Book Review: Making Space by Sarah Tierney

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Published by Sandstone Press

5 stars

Synopsis:

Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home.

They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings.

Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.


Reading this book was like reading poetry (except I enjoyed doing it), there isn’t a single thing about this book which isn’t beautiful. It’s terribly sad in parts but you can only sit back and enjoy the elegance of the author’s writing.

We read this story from the perspective of Miriam, a young woman whose life isn’t where she thought or hoped it would be at 29. She doesn’t have a stable career, a partner or even any friends – she lives her life day by day, without any satisfaction.
To make things clear here, a career, boyfriend and friends are things that she actually wants – there’s no assumption that these are things that every single 29 year old woman needs to be happy.

After a bad day at her temp job, Miriam throws out almost all of her sparse worldly goods so she can build a new identity. Trouble is, she doesn’t know who she wants to be.

The following Monday, she visits the house of Erik for work – a 45 year old man who is just starting to admit to himself that he has a hoarding problem. They’re on the opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to their living habits, but they’re both lost souls who need a connection, in whatever form that might take.

You need to read this book for yourself to find out the story and pick up on the nuances, but the parts that I enjoyed the most were the conflicts between the two characters who desperately need to connect but can’t understand how the other half lives, so to speak.

The beautiful writing is what lifts this story up to a 5 star review for me, it’s so hopeful and moving. I’m not normally one for the mushy stuff, but this book really did make a great impression on me – it’s definitely going on the rainy day bookshelf to be re-read in future.

Pick up your copy:

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Review: Hyper by John A. Autero

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5 stars

Synopsis:

“Evil doesn’t have a problem finding the middle of nowhere.”

People are being savagely murdered on Decontamination Depot 315 and Charlie Kennedy needs to figure out who’s doing it. Is it the most logical choice, the prisoner visiting the depot who happens to be a convicted multi-murderer? Or is it the goody-two-shoes from Kansas who seems to be everybody’s best friend? Or maybe the soldier from the Russian crime syndicate? And don’t forget about the thug from the south side of Chicago. To make matters worse, the culprit has programmed the depot to self-destruct unless Charlie can figure out some way to stop it.

No matter how far mankind travels into deep space, evil will always be at his side ready to twist his moral compass one hundred and eighty degrees.

HYPER is a “who-done-it” that will keep you wondering until the very last page!


 

This book surprised me at every turn. Even the cover looks like something I wouldn’t normally read but the author approached me directly so I took the time to read over the synopsis and I was ready to give it a go.
I’m so glad that I did because by the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. By the end of the second chapter, it was a different book entirely and I was hooked again.

Autero absolutely nails his characterisation. His chapters alternate between the small cast of characters, I sympathised with each and every one of his characters which is what brought the suspense to a knife’s edge when it came to figuring it out whodunnit.
The author is clearly very experienced when it comes to engineering and machinery, which is what makes the space station element of this so natural. Does the story need to be set in space? No. Does it totally work in outer space? Yes.
His description of the engineering aspects clearly come from a place of expertise – I’ll admit to skimming some of the more descriptive passages, but that’s just because I’m lazy and not particularly mechanically minded. If sci-fi mechanics are your catnip, this is going to do good things for you.
For me, the thing that brought the whole story together was the idea of evil coming from within, that you had to decide who was killing off the other characters based on their moral compass.
It’s amazingly well written, with the clues seamlessly laid out throughout the narrative until they all make sense at the very end without any gaping plot holes. It’s so easy to leave a couple of threads untied at the end of a whodunnit that it’s notable that this one didn’t!

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I finished this book in 24 hours and was delighted to discover that the author has a couple of other books that I can dig in to.
Sci-fi, mystery and horror fans- pick up your copy today!

Review: Sins of the Flesh by Eve Silver (Sins series book 3)

343945295 stars

Synopsis:

The blood of the Underworld lord of evil runs through soul reaper Malthus Krayl’s veins. Raised to fight for survival and to kill for victory, he can destroy anyone who poses a threat. As he searches for the one responsible for his brother’s murder, he refuses to succumb to any distraction…until his sworn enemy crosses his path and tempts him beyond all reason.

