Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Book Review: Haunting in Old Taliem by Janice Tremayne

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission or free services from the sale.

Title: Haunting in Old Tailem Book Cover
Title: Haunting in Old Tailem Series: Haunting Clarisse Genre: Paranormal Suspense, Fiction Publisher: Millport Press Format: eBook Source: NetGalley

Running from evil is not a bad idea…until you realise you can’t hide. Old Tailem Town is an Australian pioneer village that has built a reputation as the creepiest ghost town in the southern hemisphere.But some ghosts get tired of hanging around and latch onto you. Running from evil is not a bad idea until you figure out you can’t hide. The houses and the Church that were moved and renovated to create the perfect paranormal tourist attraction carries dark secrets within its walls.Will Clarisse be able to confront her biggest evil challenge yet or will Little Charlie rally all the towns ghost into an impeccable evil stronghold? Will her meeting with the local Sharman unleash secrets with evil consequences for digging too deep into the towns past?Matters become complicated for Clarisse when a circus of young performers passes on the outskirts of town triggering unexpected paranormal events and unleashing memories of a one hundred year curse.The tourists keep flocking in for the paranormal experiences run by a local entrepreneur–unbeknown they are caught in the crossfire of a battle for evil supremacy. Will the town succumb to Little Charlie and his evil crew?

When I saw the cover and the fact that this book can actually be read as a standalone novel, I decided to take a chance on it. I am and am not glad I did. Let’s explore why.

The Characters

I actually enjoyed the characters in this book. Especially Shamy and Digger. They’re technically supporting characters for this particular installment in the series, but they’re fun and genuine, which I love about them.

Although it is stated this can be read as a standalone, I felt as though I should have read books one and two so I could fully understand Clarisse, Harry, and their relationship. I’m still unclear as to whether they are married or a live-in couple. Harry didn’t have too much time in the story, but what time he did have, he was used effectively to further the story along.

Although it felt as though Clarisse and Harry weren’t well thought out, it could simply be that I did start on the third book in the series.

The Storyline

The storyline was interesting enough. The town has a dark past and is basically the home of a demon and his crew of evil minions. Digger has had dealings with this evil crew before, as has Shamy.

The story itself took a while to unfold, and the ending felt a tad rushed, but it wasn’t something I could say was horrible or that was a deal breaker for the book. Between the characters and storyline, I’d read the book again.

The Writing

Now for the reason I gave this book two stars and why I wouldn’t read it again. Mind you, I was reading an eARC and I understand that they are uncorrected proofs, so some of the following could be due to that fact. So if the following were corrected in the released version of the book, I might actually give it another read.

The first thing that bothered me was the Australian lingo. I get it, the author is Australian, the book is set in Australia. However, for those of us who don’t live there or have friends who have lived there, the Australian lingo is a bit daunting. I knew a few of the phrases, but most of them I didn’t know. I also found it funny that Clarisse acted in some spots like she didn’t know what the lingo was either. A little glossary to define the Australian terms at the beginning or end of the book would have been nice.

This particular eARC, unlike many, was actually formatted to look like a normal book, with the exception of the missing cover. However, I did note that there were several places where sentences and even paragraphs were repeated. I’m not sure if that was a formatting error or if that was done on purpose and was supposed to convey the importance of those passages, but it bothered me a lot.

The other thing that bothered me a lot with this book was the constant finding words that shouldn’t have been there, words missing, and improper tenses or forms of words. Again, I know this was an uncorrected proof, but as a general rule, I don’t find this many mistakes in an eARC. I’m just saying.

If you’d like to check out the released version of this book, you can purchase it on Amazon (affilate).

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Atropos by John Japuntich

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission or free services from the sale.

Title: Atropos Book Cover
Title: Atropos Genre: Science Fiction Format: eBook Pages: 314 Source: Reedsy Discovery

The aftermath of the virus left the world in shambles. The recovery lasted centuries. The plague was so transformative, gifting humanity immortality while simultaneously causing infertility, that it became known as simply the Event.

 John Fitzpatrick, retired FBI agent, is consumed with exposing what, or who is behind the Event. As John looks for answers, he must navigate a new world created by the Event, decades of world-wide depression and war, messianic cult leaders, and a meddlesome AI.

