I’m sorry to have to do this, but Lizzy’s Dark Fiction won’t be accepting any review requests until at least the end of the month. I recently found out that my dad has Hodgkin’s lymphoma stage 4. I need to spend some time with my family and since they live 2000 miles away, I won’t have internet access for two weeks while I’m gone, minus mobile. I won’t be leaving for two weeks, so I’ll try to get everything scheduled for things that will happen while I’m away. Please forgive me if I forget anything, as I’m still a little frazzled right now.
I am a little behind on sending out prizes for giveaways. Don’t be alarmed if you haven’t received your prize yet. They’re coming.
I do have some fun things planned for my Blogiversary in 3 days, so please come back and check out what I have planned.Read More
Another (#1) by Yukito Ayatsuji
Genre: YA Horror
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
English translation released March 19th, 2013
In the spring of 1998, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Kouichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?
Another was originally written in Japanese and it’s obvious that this version is a translation. There are riddles that lack the natural flow of language, since I’m sure that there are some words/meanings in Japanese that don’t exist in English. I felt as if I was reading a water-down version of a masterpiece. That said, this must be one of the creepiest novels I have ever read. It has the aura of an old-school Hitchcock psychological horror blended with a modern Japanese horror such as Runju, which I had to DNF cause it freaked me out so much. There’s a rawness to the story that makes me believe that a child dictated to the writer rather than the writer inventing it. There are some instances that felt put in for ‘shock’ value that didn’t do anything for me. I think it was because Sakakibara was so emotionally distant from the other characters that it was difficult to get attached to them before they died.
The narrator’s purpose isn’t clear and first and by the end there are still many unanswered questions. I do think that some of the information presented in the narrative could have been left out, as it is re-explained in Sakakibara’s POV. Of course there are other things present in the narrative that without being mentioned would make what happens to Sakakibara seem much less spooky. I do like the blend of the two. I feel that they both were definitely needed to tell this story.
There is a few things that happen in this book that remind me that I’m dealing with a different culture. I wish there was even more emphasis on the culture because I found it nearly as fascinated as the storyline.
Even though this is a series, I felt that the ending was completely satisfactory as a standalone. I’ll probably read the next installment when it is translated. (B+)
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)
‘Yukito Ayatsuji’ is the original creator of Another.He is a famous mystery writer and japanese detective fiction. He is also one of the writer that demands restoration of the classic rules of detective fiction and the use of more self reflective elements. He is married to Fuyumi Ono ,author of The Twelve Kingdoms and creator of Ghost Hunt,Juuni Kokuki and and the author for the other few manga.
Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Open Road Media
Released March 27, 2012
Daisy has an electrifying secret that could save her life—or kill her
High school sophomore Daisy Jones is just trying to get by unnoticed. It doesn’t help that she’s the new girl at school, lives in a trailer park, and doesn’t even own a cell phone. But there’s a good reason for all that: Daisy has a secret, unpredictable power—one only her best friend, Danielle, knows about. Despite her “gift” (or is it a curse?), Daisy’s doing a good job of fitting in, and a gorgeous senior named Kevin even seems interested in her! But when Daisy tries to help Vivi, a mysterious classmate in a crisis, she soon discovers that her new friend has a secret of her own. Now Daisy and her friends must deal with chilling dreams and messages from the beyond. Can Daisy channel the power she’s always tried to hide, before it’s too late?
I liked the concept of the novel, but there were some things about this book that completely failed. First off, the opening chapters were confusing. It felt like a romance brewing between Daisy and Vivi (because of Daisy’s obsession with the other girl) and then it abruptly switched to a very long explanation about Daisy’s powers. There were quite a few instances where the author said what was happening rather than letting the story reveal the plot. I felt very confused for most of the book, as the reader is left purposely in the dark about very important plot details. I would have rather had some of it revealed early on into the book so I had some inclination as to why the characters acted like they did.
I understood that Daisy wasn’t able to use electronic devices, but how could she have survived high school with the high usage of computers in the classrooms. Students today can’t avoid computers or televisions or calculators. Not in a public school. I don’t buy how someone could have not figured it out. How does she type up her reports? Pass a typing class? Research in the library (most documents are electronically recorded)? Also, it did bother me that Daisy could use a house phone. It was a normal everyday phone. If the author wanted to be somewhat plausible, then she would have made Daisy use a rotary phone. It’s still electronic, but it doesn’t run by a computer chip like every other gadget that Daisy messes up.
