ARC Review: Daughters Unto Devils-Amy Lukavics

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synWhen sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly Ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Harlequin:Teen

+++Contains: Mature themes, gore, graphic imagery, and what may be considered triggers- miscarriage 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re looking for something chilling and unexpected
  • You’re not afraid of disturbing images, gore, and/or devils
  • You like M. Night Shyamalan 

Daughters Unto Devils would make a terrifying horror film. Amy Lukavics has perfected the use of blunt and abrasive images that are just enough to shock and haunt. There’s no need for explanation or excessive description, the brutally detached imagery will give you goosebumps. 

PROS:

  • Amanda has a profound and stunning voice. She voices her dark and twisted thoughts, voicing them, letting herself accept that her deepest desires are not always pure or even remotely nice. Amanda admits to herself that she’s morbid, sinful and a little insane. That she owns it makes it 10x more compelling. Sometimes her thoughts are sickening and startling, that someone could wish harm and death on others if pretty off-putting but Amanda’s candidness with herself (and some self loathing) almost make her more likable. She’s hardly perfect, far from it, but she sees the world for the vile and rotten place it can be, she picks up on darkness when others are oblivious, mainly because she has it tucked so close inside her. 
  • Spine-tingling, hair on edge images that blur the line between paranoia and reality, there’s something sinister in the simple images. The scenery is bleak and haunting. The snippets of ghost stores and memories that may or may not be real add an air of suspicion. You won’t know of they’re insane, paranoid or possessed until the last moment.
  • Twists that will leave you reeling.
  • One scene in particular was Excorist-worthy terror at its finest. 

CONS:

  • Some sections are slow and drag quite a bit when there’s not something sinister on the horizon. 
  • The whole situation with Henry and the Amanda is naïve and sort of grotesque. The descriptions of bulges and writhing were too much for me. Amanda’s wild-eyed wonder at this man was understandable at first but after everything that happens to have her still hoping that he’d accept the situation was crazy.
  • What happened in the cabin, the clues and tidbit scenes were spaced far apart and didn’t go into enough detail to truly capture the hysteria. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Spooky reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: Bleeding Earth-Kaitlin Ward

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cooltext1889161239 copyYA Highway blogger Kaitlin Ward’s debut YA novel, Bleeding Earth.

Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within twenty-four hours, the blood made international news. All over the world, blood appeared out of the ground, even through concrete, even in water. Then the earth started growing hair and bones.

Lea wants to ignore the blood. She wants to spend time with her new girlfriend, Aracely, in public, if only Aracely wasn’t so afraid of her father. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and Aracely whatever way she can.

cooltext1889171582 copy3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Egmont USA

Bleeding Earth is a sinister, gory, and compelling mystery. The oozing blood, escalating violence and shortages make for a suspenseful read. 

PROS:

  • The premise is fantastically creepy and grotesque. The gore and hair is nauseating and suspect. Terror and uncertainty push the plot forward as the blood gets more and more human and takes on a life of its own. Descriptions are graphic and violent. The texture and creepy-crawly nature of the blood will make you double-check your surroundings. 
  • Psychologically, Bleeding Earth is twisted and haunting. The way the blood calls as if its an entity, the effects it has on the people and the hallucinations all cause the reader to question if what’s happening is real or an illusion. The changes in Lea’s mother are horrific. You can feel every ounce of mistrust and fear growing as Lea’s mother becomes more controlling. No one can be trusted and danger is around every corner. 
  • Humanity under a disastrous and science fiction-esque situation is perfectly depicted. The loss of care or fellow humans, the mindless need to protect and the greed all couple with a desperate thirst for survival. Every man is for himself and the violence becomes a necessity. One scene is particularly disturbing. 

CONS:

  • While I appreciated the diversity and LGBT characters, the focus was torn between the romance and the blood. The story became more of a complicated and clandestine love story than a dystopia at several points leaving the plot feeling lost and unstable. 
  • Allusions to religious texts and the possibility that this bleeding earth was a sort of plague or lesson from God were tossed in almost randomly and while it got me thinking, would have been more powerful and persuasive if they had been a focal point.
  • The ending. It feels final and yet, there’s no resolution. What was the point? Where will they go from there? 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses-Sarah J. Maas

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cooltext1889161239 copyA thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

cooltext1889171582 copy4.5/5 Stars

+++Warning: A Court of Thorns and Roses is MATURE YA or NA. Some scenes are 18+ and there are several depictions of graphic violence and gore. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses is perfect for fans of Holly Black, Melissa Marr, Aprilynne Pike, and Julie Kagawa. If you love fairy tales with edge, dark and graphic tales of violence and peril, A Court of Thorns and Roses will be your new obsession. 

