Showing posts with label book series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book series. Show all posts

Monday, 25 April 2016

Book Review: Zeeka's Return by Brenda Mohammed



Zeeka, involved in the most heinous of crimes, is apprehended, not by the police, who for weeks were in the forested area searching for him and his nine flesh-eating zombies, but by a beautiful woman. 
Zeeka, abandons his zombies, runs from the police in the forest, gun in hand, and was trapped by a woman. 
Who is this heroic woman? Were the zombies destroyed? What is Zeeka's fate? 
Read the exciting end to this trilogy


Zeeka Returns is the pleasing third installment in the Zeeka and the Zombies series. What I have observed through reading each tale in sequence is a significant level up in terns of writing style and character development. That is no easy task in a short story format, and given Zeeka Returns is the longest of the three, it should be noted that it is still a short story. One wonders how our anatagonist from book one is going to prevail - or not, as the case may be.

Perhaps it is a testament to the author that her main characters are not necessarily the most important ones for me. Book two introduced us to cop duo Wildy and Cole, and their dynamic worked well in Zeeka's Child, it is far better and more realised here. I enjoyed these two and would read on if they were to appear in another series.

The island of Gosh, once such a pleasant idyllic place to live, is now little short of a terror zone, where the threat of a zombie attack has the residents looking like they are going about their normal business, but in truth, they are not - they are scared, and rightly so.

"Ultimately Zeeka Returns answers the considerable set up given to us in books one and two."

Away from the police manhunt (zombie hunt?) Steve, Raynor and other friends reminisce about old times with hopes that there will be new times ahead for them to enjoy.

Perhaps the best innovation for the story - and befitting one set in the not too distant future, is the very welcome introduction of robot Miranda. Oh I'm sure by 2036 we'll all have one in our homes, but I like this design far better than Paulie's Bot in Rocky IV (1985 seems a very long time ago when I revisit that film). She's introduced as a home help but this is just one layer to her character design, and it's a joy to see her develop.

Ultimately Zeeka Returns answers the considerable set up given to us in books one and two. Will the now not so mysterious Zeeka pay for his crimes? Will he come willingly, and what will happen to the rogue group of zombies now free to unless carnage on the island? That's the main question to be answered and readers won't be disappointed with the story's end.

The key characters remain strong with the secondary ones providing functional support to the narrative whilst not overloading the story with an unnecessary plot diversion. If anything, Zeeka's Return is the tightest of the the books in terms of script, so reader won't lose the thread of the story even if they put it down for a while.

However, I would still recommend reading the books in sequence. It's a pleasing, diverting tale that uncovers more subtle layers with successive re-reads.

Nicely done.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Book Review: Blu (Violet Chain, #3) by J Kahele



Pearl has lived under the hard hand of a vicious man for years and when she finally makes her escape, she is hit by a car and wakes up in the hospital. She doesn’t remember anything from the night before, except for the comforting touch, of a beautiful man named, Christopher Blu.

Blu learns that Pearls life has been a circle of degradation, hurt and pain and he wants so bad to help her through it, that it completely envelopes his life. He cares for her and there is a mutual attraction between the two. But he's not sure if what he feels for her is real, or if it is just his compassion for a woman who has been so brutally scarred by her life.

This book is intended for mature audiences only.


“What are you doing? We don’t stop here.”

Rita / Camille, on the issue of stopping a car dead in the road whilst another is coming in the opposite direction.Mulholland Drive, 2001

Each of the Violet Chain books have upped the ante in terms of drama and sexual liaisons. Blu is strikingly different from its predecessors, so much so that it can be viewed as a standalone piece. But reading the other stories first will serve to make reading Blu a more enriched experience.

My initial interest as a male reader tipped unsurprisingly towards Pearl, who in a well constructed sequence is found to be the victim of a car accident, but that is only the start. With the chapter focus on a specific character, readers can get to know both Pearl and Christopher (the eponymous Blu of the title) with ease.

"Pearl feels like a real character to me." 

That is not to say Pearl’s back story is easy to stomach, but it is certainly an interesting take in a hot romance genre, and I especially loved these scenes, even though I felt a lot of empathy for Pearl as a character.

Like all of Miss Kahele’s female protagonists, they are strong willed and courageous, but never one trick ponies, nor do they lapse into cliche. It’s easy to overlook flaws in men and women when we read such characters in books, but Pearl feels like a real character to me and so I think this is possibly the author’s best work to date.

