy, the only one untainted by enchantment, can unravel the spell by walking a dangerous magical path of her own.

My Thoughts

TW: Fire, Depression, Sexual Assault, PTSD

The Synopsis on Goodreads is spot on and I don't really know any other way to say it. Goblins, Fae, Romance and Magic.

It started off slow but even from the very beginning I was interested and enjoying it. The first 1/2 I wanted to keep reading and was intrigued, but in no rush, then the second half really picked up the pace and intrigue and I couldn't put it down! I read the first 1/2 in 2 days, the second 1/2 in one and stayed up too late doing so! There was one thing I predicted but only maybe a couple pages in advance, and I still loved it!

The writing was very readable. I don't necessarily think it's the best writing but I personally enjoyed it. I loved the characters! I don't think I can pick a favorite character, I just loved them all! Kit has had it so rough with the curse on his family and he's truly caring of others, and an artist with a chainsaw (sculptures). Livy is smart, a scientist, strong and also very caring. Grady is a wonderful chef and Skye is also an artist (without a chainsaw) who sketches and makes art in peoples coffee as a barista. Truly they are all caring people with their own things going on.

I enjoyed the world-building, it's set in washington (the state) but in a fictional town and while the real world is in there, so is fairies, goblins and magic! I truly enjoyed the atmosphere of the place.

The TW for fire (I was in a house fire 5 years ago and have PTSD from it) is something I wouldn't have been able to get through 5 years ago, so I mention it for anyone else who needs the TW. If you want to brace yourself for it, it's after water (that'll make sense in the book). About the 75% mark. I had to stop a couple times while reading it even still. However i'm really glad I read I this book and continued on with it! I have nothing against it of course, it's just trauma event=ptsd=trigger warnings for well-being.

The PTSD I mention isn't stated directly as PTSD in the book but to myself, someone with PTSD, it was plainly obvious and felt very real to my own experiences with it, with nightmares in particular. I would have had a hard time believing it if some trauma wasn't experienced after all that, but there was and for me personally I thought it was well done for what it was.

If an entertaining fantasy read with evil goblins, some good fae, romance, curses and magic, that is pretty light and fast to read with a bit of depth (but not too much) sprinkled in sounds interesting to you i'd definitely recommend checking it out! Some things below I wanted to talk about but may be considered spoilers.

*minor spoilers*

There is a thing with 9 fingers in the book, and I have 9 fingers, and I really enjoyed it! Of course it's nothing like my real life situation but I loved the way it was handled after the fact! No one made a big deal of it but of course they had to get used to it. I was born with a hypoplastic left thumb, and had a pollicization surgery (moved index finger to thumb spot) when I was 2 almost 3 years old. I was too young to remember the surgery but I do remember having to learn how to do things with my new hand. Since I was still a tot I had learned some motor skills but not all of them, so while it took some practice it wasn't too hard. I felt them getting used to it afterwards was very realistic in my own experience.

I can understand why some people have issues with the relationship between Grady and Skye but the awkwardness and stuff from the curse is mentioned and dealt with. Perhaps too neatly for some or not delved into enough but personally I loved it. It was a light fun read for me that I squeed a lot over. I was truly like this over some things.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Crowns of Croswald by D. E. Night book thoughts

Title: The Crowns of Croswald
Series: I think so
Author: D. E. Night
Published Date: July 21st, 2017
Publisher: Stories Untold
Source: Publisher
# of Pages: 310
Format: Physical
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Days to Read: 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Would I recommend it?: Yes
Would I read more books by this Author?: Yes
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret...

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

My Thoughts

Thank you to the Author and Publisher for giving me this free book in exchange for an honest review.

A girl, Ivy, lives as a maid in a castle that has beautiful slurry fields where she sometimes meets her friend that is a dwarf while she enjoys sketching. One day she is kicked out for stuff that isn't even her fault, along with a dragon that had gotten sick (a temporary illness like a cold) that ends up being like a pet to her, she is almost 16, and she gets picked up by people that had been looking for her, because of her magical blood, in a flying carriage to go off to the Halls of Ivy to hone her skills as a scrivenist, in a town that as an evil Dark Queen for a ruler.

