Red Lace Reviews

SPOILER ALERT!

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson

The Devoured - Curtis M. Lawson, Jason Sprenger

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Desperately on the trail of his missing son, an old Confederate solider will stop at nothing to reunite the remnants of his family, even if he has to slay every trace of Utgard filth along the way. Finding unexpected companionship in a young orphan, the gunslinger closes in on the god responsible - Thurs, he who hails beyond the stars.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Curtis M. Lawson for giving me the opportunity.

If I wasn't so pessimistic about book to movie adaptations, I'd say this would make a brilliant film - in fact, I imagined it as such; Lawson's stunning use of words did wonders to create vivid imagery inside my head. I found myself thoroughly impressed by the intelligent, highly attractive prose, and by how each scene seamlessly came together to tell an exciting yet ultimately tragic tale. Despite being a short novel of less than two hundred pages, it expressed itself with a lot more substance than other full-length books I've read. A part of me wishes it was longer, but I realise it may have lessened the overall impact.

The character of the "old man" was probably the pinnacle; he was so utterly badass, and believe me when I say I don't use that term lightly. Smart, skilled, and completely unapologetic about his paternal devotion - he's someone I won't forget anytime soon. I'm not saying he was a perfect man, far from it, but he owned every scene he was in. He was the sort of being that would draw an entire room to his entrance, and not just because of his (suspiciously) large size. Emmett, however, whilst starting out with good intentions, truly lost his way as he succumbed to the unsavoury power of Utgard. I could relate with him in a way, in that I'm well aware of the pain of watching a parent slowly fade away. Nothing compares to that feeling of hopelessness, and if given the same opportunity, I'd have likely welcomed the same solution.

Moving on from that painfully honest bit of information.

As with all books I read, I tend to look deeper into things; for meaning in aspects that are probably meaningless. Both Emmett and his father shared a particular trait of being tall, bulky and at times, questionably strong. The fact that Utgard's a stronghold of giants, I was left contemplating a connection. Could it be, that the old man's ancestry is intermingled with otherworldly blood? If anything, at least, I can have my theories, incorrect and insignificant as they may be!

I can't say the Old Western theme has ever appealed to me, but I now feel inclined to seek out similar tales. Of course, few, if any, are going to have such a factual and accurate setting seeped in unforgiving folklore. The historic element of the American Civil War worked wonderfully with the touch of Norse and Native American mythology, and I was impressed with the knowledge poured into it. Either Lawson did his homework, or he simply knows his stuff. I also loved the brutality of the surrounding world- cannibals and witches, oh my! Seriously, sometimes witchcraft should be punishing, rather than glamorous.

In conclusion: The unnamed hero has been one of the coolest characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about. Whilst including both history and the supernatural, Lawson makes a short novel seem like an epic best-seller.

Notable Scene:

"Thought - critical, logical thought - that's what separates a man from an animal. That's what keeps us progressing further and further. That ability to think our way around any and every problem is why the Devourers fear us."

"And what about memory?" Hank asked.

"Memory is what keeps us strong in the toughest times, and it's what prevents us from becoming monsters when our hands are forced to kill. It's the memories of love and happiness that let us come home from the dark places where the world sometimes takes us. It's memory that lets a man find the strength to fight the gods themselves for what's right."


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/02/13/the-devoured-by-curtis-m-lawson
SPOILER ALERT!

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts - Paul G. Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's something wrong with fourteen-year-old Marjorie Barrett - her mental health seems to be declining, yet treatment from medical professionals isn't helping her one bit. Desperate to pull through the tough time where money is dwindling and Marjorie's sanity is failing, the Barretts decide to sign up for a reality TV show, where the "possession" of their daughter can be documented every minute of every day.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

This was Horror Aficionados' January group read! Once again, a book that wasn't even on my radar, and I never expected to like it as much as I did. What I assumed to be a story of a typical, run-of-the-mill possession, turned out to be a very thought provoking tale about the hardship (and destruction) of one family. It also touched upon several controversial subjects relating to religion and the patriarchy that dominates the Catholic faith. There certainly was a narrative here that presented itself in the form of blog posts that were periodically included amongst the chapters, and whilst the posts themselves were rather long-winded, they added a contextual dissection of events, often including an abundance of pop culture references. I found that my appreciation of these interruptions varied - one moment I enjoyed Karen's rambling, the next I felt disinterested.

Back to the story itself - Merry's account of her younger self instantly pulled me in; I found how her eight-year-old mind worked to be endearing, despite at times seeming to have a great deal of maturity for her age. What she, as a child, had to go through was nothing short of appalling, but rather than some evil force being the obvious villain, it was a lot more close to home, or should I say, close to Merry.

The plot heavily relied upon the interpretation of the reader, as it's essentially up to you to make your own conclusion as to whether Marjorie was indeed inhabited by some demonic entity. As for me - I leaned toward the non-supernatural explanation. There was just nothing concrete; she didn't display anything remotely inhuman. Sure, she appeared to be knowledgeable, but as stated in the book, she owned a laptop and spent most of her time on it, and we all know that literally anything can be found on the internet if you know where to look. I believe that she was a very sick girl that was exploited for money. A blunt way of putting it, but it's the ugly truth - in the face of serious financial struggle, her parents made a decision to forgo conventional medicine, and instead used their own daughter's aliment to save their nice house. What thus followed was the moronic reliance upon a priest and the accommodation of a TV crew. If you haven't already guessed, I one hundred percent believed the parents to be at fault. They were the villain.

Of course, I could be completely wrong in my thinking and theory. Perhaps Tremblay's intention was indeed to tell a tale of a devilish presence residing within a teenager. I'd just have to question the lack of paranormal activity if that were the case; unlike The Exorcist, there was nothing that couldn't be rationally explained. It also crossed my mind how unreliable Merry was as a protagonist. She admitted to making things up, to embellishing the truth, and it struck me that she probably had some mental issues of her own. The very last twist only proved how inaccurate her initial account turned out to be.

In itself, fellow reviewers tend to either love or hate this one. In no shape or form would I describe it as poor, quite the contrary. I couldn't wait to pick it up and continue reading, despite little happening in the grand scheme of things. It's not full of blatant scares and gore, but a slow burn of the foolishness of humankind.

Also, reality shows are stupid.

In conclusion: A different sort of horror; one that made me think and question everything. My first experience of this author, and it won't be the last!

