Publicat în April Fernsby, Uncategorized

A Deadly Delivery (A Psychic Cafe Mystery #1) by April Fernsby

Synopsis:

Karis Booth has had psychic abilities for as long as she can remember. But this is the first time she’s used them to solve a murder. 

Things are changing rapidly for Karis. As well as filing for divorce from her unfaithful husband, she decides it’s time to make peace with her estranged sister, Erin. With trepidation, Karis visits the café which Erin owns. To her great relief, Erin welcomes Karis back into her life with open arms. 

During their reconciliation, a young woman, Carmel, calls into the café with a bread delivery. As Karis watches Carmel, she experiences a strong psychic vision. She sees two shadows following Carmel. Only one of the shadows belongs to Carmel — the other belongs to the person who is going to murder her later that day. 

With help from her sister and an old neighbour, Karis does all that she can to find out who murdered Carmel. It doesn’t help that the investigating officer is an ex-boyfriend who broke up with Karis because he couldn’t cope with her psychic abilities. Despite this, Karis won’t rest until she finds the killer. 

Review:

We all have guilty pleasures that we try and try to stay away from, but eventually we just give up to and succumb into temptation. Don’t we? One of this guilty pleasures of mine are chick lit books. I know, I know. The stories are more or less the same every time, there are no „wow” events that would blow your mind and the scenarios are not bringing anything challenging for your brain to digest. But still… every now and then I start missing chick lit so much that my kindle gets filled up in 2 hours with 137 books that will probably remain unread for the rest of my life. Pretty much like when you’re going to the supermarket while hungry and end up with a whole cart of useless products that will expire and die in your fridge, completely untouched. Do I ever learn my lesson? Nope. But the good part is that… well, at least books don’t expire. And honestly speaking, the pleasure with which I finally read that one chick lit book (from the hundred that I got) is priceless.
This time, my spark of joy was A Deadly Delivery: a crime/mystery novel, with a touch of paranormal. Fast, well executed, with a little bit of everything. The main storyline follows the suspicions death of one of the side characters but on the way, we discover a background family story full of guilt and regrets, a romance that was supposed to be dead and buried but seems to blossom unexpectedly and a lot of charming and heart warming characters. There’s literally not a single thing that I disliked during the whole reading time.
One of the things that surprised me is the age of the heroine. I’m used to this kind of books to have young and innocent main characters, whose naivety accentuates the humor of the uncanny situations they end up into. And considering how easily manipulated Karis was during her marriage, initially I thought she’s just a young chick, just discovering her new inner strength along with her psychic abilities. The surprise came later, when I found out that she’s a middle aged woman, with an adult daughter even and that she’s actually having this wakeup phase way later than expected. All of a sudden, the story caught new shades and I was forced to rethink everything in my mind, from the look of the characters to the relations between them and to the impact that every action has on them. And weirdly, the story became even better from that point on.
There’s not a lot to tell about the book if I don’t want to give spoilers that would ruin your reading. If you’re in the mood for something light that will put a smile on your face, A Deadly Delivery is a good choice. It’s not a shallow story, it has a good background, some heartwarming moments and follows some deep topics that are somehow avoided in this genre: abusive relationships, difficult choices when it comes to sick or old family members, the way past events that seemed unimportant actually leave scars that are never erased, asking for forgiveness and allowing you also to forgive yourself, etc. It’s a bittersweet read, leaving you with a warm feeling in the end, but carrying you through some areas that normally you might try to avoid thinking about.
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Publicat în Scott McElhaney

ReMIND by Scott McElhaney

Synopsis:

Something’s not quite right at the ReMIND Nursing Facility in Rio de Janeiro. It seems that someone might have discovered the fountain of youth and he’s passing it off as a medical miracle.

Nineteen year old Donner has a little more than a week left to live unless someone miraculously finds a cure for the brain-eating virus he contracted. Dr. Khayyat has actually been experimenting on many patients with deteriorating neurological functions, not the least of which have been Alzheimer’s patients. As a matter of fact, his ReMIND program has been able to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and he’s excited for a chance to test that experiment on Donner.