The subplot involving Mr. Terry wasn’t handled logically. There is no way that a male teacher would ever house a female student in his home, especially without getting explicit permission from the principal. I have several family members who are teachers and if these exact circumstances happened to them, they might house such student over-night if that student was on the street. But only a single night and come morning the principal would immediately be made aware of the situation. If the student wouldn’t return home, then CPS would be called. And even if the teacher was stupid enough to house a student of the opposite sex at their home for a prolong period of time, once the principal was informed of the situation, the teacher would immediately be suspended fired for not notifying the principal. It doesn’t matter what the person who ‘told the principal’ said. The simple fact is that the teacher was not acting appropriate.
I just don’t think that there was enough research done to make sure that the events that happened in the book were plausible. And for that reason alone, I think I have to give this book a very low rating. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, but it’s one that I surely won’t ever recommend. Still, the author does show potential to write a much better book. I might still check out another book by Andrea Buckanan. (F+)
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads.)
Andrea J. Buchanan is a New York Times bestselling writer whose newest book is the young adult novel GIFT. Her work includes The Daring Book For Girls, Mother Shock, and six other books. Before becoming a writer, Andi was a classical pianist; she studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music, where she earned her bachelor of music degree, and continued her graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, earning a master’s degree in piano performance. Her last recital was at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. She lives in Philadelphia with her family.
Disclaimer: This review is a little more personal and author orientated than my typical review. I am an
stalker fan of Anne Rice and she’s been my favorite author for over 15 years. I haven’t double checked any of my facts so please feel free to comment and correct me if I’ve made an error. Any assumption I’ve made about her are purely based on my own opinions and despite my disappointment in this book, I still absolutely adore her.
The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
Released February 14th, 2012
The time is the present.
The place, the rugged coast of northern California. A bluff high above the Pacific. A grand mansion full of beauty and tantalizing history set against a towering redwood forest.
A young reporter on assignment from the San Francisco Observer. . . an older woman, welcoming him into her magnificent, historic family home that he has been sent to write about and that she must sell with some urgency . . . A chance encounter between two unlikely people . . . an idyllic night—shattered by horrific unimaginable violence. . .The young man inexplicably attacked—bitten—by a beast he cannot see in the rural darkness . . . A violent episode that sets in motion a terrifying yet seductive transformation as the young man, caught between ecstasy and horror, between embracing who he is evolving into and fearing who—what—he will become, soon experiences the thrill of the wolf gift.
As he resists the paradoxical pleasure and enthrallment of his wolfen savagery and delights in the power and (surprising) capacity for good, he is caught up in a strange and dangerous rescue and is desperately hunted as “the Man Wolf,” by authorities, the media and scientists (evidence of DNA threaten to reveal his dual existence). . . As a new and profound love enfolds him, questions emerge that propel him deeper into his mysterious new world: questions of why and how he has been given this gift; of its true nature and the curious but satisfying pull towards goodness; of the profound realization that there are others like him who may be watching—guardian creatures who have existed throughout time and may possess ancient secrets and alchemical knowledge and throughout it all, the search for salvation for a soul tormented by a new realm of temptations, and the fraught, exhilarating journey, still to come, of being and becoming, fully, both wolf and man.
I worshiped Anne Rice throughout most of my childhood and teen years. She’s part of the reason horror is my favorite genre and why I was so confused when Stephanie Meyer transformed vampires into a creature much more cuddily than I imagined. I learned what an eunuch was from her book Violin and I received a crash course in the human side of pedophiles in The Vampire Armand with the character Marius. I learned that not all heroes are as nice and obedient as Prince Charming when I met Lestat. I can give you a plot summary of every single book she’s written ten years since reading because I’ve read each book so many times. As a fellow ex-Catholic, I found most of the religious part of her books very relatable to my own life. She was a Catholic and so she understood that it’s not only a set set of beliefs, but also a culture that is VERY different from ‘Christian’ religions. There’s a dark side that few people (until recent years) have ever spoken out about. I followed her books through her husband’s death, and though it pained me to read Christian literature through her words, I understood why. I waited semi-patiently for her to return to the genre she writes best.
