Book Review: Tamed by Douglas R. Brown (4 1/2 stars)

douglas r. brown tamed

 

Douglas R. Brown

Genre: Paranormal, Horror

Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing

Pages: 318

Published: January 26th, 2012

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Tamed in Audiobook

Author Links:  Goodreads  |  Authors Website/Blog  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Author Douglas Brown on NBC4 News – Columbus Ohio

Werewolves are real. And they make excellent pets.

Owning one of the legendary creatures is the latest fad. The WereHouse insists their werepets are loyal, docile, and 100% safe, but what happens when these gentle giants turn on their masters?

While on a routine EMS call, paramedic Christine Alt is attacked by a rogue werepet. She escapes with her life, but the encounter leaves her with more than just scars. As her body begins to change, she discovers the WereHouse is hiding a terrible secret, and they will stop at nothing to keep her from exposing them.

Tamed is a werewolf tale with a twist from the author of the The Light of Epertase trilogy.

TAMED is the first werewolf book to give me faith in the genre.  The only books up to now I have read about werewolves and enjoyed, I have liked despite being about werewolves.  TAMED has put the horror back into the werewolf.  Being bitten by one of these creatures is a fate worse than death, as our heroine discovers.

What sold me on the book is that these powerful, supernatural creatures are reduced to pets.  I can almost hear PETA whispering in the author’s ear as he writes this book.  SEE, ANIMALS ARE PEOPLE TOO!  I’m lead to the conclusion that the author is not a fan of people owning exotic, wild animals and treating them like a common housepet.  After watching way too many episodes of FATAL ATTRACTION, I’m beginning to agree that wild animals can never truly be tamed.

As in most horror books, the characters tend to be disposable and stagnant.  Although many of the characters are fleshed out by the end of the story, there isn’t much character development from the beginning of the story to the end.  Because of how the story is told and the focus is more on what is happening that who is involved, this lack of development doesn’t inhibit the reader from enjoying the story.  I think my favorite character ended up being Billy.  His personality shines, despite what happens to him and Christine.

Even though it is obvious from both lore and the opening chapter that werewolves are people, the author still manages to make the revelation as shocking and revolting as if we never knew.  TAMED is a book for those who are looking for the something other than a paranormal romance between Fido and Jane.  If you like your stories raw, unstripped, and shocking, then check this one out at your local Book WereHouse.

rating A minus rating

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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Review/Giveaway: Susy Asylum by Michael Pierce (5 stars)

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As a huge fan of Provex City from Micheal Pierce, I was ecstatic to sign up for this tour of the sequel, Susy Asylum.  Check out my review of 5 star review of the prequel to Susy Asylum, Provex City!  Feel free to read my review even if you have not read Provex City.  It contains only minor spoilers (no more than the blurb) of the first book.  Thank you to Candace’s Book Blog for organizing this tour.  You can check out the full schedule HERE.

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Susy Asylum (Lorne Family Vault#2) by Michael Pierce

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Publisher: ParousiaSix Publishing

Pages: 424

Published: April 25th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

In SUSY Asylum, there is no release. There is no escape. No hope.

Oliver and Desiree are introduced to the writings of a mysterious blogger, Commodore Chaos, when they return to Provex City to indulge in what the sublime city has to offer. The blogger claims the Lornes are collecting people venturing between the higher planes of awareness and locking them away in a mythical asylum. But are these legitimate concerns for inter-plane travelers or just the ramblings of an anonymous conspiracy blogger?

Oliver looks to Provex City as his only connection to his father while Desiree looks to the city as an escape from the torment of losing her best friend—again. Provex City is a wonder of beautiful treasures, entrancing them to continue returning. But behind the beauty, wolves have continued hunting Oliver, a boy who is still unaware of his importance in the rebellion.

Oliver’s belief is waning. Desiree will not always be by his side. Mr. Gordon will not always come to his aid. Oliver finds himself alone, forced to confront his biggest fears, fight his inner demons, and face the very cold reality that no one is coming to save him.

Welcome to SUSY Asylum.

Like a bullet to the head, the story of Oliver Grain will bleed into your consciousness long after the last page is read.  SUSY ASYLUM is an story honest to characters and plot, no matter how gritty the tale.  Micheal Pierce has a talent for creating characters that the reader can’t help but invest into and then taunts you with a Russian roulette premonition.  Early in the book, the reader learns that one character close to Oliver won’t make it.  Even with that seed planted in the mind, there is still a feeling of disbelief when the deed happens.