Calliope Kane, a Daughter of Aset, has a personal hatred for soul reapers. Their savage attack against her family still haunts her. But only Malthus can help her find the traitors of her kind, and only she can help him hunt the source of betrayal amongst the reapers. As they unite, the danger grows closer…and the passion between them ignites.


This series is just getting better and better with each installment. Anything that Eve Silver writes from this point on, I’ll read. If she writes ingredient lists for the back of a new breakfast cereal, I will read it. If she writes a full blow-by-blow account of paint drying: I. Will. Read. It.

This time it’s Mal, son of Sutekh that’s finding himself a strong woman to call his very own. Sure, it’s getting a little formulaic that one brooding supernatural male is finding himself a badass woman to give his heart too and that may at some point become boring, but not yet!

The badass woman in this instance is Calliope Kane, mentioned in Sins of the Heart as Roxy Tam’s mentor. I hadn’t considered her as a likely love interest for this series given her hatred for soul reapers, but that’s something that’s actually dealt with in this story. Calliope isn’t my favourite heroine in this series (3rd of 3 as it happens) but Mal may be my favourite of the brothers, he doesn’t have the same anger issues or possessiveness as his brothers but seems to be more practical and reserved when it comes to forming new relationships.

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This book was considerably more plot centric than the last, which not only drew me back into the main conspiracy but also raised the ante for sexual tension. I’m firmly in the camp for delayed gratification when it comes to literary sexy times, it gives the reader more time to get to know the characters and their motivations so that by the time they finally get down to it, it’s just that little bit more satisfying.

In this installment of the Sins series, Eve Silver reminds me how good she is at creating suspense and intrigue. This time round we learn more about the hierarchy of the Sisters of Aset, before all the characters we’ve met thus far are thrown together. I can’t say that the final reveal was completely unexpected, but it was so satisfying that I don’t care.

Again, the most wonderful things about the relationships between the Krayl brothers and their mates is that all the relationships are built on respect, even if they are a little feral when it comes to protecting them from the dangers that come with being connected to Underworld royalty.

I can’t freaking wait to read the next book in the series, which is going to be an unknown quantity now that one side of the conspiracy has been resolved! I’m hoping that the romance side is going to be different this time for the sake of variety, but I know that the action side of things is going to be fantastic.

Review: Watching You by J.A. Schneider

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Published by RGS Media

5 stars

Synopsis:

A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.


This book is my favourite in the series so far. Kerri Blasco is evolving as a character, we see different sides of her in each book as the series go on and they all fit perfectly, so she stays true to herself as she was described in the first novel. She is a likable character, with many talents and humanising flaws. I think there are so many different directions that the rest of this series can go in to keep her growing, I’m fascinated to read them all.

In this instalment, Kerri is brought to the forefront as both the investigator and potential victim. Until this point, she’s been slightly aloof but this time we see right into her mind and get a real feel for her as a human being.

The killer in this book is the most sinister of them all, picking his victims seemingly at random and stalking them before murdering them. There’s something about stalking that gets under the skin, and Schneider uses it to its creepiest extent, something that chilled me to the core.

I adore Schneider’s writing style in general but for me, her ability to build tension and create really human characters is what sets her apart from other authors.
In this novel, her portrayal of the first victim really made an impression on me. Leda was a young woman from an affluent background who chose to live in a modest apartment and work with homeless people – this wasn’t then riddled with scandal or hypocrisy, she stayed a good character who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think the cynicism gets me down when seemingly generous and good characters turn out to be selfish and flawed all the time, sometimes it’s just nice to let someone be…. Nice.

Another aspect of this series that I really enjoy is that it’s a straight-laced crime mystery where the police aren’t stupid or corrupt, they’re realistic detectives and officers who are doing a job. I think Kerri is edging towards going rogue, which I hope isn’t going to be the case, because her relationship with her fellow detective has to be kept secret or she’ll be reassigned to another precinct. She does bend several of the rules this time, I hope she starts treading that thin blue line again soon!

This series is perfect for readers of crime thrillers, especially those looking for well written female characters (so rare in this genre) and strong plots.