Donner wakes to discover that the deadly virus is gone and that he’s by far the youngest person at the ReMIND Nursing Facility. Everyone around him had once suffered from Alzheimer’s and now they’re not only cured, they all have the mental sharpness and energy levels of their youth. They all might as well be the same age as Donner even though they still look like the senior citizens they once were. It’s only when Donner reaches out to his family back in Ohio that he starts to realize something isn’t quite right.

Review:

Ok, this is going to be a very… „mixed feelings” review. The novel got me so infuriated while reading it that I actually took a break, sketched most of it and then continued with the reading. This never happens unless I’m either mind blown or completely pissed off with a book. And the funny part is that from the 1 star rating that I was planning, all of a sudden, after that OMFG ending, I was sooo so tempted to give it 5 stars! I eventually settled for 3 just to make it even, to reach some sort of equilibrium between all the ups and downs of this story.

ReMIND is the story of Donner, a 19 year old young man who gets infected by a brain-eating amoeba and has only a few days left to live. Taken as an emergency case by a doctor who’s doing some experimental research on brain diseases, Donner wakes up in something that looks like a luxury nursing home for old people suffering from Alzheimer. But very soon, things start to look a bit odd at the clinic and Donner seems to have no ways to escape the paradise resort.

Although it will be a weird review, I decided to leave the negative parts the way I wrote them and get back with the update at the end of this text. Therefore:

***

EARLY READING impressions:

Oh god… there are so many wrong things with this story that I don’t even know where to start. And have u seen the rating of this book and the reviews?! Hooow? How in the world all those disturbing errors passed unnoticed or ignored by the readers who ranked it so highly? (Later edit: well, now I know. Once I finished it I was about to do the same).

• The whole story is extremely rushed. Such an original idea would deserve to be detailed in a much better way. Of course I do appreciate the fast pace and all the adrenaline that comes from that, but still. This gave me the sensation of a sketch more than a well polished work. Later on, what’s with the initial suspicion of Donner regarding everything? And the double-triple-multi-checking of information that characters offer? It is exactly the introduction in a new environment that should have been, yes, curious and maybe a little scary, but completely innocent and without any regard or suspicions from the protagonist.

• Where’s the doctor? A nurse maybe? Any medical practitioner? Ok, ok, I understand that the operation was a success, but really, you wake up after you were so close to death and you just go out for breakfast and make new friends? With nobody to be there when you open your eyes and start explaining shit? And no, the fact that a super sexy young doctor shows up later and you have a 5 minutes talk doesn’t really help.

• The protagonist’s sudden personality change is shocking. He does act and speak like a 19 year old teenager in the beginning, but few chapters later, he turns into this sophisticated old school preacher when he’s speaking to a charming lady 🙄

• What’s with the invasion of unbelievable beautiful chicks? Like.. I do get that looks are definitely a major point in life and in literature as well, but seriously, it just gave me the impression that the author itself is a horny 19 year old that didn’t have much contact with the opposite sex and that he’s transposing his fantasies into this book. He’s not. I checked his GoodReads profile. He looks older and normal ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

• Insta-love?! Really? Insta-love? I thought only female authors have this obsession, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I found this in novels written by male authors. Oh, and to make things worse… insta-love between a 19 years old guy and a 60 something lady. I mean… I might even accept the idea that he’s young and inexperienced and gets carried away easily, but I can’t think of something more unrealistic than an old woman making plans for the future after 2 hours of meeting a man, a 19 years old man!!

• What a… tsunami of details. Ohmygoood, the amount of details for every single thing that the characters see, wear, do, hear, or… or breathe! Of course, of course some descriptive passages are necessary but dear god, this was so exhausting that it became annoying from the first chapter. Add to this the fact that everything is going on fast forward and do the math… how much space is there left for the action to actually happen?

*

I’m actually feeling sorry to butcher the book so angrily, especially since usually I’m a very patient reader and most of the times, I’m trying to look at the positive aspects of the books I read and to go easy on the negative ones. But the more I read, the more I started bubbling inside and it became impossible to ignore one flaw after another.

I’m not intending to be unfair here, so let me acknowledge the better parts as well. Because there are some and for sure, they are good enough if they managed to charm so many readers.