I ended up reading this entire book with a migraine, which I still have. Not because of the book, I think it's the changing seasons but i'm not sure. If I hadn't had said migraine I could have finished this book in 2-3 days. It's a light middle grade fantasy read, full of magic, adventure, and danger! So that may have clouded my enjoyment a bit.

It started off a bit slow for me. It does have the trope early on of an ugly woman with an ugly personality to match, even saying "Perhaps her horrid personality had seeped out and shaped her appearance." Yes, I really enjoyed this book but I always try to mention stuff I liked and didn't like in reviews. Maybe this is a me thing but i'm getting tired of seeing, especially in middle grade books where it seems to be most common, (from what i've seen), an ugly or disfigured person being evil or an asshole, as if someone's appearance and personality have to match. There was also a bit of talk about bodily emissions that, due to personal medical issues, I didn't quite appreciate. However all this is early in the book and doesn't last long.

It did pick up and I really enjoyed the rest of the book. It reminded me a bit of Harry Potter, in all the right ways, while still being different and standing on it's own! It did have some nice messages through-out the book too that I really did appreciate. The writing was easy to read and flowed well for me. I really enjoyed Ivy once I got to know her. She hasn't had an easy life but she is a nice girl, with a bit of a rebellious and stubborn side to her which I frankly loved! She knows people are keeping stuff about her from her and she is determined to find answers that she deserves to have about herself! I did enjoy the friendships in the book too and hope to see more of them in future books.

I loved the magic system in the book, no wands are needed! I did also enjoy the world-building, though I do still have some questions but the way it leaves off i'm assuming there is going to be more books, and if so hopefully we'll get some answers in them. I can't stop wondering if the hairies, little fairy creatures in lanterns used as lights, enjoy being used in that way, are they happy like that? How did that come about?

There was a twist that I loved and, personally I didn't see coming, but someone more read in fantasy might? I have no idea, but I enjoyed it just the same! Getting to figure out what secrets were being kept. There is still danger for the town, in the form of the Dark Queen that rules the place, and someone that betrayed Ivy and the school that is still unknown who it is. I have my guesses but will just have to wait for the next book to see if any of them are right!

It's truly a tale that gets more magical and exciting as you read with secrets being revealed through-out the story. If you enjoy middle grade fantasy with magic, adventure, secrets, rule-breaking, and an evil Queen in power i'd definitely recommend checking this out!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Savage Woods by Mary SanGiovanni book thoughts

Title: Savage Woods
Series: No
Author: Mary SanGiovanni
Published Date: September 26th, 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 204
Format: Ebook
Genre: Horror
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★.5
Would I recommend it?: Yes, if it's up your alley
Would I read more books by this Author?: Yes
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Bram Stoker award-nominated author Mary SanGiovanni returns with a terrifying tale of madness, murder, and mind-shattering evil . . .

Nilhollow—six-hundred-plus acres of haunted woods in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens—is the stuff of urban legend. Amid tales of tree spirits and all-powerful forest gods are frightening accounts of hikers who went insane right before taking their own lives. It is here that Julia Russo flees when her violent ex-boyfriend runs her off the road . . . here that she vanishes without a trace.

State Trooper Peter Grainger has witnessed unspeakable things that have broken other men. But he has to find Julia and can’t turn back now. Every step takes him closer to an ugliness that won’t be appeased—a centuries-old, devouring hatred rising up to eviscerate humankind. Waiting, feeding, surviving. It’s unstoppable. And its time has come.

