Review: “Dare to Dream” by Carys Jones

"Dare to Dream" by Carys JonesA review by Domoni.

Maggie keeps having the same dream. She is watching the world end from her bedroom window. Red lightning rains down from the sky obliterating everything around her. Every time she wakes up it feels like much more than a dream. She isn’t getting any rest and life is getting out of control. No one is taking her seriously; not her mess of a mother or her combative siblings. Her best friend Dawn wants to support her but when Maggie is starting to believe that the dreams mean the world is going to end Dawn isn’t sure what to believe. Running on fumes Maggie takes a sleeping pill Dawn gives her. All it does is trap her in the dream long past when she normally awakens. The exploding window slices her face and when she does awaken she finds the injuries are real. Now the stones of Stonehenge are falling and Maggie believes it to be a count down to the end.  What should she do and how can she save the people who matter to her most?

This story is broken up into two parts. The first part is about Maggie and her home life and her dreams. She is a brilliant student destined to go somewhere in life despite her less than great home life.  Her mother drinks too much and doesn’t do a great job of providing for her brood and her four siblings that are all rather awful. Plus, she must deal with the her own idol worshiping of the absent father.  When the dreams start she starts to fall apart.  As the world watches Stonehenge fall, Maggie gets closer to crazy knowing that when that last stone falls the world is doomed.  This half of the books took a long time for me to get into. It could be all over the place for me. There was a lot that was jammed in and some didn’t make sense. Random things were added in that really was not necessary at progressing the story and just made it hard to follow. Like Maggie finding her father and being disappointed he isn’t what she expected. Or the blurb about her father also having the dream, we never hear another thing about him so I don’t know what the point of that was at all.  But the last ⅓ of the first part really kicked into gear as Maggie tried to save the people she loved.

The second part of the book was much better than the first. Maggie and Dawn and Andy, an intelligent boy from Maggie’s class that has a crush on her, are traveling to find safety led only by one short dream that the caves at a park about 20 miles from her home will keep them safe. They persevere, despite the constant night brought on by smoke and dust from the destruction that took the world just as Maggie’s dreams told her it would. They are just 14 year old kids and they behave just as you would expect. Between irrational anger and hysterical meltdowns the kids keep walking hoping to find other survivors and relative safety. This part of the book I could not put down. I loved each moment and fell in love with this author for it.

After completing the book I had to jump online and search to see if there was any word about a sequel and I really hope there is. Though there were things that put me off in the first half and made it hard to follow at first, it came together. So in the end it won me over and I recommend it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR: “The Phoenix Project” by DM Cain

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 A review by Domoni.

I would like the author for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

A dystopian future  that could be. The world has been plagued by terrorism in the name of religions. As religions are blamed they then become more brutal. The British government decides to deal with violent offenders by creating the Phoenix Project. Inmates will be sent to prisons where they will be matched in battles to the death. After a years trial the government votes to continue with the project even including public displays of the battles. Heroes are created from the brutality for the public to worship. Is it everything that it claims to be. And is forcing people to murder others ok, even if those people may have been murders.

Raven is the central character to this story. He is haunted by his crime that landed him in Salverford prison. A place he had been against. He protested the Phoenix Project and abhors the idea. After committing a horrible crime that haunts him, he is sent to serve his penance. He tortures himself mentally and physically out of guilt for what he has done, but fights his battles unwilling to die. He claims if he dies his punishment will be over and he doesn’t deserve that, though that could be what he needs to tell himself to survive.

We also get a view of other inmates, Khan and his sister Millicent, two brutal fighters who have been the prisons undefeated victors for years. We learn soon on that they were not technically prisoners but had volunteered for the program and been paid and given perks to add to the element of entertainment. Though both love the battle and the adoration.  Alexia, the Roman Catholic girl who also tried to volunteer in an effort to blow the prison up and then was caught and sentenced to be a prisoner despite being a minor. Various other faces and names that pass through the battles and stories. Some I could get a feel for and sympathise with and some I hated. The author added enough depth to the story to keep me entertained through to the end.

This story time hops through Raven’s life. From before his incarceration to present day. It was somewhat easy to follow the time hops and kept Ravens motivation a mystery for quite awhile.  This story was very interesting to me because it was a future that could make sense. Based on society today and our reaction to religious extremists and violent criminals as well as the deep seeded racism in much of humanity, it would not surprise me to hear that a world of extremes like this could evolve. The authors writing was easy to read and the story passed quickly. Though the ending did surprise me. I enjoyed this book.

 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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About the Book

Title: The Phoenix Project

Author: D.M. Cain

Genre: Psychological Thriller

A thought provoking and compelling dystopian world that will change the way you view justice…

A man fights for life—and redemption—in D. M. Cain’s riveting new novel, The Phoenix Project.

Britain has descended into chaos as violence and terrorist attacks seethe across this once-peaceful country. Outraged by the steady stream of lawlessness, citizens demand a harsher penal system, and the Phoenix Project is born.