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Review: Bleed Through by Adriana Arrington

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Published by Curiosity Quills Press

5 stars

Synopsis:

With his schizophrenia under control, life is looking up for twenty-five-year-old Liam Murphy. Independence looms on his horizon, and he’s under the care of a psychologist who understands him. Then he witnesses a murder at the yacht club. He worries it’s a hallucination and sign of regression, but soon becomes convinced that his meds have given him the paranormal ability to see past events and that the murder actually happened.

Attempting to make sense of his new talent, Liam finds an unlikely confidant in Mai Nguyen, a fellow college student and eternal optimist. Though she helps him navigate the unsettling memories threatening to engulf him, the emotional toll of learning terrible secrets he can’t prove pushes Liam to the brink of lucidity.

Desperate to wrest back control of his life, Liam tosses his pills. He spirals into a relapse and captures the killer’s attention as he bumbles through investigating the crime. Hunted by a possibly imaginary murderer, and haunted by self-doubt, Liam must distinguish between hallucinations and reality. If he doesn’t, he risks losing either his hard-won sanity or his life.


I reached the halfway point of this book and almost couldn’t finish it, and not for the reason you’d expect.

 

This book is excellently written, almost too well. Liam, the main character, suffers from schizophrenia in a way that few literary characters do: realistically.
When on medication, he can mostly differentiate between reality and hallucinations even though he knows that some of the delusions will be with him the rest of his life – like his belief that the neighbour has been replaced by a replicant who is watching his every move.

When medicated, Liam’s situation is more palatable but when he stops taking his medication around halfway through the book… it starts getting hard to read. This is as it should be though, schizophrenia isn’t palatable, it’s hell for sufferers and the people who love them.
As the reader, you have to try to work out for yourself what’s real and what’s a hallucination – Liam is the most unreliable of narrators, which the author masterfully uses in this book.

This is something that’s got under my skin with books before, because it’s something very close to my heart: people not being believed because they suffer from mental illness. Suffering from paranoia and hallucinations doesn’t negate someone’s intelligence or opinions, their completely unique view of the world can sometime hold insights that mentally healthy people don’t have. By the midpoint of this book, I was feeling stomach churningly anxious for the main character and really thought about putting the book down for a little while and trying something else. For me, that demonstrated exactly how well this book was written.

This story will stick with me for a long time, I think – Liam was a lovable character, despite his best efforts. He’s understandably self-centred, having  to spend every ounce of energy analysing his own thoughts to make sure they’re not trying to trick him, but he loves his family and wants them to be happy.
On the path to recovery, now his therapist has found a good combination of medication for him – he starts to want things for himself, such as a friendship with Mai, his open minded fellow student.

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All these things at risk when he starts to see things, despite his encouraging progress with his mental health. His battle against his own mind to figure out what’s real and how to keep the people he loves safe from himself and his visions is the true making of this story.

Another interesting element of this book that I felt added an extra something to proceedings is that it’s set on a military base where Liam is now living with his mother, sister and stepfather – Isaac, the stepfather, is a brilliant character for reasons I won’t divulge and works for the military. This isn’t essential to the story but it just adds something to the story beyond Liam’s health.

I don’t think this book is for everyone, it’s heavy as hell and at times, pretty confusing. But if you’re up to the challenge, you won’t regret it. This is the portrayal of a mentally ill character who doesn’t have their struggle belittled by being magically healed by the end of the book, or by finding out that they’re actually a supernatural creature or some other cliché – this is suspenseful, heart wrenching and very respectful.

Review: Sins of the Flesh by Eve Silver (Sins series book 3)

343945295 stars

Synopsis:

The blood of the Underworld lord of evil runs through soul reaper Malthus Krayl’s veins. Raised to fight for survival and to kill for victory, he can destroy anyone who poses a threat. As he searches for the one responsible for his brother’s murder, he refuses to succumb to any distraction…until his sworn enemy crosses his path and tempts him beyond all reason.

Calliope Kane, a Daughter of Aset, has a personal hatred for soul reapers. Their savage attack against her family still haunts her. But only Malthus can help her find the traitors of her kind, and only she can help him hunt the source of betrayal amongst the reapers. As they unite, the danger grows closer…and the passion between them ignites.