• I’ve never encountered a similar idea in any of the books I read. So original, compelling and unexpected that it’s difficult to put the book down. You have to wake up early? Be a functional, well rested human being tomorrow? LOL. Forget it. You’ll sleep once you find out what the hell is going on in there, not a second earlier.

• I loved, loved, loved the originality of the first pages of the novel. Prologue… more prologue and a little bit more. Fun, refreshing and ironic in the good way.

• It took me a while to get used to the author’s writing style (in the beginning, BEFORE he turned his protagonist’s voice into an 18 century knight’s discourse) I can’t really figure why it felt a bit unusual in those first few pages, but looking back now, I should put this aspect on the list of PROs and not CONs.

***

LATER EDIT:

To be honest, there’s just one more thing left to add. The ending, guys. The last chapters of the book are overwhelmingly impressive. You’re completely blown away with the new information you’re getting and page after page, the shock increases. And yes, now I completely understand all the 5 star ratings. Because the ending is sooo good that it definitely makes you forget all the frustration that pilled up during the earlier stages of the story. Not that it just sweetens things up and makes you feel more indulgent with all the flaws. Hell no, it totally erases them from your mind. All the negative parts blow in a small cloud of smoke which leaves you thinking just about that damn ending. Nothing else matters and I’m sure that most of the readers will have the same feelings and keep the memory of ReMIND in that drawer labeled „Amazing Reads”.

Publicat în Johnny B. Truant

Fat Vampire (Fat Vampire #1) by Johnny B. Truant

Synopsis:

From the author of „Unicorn Western” comes a story of fangs and fast food…

When overweight treadmill salesman Reginald Baskin finally meets a co-worker who doesn’t make fun of him, it’s just his own bad luck that tech guy Maurice turns out to be a thousand-year-old vampire. 

And when Maurice turns Reginald to save his life, it’s just Reginald’s own further bad luck that he wakes up to discover he’s become the slowest, weakest, most out-of-shape vampire ever born, doomed to „heal” to his corpulent self for all of eternity.

As Reginald struggles with the downsides of being a fat vampire – too slow to catch people to feed on, mocked by those he tries to glamour, assaulted by his intended prey and left for undead – he discovers in himself rare powers that few vampires have… and just in time too, because the Vampire Council might just want his head for being an inferior representative of their race. 

Fat Vampire is the story of an unlikely hero who, after having an imperfect eternity shoved into his grease-stained hands, must learn to turn the afterlife’s lemons into tasty lemon danishes.

Review:

What a fun and refreshing ride this was! Read the book description please. See the feeling that you’re getting? Like… this sounds fun and original and perhaps without the usual cliches that you encounter in most vampire books. And yes, it’s confirmed! That’s exactly what the book is. The synopsis is not at all deceiving, you’ll get exactly what you’re expecting.

Reginald Baskin is…well… fat. There’s no other word you’d think about when it comes to describing him. You know how sometimes you’re labeling people under a single term? That charming neighbor, the cute grocery girl, the kind cleaning lady, the bitchy office colleague, the dumb gym trainer, etc? Well, everyone who’s ever met Reginald would probably have him in their minds under „the fat guy” stamp. His life is boring and mediocre, he has no friends, he hates his work, his colleagues, his body, he’s not special or interesting in any ways and nothing ever happens. Until that night when, by mistake, he’s turned into a vampire. And surprise-surprise! Nothing changes! Nothing. He’s still fat. Still sweaty and lazy and slow. He still loves pizzas and fried chicken. People still mock him. And he still hates his life. But when his existence is threatened, he might finally need to find some motivation under all those layers of fat.

I loved the story! So unexpected and fun and totally not something that you’ve read before! Especially since the general idea is that vampires are cruel, cold hearted and absolutely gorgeous creatures that would charm you even without the help of their glamouring abilities. And Reginald is exactly the opposite of that. I loved the fact that he doesn’t change in any way, that eternity seems to be just as lame as his everyday human life was. His social interactions get a small improvement, but even this happens on a minimal level and mostly because of external factors, rather than his own will of changing things. Probably the only thing that I didn’t really like was the way Reginald unveils some surprises about his new self in the end. But overall, I don’t have a lot of complaints. Thinking about it, what Reginald does even as a vampire, in order to save his life and the lives of his dear ones are exactly his human habits: reading and watching YouTube videos.