In prisons across the country, inmates fight to the death in a weekly bloodbath while the nation cheers them on.

Raven Kennedy, a prisoner who has never forgiven himself for his unspeakable crime, struggles against his own guilt and self-loathing. But even as the real war wages on within himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines. Can he survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him—and one day find the forgiveness he seeks?
‘The Phoenix Project by D.M. Cain is a superbly written debut, soaked in tension and intrigue,’ Jack Croxall, author of the ‘Tethers’ trilogy.
Author Bio

D.M. Cain is a dystopian and fantasy author working for US publisher Booktrope. She has released three novels: The Phoenix Project – a psychological thriller set in a dystopian future, Soren – a middle-grade fantasy, and A Chronicle of Chaos – the first in a dark fantasy series. She is currently working on the next novel in the series, ‘The Shield of Soren’, and a novella to accompany it.
D.M. Cain is also a member of the International Thriller Writers and is one of the creators and administrators of the online author group #Awethors. Her short story ‘The End’ was published in Awethology Dark – an anthology by the #Awethors.
Cain lives in Leicestershire, UK, with her husband and young son, and spends her time reading, writing and reviewing books, playing RPGs and listening to symphonic metal.
Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter: @DMCain84
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Review: “Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood” by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

Review of "Wonder Woman" by Brian Azzarello and Cliff ChiangA review by Courtney.

Wonder Woman has long been one of my favorite characters and I was extremely excited to read her in comic book form to see if she was as amazing of a character in book form as I had built her up in my head to be. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting the story to be like, but I wasn’t expecting the story I got; it was much darker and grittier than I expected.

This volume starts off with showing us what some of the gods are doing. By gods, I’m talking about Zeus, Hera, Hades etc… One of the gods decides that he needs to take out a girl and another god disagrees and gives her a magical key which sends her to Diana. From there we learn that Diana is actually a daughter of Zeus and Hera is not pleased about it. This conflicts with the original origin story of Wonder woman being created from clay and her mother’s will. Initially no man was involved with her birth which was what made her superior and a hero for women. The book does call this out and goes on to explain Diana’s new origin story. Wonder Woman then has to deal with the consequences of knowing who her father is and her new siblings whom are not pleasant to say the least.

I had a hard time being drawn into Wonder Woman. It was extremely hard to connect with Diana as a character and all of the different gods in the story were confusing. There were a couple of characters that held my interest, but they were minor and I didn’t see a lot of them. I was also unhappy with the way Wonder Woman’s origin story was completely rewritten. I would have liked to have been privy to what she thinking some of the time. She was dealing with a lot of extremely emotional stuff and it felt like I never learned how she really felt about it other than shock and disbelief which are things I would have expected anyways.. Honestly, I wanted more from a character whom I had held on a pedestal for all those years, and this was the volume that made her fall off of it for me, although I don’t think it’s entirely her fault. I am interested in reading more Wonder Woman, although perhaps under a different author.

This volume dark and I would not recommend it for children. I would recommend it for people looking for a different take on Wonder Woman. I would rate it what I did because I have no desire to read more by this author.

My rating: 2.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Wither” by Amy Miles

Wither by Amy MilesA review by Amanda.

Twenty year old Avery Whitlock is familiar with the stress and hardships that life can throw at the unsuspecting. Her family is in shambles, her mother lies dying in the hospital, and guilt is the only thing keeping Avery at her bedside; guilt, and a semblance of safety. A plague-like illness has swept through America, killing millions. The government’s response,a vaccine, has had a terrible side effect – it turns the affected into shambling, decomposing, zombie-esque shadows of people, called the Withered Ones. Avery stays at the hospital with her mother, thinking that it’s the logical choice if she gets ill, until survivors raid for supplies and a stranger unexpectedly comes to her rescue. Thus begins Avery’s harrowing adventure into an apocalyptic world.
Wither was action-packed from the very beginning, although terse sentences and awkwardly formal word use slowed the reading process down a bit. The formal-sounding speech patterns continued throughout and became easier to overlook as the reader was drawn into the story. Fans of The Walking Dead will recognize its influence on the theme and plot. It came across as a tribute rather than a rip-off, which was refreshing. Even though this was described as a zombie apocalypse story, the focus was very much on the living and how different people react in catastrophic situations. Avery quickly discovered that she had more to fear from other survivors than the Withered Ones, which is one of the main themes it shares with The Walking Dead. This was not a happy story, but it was an intense and intriguing one. There are violent scenes, graphic descriptions, and sexual encounters. “Wither” is book one of this new series; a release date for book two has not been set.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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REVIEW: “Iron Assassin” by Ed Greenwood

 

The Iron Assassin by Ed GreenwoodA review by our new reviewer, Hannah!

Welcome to a world where Queen Victoria has ascended the throne several times.  If her son, the Prince Regent, does not inherit the crown there will be war.  Jack Stracker, a.k.a. Lord Templeton, is a Dread Agent for the Crown.  He creates a re-animated, clockwork enhanced corpse, the Iron Assassin, to protect the Prince Regent.  Unfortunately The Ancient Order of the Tentacle steals the Iron Assassin in order to kill the Prince Regent and place their own contender for the crown in charge of the empire.