PROS:

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses is unlike any Beauty and the Beast retelling I’ve read. Combining the gritty horror of fae with a protagonist that can’t read, it’s a whirlwind of surprise and unexpected strength. 
  • The fae are wicked, positively sinful, and there’s no doubt that if they capture you, untold torture and sadism will occur before death. They’re vile, horrific beings who like to play with their food. Some scenes are intensely graphic and full of raw, brutal gore. If you like dark and twisted, add this to your TBR stat.
  • Feyre. (Sidebar: “So Cady. Actually it’s Katie. Yeah, I’m gunna call you Cady” I’ll always think of her as Fair and not FeyRuh). Feyre is one BA heroine. She’s not perfect. She accepts her faults and emphasizes her strengths. Feyre is inventive, quick, and crafty, she is a problem solver who despite her terrible circumstances, flips the switch on her fear and channels her inner warrior. She’s a lesson in perseverance, selflessness, and inner strength. Feyre loves deeply when she opens her heart and challenges expectations. Feyre shows the reader the beautiful resilience of the human spirit and what we’re capable of if we push ourselves and have faith. 
  • The variety of fae, their mannerisms, their descriptions are straight out of nightmares. Each is unique and leaves a lasting impression. The dangers are real and there are several moments where you’ll wait on bated breath, hoping against all odds for Feyre’s safety.
  • Tamlin is introverted, quiet, and stand-offish. Scarred by his past and melancholy, Tamlin is not your typical romantic lead. He’s brooding and awkward, he insults as often as he compliments (not on purpose) and doesn’t know how to socialize. And yet…Tamlin is a beautiful soul when he opens up. He’s light and attentive, he does everything in his power to make Feyre feel comfortable and welcome. The scene with the starlight lake. OMG swoon. 
  • Together, Feyre and Tamlin are passion incarnate. They’re aggressive, charged, the attraction is primal and fierce. The heat jumps off the pages.
  • Lucien is a jerk. He’s cocky, bold, decietful, and puts Feyre in unnecessary danger for laughs. He’s got a wild side that is mildly tantalizing and his sarcasm is addictive. There’s just something about him that draws. Lucien brings both darkness and light to the plot. He’s protective, angry, and has a past that is horrendous. Despite his serious issues, Lucien’s tale is a harrowing one of so much pain that you can’t help put root for his survival and happiness. 
  • Amarantha is a sick and terrifying villain. Just when you think she can’t possibly get worse, she throws another curve ball that will make you shiver. 
  • Rhysand is sexy and sinister. The perfect temptation. He’s much more than he seems on the surface. He’s a complex character that you’ll love to hate.

CONS:

  • The 3 trials were a bit of a let down. The second especially had a quick fix that left me feeling dissatisfied. 
  • Towards the end, several scenes blurred together as Feyre slipped into hopeless intoxication. The in-between was a little slow.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Review & Excerpt: Bad Blood-Nicky Peacock

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cooltext1602390596 copy“I am Britannia. I am your protector. I will fend off the hungry hordes of undead hands that reach toward you. I am your steadfast defender. I will stand between you and the zombie masses as they try to taste your flesh. I am strong, unyielding, and dedicated to your survival. All I ask from you… is your blood.”

A 500 year bloody game of vengeance will need to be put on hold if vampires are to survive the zombie uprising. Bitter enemies, Britannia and Nicholas must work together to save un-infected humans, delivering them to a stronghold in Scotland.

Unable to drink the zombie blood, vampires need humans to stay alive. But will they tell the survivors who they are, and what they want from them? Will Britannia be able to hold back her vengeance? Is survivor Josh the reincarnation of Britannia’s murdered true love? And can she bring herself to deliver him to the safe hold?

Survival instincts run deep, but bad blood can run deeper.

cooltext1607795130 copy3.5/5 Stars

Nicky Peacock’s Bad Blood is the PERFECT Halloween read. Full of gore, a badass heroine, and tons of snark, this vampires vs. zombies dystopia is made for horror lovers and adrenaline junkies alike.

PROS:

•For a topic so dark and dismal, the zombie/vampire apocalypse, Bad Blood is surprisingly light-hearted and a delightfully quick read. The playful banter between Nicholas and Britannia speeds the plot along and keeps the reader constantly entertained. They’re charming together, witty, and the simmering tension is enough to make anyone eager to see what happens next.