Civilization survives the Event depression by uniting under one government. The Federation of Nations is led by a charismatic economist who restructures the world economy to focus on one goal; interstellar colonization. Centuries later, John’s obsession with the cause of the Event leads him to discover the forces behind the Event may threaten the launch of humanity’s first interstellar ship; Atropos and plunge the world back into darkness.

I chose this book through Reedsy Discovery based solely on the description. I loved the thought of a viral component to gaining immortality as well as becoming infertile. I was curious to see how the world would react to something like that. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Virus

So what we know about the virus in the beginning is that it is highly contagious, it provides the infected immortality, and that it renders the infected infertile. So while everyone gets the chance to live forever1No death from natural causes, but murder, suicide, accidents, etc., are still able to cause death., no one gets to have children anymore. Kind of sucky but at the same time, do we really need a world full of immortal people who are also having kids and overpopulating the planet? This was a great virus idea. Most viruses do bad things to people, they don’t do anything that could potentially be seen as good. Of course, whether or not being made immortal and infertile is a good thing is subjective, but hey, it’s better than the virus killing everyone off, which is what most books involving a type of plague do.

The Space Aspect

Ok, I’m going to try not to give much of this away, but let me just say this – a ship capable of interstellar travel to colonize a planet in another solar system may not be new, but the way in which it is handled in this book is. Usually, we come into the story either on the way to colonize the planet or with the planet already colonized. This book doesn’t do that. Atropos allows us to take the journey from discovery of a new planet all the way to leaving to colonize it. You can’t beat this – and no, I won’t tell you where the planet is, what they named it, or how long it will take them to get there. That, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Another interesting part of the space aspect of this book is that it has a unique way of getting people into space. I won’t give it away, but it’s pretty interesting.

The Characters

The characters in this book are great. I loved Mary Ann Jones, John Fitzpatrick, and even Zacharia Jones. I wasn’t overly fond of Nathan Daniels or Ken Takahashi, but we can’t like everyone. I was surprised to note that the two characters I don’t care for also don’t have too much to say during the book, which is nice, because that meant I didn’t have to listen to them.

I’ll be honest, because Zacharia’s character grew and evolved so much during the book, I actually liked his character the best. You won’t see his character all the time, but when you do, I think you’ll be impressed with him as well.

I also really liked John Fitzpatrick because he’s like a bulldog. He grabs something and won’t let go of it. You can tell because he spends the entire book trying to figure out who is behind the Event.

The Twist

You won’t see this twist coming. Believe me, I sure as heck didn’t. If you’d asked me who was behind the Event, I’d have said Nathan Daniels and Ken Takahashi. And that’s all I’m going to say about that – except that this twist is brilliant.

The Conclusion

Atropos was a great debut novel for John Japuntich. I can’t wait for there to be a sequel2Which he told me on Twitter that he’s started one, but it’ll be a while. because once you read this book, you’ll know that it needs a sequel.

A 5-star read great for fans of science fiction, mystery, and anyone who likes the two genres mixed.

The Author

You can find John Japuntich at the following places:
Website // Twitter // Buy his book on Amazon (affiliate)

I received a copy of this book free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Prophet Reborn by Diane M. Johnson

Title: Prophet Reborn, Volume 2 Book Cover
Title: Prophet Reborn, Volume 2 Series: Perfect Prophet Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller Bookbaby Format: eBook Source: NetGalley

Failed satanic high priest Lucas seeks redemption for his sins in a Christian commune. The day comes when the commune leader learns of Lucas’ past as well as his connection to a celebrity faith healer who is rumored to be an atheist. Lucas must now prove his spiritual worth in order to remain a member of the commune. In order to save himself, he must save someone else, but his warped sense of right and wrong puts the faith healer and his family in mortal danger. ‘Prophet Reborn’ is a thrill filled sequel to Diane M. Johnson’s ‘Perfect Prophet.’ The works raise questions about the morals people value, and those they do not by telling the story of two brothers who are anything but perfect.