This book should have been a grand slam for me. Steampunk, Victorian(ish) London, secret orders and a reanimated corpse, these are all things I love to read about. Sadly, this was a difficult book to read.  Scenes were rushed and confusing.

At the beginning of the book, the Dread Agents are having a meeting.  In walks the Prince Regent, followed shortly by an assassin.  Suddenly a woman dispatches the assassin.  Apparently she had been in the room the entire time, but the author didn’t let the reader know that she was either in the room prior to the Prince’s arrival or that she arrived with the Prince.  This happens a lot throughout the book.

I finished the book, but only because I wanted to figure out who the corpse was before he became the Iron Assassin.  Unfortunately that is never really answered and the state of the Empire is still in a precarious position.

My rating: 1/5 stars.

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Review: “Touching Evil” by Kylie Brant

Touching Evil by Kylie BrantA review by Amanda.

Touching Evil begins a few days after the end of Chasing Evil. Mason Vance, the man who kidnapped Dr. Sophia Channing, is behind bars but his accomplice is still out there. Agent Cam Prescott of Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation hasn’t slept much since Sophia was found. He has made himself responsible for her safety and is keeping her in protective custody at his place, fearing that Vance’s unidentified partner may come back to finish the job. They’re right to take precautions, but Sophia isn’t the doctor who catches the partner’s attention… Medical Examiner Lucy Benally is. Cam and Sophia have their work cut out for them as more questions arise and everything turns upside down.

The second book in the Circle of Evil trilogy was even more thrilling than the first. I couldn’t put it away, reading far past my bedtime. Picking up right where book one left off, “Touching Evil” was non-stop action and mystery. I appreciated getting to see Cam and Sophia dealing with the trauma. My biggest issue from the first book, Cam’s sexist attitude, was less obvious this time around. Sophia showed believable signs of being affected by the trauma she had experienced, which is something some authors tend to gloss over. She was still able to function and assist in the investigation, despite Cam’s protests and her fears. Lucy’s background was somewhat of a cliché but still added much-needed depth to her character. The plot had a few surprising twists that I didn’t see coming and the cliffhanger ending has guaranteed that I will read the last book in the trilogy.

 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “A Love For The Pages” by Joy Penny

a love for the pages

A review by Vanessa.

First I would like to thank the author, Joy Penny, for the opportunity to read and review her book, A Love for the Pages.

June has just returned home from her first year of college, and is desperately trying not to be sucked into a job at her annoying step-father Cooper’s work. At 19, she really just wants to spend the summer after working so hard her freshman year, reading her favorite classics: Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. When her friend Margot offers June her position volunteering at the local private library, June sees an opportunity to convince her step-father and mother that she is being productive for the summer. Also, she’ll get to escape the awkwardness of spending every day all day with Cooper who is much more obsessed with her practical, successful future than June is. The position is not hard, but it comes with it’s own awkwardness in the form of June’s ex, the gorgeous, and younger, Sinjin. June is not interested in starting things up again with Sinjin, but she can’t help being attracted. That is until Mr. Rockford, generous and handsome benefactor of the Rockford Private Library where June now volunteers, literally falls into her path. They meet in a storm where June accidentally causes Rockford to fall from his bike and sprain his ankle, like the first meeting between Jane and Mr. Rochester…. and suddenly June cannot stop seeing eerie similarities between her experiences with Rockford, and scenes from her favorite classics. He is all her hero characters rolled into one apparently, and June is faced with the prospect of a modern day classic hero. Except in the modern day, those classic scenes do not feel quite like what she was expecting…

I must admit when I first started reading the book I was a little apprehensive about it. I was somewhat afraid that scenes in the book would directly reflect famous scenes from those beloved classics, and that June’s experiences would simply be purloined from those fictional ladies. At times June seems to be adrift in the story, allowing things to merely happen to her rather than being the active one in her own story. However, the author did a very good job of weaving into those scenes and dialogue June’s ability to be her own character and drawn her own conclusions from those experiences. The reader gets the feel of those classic moments with those well known characters, but with an understanding from June that somehow they don’t fit in today’s world. It is strange waters to navigate between appreciation for romantic classics that are still popular, and the men that populate them, and a more modern understanding of the dynamics of relationships. June herself even acknowledges, though she is in love with her favorite books and the characters in them, they aren’t the standard ideal for a relationship. The men in them, though admirable in many ways, are quite often complete and total jerks by today’s standards. But there is something in our hearts that still longs for that kind of romantic epic love, and I think that is why it is so easy to relate to June. At the same time, the feminist in all of us rebels against such domineering male standards and is proud to see June resist the temptation to fall easily and instead choose to fight for something more real. This book has a surprising depth that I found enchanting, and I would recommend it both to those who have read the classics, and those who have not.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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