This series is just getting better and better with each installment. Anything that Eve Silver writes from this point on, I’ll read. If she writes ingredient lists for the back of a new breakfast cereal, I will read it. If she writes a full blow-by-blow account of paint drying: I. Will. Read. It.

This time it’s Mal, son of Sutekh that’s finding himself a strong woman to call his very own. Sure, it’s getting a little formulaic that one brooding supernatural male is finding himself a badass woman to give his heart too and that may at some point become boring, but not yet!

The badass woman in this instance is Calliope Kane, mentioned in Sins of the Heart as Roxy Tam’s mentor. I hadn’t considered her as a likely love interest for this series given her hatred for soul reapers, but that’s something that’s actually dealt with in this story. Calliope isn’t my favourite heroine in this series (3rd of 3 as it happens) but Mal may be my favourite of the brothers, he doesn’t have the same anger issues or possessiveness as his brothers but seems to be more practical and reserved when it comes to forming new relationships.

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This book was considerably more plot centric than the last, which not only drew me back into the main conspiracy but also raised the ante for sexual tension. I’m firmly in the camp for delayed gratification when it comes to literary sexy times, it gives the reader more time to get to know the characters and their motivations so that by the time they finally get down to it, it’s just that little bit more satisfying.

In this installment of the Sins series, Eve Silver reminds me how good she is at creating suspense and intrigue. This time round we learn more about the hierarchy of the Sisters of Aset, before all the characters we’ve met thus far are thrown together. I can’t say that the final reveal was completely unexpected, but it was so satisfying that I don’t care.

Again, the most wonderful things about the relationships between the Krayl brothers and their mates is that all the relationships are built on respect, even if they are a little feral when it comes to protecting them from the dangers that come with being connected to Underworld royalty.

I can’t freaking wait to read the next book in the series, which is going to be an unknown quantity now that one side of the conspiracy has been resolved! I’m hoping that the romance side is going to be different this time for the sake of variety, but I know that the action side of things is going to be fantastic.

Review: The Hematophages by Stephen Kozeniewski

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Published by Sinister Grin Press

5 stars

Synopsis:

Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES.


Stephen Kozeniewski gives another big ‘fuck you’ to anyone demanding him to settle down and pick a genre, and I couldn’t be happier!

So far, his books have ranged between zombies, vampires, a clone society and dystopian civil war – this one is about evil space leeches.

Kozeniewski adds his usual light touch in the social commentary in his world building – humanity has screwed its way across the cosmos, now populating several planets and space stations. Instead of nations, humanity is now divided by the companies that they work for and everything is done with the bottom-line in mind.

What I love most about this kind of world building is that it sets the scene for the story, but they’re not central to the story they just are. There’s no ranting and raving by the author to make you listen to his world view, he just throws in a few tidbits and then gets on with telling another amazing story. This book manages to be stomach churningly gory, but by stimulating the imagination rather than through graphic description.

Ambroziak is a brutally ambitious scientist who has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to set the trajectory of her career. She joins a mission to recover the Manifest Destiny,  a vanished ship with all the celebrity of the Titanic , but a couple of things stand in her way. Namely, space pirates and evil leeches.

Space pirates, captained by the best literary character of all time: Nia.
That’s right! There’s finally a ‘Nia’ in an English language book!!
There pirates aren’t your usual swashbucklers, they’re like a combination between Firefly’s Reavers and something even worse. For me, the horror started when the pirates arrived, their physical appearance was nasty enough but their back story is even worse.

Once our intrepid explorers have landed on the blood planet, the story shifts tone and becomes more claustrophobic and genuinely terrifying. I’m a sucker (pun intended) for alien parasites and horror mixed with sci-fi, Kozeniewski managed to gather all of my favourite things, wrap them up in a writing style I adore and advertise it on Facebook at a moment I was looking for a new horror read. I tend not to re-read titles (there are too many books out there in the world) but if this one should be turned into an audiobook, I see that being something I could listen to over and over again.

I couldn’t put the book down a and felt a little nauseous at times, Kozeniewski is getting more twisted as time goes by and I’m both eager and terrified to read whatever he releases next.