Book Review: Kind Nepenthe by Matthew W. Brockmeyer

Rebecca thought she’d find a hippie paradise when she moved to the desolate back hills of Humboldt County. A place to commune with nature and teach her five-year-old daughter how to live off the land, instead she discovered a nightmare.

Coyote is a washed-up pot grower. Strung out on pills and dealing with dropping prices and looming legalization, he wonders if it’s even worth it anymore.

Diesel Dan abandoned his son for a life of methamphetamine and prison. Now he wants to make amends. He’s going to be a grandfather. But his son is on the same dark road of drugs and violence that once consumed him.

These characters will come together in an explosive ending that will leave you stunned and breathless. But more than just a gripping horror novel, Kind Nepenthe is a deep examination into the nature of love and greed, lost ideals, and the essence of evil in one of the last frontiers of the American West.

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I liked this book, even though the horror didn’t really happen until the end. Diesel was a deadbeat dad, but he was trying to make it up to his son. Rebecca had a little girl who did strange things. They moved to Coyote’s compound with her boyfriend.

My favorite lines: 1) “Yes. But, Mommy, if there’s no such thing as ghosts, why do people say this place is haunted?” 2) Thinking about it left an emptiness in his chest, as if some inner part of him had grown hollow, like a rotten knot in a tree.

I enjoyed that the characters were not likable. It made the story feel more real that way. They were drug dealers, druggies, and/or pot growers. Drama had consumed their lives. But, I never quite understood why Rebecca couldn’t just leave. Why she couldn’t grow some balls and leave for her daughter’s safety? That was frustrating, but if Rebecca did the sensible thing, then there wouldn’t be a story. For me, the book didn’t pick up until Sunbeam disappeared. The mystery of did she leave on her own, or did something bad happen to her piqued my interest. The story got exciting for me when there were a lot of fights, arguing, and when ghosts were mentioned. Being labeled as horror, I was expecting to be scared while reading, but I definitely wasn’t.

I will say that the very end was chilling though.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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Book Review: Heart of a Hunter by Tamela Miles

*** I received a free copy in exchange for a honest review***

Life has never been kind to teen, Elle Connor. With a troubled home life, the gritty, violent streets of Los Angeles have become her home. She never questions her superhuman abilities until she encounters, in a fight or die situation, a guardian angel Tagas, who reveals her holy origins as one in a long history of demon hunters. She also has her eye on her attractive classmate, Brandon.

Problems arise when Elle finally realizes that life as a hunter is fraught with tragedies and is deeply lonely. Elle is presented with a choice – follow her calling from God as a hunter or live a “normal” life with love. Can Elle tip the scales in favor of what’s good or will she become just another casualty in the eternal war between good and evil?

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I really enjoyed this paranormal story. The beginning was full of suspense. A mysterious being wanted to kill the main character, Elle, as he watched her across the street. Soon, readers found out that the villain was named Pyro. The story switched between Elle and Pyro’s third-person point of views. There were no chapters, only scene breaks, which fit this short novella.

Elle became a demon hunter with the help of Tagas. The setting was in Los Angeles, which I thought was pretty cool. It was nice to see LA in a different light, instead of being superficial and only about celebrities. I really liked Elle and K.D.’s friendship, and the love scene between Elle and her boyfriend Brandon was cute and very sensual.

My favorite lines were: 1) He held her tightly in comfort for long moments in the darkness, the moon and stars in the clear night sky their only witness. 2) Her lips twisted in a private, cruel smile as her eyes settled on Brandon. 3) Hell would come to fear the name Elle Connor. 4) “Not feeling sorry for myself, just stating the facts.”

There was a lot of telling, which was to be expected because the story was a short novella–only 44 pages. Readers were told how much Elle loved Brandon instead of seeing it play out for awhile. Readers were told about the training Elle was going through instead of really seeing it on the pages. The telling didn’t distract from the story though; it just made the scenes move faster. I appreciated this quick read.