The Wolf Gift is her most recent novel. Her first supernatural book since her husband’s death. Though it is a return to the supernatural, it has a completely different feel from her earlier novels. Throughout the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witch series, her characters are searching for redemption and carry around guilt from their supernatural association. Even Lestat (a name she made up!) was on a constant search to discover the meaning of his life and his purpose. Reuben in The Wolf Gift doesn’t search for the meaning of his ‘gift’. He’s complacent with what he has gained and I can’t help but think that this reflects a peace Anne Rice has finally found within herself.
There is not one thing technically wrong with the story. All the descriptions are vivid and present a mural of each scene for you to enjoy. The employments, histories, and personalities of each character are so carefully selected that every minor detail about even the minor characters impacts some part of the plot. If Anne Rice mentions a piece of lint on a character’s suit, you better believe that it will be important chapters later. The mythology involving the well-known werewolf is so unique that I can imagine that like her vampires, future authors will borrow pieces of it to use in their own story. I wish that she’d write a book just on mythologies of various creatures because her creativity is limitless. My problem with the book is that I didn’t enjoy the characters or the plot. To be completely frank, werewolves are my least favorite mythological creature. Even Anne Rice couldn’t make me fall in love with them. I did get a sliver of the old Anne Rice with the werewolf sex scenes. I love how she remains faithful to her characters despite the taboos and reveal exactly what they do and never sugarcoat it (bestiality with this book).
Plot — Reuben is a wealthy kid who has no ambition in life. He gets bitten by a werewolf (Wolf Man), finds a woman with zero personality and ambition, and seeks to hang out in his newly acquired mansion with her for the rest of their life. Reuben is about as unlikeable of a character as you can get – although, his woman, Laura is plain intolerable. She’s obedient distant, and there for the sex scenes and moral support. Nothing else. Every time the characters got together, it felt like a bunch of old rich folk chatting over tea and I can’t relate to those type of people. The characters in The Wolf Gift all feel middle-aged instead of the coming-to-age characters of her other books. Reuben is only 23, but he sounds and acts like someone decades older.
My rating of this book reflects how I think of it against every other book Anne Rice has ever written. If I were to judge this book with her expert craft in storytelling and description against the average novel I’ve read, it would be four stars. But this isn’t a four star novel for Anne Rice. She’s written a dozen books that I’ve enjoyed so much more than this one. This book is a two star book compared to the rest. Somehow, I like it even less than Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Even after reading this book, Anne is still my absolute favorite author. I’d love nothing more than to meet her in person. I used to think about visiting New Orleans just to stalk her home in the French Quarters, but thankfully the opportunity has never come up (otherwise, I might have a mug shot). I don’t think that she’s lost her ‘touch’, but I do think that she no longer strives to horrify readers with books about stories too dark for mainstream. If you’ve never read a book by her, I strongly recommend her Mayfair Witch series. I loved it more than the Vampire series, although they’re more popular. If you’re a lifetime fan of hers, I recommend skipping this book. Take one of her other books off the shelf and re-read it and immerse yourself into the tragic but beautiful world she creates in each book.
(I borrowed this book from my local library. It is probably the only book she’s written that I have no plans to own.)
(Information and picture borrowed from Goodreads.)
Anne Rice (born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien) is a best-selling American author of gothic, supernatural, historical, erotica, and later religious themed books. Best known for The Vampire Chronicles, her prevailing thematical focus is on love, death, immortality, existentialism, and the human condition. She was married to poet Stan Rice for 41 years until his death in 2002. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history.Read More
Sword from the Sky by R. Janvier del Valle
Released July 27th, 2012
It is the Dark Ages. A Dying Sun Sets in the West. Man Becomes Shadow.
Out of this Sunless Land Will Rise a Legend…
Of the Starborn Child,
Of the Great Cosmic War,
Of the Sword of Power…
It has been twelve years since the guardian star came down from the sky, hunting the elusive child destined to save the ailing sun. The end of the land is nigh, while darkness slowly rolls over the looming horizon. The creeping fog harvests an army of beastly children, and the sun will set one last time over the kingdom of Bune.