As if turning back the pages would revive this character, I couldn’t help but reread the section and yearn for an alternate end for this character.  My need to discover what happens with Oliver and his quest is what eventually recovered me and allowed me to finish.  Although the first part of the book is focused on expanding the characters and world-building, the second half  is a rampage.  After developing attachments to all the characters, the reader has to witness each one makes stupid decisions that put Oliver and his friends in a suicidal situation.  Oliver is not the only one to blame as the other characters often act independently of his decisions and it is clear that each one of them has their own agenda throughout the story.

It’s difficult to decide which character is my favorite, but I believe I will have to say Oliver.  I can’t help but chuckle when he tries unsuccessfully to understand teenage girls.  His ignorance of them compared to the author’s expert writing of the female sex makes for some much needed comic relief in an otherwise very gritty story.

Due to several culturally taboo situations, Suzy Asylum is recommended only to teens and up.

rating Aplus rating

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

excerpt

(Oliver learns about TJ and Desiree’s relationship through journal entries and several interrogations. The reader is given glimpses into their past with mini-chapters sprinkled throughout the book. This is a piece of one such mini-chapter showing TJ’s downward spiral, eventually leading to his suicide. What TJ writes on the bathroom stall walls—and himself—gives meaning to what was written on Oliver’s wall in the first book.)

TJ looked around the [bathroom] stall—his new room—the only one he still deserved. It was covered in writing and etchings, everything from gang affiliations to phone numbers to apocalyptic prophecy. He had already flushed so many things away. He could sit there forever and just continue flushing until there was nothing left—until he was completely empty.TJ took a pocketknife from his backpack and began adding to the art on the walls. My room. He looked at what he had etched into the metal and it felt so appropriate. So he etched it again into the other wall. My room. It felt good to destroy something. He cut into the walls over and over, in blank spaces and over other writing, until it lost its appeal: the cutting into metal. The rush had faded and TJ fought to get it back.

He skimmed the blade of the knife with his thumb, scratching lightly across his skin. Then he looked down at his bare arm resting atop his backpack.

The first cut into his arm was the worst. It wasn’t deep so it took a moment for the blood to pool. The second was a little deeper and afterward the rush began to return. It felt good to destroy something, especially something so personal. He had carved four letters into his forearm, the “o” looking more like a diamond, when the bathroom door opened. Blood was pouring all around his arm and dripping onto his backpack and clothes. He didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Nothing did.

There were several guys talking.

“Get out!” TJ yelled.

The bathroom became silent.

Then one of the guys shot back. “Who’s gonna make me?”

TJ’s self-induced rush was peaking. He stood up, simply let his backpack fall to the floor, and opened the door. My room. He stepped out of his stall and stood before three upperclassmen. His left arm was covered in bloody letters, dripping down to his hand, and he still held the open pocket knife in his other hand.

The three guys stumbled over each other on their way out the door.

TJ locked himself back in his stall, determined to finish what he’d started.

 

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Check out book one, Provex City!

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: “When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls.” And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.

Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

 

 

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about author

Michael Pierce

 

I believe in a future where I will be able to write full-time, a picture I already hold vividly in my mind. It all starts with my debut young adult novel, Provex City. I love Harry Potter & The Marbury Lens, Tool & Elliott Smith, Dexter & Donnie Darko, bold coffee & amber ale. I also love dabbling with writing music and recording, with no illusions of ever making it a career. I am ecstatically married and the lucky father to a beautiful baby girl.

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Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (5 stars)

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publisher: Dutton Books

Pages: 316

Published: January 10th, 2012

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Let me begin by saying that I originally had no intention of reading this book.  But then I had multiple people tell me that it was quite possibly the best book they’ve read all year…or ever.  Okay.  So, when I finally decided to pick up the book (which took several trips to the bookstore, since it always seemed to be out of stock), I was prepared to be disappointed.

I wasn’t.

THE FAULTS OF OUR STARS wasn’t the best book ever, but it deserved the massive hype.

It’s refreshing to read a book where the teenagers aren’t dumbed down into hormonal, whiny, selfish, depressed characters.  In most YA books, the focus is either on survival or romance.  In THE FAULTS OF OUR STARS, the characters already know they’re going to lose the battle against cancer, so all they have to do is wait.

I liked the philosophical debates between Hazel and Augustus.  Considering that they don’t have any of the normal teenage activities to keep them busy like schoolwork, prom, or sports, it makes sense that they’d spend more time pondering the reason for their existence.  My older brother was like that in high school.  He had no interest in “normal” teenage activities and spent most of his time doing calculus for fun and debating scientific theories.  What I’m saying is that there are teenagers out there that do talk like they do in THE FAULTS IN OUR STARS, so I, personally, had no problem with the philosophy or SAT vocabulary.

The author has a unique writing style that implies a lot and ventures into territory that most authors wouldn’t dare.  His characters are politically uncorrect and make jokes that are only funny in inner circles.  If you were to read sections of this book aloud, out of context. people will think you’re a heartless bastard.  How dare you make jokes about a one-legged man or a blind cancer kid!?