Some readers may find the profanity and very strong sex scenes offputting. In another way, one can consider this story as packaged – for mature audiences only.

Miss Kahele knows how to reward her fanbase, and Blu is no exception, offering a sneak peak at book four in the series. What I really like about the Violet Chain series is how certain characters appear again and again – it is storytelling at its most seamless and takes an author of merit to pull it off. 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Book Review: Promises (New Beginnings, #2) by Michelle Lynn



Do you promise you’ll always be here for me? 

It was a game they played, only it wasn’t a game. Maggie Marks held on to Elijah’s childhood promises as a way of escaping a life that was far from perfect. Elijah Lugo was her neighbor, her best friend, her family. He was everything her parents refused to be, everything she needed. He was her first kiss and a witness to more of her father’s drunken rants than she could count. He was there at her wedding and then held her when it all fell apart. Elijah was in love with her, but she was afraid loving him would eventually mean losing him too. 

They were no longer kids, pretending everything would work out in the end. 

When Maggie’s father reenters her life in an unexpected way, revealing long held secrets, her world is turned upside down and she will need Elijah more than ever. 
A story of friendship and family. The promises you make and the ones you keep.


"Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way...." 

-Harry, from When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Promises is the superior follow up to Choices, and it introduces characters from the earlier book seamlessly intertwining with the new ones.

And what characters they are. We are introduced to Maggie (Mags) Marks, and her beau Elijah. He's not supposed to be - in a clever bit of storytelling, author Michelle Lynn displays her command of the story by taking us into different times of the principal characters' lives.

In an early telling scene, Mags agrees to a kiss from Elijah, but it is intended to be a one-time kiss only, because they are friends, great friends, and she doesn't want that ruined. Elijah held a candle for Mags even when they were young, and in later scenes where the couple are older, and yes....tarnished, bruised and battered by life and the general life choices they made, the friendship still holds, even though Elijah's promise not to do any more than what was expected of him (essentially a boyfriend without the perks of being her boyfriend) jarred at him a lot.

It's a difficult balance for an author to get right, and yet Michelle Lynn achieved it because I could feel Elijah's frustration with Maggie....he even stays true to her even through her marriage to Jake. Often a friendship, especially between a man and a woman is tested because she may well just want him as a friend, and for him, he will often want something more. It's just the way people are engineered. 

Another layer to the story is Mags' inability to conceive. Now this is where the story really starts to hit home with some powerful messages.

Can a couple stay together if one wants a baby but one cannot be provided?
Is their love based on two people, or three?
Can friends who were asked to keep a promise, do that forever? Is it realistic or even fair to expect them to do so?

Promises has a number of layers that are enjoyable to read. Mags letter from her father is teasingly played out (we don't get the contents of the letter in one go and the story is all the better for it).

Often a friendship, especially between a man and a woman is tested because she may well just want him as a friend, and for him, he will often want something more. It's just the way people are engineered. 

Newcomer Kimberly is a darling little girl who might just provide some happiness for Mags. She instantly takes to Jah, as she so names Elijah, in a sort of playful rebuttal to him calling her Kimmy.

Promises works on almost every level for me. The only slight let down is the character of Chris, who I really liked in book one but was not so strong in this one. Maybe that's okay, as Promises is driven by the very strong characterisation employed in Mags and Elijah. Michaela makes a welcome return from Choices, but the stand out reason for reading this book is to see how the adult Elijah can keep the promise made by his younger self to Mags.

Read it and enjoy it, it is shaping up to be a great series.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Book Review: Lost Girl (Book One of the Lost Trilogy) by Anne Francis Scott


Synopsis: Secrets can eat you up from the inside out, no matter what end of them you’re on . . .

Renowned sculptor Allison Weathers doesn’t believe in ghosts. But when a tragic twist of fate leads her to the small mountain town of Dawson Mills, Tennessee, she soon learns that the dead don't always stay silent. Shadows begin to shift in the rambling, old Victorian farmhouse she’s purchased. Voices come from nowhere. She can feel the eyes on her. Cold. Wicked.

Paul Bradford, a contractor who is bidding the renovation work on the house, believes it’s more than just Allison’s imagination conjuring up the paranormal activity. Toni Harper, a reporter for the local paper, concurs. She’s heard snippets of hand-over-the-mouth gossip from some of the town’s deputies who responded to calls in the middle of the night. Ghosts. Or so the former owner claimed in the few months before his death.