•Britannia is one fiercely independent lady with a grudge the size of a boulder resting on her shoulders. She has no filter, is prone to bouts of unmatched violence and carnage, and laughs hard at full on murder. While this may seem like a calculated and heartless killer, Britannia has lots of love to give and it is her love that preserves her humanity. Britannia is haunted by a romance from her past, a soul mate, that she can’t get over and it is his memory that dictates her life and fuels her vengeance. It’s this side of Britannia that wins you over and makes you hurt for her, the part of her that was robbed of her human life and never got a chance to live out her love. On a lighter note, Britannia is a Doctor Who junkie, loves rock bands, and has dazzling blue hair. She’s quite the eclectic, eccentric character.

•Britannia’s battle rage is epic. She becomes this demonic, bloodthirsty creature of doom. Quick on her feet and overly confident in her abilities, she rushes headfirst into hordes of zombies, jumping, kicking and severing limbs.

•The plot is clearly defined and doesn’t waver or leave any unanswered questions.

•The final showdown is like a rebirth for Britannia and it’s almost poetic, well as poetic as slaying zombies and defeating the bad guys while barely escaping by skin off her fangs.

•Scenes with Danny and the children are warm and compassionate. The way that children look at monsters with intrigue and clarity is unique and highlighted. While the parents are busy freaking out and complicating things, the children go with it and think it’s pretty cool.

CONS:

•Some of the British references went over my head a little. The Doctor Who ones were priceless but some celebrities and terms took guesswork and a quick Google search.

•The action scenes blurred together. There was so much battle that it became almost monotonous and lacked detailed description. Cleaving off heads with a scythe is good and well, I want to envision it down to the blood spray and pulsing arteries. (That may be a personal preference, however, as the story went on there was a shift to more telling than showing during battle scenes).

•Love was a barely there thread of an idea. The relationship between Britannia and Josh was weak, sudden, and didn’t have time to evolve. Slight instalove.

cooltext1602387936 copyWe ran to the hospital. On the way, we encountered hardly anyone, alive or dead. Where were they all? When we arrived at the hospital car park, I understood. Zombies were pack animals. A massive crowd of them were crammed in and around the main building like they were waiting for a concert to start, all barely paying attention to their surroundings and seemingly swaying against the force of gravity. The other thing was the smell. When watching horror films filled with shuffling zombies, the horror came from their ghastly looks—the reminder that death has a tight grip on us all, well, most of us.

But what the filmmakers should focus on—if they could—was the acidic rank odor zombies gave off. They had been dead barely twenty-four hours. It took a normal human body at least thirty-six hours to really start to smell, and that was with a vampire’s heightened senses. These guys smelled like they’d been out in the sun for three weeks covered in rubbish and besieged by wily maggots. They were mostly intact, though. Maybe this hospital had been Zombie Ground Zero. Most had turned so quickly their comrades hadn’t had time to feed.

“Maybe we should try a less populated target.” Nicholas twitched his nose and turned away from me to dry retch.

“Maybe you should grow a pair.”

“Maybe you should act like a lady.” He now had his hands on his hips, squaring up for yet another argument.

“Acting like a lady isn’t going to help now, is it? What do you want me to do? Drop my handkerchief in front of the zombies and watch them fight one another to scoop it up for me? Moron!”

“Always to the ‘nth degree with you, isn’t it?”

“Shut up. Look, the doors are holding, and they’re outside, not inside, which means there must be some people left in there alive to have barricaded this place so tight.”

“Or maybe there are just more zombies in there.”

“Well, there’s definitely a blood bank in there, and that’ll help matters no end!”

Nicholas looked thoughtful then nodded. He of course didn’t want to actually say aloud that I’d had a good idea. “So, how do we get past them?”

I assumed it was a rhetorical question, so I started down to the car park entrance, where most of the zombies were mobbing. I opened the outer door as quietly as possible.

“Ladies first,” Nicholas whispered in my ear.

“I thought we’d agreed I wasn’t a lady.” And with that, I shoved him as hard as I could into the throbbing throng of zombies.

Published by Evernight Teen http://www.evernightteen.com/

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I guess I’ve always been a storyteller, not in a ‘liar liar pants on fire’ kind of way, although I do work in advertising! When I was little, kids would crowd around me in the playground and I’d tell them tales of blood soaked horror filled with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and more. Yes, most would consider me a disturbed child, but my playmates couldn’t help themselves, they’d huddle around me every break time like an ancient tribe feeding off the fear; and that’s how I learned that horror stories hold a certain power, no matter what some might say, everyone is addicted to a good scare, especially if it is somewhat rooted safely in unrealistic beings… or are they unrealistic?

Writing was really a natural progression. Right now I’m obsessed with writing: a YA Urban Fantasy novel, a Paranormal Romance novella series, and several short horror stories! So I’m currently living in a functional fiction coma – and loving it!

I’ve so far been published in 5 countries: USA, UK, Australia, Ireland and Canada and had short stories included in 40 anthologies with over 17 publishers.

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Happy reading, 

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