The romance between Hazel and Augustus is atypical, yet touching to witness.  They know that when one or both goes that there’s only a handful of people that will remember them.  They don’t have the time or energy to change the world, but I think that the author managed to make these characters immortal in his writing.  People will remember THE FAULTS IN OUR STARS long after the war with cancer is lost.

BTW, I didn’t cry.  I did laugh through parts and the ending made me sad, but it takes a lot to make me cry.

rating A

(I purchased this book from my local bookstore.)

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Book Review: The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan (5 stars)

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The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit

Pages: 416

Published: August 6th, 2013

Links: Amazon |  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Goodreads  |  Website  |  Twitter

TWO MEN WHO HATE EACH OTHER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE MISSION. A LEGEND IN THE MAKING.
A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

The Riyria Revelations and The Riyria Chronicles are two separate, but related series, and you can start reading with either Theft of Swords(publication order) or The Crown Tower (chronological order).

In THE CROWN TOWER, the author writes a prequel to the Riyria Revelations series worth reading first.  It’s clear that the author has spent a lot of time in this world and the world-building is exceptionally well crafted.  There are a few instances of magic, but it’s as low key to the plot as GAME OF THRONES.  The real focus is between the characters and their adventures.

Although several of the scenes take place within a brothel, there is no graphic sex or violence (minus a quick and early scene with Shane).  However, there are some characters that are violent towards women, so younger audiences might not be able to handle the subject matter.

Royce might possibly be my all time favorite anti-hero with his mysterious demeanor yet chatty outbursts.  I love how opposite he is from Hadrian and how their differences drives them as much apart as together.  Royce doesn’t get a POV spot until late in the book, but it is worth waiting for.  His complexity and view of Hadrian are hilariously different from Hadrian’s view of Royce.

For some silly reason, I thought Hadrian was a dwarf at the start of the book.  I think it was the name.  It became clear sooner rather than later that Hadrian is a full sized, very muscular male.  It I were ever to have a crush on a fictional character based on actions alone, then Hadrian might be the guy.  Tormented by his past, yet Hadrian is strong, skilled, loyal, and kind.

Gwen’s narrative is less compelling than Hadrian’s.  Her only purpose in life is to prepare for a man she’s never met.  She’s determined but naive.  She doesn’t feel as fleshed out as the male characters of the story.  Even her nemesis, Grue, has a more sympathetic and solid character.  I was surprised how sympathetic he ended up being, considering that he openly strikes women.  For him, it’s business.

When it all came together, I was surprised how well everything meshed.  It’s a predictable ending, especially for current fans of the author, though the narrative is so compelling that it still shocks the reader.  Like: “Hey!  Oh, right.  That was suppose to happen.”  If you’re a new fan or old, then THE CROWN TOWER is an excellent starting point to this epic fantasy series.  Highly recommend for all fantasy lovers.

rating A

(I received a copy of this book from the publishers/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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Short Story Saturday #19 The Hunger Chronicles

short story saturday meme book review

Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books around 100 pages or less that are self-published/small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!

If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email.  If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.

the hunger chroniclesThe Hunger Chronicles by Tes Hilaire

Publisher:  Self published

Retail Price:  Currently free on Amazon.  $.99 on Barnes & Noble.

Links:  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Twitter  |  Website  |  Facebook

Pages: 60 pages (119 with preview for LIFE BITES)

If you remember nothing else, remember this…

The nightmare is here. There is no way out. Even death isn’t an escape because it is death. And chances are it’s already taken everyone you know.

…You’re on your own.

Just because the face is familiar doesn’t mean they won’t kill you. Hiding won’t help. And it’s past time to run. They’re already here. And hunger is the only thing they feel.

Review:  THE HUNGER CHRONICLES is a collection of short stories based in a zombie apocalyptic world, however this novella goes way beyond all expectations of zombie stories.  I was flabbergasted by the amount of character depth and how instantaneous I connected with each of the main characters.  The voice is so different for each one that I it doesn’t even seem like one author wrote THE HUNGER CHRONICLES.

By 50% I knew I had to go see if this author wrote any other books.  By 100% read, I was ready to purchase the companion book.  And, then I discovered that it was her only book not available in paperback.

Each story is stand alone.  The stories combined paint a hopeful yet morbid picture of what society has turned into.  I think the ‘hope’ resonating through each story is the reason why I found the novella so irresistible.  In most zombie books, there is no hope.  There is no plan for redemption.  But, each of these stories, particularly show that there might one day be an end to the zombie epidemic.  Now, forgive me as I beg the author to release LIFE BITES on paperback for me.

 

Don’t wait!  Pick up your copy while it is FREE on Amazon.

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