The story was full of conflict and tense moments. The demons Pyro and Cascadia really, really, really hated Elle and Tagas. For some scenes, I jumped out of my seat because Pyro was a very intelligent and worthy opponent. That end of the party scene really touched my heart, and I loved the twist regarding her best friend.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Real Illusions By Tanya R. Taylor

23784030***I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review from the Paranormal & Horror Lovers Goodreads group***

The mansion in the woods holds chilling secrets that have sauntered down throughout the generations. Trent Matheson, a victim of a brutal past he had absolutely nothing to do with is afraid of what lies within him. Struggling to live an ordinary life, he finds that the control he once possessed is slowly slipping away. The money, the power, the newly-found love…cannot subdue what is inherently a part of him. He is entering ‘The Season’ where he will be forced to face the essence of who he is in a fight for his very life.

Real Illusions offers a remarkable  edge where two storylines are intricately intertwined. It’s as if the reader is getting two books in one.

Let me start out by saying, this isn’t typically a book I read (so take my opinion with a grain of salt). I thought it would be more horror than paranormal/fantasy/supernatural (?)–I can never tell the difference between those. The book was okay. The story really didn’t get into ‘The Season’ or Trent going through his changes. I figured that was because the main character was confused and shocked with this new revelation, so readers were learning new stuff when he was. The story was interesting by showing the character’s dynamic with his co-workers and friends. Sounded like he was respected until…you’ll have to read to find out.

My favorite parts included the female main character. I loved her relationship with the little girl and her aunt when she moved to the United States. All this eventually tied into Trent’s life with a cool twist. The ending was my favorite; it was getting suspenseful, then it ended abruptly in a cliffhanger. I really wanted to see Trent find out the woman’s secret, but I guess that’ll be in the next book?

Overall, it was a good story. I just wish there would have been more showing instead of telling. At times the characters told what happened or what was happening, instead of showing it through a scene.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

Book Review: My Daylight Monsters By Sarah Dalton

I always thought my demons came out in the day, rather than at night. I’ve never been scared of the dark. I’ve only ever been scared of real things: getting ill, having injections, physical pain… death. Those are my monsters, not ghosts or vampires or whatever else can hide under your bed at night.

I was wrong.

The dark makes everything worse.

When Mary’s psychiatrist advises a short stay at a psychiatric unit, her worst nightmares are confirmed. How can she get better in a place that fills her with dread? When she meets the other patients, she begins to gather some hope, until she realises that the death toll in the hospital is rising without explanation. Something sinister stalks the corridors and maybe she is the only one who can stop it…

Mary has to confront the Things that she sees if they are to stand a chance. But will she survive a confrontation with death itself?

18626145I loved this 15 chapter book. It was told through Mary’s first person point of view. At 17 years old, she witnessed Anita die in a fire. Mary had to leave, otherwise she would’ve died too. I’m sure she felt awful, and I felt bad that she had to live with survivor’s guilt. This tidbit made me instantly care for her.

Mary was committed to a psych ward. There were interesting people there–Johnny, Lacey, Mo, and the doctors. It was cool that Mary had her guard up at first, then everyone started bonding with her. From this, she found out that Johnny had died. He’s a ghost. In fact, many patients next door ended up dead. I loved that the patients banded together to solve the mystery.

My favorite lines: 1) “Scary Mary. That’s what they started calling me–after the incident.” 2) The shuffling stops. Somehow, silence is worse. 3) “You’re betting on deaths?” I blurt out. “Isn’t that a bit…morbid?” 4) I don’t know anything about these subjects, and when I try to offer any kind of opinion, it’s so matter-of-fact and abrupt that I wonder about my tact and social skills. 5) You could say that it’s weird. That I’m weird. Because I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe in what I see. I see some strange things.

Sarah Dalton was great with the setting details. I could see the places and people vividly. This story was pretty suspenseful; I even jumped out of my seat in some scenes–when they sneak upstairs and a scary story is told, when Mary is locked in a room for an extended period of time, and when readers found out that the creepy killer knows Mary figured out everything and begins stalking, threatening her.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Interview With Hemanth Gorur, Author of Aymaran Shadow

I would like to welcome my special guest Hemanth Gorur, author of Aymaran Shadow. Please enjoy his insightful interview.

180722271.  Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

For aspiring writers, I’d say, do not write with the market in mind. Of course you need to do your basic research in terms of which genres are crowded and where are the white spaces. But you don’t want to be a me-too. Your work will soon get commoditized. If you want to set yourself up for the long-term, don’t be risk-averse but steel yourself for the hard grind ahead.