CW: Profanity, death, suicide, violence, religion, religious cult

When I read Perfect Prophet last year, I kept hoping there would be a sequel. The book had left off perfectly for a sequel and while I had a feeling there would be one, I wasn’t positive. I was glad I was right.

Prophet Reborn picks up a bit after Perfect Prophet leaves off and this time, the book focuses more on Lucas, who wants to see if he can be redeemed for the things he’s done in his past. He has a pretty good idea that he can’t but he at least wants to try.

While he doesn’t exactly go about getting his redemption in the right way, I can relate to Lucas. I think many of us can. While most of us haven’t done anything as bad as Lucas, we should all be able to relate to wanting redemption and not being sure we can get it. I’m sure a lot of us have also gone about getting our redemption the wrong way.

As with the first book, the book is well written. I found the book to be action packed and difficult to put down, just like the first one. Sometimes you get the “sophomore slump” where a second book just doesn’t live up to the hype of the first. This book isn’t that way.

We do see Alec, Lindy, and Jake in the book as well. There are some issues with the family and frankly, it’s nice to see a perspective that isn’t just the normal “Oh we’re having issues.” The issues aren’t tied to just infidelity, alcohol, or drugs, but also to Alec’s neurotic behavior.

There’s also a huge twist in the book that I honestly didn’t expect at all. It’s a great book that is difficult to describe without giving spoilers.

If you like a good mystery, thriller, or horror novel, I’d say this duo is for you. I actually kind of hope there will be a third book, just because I want to see how life turns out for all of the characters.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Some Laneys Died by Brooke Skipstone

Title: Some Laneys Died Book Cover
Title: Some Laneys Died Series: Skipping Sideways Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult Publisher: Skipstone Publishing Format: eBook Source: NetGalley

“No matter how hard it gets, there’s always a version of you who can fight a little longer.”

Laney’s world collapsed when she caught her dad cheating. He begged her not to tell, but she did. Her family fell apart and regret consumes her, especially when she learns every decision she makes spawns a new universe for the opposite choice.

If only she could skip sideways to the Laney who didn’t tell.

But her only escape is through her imagination, until a news story blurs the lines between worlds. Two girls were murdered at the same time and same place as her father’s adulterous act. Strange events lead Laney to believe their bones are connected to her and the sister she always wanted.

Laney now has another decision to make. Some Laneys say yes, while others say no; some live and some die.And some skip between worlds.

CW: Violence, sexual assault, death, animal death, sexual situations, suicide

If there is one thing I love, it’s a good mystery. And let me tell you, Some Laneys Died is a good mystery. But it’s not just a mystery. It’s a mystery with a science fiction1Or perhaps just science twist to it.

What makes this mystery unique is the addition of the Many Worlds Theory/Interpretation. I can’t really tell you too much without giving away a good portion of the book, but let’s just say that things aren’t necessarily what you think they are in the world. And those flashes of memory that you can’t explain because you know you’ve never done something? Yeah… that’s probably because of the many worlds theory.

In any case – there is a large cast of characters, all of whom are well written. You don’t get a big info dump on their backgrounds either. You find out bits and pieces about each one along the way and you don’t find out those bits and pieces until you need to know to understand the story.

The basic gist of the plot is this: Laney is obsessed with writing stories of what might have happened if she’d made different choices when she caught her father cheating. This leads to her finding out about the many worlds theory and realizing that something isn’t quite right in her world. Mayhem ensues as she fights to understand what is happening to her.

I was intrigued by this book. I read 70% of the book in one sitting, then read the other 30% in another sitting. It was very fast paced and kept me wanting to continue reading, even when I needed to go to bed and get some sleep. Most books, even mysteries, haven’t been able to do that lately, so this was a breath of fresh air.

The science/science fiction twist2depending on what you believe is what really makes this book so darned hard to put down. That and the fact that the plot is excellent and extremely well written.

I loved Laney. I loved how she wished she was a twin. I, too, was an only child and I wished often that I was a twin. So she was very relatable in that aspect. I also loved how she just couldn’t let anything go – how she needed to figure out what was going on and why she felt the way she did.