Notable Quote:

"On the last day, their father left the house to go find food. He told Merry not to open the front door no matter what and to stay out of the basement. Hours passed and Merry didn't know what to do because Marjorie was coughing and moaning and speaking gibberish. She needed food, water, something. Merry went down into the basement to look for some secret stash of food that they'd forgotten. Instead she found tips of the growing things poking out of the basement's dirt floor. She watched them grow and grow, and as they grew, they pushed up a large shape out of the dirt, and it hung off the growing things like a broken puppet. It was the body of their mother."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/02/11/a-head-full-of-ghosts-by-paul-tremblay
SPOILER ALERT!

Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE

Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Dave Benton, Jack Bantry, Tim Curran, Rich Hawkins, Duncan Ralston, Glenn Rolfe, Bracken MacLeod, Kristopher Rufty, Adam Millard, John Boden, Matt Shaw, W.D. Gagliani, George Daniel, Elizabeth Power

Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The definition of "splatterpunk" should give an idea of what this volume entails: characterised by the explicit description of horrific, violent, or pornographic scenes. With an abundance of monsters, gore, and sexual tones, it stays true to the nature of the sub-genre. My advice? Just be prepared.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I never would've known about this analogy had I not joined the one and only Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, and took part in their January group read with author invite. Being new to the horror sub-genre of splatterpunk, I expected that it would probably involve some disgusting and gruesome "what the hell did I just read?" moments, and I quickly discovered that I was correct. I enjoyed some stories more than others, however as a whole I consider it a great piece of horrifically violent and graphic literature.

Listed below are each individual tale, starting with my most favourite. I also thank the authors for being so pleasant to talk with, and for donating all proceeds of sale to charity.

Check out my blog to see the Q&A with some of the authors.

* * *Hellscape by Rich Hawkins* * *
Even this quick glimpse into this forsaken world left me completely engrossed. A twisted, bloody apocalypse? My cup of tea any day of the week. The Cthulhu-theme fascinated me, as I've actually never read any such thing before (I know, shame on me). Even though it was short, and seemed to drop the reader right in the middle, I was immediately pulled into the maternal desperation of the protagonist, as well as that drive of trying to keep the madness at bay. I loved every gruesome detail and the sheer brutality.

* *Feast of Consequences by WD Gagliani & Dave Benton* *
Victims fighting back - it's a particular favourite of mine. This one actually began as rather typical, reminding me of the whole Texas Chain Saw Massacre trope, yet it turns into something else entirely. The inclusion of the "Sasquatch" type monsters made my skin crawl, as I suspected the family had a rather... intimate relationship with them. Definitely images I didn't need in my head.

*Extinction Therapy by Bracken MacLeod*
This one made me think a lot, admittedly a bit more in comparison to the others. There's a belief that we all have it inside ourselves - an animal, primitive, left over from our ancestors. What if that gets tapped into? Even good people can do bad things, and we all have unwanted thoughts that seep to the forefront sometimes. I found Spencer's journey to be fascinating, and I couldn't help but want a full-length novel.

Darla's Problem by Kristopher Rufty
A classic, isn't it? The monster in the closet, or beneath the bed. I really liked this one and, sure enough, the monster creeped me out! It made me think about how we so readily dismiss children when they speak of monsters or other such creatures that don't fit into our notion of reality - no wonder it's been the plot of so many books and movies. Also, poor Darla.

They Swim by Night by Adam Millard
If it's one thing I love, it's mythical creatures, especially when an author involves their own personal twist. Ana was portrayed with such raw sexuality, and I loved the hold she had over the men in her midst. This one in particular sparked my imagination; I couldn't help but ponder over Ana's origins. She struck me as an apex predator, but also something more. Ancient. Malevolent. Like at one point in time her kind were respected and feared, yet they faded away into nothing but stories and superstition.

The Passion of the Robertsons by Duncan Ralston
Well, this one certainly took religion to the extreme, and delved into the sheer insanity of two individuals. Being an atheist myself, I wouldn't want to get on the Robertson's bad side. Really, I think the couple would've been better suited to the good ol' days of when atrocities in the name of religion were the norm. Whilst I enjoyed it for what it was, it lacked in something to really make an impact. The ending was good, though!

Limb Memory by Tim Curran
To think if we lose a part of ourselves, a piece of our soul goes with it. Despite the added humour to the otherwise eerie tone of this one, I didn't favour it as much as the majority of other readers. Disembodied limbs generally don't interest me all that much.

Molly by Glenn Rolfe
My partner has pediophobia and while I often tease and laugh, I admit that there's something unsettling about dolls. It's the uncanny valley, right? I was left with a lot of questions regarding Molly, and I would've liked a bit more information for the events that transpired to make sense. She was able to clean up after her own murders? I felt like there was perhaps too much telling and not enough showing.

Melvin by Matt Shaw
I admit, this one made me laugh, but there was a tinge of discomfort below the absurdity. The detail was disturbing - such as Claudia's skin darkening from her insides being torn apart. It makes me shift in my seat when I think about it even now. The ending? Well, it was a great ending. However, despite my brief flare of enjoyment, I can't say I favoured it highly.

Only Angels Know by George Daniel Lea
I get the impression this was supposed to be intentionally hard to follow - as it was a piece written by the character himself, of whom was a very intense and unstable individual. I had to read it twice, and still I'm not sure exactly what happened. I know he had a procedure done to himself, but it doesn't give details, and I'm left wondering if that's the whole point. Whatever we come up with in our minds might be bad enough, if not worse than what George Daniel Lea intended. Was he getting parts of himself surgically removed? Getting parts of other people stitched onto him? Maybe I just missed it completely, and it's lost within his jumbled rambling!

The Going Rate by John Boden
Honestly, this one was just too short for me to get a real feel of anything. I liked the idea, of a neighbourhood having to give their pound of flesh to appease the demon, but I was left with too many questions. Like a flash, it was just over, offering what I felt like very little. I would've loved this had it been longer.

In conclusion - There's something here for everyone, but be aware of the pushing of limits. It's not pretty!

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/02/07/splatterpunk-fighting-back-by-multiple
SPOILER ALERT!