2.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love my readers and they’re what keep any author going. It’s no longer a publisher’s world. Readers carry immense power in saying what a good story should be like. They’re far more aware of and have strong preferences for writing styles that resonate with how they think, than used to be the case even five years back. Readers should come out in far more numbers and voice their support for their favorite authors, so that we can keep giving back what they love most – a good lip-smacking story to devour.

3.  What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?

It’s as much a question of ‘want to’ as it is of ‘have to’. With the unprecedented success of e-books and e-publishing, it is far easier today for self-published authors (most of whom prefer e-publishing) to devote more time and effort towards making readers aware of their work. You have more control over how you want to converse with your readers and what you want to be seen as. Traditionally published authors do not seem to have that kind of imperative bearing down on them. But if I’m really pushed on this question, I’d much rather just write.

4.  What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?

Paranormal/horror, psychological thrillers, historical fiction (for now). Trepidation and fearful excitement to my mind are the least explored of all emotions expected in readers when they read a book. I love bringing those to the fore. I love dabbling in human psychology. There’s nothing I dislike about the genre, except perhaps that it might get a little gory or twisted at times and may not be suitable for all ages/inclinations.

5.  What are your current/next projects?

I’m excited about my next. It’s probably going to be a historical fiction with paranormal elements and will be the second book in my Eternal Visitation Series. It’ll have a completely different plot-line as compared to Aymaran Shadow, which was the first of the series and was recently published.

6.  Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?

I love critique partners, but I consciously do not have too many. Ditto with beta-readers. I’m choosy about who I work with, and it’s for a reason – I need to trust that individual to identify with my entire vision for the book. End of day, writing is a very private affair – much like making love – you don’t want to be too promiscuous! That said, I love being part of anthologies, and in general shooting the breeze with fellow authors. There’s a lot you can learn by just talking to a fellow writer or genuine critic.

7.  How do you find time to write?

I’d ask myself what I’d do if I didn’t write. I’ll have a hard time answering that. So, for me, it’ s never a question of “finding time to write”. I’ll go so far as to say, I write because if I personally did whatever my characters do, I’d be incarcerated on an island in the Pacific! So you don’t want me not writing. Seriously speaking, I do it for a living so it’s not too hard to make time.

8.  Did you always want to become an author?

Not in my wildest dreams. But I’m glad I did!

9.  Is there any writing rituals you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?

Rituals…I think! 🙂 Not something I’m fond of doing if I’m not writing! Seriously speaking, I draw up excel graphs. I like to look at where I am and where I’m headed.

10.  Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?

Neither. I outline first and then throw my hair down for the individual chapters and scenes. A fellow-author once described me as outliner-meets-discoverer! Sort of an airline navigator doing the rapids!

11.  Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Never.

12.  Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?

Naturally, short stories. But they don’t give me the creative kick that writing a full-length novel does.

13.  While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?

Great question. Characters are always the illegitimate children of your persona as the creator of the character and the personas of those on whom you’ve modeled the character (if you have). There’s always a little bit of ‘you’ in your characters. Something really peculiar happened while writing Aymaran Shadow (and this is the subject of one of my future blog posts on the book’s official blog). At one point in the story, when my protagonist starts realizing who the real antagonist is among the two suspects, I was personally frustrated with her slow pace of realization. I remember almost chiding my protagonist: “you cannot be such a dope”. And that’s because I felt myself to be part of her, and I kept thinking I wouldn’t take such a long time if I were in her place. The other time it happened was in the climax, which is a bit gory, when I actually felt my protagonist’s intense fear and loathing towards the antagonist. So much so that I keep thinking I went overboard in my depiction of how the climax plays out. But thankfully, the reviews don’t say that!

14.  How did you come up with the title?

For Aymaran Shadow, this was the third title I “froze” after sifting through at least five more. The title, for me, had to denote the beginnings of the protagonist’s troubles, convey a sense of displaced time, and had to be subtly sinister without being too in-your-face.