I liked the other main characters, even if the author is not giving a very detailed insight into their minds. You get a basic idea about their motivations, but most of the time, each character is somehow caught in his own story, dealing with his own problems and, most importantly, not giving up on their whole lives in order to help Reginald. In so many books the secondary characters are becoming sidekicks of the protagonists that you forget that they should actually have their own lives and you end up seeing them only as extensions of the main heroes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this is not the case in Fat Vampire.

There’s not a lot to debate about the novel. It comes with a bright idea, explores it in the best way possible, but it’s not a very deep or challenging story. It’s a fast and easy reading that will definitely cheer you up and offer you a new perspective of this overly used creatures that fantasy readers love obsessing over: vampires.

Publicat în Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss (Cold Kiss #1) by Amy Garvey

Synopsis:

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.

Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.

But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.

Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.

But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

Review:

I chose this book after I browsed through some GoodReads reviews and most of them were describing it as beautifully written, lyrical, heartbreaking, haunting, etc, etc. Plus, a lot of readers were mentioning how they cried while reading it more than they did in their whole life. And that’s exactly what I was wishing for. A book that would rip my heart apart, that would tear me to pieces and stick me back together, that would leave me breathless and make me live for a few days inside the protagonist’s mind.

And while I did enjoy going through the story, the book definitely didn’t reach the expectations those reviews created.

Wren is a teenager that inherits magical powers from her family, but is still pretty much witless of the way she can use the powers inside her, since they are a taboo topic in her house. So when her first love dies suddenly, she impulsively takes the decision to try and bring him back. Only that, of course, the… thing that she brings back is barely a shell of the boy that she loved. And slowly, day after day, she becomes more and more conscious of the fact that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

I loved how the author made a very clear difference between the flashbacks from the past, that illustrate the amazing relation between Wren and Danny and the present, when things are so wrong, but still tender, painful but still heart warming. Before Danny starts becoming a complete different being, in the first weeks after his death (and resurrection), he still holds most of the parts that made him be who he was. He’s still the one Wren loved more than anything, he’s still her comfort zone, still the one that makes all bad things disappear with only a hug. It’s only his need of her that starts growing in an alarming way, his increasing addiction to her presence that makes things worrying. And slowly, his memories that Wren was hoping to hide are now all surfacing, making him confused, angry and dangerous.

When the protagonist meets another boy that is also gifted in a similar way she is, and whom unexpectedly, seems to know what she’s done, it starts becoming obvious that she needs to fix the mistake that she made.

I loved the realistic feeling that the book offered, despite the fact that it’s a fantasy story. The magic has its own place, while life continues to be very normal in most of the ways. Wren has to juggle between hiding her undead boyfriend, going to school and a part-time job, not losing her best friends for good, following her mum’s rules and keeping a decent relationship with her family. And between all of this, she also has to deal with the guilt of falling for somebody else, while Danny’s new existence is revolving only around her.

Even if usually I roll my eyes when I hear about love triangles, the author did such a good job that it didn’t disturb me at all. Considering that Wren is only 17 and that her life is such a huge chaos, I didn’t find it weird or inappropriate that the new guy looks like the only light in the whole darkness. Plus, she’s mature enough to solve her own mess without turning to him as a damsel in distress. Or, at least, not more than she should. All her mood swings are comprehendable, all her drama queen moments are very much self explanatory because of the pressure that she’s holding on her shoulders.

I enjoyed the whole ride, I emphasized with all the characters and understood their decisions and motivations. I didn’t find any remarkable personalities in any of them, but they are all well written, without major flaws and give you the feeling that they could be any real persons that you could meet in your everyday life.

The strongest point of the book remains the romance. It’s sweet and surprisingly, comes in smaller doses than expected and makes you melt a little bit every time when you encounter it.

Of course the novel will have a different effect on each reader. But in the end, I believe it’s almost impossible not to like the story. Because what’s the biggest fear that we all have if not the fear of losing our loved ones? And so, just by thinking about it, all the actions and decisions of Wren become alternative realities of what each of us, the readers, might do in an imaginary world where death wouldn’t be the final step.