Morium by S.J. Hermann

Morium - Stephanie Needleson, Hermann S. Füeßl

Morium by S.J. Hermann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst walking home one night, Alexandria and Nathan catch sight of something crashing to earth - some form of rock. Letting their curiosity get the better of them, they decide to seek out the object, but little do they know their lives will forever be changed. Gaining supernatural abilities, they find themselves having the power to rise up against the anguish that dominates their daily life.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to S.J. Hermann for giving me the opportunity.

Having been bullied in school, this book instantly struck a chord with me. The sad thing is, everyone's bullied in one form or another during those supposed "best days of your life" - a term I constantly heard as a child. I'm a firm believer that whilst school is necessary, it's a toxic environment through and through. There will always be a pecking order, and those at the bottom will undoubtedly suffer. Hermann did a good job in depicting the misery in which Lexi and Nathan had to endure. The descriptive writing, despite containing a few errors, successfully communicated their array of emotions. I genuinely felt for them, especially Lexi and Stacy, who were the most likeable.

At first I did feel sorry for Nathan, and his downward spiral toward villainy - he experienced power for the first time in his life, something able to stop his daily torment. The temptation was just too great, the pull too strong. It makes sense that he'd direct his anger toward those who wronged him, or those that prey upon the weak, but my pity for him evaporated when his actions became too indefensible. This is where I'm going to address the elephant in the room, but first let me state that I've no issue with adult themes. Many of the books I read delve into the uncomfortable and extreme, so the subject matter itself isn't why I'm bringing this up. You see, being labelled as "young adult", I admittedly found the rape and sexual tones to be a bit much. There's no question that it was sexual abuse; not only did Nathan feel up both Lexi and Stacy against their wishes via mind control, he also used his mind to impose his will upon a teacher, his intention to lose his virginity to her right there in a classroom.

I've read other reviews, and none have mentioned this aspect. Hell, someone complained about the swearing and self-harm, which absolutely baffled me, when there's literal murder and rape. The tone of the book was thus exceedingly dark, I'd even say too dark for younger readers. But I get it, I do - Nathan was a teenager, having never explored his sexuality, and suddenly he became intoxicated with otherworldly power. It's not far-fetched to believe a teenager would do horrid things with that sort of ability, but it sets the book, as a whole, to a more mature level. I suppose this relates to the name of the book itself; "Morium" in Latin meaning "character" and "morals". Hermann creates two similar people with the same adversities, yet they go down very different paths.

Moving on from that main critique of mine, the plot itself kept a decent pace, yet at times I truthfully felt a little bored, but being a relatively short book, it was easy enough to get through and reach the parts that piqued my interest. "The Gift" certainly did hold my attention, specifically the voices in Nathan's head.

It was very obvious that it would have a sequel, possibly even a third book following, as nothing at all was concluded in the end. I was left wanting to read more, to find out what happens to Lexi, her father Robert, Stacy and even Nathan. I always appreciate when an author pulls me in, in such a way that I'll gladly carry on with the story after the initial instalment.

In conclusion - My interest wandered off at some points, but when it got down to it, I enjoyed it. It's however my opinion that the themes included are more adult than young adult.

Notable Scene:

As the dust settled over the ground, a streak of energy made its way to every root buried under the burnt soil. From the root hairs, to the secondary roots, the energy travelled through the epidermis, flowing through the xylem and phloem, making its way up the stems and filtering into the leaves. The cell structure of the plants and vegetation altered as the mysterious energy invaded each of the plant's individual cells. It was photosynthesis on steroids and the exchange took place within seconds.
Energy flowed through each wilted plant, bringing them back to life, stronger and healthier than ever. The once decimated twenty-five-square-foot area where the objects had fallen was now teeming with scores of new life.


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/02/03/morium-by-s-j-hermann

January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
SPOILER ALERT!

Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Dark Space - Kevis Hendrickson

Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Zyra Zanr's in a lot of trouble when Helship II is bested by an unknown ship. Much to her dismay, her time as the most lucrative and notorious bounty hunter comes to an abrupt halt, when instead of being the hunter, she becomes the hunted. Captured and aboard the Lillith, Zyra must somehow escape the clutches of a rival gang - one that make their hatred for her no secret.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

If it's one thing I love, it's intelligent protagonists. All too often, certainly more often than I'd like, main characters outright refuse to use their brain, and it infuriates me. This leans more toward female leads, as for some reason being "tough" usually means that they can't keep their trap shut; mouthing off at everyone and everything, usually making their predicament ten times worse. This is where I have to give credit to Hendrickson, as Zyra's not stupid. She was well aware of who had the upper hand, that is, until she gained the advantage. This was a satisfying change from the first book in the series (Rogue Hunter is currently five instalments long, with four more planned), as she often gave in to her impulsive tendencies. The obvious progression of her character was something I favoured, as I find characters that learn from mistakes to be less predictable and more engaging.

Similar to Inquest, there were very little people on Zyra's side; most needed serious anger management, and perhaps a lesson or two in empathy. The aspect of bounty hunting was further delved into, and the ugliness of it wasn't shied away from - on the contrary, as rather than being even remotely glamorous, the team had a difficult time merely getting by. Their struggle did nothing to warm me to them, however, as their actions were nothing short of detestable. The torture they inflicted upon Zyra was horrific, and perhaps even a little reckless considering she was wanted alive. I wanted to think better of Drake; a seasoned hunter, he had to act the adult amongst his bickering subordinates, yet he wasn't much better in the scheme of things. They truly were a dysfunctional group of people that were pathetic in terms of professionalism.

Despite everything that happened to Zyra, she was still able to turn it around. This made me wonder about her, and if her incredible knack for survival was intentionally far-fetched. The extent of her wounds were stated to be pretty severe, so much so that she was apparently on the verge of death. I know one of the rumours about her was that she wasn't entirely human, and I began to contemplate that possibility more and more. It went beyond mere skill, when she was able to successfully out-best the entire crew whilst dealing with that amount of injury. It could be that I'm wrong, though, and she's just that good. If that's the case, I'd thus consider her to be a tad unrealistic.

One thing I didn't quite understand, was the self-destruct mechanism on the ship. It seemed convenient only for the plot, however I suppose the ship itself was an earlier acquisition and had a prior function, so obviously certain features would've been left over from that. It's too bad the time limit it issued was less exciting than it should've been, because Zyra wasn't going to die - she's the main character and has natural plot armour. I'm glad Logos made it, though, and I wonder if he's going to be present in future books.