The secrets they unearth rock Allison right down to the core—a nightmare that’s just beginning. Thrust into a haunted world where the paranormal and evil collide, she has one hope of survival: unravel the sinister history buried for decades within the old farmhouse, and find the link to a muddled piece of her past.

Review: I absolutely adore horror stories with a creepy undertone. I also love well crafted horror stories that insert the shocks and gore cleverly. In many ways, Lost Girl elevates itself to something higher through its excellent telling of a paranormal mystery. The main character, Allison Weathers, is an artist practised in sculpture. The quiet town of Dawson Mills, wonderfully described amongst the real state of Tennessee, welcomes her, as does the house she moves into. But is there a reason why she ends up there?

Anne Francis Scott writes with a maturity that, amongst the deluge of YA/NA books out there, it would be easy to class this book along them. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but as I say, this is mature storytelling. 

It is just so obvious on every page, that the author has taken her time to really craft a creepy tale. You will feel sympathy with the other characters around Allison, who know of her history.

Yes, she hears voices. Yes, the pipes in the old house creak and rattle. It's played down by her acquaintances, because the author is letting our viewpoint play out in the statements of these characters. They like Allison, as do we. But they are just a bit concerned that she is reading more into things than see them for what they actually are.

Every time she tries to focus on her work, something happens to scare her. What is clever is that she is not always on her own when it happens, but many times, she is. Given the author's articulate writing style, we are still in the loop when the crazies turn up. The question is, are these ghosts in Allison's mind, remnants of her recent, psychotic past, or are the ghostly apparitions for real?

There's a ramp up in the creep factor when Allison finds an old book in the house. The character featured in this book is so good, I would rate her the best character in the book. It's hard to say more without giving the story away, but this find was a core piece of the story's first third.

The story loses pace, or maybe that is the intention of the author, about half way through. This in itself is not a bad thing, because we need to take a breath and understand the events of the first half of the book. By the story's end, it wraps up rather brilliantly with the terrific ending. It's wonderful to know that there will be another story in the series.

The dialogue between Allison and her tormentors (or her tormented mind) is really well done. It takes an author of great skill to do that.

Personally, I would have wanted more horror in the story. The eerie feel is great and kept up throughout - not an easy task for anyone, but the author managed this feat. But maybe I have read too many horror books so I am rather desensitised about it. There is a hint of romance in the story too, but it does't detract from the main story, otherwise it might have been an irritating side-show. Honestly? If I have ghosts in the house and / or demons in my head, the last thing I want is romance. I'd probably end up taking an axe to the head of she whoever would take a fancy to me.

I will certainly be reading book two, and of course I would like to read the final book in due course, so the rating of 4 is a strong one, but provisional.After the story has been read as a whole, I may come back and revise the rating upwards. 

Some great examples of the writing in this book:-

'Racked with shivers under her lightweight sleep-shirt, Allison wondered why her breath didn't frost in front of her.' 


'Going through the days, living life, because that's what time forced you to do. And somewhere in the middle of it, hanging onto a thin fragment of hope.'

I enjoyed this.

Well done, Anne Francis Scott.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Review: Das Vampir by Tom Reinhart


Synopsis: A short horror story from the author of Saint Monolith and Hegemonian, Das Vampir is an exciting tale with a different perspective on vampires. It's a dark and old school monster story; more akin to Bram Stoker or Nosferatu than the glitzy vampires so common today. It's told from two perspectives: The vampire's, with the loneliness of being undead, the fear of the sun, the hiding in nasty places, the uncontrollable need to feed on the living; and that of the victims, as they fall to a bloodthirsty predator. 
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For I have become evil, and I have become death, and I fear only the light of day." 

Review: Das Vampir is a welcome throwback to the true essence of the vampire. The author pays a generous homage to Bram Stoker, and you can see in his writing a real authority in understanding the vampire's true nature. 

The immortal existence is not played out for laughs, indeed Tom Reinhart makes us understand that it is not necessarily cool to be a vampire, and the story is all the better for it. The story is short but packs no less a punch of a full novel. I would have liked a little bit more character development of the non-vampire characters, but then again, the author makes no apology (nor should he) for the reason as to why they are there in the first place.

They merely serve the purpose of being fodder for this most evil creature. 

With this author's take on vampire lore, do not expect sparkles or seduction. It feeds, it kills, it yearns to, needs to do it all over again. In this respect, the character development is bang on. 

Mr Reinhart's vampire is a winner because it is a truly terrifying entity. And now onto the sequel!