Jag was another favorite character in the story. His love for Laney is instantaneous and obvious. The fact that neither of them can seem to stop thinking about the other is another thing I thought was adorable – they are teenagers after all, so that kind of puppy-love, infatuation is pretty common3 Or at least it was when I was a teen, but that was a long time ago. LOL.

Of course, there are characters I didn’t like much, but that’s OK because you’re not really supposed to like them4Garrett and Caden, I’m talking about you.

This book is one of those books that you just have to read to understand why it’s such a great book. The best thing? It’s part of a series and the second book is slated to be released soon. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

I give this a five out of five stars because it is innovative, fun, fast paced, and just a great all-around read.

You can find Brooke Skipstone on Twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Reviews
Title: The Anti-Virginity Pact Book Cover
Title: The Anti-Virginity Pact Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Publisher: Ahimsa Press Format: eBook Source: NetGalley

Preachers’ daughters aren’t supposed to be atheists. They’re also not supposed to make pacts to lose their virginity by the end of the year, but high school senior Meredith Beaumont is sick of letting other people tell her who to be.

Spending the last four years as Mute Mare, the girl so shy just thinking about boys could trigger panic attacks, Meredith knows exactly what it’s like to be invisible. But when a vindictive mean girl gets her manicured claws on the anti-virginity pact and spreads it around the school—with Mare’s signature at the bottom—Mare’s not so invisible anymore. She just wishes she was.

Now the girls mutter “slut” as they pass her in the hall, and the boys are lined up to help complete her checklist. When she meets a guy who knows nothing of the pact, their budding romance quickly transforms from a way to get her first time over with to a genuine connection. But when the pact threatens to destroy her new relationship and the fragile foundation of her seemingly perfect family, Mare has to decide what’s more important: fixing her reputation and pleasing her parents, or standing up for the person she wants to be.

CW: Language, animal abuse, sexual assault, religion, bullying, substance abuse, anxiety, and trauma

If you don’t know Katie Wismer, you’re seriously missing out. She’s a YouTuber that talks about books, writing, and more on her channel(s). I’ve been subscribed to her channel for quite a while now. So, let’s talk about this book.

While The Anti-Virginity Pact isn’t Katie’s first book, it is her first novel. However, I didn’t find any of the typical first-novel weirdness or issues that seem to plague first novels. Katie’s writing style is easy to read, which makes this book fly by. I had started it at the end of March and put it down to finish my school semester. I realized I hadn’t picked it back up yet, so when I did, I went back and started from the beginning. It probably took me 8 hours maximum to read the book.

That being said, don’t think this is some light, fluff novel that won’t hit you right in the gut. Because it definitely isn’t light or fluffy and it will hit you right in the gut. The characters in this book are people you know.

We all know the shy girl, possibly expected to be perfect on the basis of who her parents are. We all know the loud, boisterous best friend of said shy girl. We know the boy who likes the shy girl but has some skeletons in his closet.

Meredith has the bad luck to not only be a pastor’s daughter but to be one of the shy kids who has horrible anxiety. She is written in a completely realistic and honest way that makes you feel for her. I really liked her character, especially the fact that she’s an atheist regardless of her parents’ faith.

Johanna is the epitome of everything Meredith isn’t and is blatant proof that opposites attract. I relate to her a lot, because in all honesty, I can see myself doing and saying some of the things she does. Not all of them, but a good portion of them. She’s a perfect foil for Meredith and the pair just works as a best-friends duo.

Sam… I love Sam. He’s such a great character. He isn’t the gigantic jerk that you seem to always find in contemporary novels, which is a relief. His responses to the things that happen over the course of the book are very realistic and justifiable, unlike how some characters are written. Not once did I find myself saying “Oh, please, if he’s going to act that way, you’re better off without him.”

Squirt isn’t a human and frankly, I want her. I would just like to throw that out there.

This book deals with hard topics. We see what can happen when members of the same family have differing religious views. We see, in a very realistic way, what bullying in a high school setting can be like. Other topics include sexual assault, trauma, and animal abuse. These topics are handled tastefully but realistically. They were very well done. They pulled at my heartstrings, made me angry, and honestly made me want to reach through the book and start smacking people.

I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.