In conclusion - Zyra's quickly becoming a favourite of mine. Hendrickson does a great job in creating a brutal universe where everyone's out only for themselves. I can't wait to see where Zyra ends up next!

Notable Scene:

Drake was playing with fire. His every taunt stoked the flames in her heart, raising the heat within her to explosive heights. Zyra trembled, unable to check her rising anger at the pitiful sight of Logos. If Drake touched another hair on Logos' head, she would make him suffer.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/30/dark-space-by-kevis-hendrickson
SPOILER ALERT!

What Hides Within by Jason Parent

What Hides Within - Jason  Parent

What Hides Within by Jason Parent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clive Menard thinks nothing of it when he destroys some webbing whilst out kayaking - that is until he begins hearing a voice inside his head. Questioning his own sanity, he desperately tries to rid himself of the oddly feminine presence, but to no avail. The dark passenger is there to stay - or so that's what she continues to tell him.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Bloodshot Books for giving me the opportunity.

The blurb of this book instantly captured my attention. Just what could be more interesting than a talking spider living inside someone's head? I happen to love the little eight-legged critters, so believe me when I say I didn't hesitate to request this novel. Think of my delight when my request was accepted, and I was thus introduced to Parent's world, and more specifically, Clive's rather uneventful, mundane life; a life we can all relate to in some way. I liked Clive, despite him being a very negative and oftentimes selfish person. His inner monologue mostly consisted of insulting people, which added a nice touch of humour. I always appreciate when something I read makes me smile, and What Hides Within definitely did.

Other characters included Reilly; a detective with detachment issues, Morgan; the love struck best friend, and a questionable amount of perverted men. Okay, so there was two, but Derek was more than enough for me. Each and every one had their own very apparent flaws; selfishness, narcissism, the list goes on. I think they were intentionally depicted badly, to enforce Chester's motivation.

Speaking of Chester, she was the star of the show. The she-spider fascinated me in the way she was written; remarkably intelligent, manipulative, and deliciously deceptive. I admit, I had no clue of her intentions until the last half of the book. I consider myself perceptive - more often than not I can predict where the plot is going, but with Chester I was kept guessing with a multitude of questions coursing through my head. She certainly wasn't the typical baddie, and whilst she possessed obvious abilities and wasn't quite normal, she still only had the physical form of a small arachnid. Her weaknesses were made known throughout; she could just as easily be crushed like any other household spider, and that aspect so clearly fuelled her bitterness.

Naturally, I found myself wondering about her origins - where'd she come from? Just what, exactly, was she? She offered so little to Clive throughout, it nearly made me insane. That is, until this luscious morsel:

"In truth, I don't have a name. I am very old, descended from divinity. My kind was cast aside by a hateful ruler, before our fathers could name us and before our mothers could nurture us. Even so, we were giants amongst men, beings worthy of great reverence. But our creator had no use for us, and we were exiled, wrongly punished for our parents' sins. He chose not to destroy us, instead transforming us into these insignificant specks, forgotten by humanity and the omnipotent themselves."

You've no idea how many times I've read over that paragraph, in an attempt to decipher it. There's so much information in that small piece, and it's the most we get. My thoughts turn to Arachne of Greek mythology (Chester did mention this name), and my assumption is that Chester and her kind are descendants of Arachne, whom was cursed by a God and turned into a spider. The story of myth and Chester's description doesn't quite add up, however, so perhaps Parent added his own take. Either way, I took pleasure in trying to figure her out.

The plot was a slow burner - it focused on acquainting the reader with the characters and the relationship between man and spider, whilst sprinkling some mystery elements into the background. Despite not being action-packed, the build up to the explosive climax was no less exciting. When it came down to it, I wasn't expecting the last twist involving Clive.

In conclusion - I found it very enjoyable. The horror was subtle, yet superbly weaved. Considering the ending, is Chester's antics really done? I don't think so!

Notable Scene:

Had Clive been capable of even sporadic coherency, he might have feared the hideous being perched on his snout. The minute animal protruded like a wart no more than a third of an inch off Clive's skin. Despite its size and his heavily medicated state, Clive could easily make out what it was; a spider, but unlike any he'd seen before.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/26/what-hides-within-by-jason-parent
SPOILER ALERT!

Woom by Duncan Ralston

Woom: An extreme horror - Matt Shaw, Duncan Ralston

Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel by Duncan Ralston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally returning to the one place that's caused him a great deal of pain in his life, Angel hires Shyla - a prostitute that has no idea what's in store for her. Settling down into Room Six at the Lonely Motel, Angel begins their encounter with stories of that very room - terrible stories that Shyla finds hard to believe. Just what is Angel's motive? Shyla will inevitably find out, one way or the other.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

One thing's for sure - this one will stay with me for a while to come, it's even possible that I'll never forget it. It's seared into my mind, each and every disturbing tale that left Angel's lips. Despite becoming so engrossed in the twisted playground that is Ralston's imagination, I actually needed to take several breaks throughout and come up for air. I'm fairly new to the whole "extreme" side of horror, and whilst I enjoy the pushing of limits and whatnot, I feel small doses are best. Admittedly, one particular story actually caused me to feel a bit sick. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself having a strong stomach, but there's some things that just freak me out, and what transpired with Mary in "Woom" was one of those things. Perhaps it's because what Mary did to herself wasn't far-fetched at all; it's a very real thing that women in the world still do to themselves, or maybe it's just because I own a vagina and the descriptive detail offended my female parts.

Below are the respective parts of the book, and the "theme" for each tale.

Room 6 - Essentially the introduction, where Angel and Shyla first met. I admit, Angel gave off that serial killer vibe from the beginning, despite being all gentlemanly and polite.
Cram(ps) - What's the term? Stuff or swallow? Boy, this one was unpleasant to start with, but Ralston just had to add icing to the cake. It got considerably worse. (Drug muling, miscarriage.)
Pro(lapse) - Probably my least favourite of the lot. It didn't deal directly with Angel or Shyla, but added some rather bizarre humour. (Rectal prolapse.)
Woom - As I've already stated, this one made me feel sick. I don't even want to think about it anymore. (Bathroom abortion.)
(S)mother - It was Shyla's turn to share. I wasn't surprised at all by her account - someone in her profession would obviously meet all sorts. (Account of rape, asphyxiophilia.)
Man(nequin) - This was my favourite! I didn't see it coming. At first I felt sorry for Bethany, but she was absolutely mad as all hell by the end. (Mutilation.)
(Still)born Again - The climax of it all, and what a climax it was. I knew Angel had something in mind, but I didn't know just how twisted it was. (Rebirthing.)