My Thoughts

TW: Blood, Gore, Language, Fire, Abuse, Death, Suicide, Self-Harm, Murder, Rape

This was an entertaining horror novel that kept me turning the pages fast. Julia has an abusive ex. One that made me able to relate to her in that way because i've been what she has been through, to a degree. Her ex goes completely off the rails to say the least but before that, the way he made her feel, the thoughts she had, i've been there. It felt real to me. It's told in what I believe is 3rd person and I think that's why I didn't actually get too emotional over it, just the way it's told for me. However I did really like Julia as she develops through-out the novel. She learns she deserves better, she's worth it and is a strong character. I was very much rooting for her! And sadly I know people like her ex exist in real life.

To put is simply without spoiling anything, there is evil in the woods. Julia's ex ends up chasing her into the woods and when it's realized they are missing and their cars are by the woods that have evil stories told about that area, some cops go looking for her. Obviously horror ensues in those woods.

I very much enjoyed the storyline and it kept me entertained, rooting for Julia especially, and wanting to know what was going to happen. I wasn't really scared, not totally sure why but that could just be me, but I was entertained. I wouldn't say it's a perfect novel, some things felt a little off here and there but nothing that made me quit enjoying it. Honestly Julia was my favorite part of the novel and her character development. I did enjoy the creepy woods too and the backstory of it and how it worked.

I was able to picture the woods very well from the descriptions. I also really liked the ending, it was a very satisfying ending!

I would recommend it if a short horror story about evil woods sounds up your alley, and you can handle the TW's.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke book thoughts

Title: Fortitude Smashed
Series: Yes (The Camellia Clock Cycle Book 1)
Author: Taylor Brooke
Published Date: September 21st, 2017
Publisher: Interlude Press
Source: Author
# of Pages: 331
Format: Ebook
Genre: NA/Contemporary/LGBT+
Days to Read: 5
Rating: ★★★★★
Would I recommend it?: Yes
Would I read more books by this Author?: Yes
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Sysnopsis

After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.

But loving someone isn’t.

When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.

My Thoughts

TW: Fire, Sexual Assault

Camellia Clocks are implanted beneath every infants thumbnail, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. It seems to work out about 98% of the time, and even though the clocks will count down until you meet your soul mate, it's still your choice what to do with that information and it still takes work to have a relationship. Honestly with that synopsis I was a bit worried about how the book would go, but i'm so glad I gave it shot as I ended up loving it!

A thief, Aiden, attempting to steal a painting, and a detective, Shannon, end up timing out when Shannon catches Aiden attempting to steal said painting. Needless to say they were both kinda confused at that.

It's own voices for bi/pan characters, and mental illness rep. Aiden suffers from Dissociative Dysthymia, a chronic depression. He gets panic attacks.

I ended up relating to Aiden so much! His depression and his reactions mirror what i've experienced exactly! My reason are different than his, but the feelings are the same and I don't believe i've ever seen these feelings described so well, that fit me like a tee, in a book before. I've seen other great mental illness rep that fit me too in regards to anxiety but as for the Dissociative Dysthymia and panic attacks, not so much. Here, I felt like I was reading my story. It's an amazing feeling to know one isn't alone in such things. To know someone else understands.

All the characters in this book are complex and very well fleshed out. It really shows you how to look beyond what you first see when you see someone. You can't tell someone's story just by looking at them and knowing one facet of who they are, people are so much more than that and I loved how this book captured that! They are flawed, and at times I got angry at some of the other characters, but everything ended up being unpacked. I was angry because I was supposed to be and for good reason. Conversations were had and stuff was called out.

Yes, there is a romance here, but it is so much more than that. And no, mental illness is NOT cured by love. Yes it has a HEA, but Aiden is not cured. (Thank you!!)

There isn't really much action or plot to speak of, this is much more character-driven. If you're looking for an action packed plot-based book, this isn't it. But if you want a story with well-fleshed out, complex characters going through their life, trying to figure stuff out, sometimes making mistakes and being human, that is sweet and will tug at your heart, i'd highly recommend this!

Thank you to the author for giving me a chance to read this.