But there is hope. And it comes in the form of a twelve-year-old boy with a wooden leg, chosen to save the sun from its untimely death. Unfortunately, young Luca has no idea that he’s the one.
And so the heart-pulsing adventure begins when Luca and his friends Vehru and Pabru are thrown into a frightening world of creatures both deadly and beautiful, caught in the middle of a cosmic war between gallant stars and darkly shadows. Follow Luca as he comes of age, struggling to advance in mastery at the prestigious Blade School of Daví while pining for the heart of his affectionate crush, Lereh of Heatheranla, all before being confronted by a mysterious woman, claiming Luca as her own and bringing with her an army of shadowed warriors bred solely for one purpose–to bring about the death of the setting sun.
In Book I of his debut series, R. Janvier del Valle plummets the reader into a long lost history of myth and legend, forming a rich and complex cosmic tragedy sure to resonate with both the hardcore and casual reader of heroic fantasy literature. Discover an epic war between the earthly and heavenly, enjoying great feats of valor and courage with edge-of-your-seat duels and engrossing action as the author brings together the worlds of the natural and supernatural in this fast-paced, epic fantasy thriller!
I forgot over and over again while reading this book that it was self-published. For the first half of the book, it rivaled some of my favorite fantasy series. The author is so comfortable in the fantasy world he created that the scenes he wrote are effortlessly visualized and the magic realistically portrayed. My first genre love was high fantasy and reading this book makes me want to pull out all my old favorites and re-read them. I will absolutely read another book by R. Janvier del Valle.
The characters are refreshingly original and several of them have defects that impact the plot. Vohro is a deaf Mastro of the Davinians, who not once heard what shouldn’t have been heard. His deafness has caused his sight to increase at an exponential rate, almost to the point where he sees things before they happen. Luca is a crippled prince that relies on a wooden leg to carry him from place to place. He’s slower than all the other characters in speed and restricted in movements, but his ambition drives him further than the others. And there’s fantastic opportunity for quotes like this one:
“Wow, and yet he calls me the thief,” said Jeskun. ”All right then, go break a leg, you two.”
Luca angles his face at Mastro Jeskun.
“Err–well, you get — you know what I mean,” said Jeskun, his cheeks reddening.
One of my favorite parts about the book is the dialogue. There’s enough slang for it to feel realistic, but there is neither archaic terminology nor modern words to date the book. I truly despise high fantasy books that use modern slang, as it draws me away from the story with every utterance.
A thing that did bother me was the names Lereh and Luleh. The names are so similar (plus they’re twins so in all the same scenes) that every single on of their dialogues blended into one in my mind. I can’t even tell you which one likes Luca. The woman in red I couldn’t help but picture as Lady Melisandre from the Game of Throne series. Red hair, red clothing, and a very bad person to piss off. Lady Melisandre does flesh out in future books, yet this lady in red has a fairly stagnant personality.
The fault of this book was that the action scenes are too gimmicky to be believable. For the battle at 50%, I didn’t quite understand how the Mastros were notified and responded so quickly, so it felt too contrived for me to believe it. And the final battle scene felt like it borrowed all the cheese you’d find in a fantasy movie. A book requires slightly more realism than a movie and that final battle didn’t make any sense how it unfolded. In fact, if you don’t consider what happened in that battle, I would have given this book full marks.
(I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest critique.)
(Author information and picture borrowed from Goodreads)
R. Janvier del Valle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Theological Studies from Spring Hill College. He has worked in the Advertising, Marketing, and Communications industries for over ten years and has taught a number of classes in philosophy and theology to adults as well as children.
He resides with his wife and daughter in Georgia. When he isn’t writing, he’s sleeping. And when he’s not sleeping, he’s spending time with his family, running, hiking, hitting the gym, watching movies, buying overpriced one-sixth scale action figures, studying and reading philosophy and theology, and most of all, collecting pointy, shiny things that tend to gleam of a certain silver whenever exposed to the moonlit eventide.
“In necesariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.Read More