I know a lot of people are put off by an authors intent to shock and disgust, and I'd agree if the plot suffered and was nothing more than fluff. I, however, think there was a clear, thought-provoking story here; one of hardship after hardship, and a person's tragic connection to a specific place. Angel was, by all means, a very traumatised individual that obviously needed professional help, yet I suppose, in a way, professional help is exactly what he received from Shyla. Do I believe the room itself had anything to do with it? Well, it was definitely odd that that specific room was the stage to most of the events, and considering the number of the room, it was implied something more was going on. I, however, don't think the room was "evil", or had any paranormal connections. Perhaps negativity just attracted negativity.

I was spurred on to do a bit of research of my own after finishing, regarding the rebirthing therapy. I love it when something I read prompts me to delve deeper into a topic I wouldn't otherwise be interested in, or even know about. Whilst Angel took it WAY too far in the end, the practice itself, specifically the blanket / pillow version, is heavily controversial. What's especially harrowing, is the story of Candace Newmaker; a ten year old girl who died during a seventy-minute session. I recommend reading about it, if you're into that sort of thing!

Originally I gave a rating of three, but I've increased it to much-deserved four. I'm glad I happened across this on Amazon!

In conclusion - Very well done, but not for the faint of heart. Includes highly sensitive material. I'll be reading more of Ralston's work in the future - something about the dark and twisted is addicting.

Notable Quote:

"You should always listen to that voice when something doesn't feel right. Always look for the red flags. Stop worrying about being nice, about making a scene. I know that now."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/23/woom-by-duncan-ralston
SPOILER ALERT!

Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds

High Moor 3: Blood Moon - Graeme Reynolds

Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Atrocities committed in the name of war. In this incredibly brutal finale, the world attempts to deal with the fact that werewolves are real, and oh-so-dangerous. Security measures are taken and, on both sides, death is dealt to those undeserving. As the body count increases exponentially, difficult decisions have to be made, and extreme action has to be taken.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

It's no secret that I absolutely adore this bloodstained trilogy with all my heart - each instalment elicited an abundance of excitement, thrilling me with every character and their often perilous ventures. Blood Moon proved to be one hell of an epic conclusion, even if it left me saddened because I just didn't want it to end. It's extremely rare that I consistently rate so high - usually I find highs as well as lows, my overall enjoyment changing, sometimes drastically, throughout a series, but with Graeme's wolf-tastic world, each addition kept me entranced. Not only did it maintain its strong quality of descriptive writing, it continued to surprise, delight and disturb me. There's actually something I feel I need to state, because it's been in my mind and, for me, it holds a lot of significance:

An author doesn't need to be a best-seller, or have a great deal of recognition to be a great writer. I believe it's our job, as readers, to discover the hidden gems out there, to bring acknowledgement to the stories that bring us joy.

It pains me to think of deserving authors going unnoticed, and not even given a chance by the wider community, but I digress. Let's get back to the review, shall we?

There's a lot of characters to keep track of and, I admit, returning after a year since reading Moonstruck was confusing at first. I found myself trying to remember who was who, but it swiftly returned to me the further I went. I daresay these novels are meant to be read in order; context plays a big part in understanding how the war came to be, not to mention the journey each character had to traverse to reach that point. Marie and John were undoubtedly my favourites, as despite being apart for most of the book, they had time to shine in their own individual ways. Marie had to step-up, become what she never thought she'd become, and John had to endure and overcome a great deal.

Of course, amongst the large cast, others stood out as well - Phil and his desperation to return to his beloved wife, and Daniel, who just wanted the best for the pack. Every single one had their own unique personality, and their own agenda that added a considerable amount of substance.

To tell you the truth, it was at times hard to root for either side. Both the human force and the werewolf pack did terrible, terrible things. Just who was the lesser evil? Well, I'm not sure, both were neck-deep in murky waters - the pack just wanted to survive, but in retaliation of their species being killed and imprisoned, they set upon a whole town of human civilians, either savagely butchering them, or turning them into moonstruck. This included children, so I can't quite say the pack was at all innocent in the situation. I felt a whole lot of dread right before that High Moor slaughter; I knew it was coming and the anticipation nearly killed me.

The ending I considered to be bittersweet. I understood why it needed to be so, but I still felt rather bad about it. It was, after all, a last resort, and I couldn't stop thinking about what all those people would lose. I almost had tears it my eyes, and that's another oddity, as most of the time nothing I read renders me so emotional, and if it does, that in itself makes it special.

One more thing, before this review comes to an end. A paragraph in chapter eighteen piqued my interest, specifically, this one:

On occasion, the she-wolf picked up the scent of fresh death in the air, and when the two of them happened across an old stone mausoleum, the air crackled with an atmosphere of malevolence that raised both wolves' hackles and forced them to back track to find another path around the place.

Is it possible that was a hint of another monster? Perhaps it was just me, but I got a vampiric vibe that I just couldn't shake! It's a little - a mere hint - but it certainly stuck out. Since it was confirmed that other creatures did exist, I kept it in mind to pay extra attention for any teasers, and I believe I may have found one.

In conclusion - I was lucky to discover this trilogy, and honoured to read it. Werewolf horror at its finest, and I hope Reynolds one day returns to this world. I'm sure it has much more to offer.

Notable Scene:

Where Amy's pretty face had been, there was only a bloodstained skull. The bone had deep gouges carved into it and Amy's beautiful blue eyes stared out of the gore at nothing. Her friend's body stood on its own for a second, then fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. Anna couldn't help herself. She turned to Matty and was met by a visage from the depths of hell. The boy's eyes were flat, reflective disks in the flicking candlelight. His face is distorted - the bone stretched into a snout filled with row upon row of razor sharp fangs. A mass of bloody flesh and muscle dangled from between those terrible jaws. They crunched once, then swallowed. Matty brought up a clawed hand and wiped his mouth. "Aye, she wasnae wrong. She did have a tasty face."

description

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/20/blood-moon-by-graeme-reynolds
SPOILER ALERT!