Publicat în Megan Crewe

The Way We Fall (Fallen World #1) by Megan Crewe

Synopsis:

It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. 

And then you’re dead.

When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

Review:

One of the never ending obsessions that I will always, always have are apocalyptic stories. And from all the world ending scenarios, the killing virus has always been one of my favorites (rivaling with zombie stories probably ^_^). Therefore, the moment I read the description of The Way We Fall, it instantly became a must read. And even if I only rated it with 3 stars, because of some negative aspects that I’ll cover later, overall, I loved reading it.

I haven’t check other reviews yet, but I’m guessing it’s very possible for a lot of people to be disappointed by this book. Contrary to what you might expect when it comes to an apocalyptic novel, The Way We Fall is not really a fast-paced story. The description sounds way more impressive or grand than the actual acts that are taking place in the world of Kaelyn.

Returning to live on an island with her family, the protagonist, a sixteen-year-old girl, has the usual teenager concerns: adapting to the new school, becoming a better person, making friends or getting out of her comfort zone. But what she doesn’t know is that soon, the so-called problems that she has are going to be a joke, compared to what’s coming next. Slowly, without any warnings, an epidemic infection starts making victims on the remote island. And all of a sudden, Kaelyn’s whole world shatters and all the people she loves and cherishes are falling victims of it, one after another. Being separated from the coast and isolated by the government, the survivors must find a way to discover a cure and in the same time, deal with the depletion of resources and with the rebellious groups determined to turn the disastrous situation into a living hell.

The absolute mind blowing fact is how casual and completely non-heroic the whole story is. Every single book or movie that treats the apocalyptic topic will have heroic characters that protect everyone around them, that keep their loved ones safe (and alive!) and manage to magically find the cure that will eventually save the world. But one question that’s always been in my mind is… if something like that would ever happen in reality, how ignorant would we be, how unprepared to deal with this and how easily would we all collapse? We are not heroes, we’d have no support from the governments that are probably incapable to deal with the chaos, we live in our protective glass bubbles that would suddenly explode into millions of pieces. Realistically speaking, we wouldn’t be able to save anybody, not ourselves, not our families or friends, much less the whole world. We’d literally be at the mercy of pure luck or faith, not able to do much except for maybe putting on a breathing mask, avoiding crowded places and some other small, irrelevant and probably useless safety measures.

And that, ladies and gents, that is exactly what happens in Megan Crewe’s novel! None of her characters is a hero. Not any of them is a former CIA, United Nations or FBI employee, to know what to do in case of disaster and to have higher connections that would save them. They are all regular people, with regular lives and with their hands tied up in front of the catastrophe they’re facing. So all they can do is help each other in modest ways, to organize themselves in the chaos surrounding them in order to get the feeling of a purpose, the illusion that they are doing something, whatever they can, however small that is, instead of just doing nothing and waiting to die.

I was surprised and I absolutely adored this new approach on the topic, it’s not something that I remember reading in any other books. The downside is that it doesn’t really offer a thrilling experience. There’s not a lot of action going on, there are very few pages that leave you breathless and craving for more. You can literally put the book down at any given time and then forget about it for several days. Of course you’ll still have a tingle of curiosity, but The Way We Fall is definitely not one of those reads that make you stay awake till 5AM in order to finish it.

There’s not much to say about the characters. They’re mostly colored in black and white, being either the good ones or the villains. Not a lot of substrate, not somebody you’d adore or hate from the bottom of your heart.

Of course, since it’s an YA book, there’s a love story developing and weirdly, it didn’t make me roll my eyes. I understand how, despite the catastrophic events (or actually because of them?), the surviving instincts would be accompanied by the need of fellowship and the feeling of belonging, in order to compete with the growing despair. Plus, there was nothing forced or exaggerated in the romance, no sudden Romeo and Juliet vibe, so the addition of the love story was welcomed.

If you’re ready for a slower and less impressive storyline than the usual end-of-the-world novels that you’re accustomed with, give it a shot. It’s definitely a fresh approach of the apocalyptic stories and if you’re not starting it with huge expectations, you might find yourself hooked on after the first few pages.