15.  What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?

Aymaran Shadow is about a woman who is destined to be violated and brutally murdered in every lifetime (based on the concept of reincarnation or rebirth). As for the inspiration, this is precisely the subject of series of posts on the book’s official blog. Hop over to my blog for that!

16.  Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?

Book Review: Scary Mary By S.A. Hunter

Mary just wants to be left alone, but the cheerleaders, jocks, and ghosts won’t stop harassing her. When new student  Cyrus starts school, he tries to befriend her. That’s a rare thing for the school freak, but her unusual abilities put a rift in their budding friendship when she has to tell him that his home is haunted and not by Casper, the friendly ghost.

I loved this 14 chapter book. I’m a fan of sarcastic sense of humor, plus it was creepy in some scenes. It gave me chills. S.A. Hunter has an amazing talent with description, especially metaphors and similes–very original. The scenes were vividly displayed on the page, so readers could picture it in their head. It read like a horror movie.

My favorite scenes were: 1) the seance/Ouija board at Cyrus’s house 2) when Mary and Cyrus first meet at school 3) the way Mary nonchalantly had conversations with ghosts in her school. I enjoyed that the female characters were strong and independent, that they didn’t wait for the men to come to the rescue. When Mary and her best friend Rachel went on the mission to do an exorcism, it reminded me of Harriet the Spy–paranormal edition.

The scenes that made me jump/ the creepiest parts: 1) the seance/Ouija board at Cyrus’s house 2) Ricky’s ghost was not playing around. He was out for vengeance, so whenever he appeared, he gave me goosebumps 3) when the girls try to sneak into the basement, and the ghost grabs Mary by the leg.

The school aspect was very realistic, and I felt bad that Mary was bullied by Kyle (Cyrus’s brother) and Vicky (a popular cheerleader). I don’t condone violence at all, but I’m always ecstatic when the outsider can one up the bullies. But is there a reason Kyle’s extra cranky and aggressive? You’ll have to read to find out. I liked how Mary and Cyrus’s relationship was blossoming, but then he got creeped out by her powers. I liked that he wasn’t automatically okay with it. It made for great tension within the story.

My favorite lines were: “Mary felt bad for ditching him, but when Vicky was involved, it was every reject for herself.”, “Oh, let time do all the dirty work. The perfect slacker revenge.” and “It was funny how saving a boy from danger didn’t guarantee him liking the girl. It always worked for the guy in the fairytales.”

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Chastity- An Eternal Beloved Novel By R. Rodriguez

Chastity Ann Chadwick is a self proclaimed teenage femme fatale who lives in the small sailing town of Seaport Harbor. She’s a boy eater who uses pleasure to numb the pain of her unfortunate circumstances. Little does she know, she’s on a certain path to self destruction when one of her romantic escapades gets out of hand. Life as she knows it will never be the same. Her only solace comes from an unanticipated liaison with the new mysterious guy in school. Her hopes are shattered when she realizes her newfound life is not what it seems. She will only find redemption by searching for her own truth.

I enjoyed this 20 chapter book. It was told through Chastity’s first person point-of-view account, so readers get to be surprised, confused, delighted, etc. when the character does. Even though she’s the main character, I felt that I got to know everyone in the story–let me tell ya, there were a lot of villains (mainly her family). But that’s what made the story interesting, finding out the bad people’s motives.

I felt sorry for Chastity. Her mom and grandma made her feel worthless. Her own biological father wouldn’t claim her because he was in politics and her biological sister made it her mission to try to upstage her in school everyday and throw the abandonment in her face.  No wonder Chastity had low self-esteem.

Jared was my favorite character. I loved that he treated her with respect and tried to help her find her self-worth. High school can be difficult (some of the scenes made me flashback to my horrible moments in the hallways). I loved the angle that her boyfriend and his best friend were fighting over her affections, then she was like forget both of you, I’m moving on to the new boy in school.

My favorite moments were: at night, her stalker (boyfriend’s best friend) got too rough with Chastity in the car, Chastity meeting Jared at his auto shop, the ending.

R. Rodriguez has a talent with plot structure. There were no boring moments in the novel. In fact, towards the end, it really started to pick up. There’s a huge plot twist that I never saw coming! It startled me (in a good way). Wish I could give it away, but I can’t spoil the novel hee hee.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby