Monday, June 24, 2019

Mila's Flight (The Darkest Day #0.5) by Danielle Forrest

Mila Dragomirov had dreamed of being a spaceship pilot her entire life. And when she and her best friend, May Trace, enlisted in the military to fulfill that dream she lived and breathed for the moment when they’d pass their qualifying exams and finally be assigned to their own ship. Mila nailed her test and three days later on her 21st birthday, she was notified of her success. After a birthday dinner at her parents with May, the two young women head to town to celebrate on their own. That night after too much to drink, Mila stepped out of the bar for a breath of air and she is surrounded by a group of drunk men intent on assaulting her. As she desperately tries to fight them off something happens, her body shifts from that of a human woman to that of a tiger. She easily scares away her attackers.

Mila is horrified. She’d never had an inkling of an indication that she was a shifter, and that was not a good thing. Shifters are not welcome in this country. Hated, reviled, if discovered shifters are taken and locked up in concentration camps where who knows what happens to them.

Eventually returning to her former self, she slips back to her room on the base that she shares with May, packs her few possessions, and writes a goodbye note to her best friend, telling her she’s leaving and not to look for her. Mila has no real plan what to do next, just that she’s got to get out of there and find a place to hide…forever.

This is a prequel to Mila’s Shift, the first book in The Darkest Day series by Danielle Forrest. Very well written, it relates the emotional trauma of the characters affected by Mila’s surprise change and subsequent “flight” from society, her friends and family, and her lifelong dream of being a space pilot. The description of Mila’s life off the grid, living as a homeless person in a big city is sad and terrifying at the same time. The story is unique and the characters real. I highly recommend it – either read before as a prequel or after Mila’s Shift for the back story.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Virtual Insanity by Charlie Dalton

When one of their group of four best friends since primary school decides to get married, Georgie arranges the ultimate stag weekend at a new, high-tech, virtual reality game resort. But when the four friends arrive, doubts about the facility arise – the location is remote and the former military facilities grim and bare bones. However, when the resort staff demonstrates the equipment the four will be using for their adventure, the guys are all back on board and ready for play: the graphics are unbelievably real and the computer interface flawless.

The next morning when they begin their “mission” they are amazed by how real things seem and they successfully complete the first level of the game. But as they forge ahead, the scenario gets trickier and trickier, and the group splits up in order to accomplish a particularly tough task. And we all know … don’t split up…

Virtual Insanity is another great short story by author Charlie Dalton. Mixed in with an interesting plot, the characters are great, and the comradery among the old friends is a lot of fun. As I read I felt more like I was watching a movie. It was very entertaining and I read it in one sitting. I highly recommend this one!

Virtual Insanity is available for Amazon Kindle.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

NYV: Goth (New York Vampire #2) by K.D. McQuain

In the continuing story of Christian “Chris” Leclères, the East Texas boy turned by a rogue vampire, we follow his transformation from a denizen of the streets of New York to the poster boy of the Goth scene. The story of the rogue vampire, Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, is also steadily revealed in flashbacks until his timeline meets up with the current action. Characters from the previous novel make appearances throughout as well as the introduction of new and interesting ones.

This book has a lot of exposition but it is intermingled with action and resolution of issues from book one. As a caution, although these books have a young vibe, this second installment contains explicit sex scenes and some depictions of pretty graphic torture – not to mention the vampire violence, blood, and gore. Just saying, it’s not for the faint of heart nor the kiddies. NYV: Goth was a very good story and it sets up situations for future books that I will be looking to read.

NYV: PUNK (New York Vampire #1) by KD McQuain

The story opens in Mexico City, 1984, at a recently uncovered ruin of an Aztec temple. Itzel, a high priest, is performing a gruesome sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl, the old god of his people. The blood of the sacrifice runs down through the cracks and seams of the old structure to deep under the temple to what has lain in wait for centuries.

Fifteen-year-old Christian Leclères had lived all his life in the rural East Texas home with his mother. Home-schooled and never allowed off the home place alone, he is unaware of the workings of the world around him: no friends, no other family, no television, radio, telephone, or car. Their only visitor is Mrs. Brooks who came in her big Buick Electra to take his mother to town for groceries every 3rd Friday of the month. Christian knows nothing about his father or mother’s family other than they live in Louisiana. He thinks he remembers meeting his grandmother when he was very young but he’s unsure if that is an actual memory or one he’s developed from hearing his mother talk about it. For whatever reason, his mother’s family was devastated when he was born a boy rather than a girl.

On the eve of his 15th birthday, Christian’s mother has him perform a cleansing ritual, anointing his body with oils, and thanking God for his attainment of this milestone. The next day, Christian’s birthday, happens to be the 3rd Friday of the month and when his mother leaves to get groceries, he rides off on a bicycle he’d found in a shed on their property to clear his head and enjoy a bit of freedom while she’s away. He ends up lost and is eventually given a ride by a senior couple living the RV lifestyle. Talking to the couple, Christian decides to go to New York City. But before he can get on a bus to The Big Apple, he is attacked and stabbed in the chest by a creepy, old man. He is taken to the local hospital where he is patched up and begins to heal miraculously well. He begins to have nightmares or visions from the viewpoint of his attacker killing more people. Terrified, he escapes the hospital, makes his way to New York, and falls in with other kids his age living on the street. He does not, however, escape the monster in his dreams.

The descriptions of the life and times of the punk scene were most interesting. The New York City setting with detailed street information was fun. Also, it was interesting and entertaining to note the changes in our culture, trends, and technology - payphones, boom boxes, cassettes – present in the 1984 time frame. Bravo to the author for these touches; they were fun. The weaving of Chris’ life and the visions were frightening and intense. There are sexual situations and descriptions in the story that make this one a story for mature readers.

This is a very different sort of vampire story: the vampire element not being the major focus of much of the novel, yet underlying and being the cause for much of the action. The addition of Aztec angle was new to me and I liked that. This appears to be a first book in a series. There are a lot of unanswered questions and plotlines left hanging by the end of the book. I look forward to the next installment to see where those go. I recommend this book for its young adult, coming of age theme, its depiction of the 1980s punk scene, and the unusual Aztec storyline.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

Almost a cliffhanger ending!

So some of the members of the Expedition 12 team have appeared back at their homes, or in the biologist's case - the empty lot she used to go to for solitude. The Psychologist who we learn was also the Director of the Southern Reach agency itself is not among the returned. In the absence of the Director, John "Control" Rodriguez, has been assigned to the agency as a "fixer." He's to find out what is going on at the Southern Reach and report back to a handler known as the "Voice" by a secret cellphone. The Assistant Director, Grace, and many of the other staff are understandably not welcoming. The Director seems to have been revered and many, Grace among them, are still waiting for her to return.

The members who have shown back up from Area X remember almost nothing about their time there. They do not know how they got out of Area X and back to their homes (or empty lots.) It's all very mysterious, confusing, and then there are creepy staff members and strange shrines to who-knows-what in closets, drawers, and hidden rooms.

Book 2 quietly sneaks up on you as you try to unravel the secrets of Area X, the Southern Reach, and even Central. I kept listening and holding my breath for the next shoe to drop and when it does... the action doesn't stop ... only the narration. On to Book 3 now!

Sins of the Father (Land’s End #4) by S.W. Frontz

Working on a cold case of murder from 1989, Captain Robin Drexel of the Atlanta Police Department follows a lead to the tiny island of Land’s End, Virginia, and into the jurisdiction of her old Macon PD partner, Sheriff Andy Patrick. Land’s End is also where the victim of one of Robin’s cold cases, Mary Elizabeth Martin, was spirited away to hide out from her still-at-large attacker.

As Robin works the angles presented to her, she quickly assimilates into the island community thinking maybe this is where she’ll settle when she retires. (She’s got way more tenure at APD than she needs to call it done, and her rheumatoid arthritis has become a constant, painful companion.) On the island, she meets old friends and new as well as the handsome blue-eyed George that seems to so very, very familiar to her.

Meanwhile, a long-burning domestic abuse case on the island come to a head but even with the abuser out of the picture, tragic events continue to plague the victimized family with two women attacked, two twin sons murdered, and one young teenage daughter kidnapped.

Sins of the Father is the 4th book in the Land’s End series so there are a number of diverse plotlines in play left over from previous books going from the very start. I have not read the first three books but was able to get the gist of what was going on and enjoyed it. I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed the book even more if I’d read the earlier installments though. There are a lot of interesting characters to keep up with, all of whom add plenty to the ongoing story. The author gives some background information during the course of the book which helped to get me up to speed and there was a mix of flashbacks among the chapters that reinforced or clarified the back story.

This was an enjoyable book with a lot going on – mystery, romance, and a thriller all rolled into one. I look forward to getting into those earlier books and will be waiting for book 5 as well. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions and cliffhangers at this time.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Typhoid Mary by Charlie Dalton

There’s something about Mary …

Nadine was a detective with NYPD and was used to the cruelties and brutality she’d witnessed during her time working with women and children victims but there was something about eight-year-old Mary McGregor that she just couldn’t put her finger on.

Mary – the sole survivor of a massacre at her foster family’s farm where both foster parents and six children were mutilated before her.

Mary – with the innocent face and strangely beautiful eyes.

Mary – who doesn’t take “no” for an answer.

Talk about going from tragedy to outright horror! Typhoid Mary is a creepy, twisted, entertaining horror story just right for a great, fun read.