The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards

The Devil's Work - Mark Edwards
The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sophie Greenwood's thrilled to have been accepted into Jackdaw Publishing - a job she's dreamed of ever since childhood. Crushing down the dark memories of the past, she doesn't hesitate to jump right in; the work itself showing off her exceptional skill and experience. Paradise doesn't last long, however, as the mystery of her predecessor begins to chip away at her mind, whilst all things business and personal seem to be at risk.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

My first experience with Edwards was with The Magpies, which introduced me to not only his extremely direct writing style of telling rather than showing, but also his ability to create a sense of unease whilst writing about a situation that could be very real - the former I consider a bad thing, and the latter a good thing, thus the overall impression of his work strikes me as rather average. He likes to delve into the ugly side of humanity, which I appreciate, and raise the question of what people are capable of, and how badly we can treat our fellow man. He does it well enough in this one, despite things coming across as a little too far-fetched at times.

The setting was one of familiarity; the mundane, day-to-day routine of work, with a character who started off as optimistic and happy at having landed her dream job, yet over time became increasingly paranoid and troubled. I couldn't help but share in Sophie Greenwood's concerns, as after all, I was merely an observer to her side of events. Even I, at the beginning, accused Cassie of being the antagonist. She was the most obvious, yet we all know; the more obvious someone is, the less likely they're the actual culprit. Cassie became too obvious, yet there was still something about her, something off...

This is where I need to discuss Cassie, and the apparent reason for her dislikeability. I feel a lesson tried to be included, a moral to the story, and I'm honestly not sure it was executed well. To put it bluntly - it seemed ham-fisted in the representation of autism. I know it's a very serious developmental disability, and it affects how a person communicates with others, but Cassie was so boldly labelled as the villain for the majority of the book. It was heavily insinuated that if she wasn't the person trying to make Sophie's life hell, that she was at least a very questionable individual. To suddenly turn it around and say; "Oh, she was autistic, don't be so quick to judge!", was to me, rather poor storytelling. Am I supposed to feel bad or guilty about not liking her? This is someone who clearly flirted with Sophie's husband, and was in contact with him behind her back - not to mention the other things she did throughout. It occurs to me that perhaps I just didn't get the point, but I hope I've divulged my thoughts clearly.

I didn't suspect the actual perpetrator, the real woman behind it all, until she made her dramatic appearance. It was a twist for sure, but I was unfortunately left unbelieving. It wasn't rational enough for me - I certainly didn't click my fingers and have that "Oh!" moment. With such a build-up and from what I understood of Sophie's past, I expected it to tie together in the end, but it didn't. The woman's accomplice - fine, sure, fair enough. But her? I suppose the insignificant should never be ruled out.

I may have a few complaints, but I didn't hate the book. It was quick and easy, bringing with it simple entertainment. I enjoyed the shift from present to past; the friendship with Jasmine especially interested me, despite it ultimately having little relevance overall. I assume it was meant to serve as nothing more than a distraction. Sophie herself was unremarkable, and whilst I believed her selfish in some regards, I also tried to picture myself in her position. Imagine trying to be your best, yet some unknown presence threatens your attempt at stability. I'm pretty sure I would've handled it just as badly.

In conclusion - It passed the time and was easy to get through, however some aspects left me in disbelief. I hope I can give a higher rating to the next Edwards novel I read.

Notable Quote:

But for fifteen years - since she woke on the morning after her lost night, the hours she still kept locked tight in her memory box - she had carried a sadness with her. Sadness and guilt. It was like a splinter, buried so deep in her skin that she would never get it out. The impurity, the flaw, would be in her forever.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/16/the-devils-work-by-mark-edwards
SPOILER ALERT!

Stephen by Amy Cross

Stephen - Amy Cross
Stephen by Amy Cross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Forty years after her traumatic ordeal at Grangehurst, Beryl Seaton is finally ready to relive her past and recollect the events that have haunted her every day since. As a much younger woman, Beryl is accepted to be governess in the household of Doctor Elliot Brooks, her job to help his wife take care of their only son, Stephen. But there's something terribly wrong with Stephen, and it becomes inevitable that things could only get worse.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

If I ever thought that books could go too far, then I'd more than likely say that about this particular one. It's one of those stories that heavily relies upon the shock factor; it wants you to ask the question of what-the-hell-did-I-just-read? And I did, in fact, chew over that question myself, especially after the much dreaded, yet highly anticipated chapter twenty-eight. When it comes to this novel, that chapter is rather infamous - all you have to do is glance over reviews to see the affirmed revulsion. If that wasn't enough, then Beryl's own words should certainly give you an idea:

"Let me state this, then: I, Beryl Seaton, write the next chapter only because it is a true account of what happened. I take no pleasure in the telling of this tale, nor do I in any way recommend that anybody should read the following chapter. I shall set down the events entirely within a chapter of their own, so that any right-thinking reader can simply skip that chapter and go to the next..."

The entirety of twenty-seven is one big forewarning, but it's obvious that its intention isn't to deter us from the next chapter; its intention is to make us want to read it all the more. The whole plot has been leading up to that moment, so what could possibly be so bad, you wonder? Well, I'm not going to include the specifics, and not because it's a spoiler, but because I simply can't bring myself to type the words. It's truly disgusting, and if you're that curious, just read it for yourself!

As for the character of Beryl, I didn't find her at all dislikeable, but the writing suffered a great deal due to her personal narrative. I get that it's a retelling of her life - or the most horrific part of her life - and that at the time of documentation she's in her seventies. She's an old woman, and I'm fully aware that the memories of elderly folk just aren't the same, but the sheer amount of repetition in this book bothered me. Beryl states again and again how her younger self is naive and gullible. Those exact same words are recycled; as if they somehow gave us new insight every time they were written. Perhaps it really was to highlight her old age, or maybe it was merely to make the overall book longer. Either way, it didn't do any favours, as after all, Beryl's lack of real-world experience was integral; nothing would've happened otherwise.

Despite the faults that irked me, I enjoyed the plot for what it was; definitely eerie, and truthful in the ugliness of the situation. Let's face it, there's nothing pleasant about a dead child, and there's doubtlessly something morbid about treating it as if it were alive and breathing. As unsettling as it is, there's been cases of it happening in real life. Such a loss can indeed affect the mind, so Severine's madness was not so far-fetched.

However, I do think that it would've been better had some aspects been removed. Beryl's masochistic tendencies were out of place, and the scene with the apparition added absolutely nothing aside from filler. Anything paranormal played such a minor part, I wondered why it was there to begin with. It's like Cross tried to cram in too many things, and ultimately they didn't quite work together. Sometimes being much more simplistic has a greater impact, and I think this one would've benefited from it.

The ending also didn't make much sense to me. Why did she seem so goddamn obsessed with Severine? I understand the need for closure, but her attitude, like she was in love with the other woman, just seemed so out of character.

In conclusion - I found it to be pretty average. I liked the premise of the plot - it was creepy - but there were issues that got in the way. I'll not be adverse to reading more of this authors work in the future, though!

Notable Quote:

"It is astonishing how one can perform mental gymnastics and persuade oneself that left is right, up is down and so forth."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/12/stephen-by-amy-cross
SPOILER ALERT!

The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson

The Taste of Night - Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Joanna Archer, representing the Light-side Sagittarius sign in the Zodiac troupe of Las Vegas, continues to juggle her new-found life in her sister's body. Not only does she have to keep up appearances of being the sole progeny to the richest man in the city, she also has to protect society from the Shadow organisation hellbent on terrorising the innocent. Finding herself in a rather peculiar predicament, Joanna reluctantly makes a deal with a Shadow initiate; one that she might come to regret.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I've always been fond of the good ol' fight between good and evil, so the aspect of superheroes was definitely refreshing to return to. Whilst finding The Scent of Shadows to be rather average as a whole, I believed this instalment (Signs of the Zodiac series is six instalments long) to be a large decline - primarily because of the heroine herself, Joanna Archer. I personally love the first-person perspectives that dominate the genre; it gives an in-depth and intimate picture of the character, however it can be especially unforgiving if that character happens to be someone you dislike.

And boy, did I dislike her.

I'm a firm believer that characters should be flawed, because people are flawed, however there's only so much I can take when I can find very little redeeming qualities. Joanna repeatedly made the exact same error and refused to learn from it, instead putting herself and her troupe at risk over and over. I'm legitimately shocked how anyone could find her actions reasonable, and how anyone could consider her a good protagonist. Being vengeful is one thing, but being stupidly selfish is another thing entirely.

Let me give a rundown of her transgressions; the ones that bothered me the most. 1: She kept going off alone after the bad guy, with the knowledge that her enemy was stronger. Thus, he would obviously get the better of her and she would need rescuing by her team. This happened three times, if I remember correctly. 2: The gateway to the Light side's secret hideout, she compromised it twice (the second time she was well aware of her actions), and so put the safety of her group, not to mention children, at risk. 3: Due to jealously, she couldn't allow her ex-boyfriend to move on, so she forced herself back into his life, when he was just beginning to be happy again. And she spent a night with him, then disappeared again.

The third one bothered me the most, I think. This is a woman whose identity needs to be kept a secret, yet as soon as she caught a whiff of a new woman in Ben's life, she didn't waste any time to metaphorically urinate all over him. The fact is, she can't have any sort of relationship with him, she can't even allow him to see her physical appearance unless she uses a prepubescent's shield-mould-thing. Am I the only one that found it creepy, that she had sex with Ben whilst using that little girls essence or whatever it was?

I'm going to end the rant about our dear Joanna there, if I can bring myself to it.

I can't say I favoured any of the other characters either, except maybe Regan. She really did play her role expertly, and I daresay she'll be one hell of a villain for the team to battle in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what she has in store for the Light side. Sometimes you just have to root for evil, because in this case, the Light doesn't exactly offer anything substantial. I mean, what do we have? Hunter? Well, he took a page from Joanna's book; his selfishness actually resulting in someones death. I'm not a fan of love triangles anyway; I'd much rather he or Ben be removed from the equation altogether. Warren and Tekla's frustration throughout was understandable - they were definitely the adults of the situation.

The plot itself could've been better. I honestly expected the plague to have more of an impact, but it didn't even occur until a hundred plus pages. The focal point seemed to be Joaquin, and because of such the tone of the book was needlessly dark. Joaquin was portrayed badly; his entire thought process being about rape, despite him apparently being an avid collector of the comics. It was basically telling us he had depth, yet every time he was on-page he was constantly sexually abusing and / or harassing women. At one point he even yelled: "I will rape you, Joanna!", which in itself summed up his character perfectly.

I like the premise of this series, I do, but I got pretty sick and tired of Joanna's mess. I dearly hope she'll develop into something better.

The Touch of Twilight is the third book in this series, and was first published in 2008.

Notable Scene:

"Uh... good doggie?" I said, taking in the sight of an animal with the muscle of a bear and the angular ferocity of a wolf. He let a warning rumble loose in his throat, and the deep reverberation jarred through my immobile bones like a jackhammer through concrete.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/08/the-taste-of-night-by-vicki-pettersson
SPOILER ALERT!

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Lockdown - Alexander Gordon Smith
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alex Sawyer finds himself in Furnace Penitentiary; a pit in the ground, its sole purpose to cage away the youngest of offenders. The thing is, Alex may be a thief, and he may have broken the law, but he certainly doesn't belong in Hell. Facing a lifetime underground, of never seeing the sun again, Alex is determined to escape. Good thing he's made friends, for he'll need all the help he can get.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

This wasn't a bad book (the Escape from Furnace series is five instalments long); I actually quite enjoyed it on some level, however certain questions got in the way and became an obstacle I unfortunately couldn't bypass. Without sufficient world-building, I just couldn't fully appreciate the premise of the plot; it seemed too far-fetched to me, lacking in any form of realism. But this is a book, right? It doesn't need to be realistic, it's fiction, after all. Well, if a story's told correctly, if sense is made through the writing, then the author makes you believe, no matter if it's about elves and goblins or whatever else. Words are a tool to be used, to transport us to new worlds that in themselves need to work. This didn't work.

Sure, there was a bit of background on the world, and it touched upon why society believed it imperative to lock away children, but it was minimal and certainly not enough. Logic and reason just kept worming its way into my mind, asking why. Why create the most horrific prison for teenagers? Adults commit appalling crimes just as much, if not worse in comparison, yet this prison - this hell - isn't for them? Let's get the important facts out of the way, shall we?

- Each and every prisoner is there serving a life sentence. LIFE. I recall there being kids younger than fourteen.
- Inmates have zero rights. No visitation, no health checks, nothing regarding the law.
- They're killed and / or transformed into monsters regularly. Basically guinea pigs for the warden and his experiments.
- Oh, and they're all male. No females in sight. I can't say I agree with the exclusion, but I get this is supposed to be a book catered to young boys.

They're thrown away, forgotten about, and whilst I understand the "Summer of Slaughter" may have been a horrendous thing, the plausibility was severely lacking.

Moving on, before I just keep on repeating myself! Another thing that occurred to me throughout the chapters - this series is labelled as "young adult", however I found there to be sensitive material that younger readers could very well find disturbing; including the murder and abuse of minors. This isn't something that bothered me per say, but even I felt a chill or two down my spine at the horror elements Smith included with vivid description.

Despite my complaints and belief that it's extremely flawed, I didn't hate it. I kept wanting to read more, to see what would become of each and every character introduced. I found it interesting to read about Alex's range of emotions; from desperation, to fear, to that spark of hope. The place had an effect on the boy; weighing upon his shoulders until he felt he'd been trapped there a lot longer than the mere days in which was reality. Alex may have made mistakes throughout, but I found him likeable. He had spirit, and despite his mistakes in life, he had a good heart. He wasn't my favourite, though, as Donovan took that position. Older, more mature, he strived to take care of the group. I believed it was completely reasonable for him to question Alex's ideas, and for his mindset to be cynical. I actually felt something when he was taken - some sense of sadness.

Whilst some things got repetitive in regards to the writing (the same thing would be described in different ways, over and over, such as the voices of the "blacksuits"), it worked for me. A lot was able to be conveyed; the sheer ugliness of Furnace itself. The dogs, the "wheezers", and in general the frightening side of the plot, were all written superbly. I felt entertained until the very end, and the cliffhanger promptly made me buy the next one. I guess that was the intention!

In conclusion - I found it to be entertaining, however it failed in convincing me how Furnace could be allowed in any country. I'll be continuing on with the series, with the hopes of having a history lesson.

Solitary is the next instalment of this series, and was first published in 2009.

Notable Scene:

The monster was standing outside my cell, staring at me with eyes so deeply embedded in its shrivelled face that they looked like black marbles. The contraption that covered its mouth and nose was coloured with rust and verdigris, and this close I could see that the ancient metal was stitched permanently into the skin.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/05/lockdown-by-alexander-gordon-smith
SPOILER ALERT!

Blood Song by Cat Adams

Blood Song - Cat Adams
Blood Song by Cat Adams
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Celia Graves, bodyguard for hire, takes on a job to protect the Prince of Rusland (which in this world is a small kingdom located in western Ukraine), but little does she know the chaos about to befall her and change her life forever. Nothing could prepare her for a group of rampaging vampires, especially when one attempts to turn her, yet is interrupted. Thus Celia is stuck - an abomination - neither belonging, nor accepted, in human society, or amongst the shadows with the monsters.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I never thought I'd question my love of this genre (UF is what, after all, got me into reading at a relatively young age), but lo and behold, it actually happened throughout this excruciatingly long drag of a book. It wasn't even the typical cliches that bothered me; you know the type, the not-so-special protagonist turned special, the not-so-attractive woman that every man just happened to want. I can deal with the common urban fantasy tropes, because in the end it's ultimately how it's executed that deems how much enjoyment I get out of it. However, this one just didn't miss the mark, the mark was nowhere to be seen. I don't particularly like getting such a bad impression of the first in a series (Blood Singer is seven instalments long), but I can't exactly force myself to like it, either.

So, let's get into why I thought this book was rather poor. For starters, the blurb of the book gives reason to believe that the plot is centred around Celia's transformation, yet whilst it played a prominent role in the beginning - be it the looming threat of the mysterious vampire that semi-turned her - it's utterly dismissed when he's killed in the background by a character that has very little time on-page. As a result of this, not only was it misleading, but the story itself jumped all over the place and didn't seem to settle down.

I mean, for the love of God, don't intermingle plotlines if you can't do it well.

Next, there's the characters; the individuals we're supposed to connect with and therefore get attached to. There's nothing worse than feeling nothing for them, but sadly that happens when each and every one are written without depth. Sure, there were quite a few; the ex-boyfriend that was sort of the current boyfriend(?), the other male friend that sent tingles to her loins, the one heterosexual female friend, the older mentor-type that died within a few pages and the best friend that held a significant presence, yet wasn't even in it to begin with. Character death should be impactful, it should elicit an emotional response, but these people were lifeless; we weren't given time to even remotely acquaint ourselves with them before they hit the bucket. It's why I believe this to be a weak series debut - it's as if it was already several books ahead, and I'd somehow missed out on prior instalments.

Characters also had a tendency to disappear and offer no further relevance. There were multiple hints at a love triangle, however Kevin (the werewolf), played such a minor part, I quickly forgot about him. "John Jones" also could've been interesting, but he vanished early on and was never seen again.

Another thing that didn't sit quite right with me, was the whole Siren revelation. Why it needed to even be a thing, I have no clue. It added very little - basically, straight women will automatically dislike Celia, whilst men will want her and be inclined to do things for her. It's almost laughable. I'm not saying that Celia was a terrible heroine; in fact she didn't do much at all to either endear me to her, or to incur my disapproval. She had the normal attitude the majority of women have in these types of books, and moaned often about her situation - again, the usual traits.

There was one thing I appreciated, however. The dysfunctional family dynamic added an aspect I could grasp onto. It was nice, and true enough is a quote from a brief note at the beginning of the book:

"... for the most part, happy families do not make for interesting reading."

Anyway, in conclusion - I didn't enjoy this one. A part of me wants to give the series a second chance, that maybe it gets better over time, and that other part of me just wants to forget its existence. Initially I rated this two stars, because I wanted to be generous, but after a lot of thought, I'm subtracting one and leaving it at what I feel is appropriate.

Siren Song is the second instalment of this series, and was first published in 2010.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: http://redlace.reviews/2018/01/01/blood-song-by-cat-adams
my read shelf:
Red Lace Reviews's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

A Head Full of Ghosts
Splatterpunk Fighting Back
Dark Space
Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel
Blood Moon
The Devil's Work
Stephen
The Taste of Night
Lockdown
Blood Song
The Magic Cottage
The Awesome
Look Behind You
A Dance In Blood Velvet
Determined to Obey
Moonstruck
The Ritual
Storm Glass
Broken Heart
The Scent of Shadows


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